Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cash for Appliances Rebate Program

There's a new rebate program funded by ARRA that starts today! As with the "Cash for Clunkers" program last Fall, if you want to get in on this, you should act quickly!

Here's the web site:

The Cash For Appliances rebate period starts April 22, 2010, and lasts until May 23, 2010. Rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Only refrigerators, clothes washers and room air conditioners are eligible. The rebate amounts are:
  • Eligible Refrigerators - $200
  • Eligible Clothes Washers - $100
  • Eligible Room Air Conditioners - up to $50
Other appliance rebates may be available from your utility company, appliance retailer, or other entity, so be sure to check on this and "stack" your rebates just like coupons!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Selling on Consignment

A CCCOE member had asked about consignment to an out-of-state shop. I posted the following thoughts in reply to her question, and thought I would share them here too.

I have had problems several times over the years when consigning to an out-of-state shop. Personally, I wouldn't do it. Period.

Consignment is a great deal for the shop owner because they don't have to put out any of their money in order to get your product. Unfortunately, this may also mean that they don't have any interest in promoting it in the shop. If they sell a mixture of consigned items and items which they have purchased outright (wholesale), their energy will most likely be focused on selling the items in which they have an investment.

However, if you're determined to consider consignment, here are some thoughts ... in no particular order.

The artist who posed the question indicated that the shop wanted the items for one year. I suggested that she ask why they only want your items for one year. If the same items are sitting in a shop after one year, chances are they will have been relegated to the back of the shop (storeroom) long before that time.

If the time comes that your items need to be returned to you (after the one year or whenever), who will pay the shipping cost? Will they be packed securely to withstand the shipping process?

Ask how long they have been in business. If they've been in business less than a year, think twice about consigning to them. If they only do consignment, and don't purchase any of their inventory outright, it would be preferable if they've been in business 2 or 3 years. Consignments shops are super-easy to start since there's little investment beyond the rent and utilities; unfortunately this also means they tend to come and go very quickly!

Ask if they have a web site and check it out -- does it look professional or amateurish? Would you trust a web site that looked like that? Would you trust a shop that has a web site that looks like that? If they don't have a web site, ask them why not. EVERY business should have a web site these days, even if it's purely informational and not set up for online sales. Since you can't visit the shop in person (or if it would be difficult to do so), you need to have a feel for the shop.

Make sure the shop or boutique is the type of place you would want to see your product in, i.e., is it also a hardware store or a baby boutique? If you create art which appeals to this clientele, then GREAT!! But if you don't why would you want to show your wares in this type of shop? Over the years, I've received inquiries from some very interesting places (including car washes) that have absolutely nothing to do with the type of work I create.

Do they get an adequate amount of traffic? This may be hard to judge long-distance. If they're in a mall or a busy pedestrian area (i.e., 4th Street in Berkeley, shown in the picture above), they'll get plenty of traffic. If they're in a rural area, maybe not so much!

Ask what percentage of commission they want. If it's 40% (which is fairly common these days), you'd do better off wholesaling, even if you had to give them 50% off to do so -- at least you'd have your money and wouldn't be worrying about whether or not you'd ever see your product again (or payment for it).

Ask if they have a contract stating their terms. If they don't have one, could you write one up and would they be willing to sign it? You need to have something in writing, signed and dated by both parties of course,
regardless of which one of you writes it up.

Be sure you know how often you will get paid, and be prepared to hold them to it. If they can't pay you for your sold items at least once a month, there's likely something wrong (i.e., if they only want to pay quarterly, they're probably hoping you'll forget about them before three months have passed).

Don't consign more than you can afford to lose, should it disappear forever w/o compensation; everyone has their own threshold here, whether that's a dozen pieces or $1,000 worth of product.

Hope these thoughts help ... good luck!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

This is Getting Exciting!

Last week I perused the housewares at the mega store we all love to hate in Roseville. When I can afford to shop at better stores, I plan to do so ... but in the meantime it's often where I shop. I found several things I'll be going back to purchase as soon as I get into my new digs!

Yesterday I was at the same store in Orangevale and did make a few purchases, including a shower caddy in a brushed nickel finish and a seagrass basket for which I can already think of half a dozen uses!

I also happened to notice shelves similar to this one, and I plan to get them to make more efficient use of the hallway storage closet! I do think I will take a peek at the local restaurant supply stores (with a ton of restaurants in this city, there are more than a few restaurant suppliers!), just to see how their prices compare. The shelving unit in the store had 4 shelves; I believe they were 14" deep and 36" wide, and it's priced at just $40 which seemed pretty good!

This morning, I went to a couple of antiquey/shabby street fairs. Didn't find much, however one booth where I ALWAYS buy something came through for me yet again! They had 24 yards of a vintage meshy, most likely cotton, curtain fabric for just $5 -- for the whole bundle!!! The fabric is just 36" wide so I know it's vintage, and all I'm going to have to do is hem them and make a pocket for a rod at the top! I'm pretty sure this is the same fabric the curtains were made out of when I was growing up ... the same ones that my first kitten would climb up and then fall off of, scaring the heck out of me! Now to find some pretty curtain rods ... Pottery Barn? Restoration Hardware? Well, something along those lines but hopefully more in my budget!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Looking for a New Home!

After 4 years in my current apartment, I'm ready for a change. Heck, I've been ready for at least half the time I lived here! The main reason I want to move is because there is basically NO storage space! I have ONE closet -- a small walk-in in the bedroom. In my previous apartment, there was a pantry type closet in the hallway (5 or 6 very deep shelves), a built-in linen cupboard in the bathroom (equally as deep), and a "sliding door closet" in the bedroom with a ton of storage space on the shelf above the clothes rod. Then I move here ...

 My move to this complex wasn't entirely by choice, but that's another story ...

I have long thought these apartments would be great ...

... mainly because they have 4 closets! There's a coat closet near the front door, a huge pantry in the kitchen, a "sliding door closet" in the dining area, and a decent-sized walk-in closet in the bedroom. There's also a funky "linen closet" which is a couple of shelves with doors built into the wall. This complex isn't exactly an easy commute to where I'm working now, but I thought I could make it work. I was also delighted to learn that I could rent a 2 bedroom apartment for $40 less per month than I'm currently paying for my wee 1 bedroom apartment!

However, the more I thought about it, I've managed to talk myself out of moving here. Sometimes it's the "silly" little things that do that, such as the bathroom sink in the bedroom in the 2 bedroom apartments. WTF? The toilet and tub are in a room by themselves and there's a sink on each side of that space. This made the master bedroom feel like a motel room ... and a cheap one at that ... not to mention the bad feng shui! So as long as I'm in search of a 2 bedroom apartment, this isn't the place for me. By the way, the 1 bedroom apartments are just fine and completely "normal" in the bathroom department!

A week ago, a friend and I were driving around looking at some apartments I'd found online the day before. Being Easter, of course the apartment complex offices weren't open. I went back to this one ...

with another friend on Saturday. The office was open this time and I was able to view their "model" apartment. I'm really digging this place!! It's centrally located, convenient to where I'm working, as well as Midtown, downtown, shopping, a gazillion restaurants, etc. The model I was shown was the 2br/2 bath style, and I'm wanting to rent the 2br/1 bath; I just don't need that second bathroom! The leasing agent told me they will have one of these available for rent the first of May. I've paid a $200 "holding deposit" which will be applied to my first month's rent and yes, I passed the background check with flying colors! Pamela (who shares her last name with a well-known actress) has assured me that she/they will do "whatever it takes" to make me happy in my new home. Trusting strangers (and salespeople at that!) is a bit challenging, but I'm giving it my best shot this time! Pamela did show me another 2br/1bath apartment so I've seen the layout of the apartment style I'll be renting. The only difference I'm possibly envisioning is if it were a mirror image; most apartments around here are "back to back" meaning the bedrooms are next to each other (hope my new neighbors are the quiet type!). Pamela said that the only thing she thought might be different would be if I already had a white ceiling fan in the dining area, and she has offered to provide one if it turns out my apartment still has the brown wood-grain fan. The kitchen cabinets are white, so a white fan would coordinate better with them!

I went back yesterday to scope out the actual building/apartment that was mentioned on Saturday and it seems like a decent location. It's away from the pool, laundry room, playground, etc. so it should be relatively quiet. I almost knocked on the door to see if the current tenant would let me take a peek, but decided against that because even if they would let me in, I'm thinking I wouldn't feel too comfortable walking into a stranger's home ... nor would I be likely to let someone enter my home under the same circumstances! I'm rather disappointed that I haven't yet been able to view the actual apartment. They say that's because the current tenant is still living there, however I know (from experience) that management only needs to give 24 hours notice before entering an apartment for pretty much any reason.