Sunday, November 30, 2008

District hopes to do well by doing good for artists -

Amid the chain retailers hawking Christmas sweaters and mass-produced neckties, something new is sprouting this holiday season in Downtown Crossing.

Two local property owners, the Druker Co. and Northland Investment Corp., have donated four retail spaces along Washington and Bromfield streets to local artists, as part of the city's Downtown Crossing Economic Improvement Initiative. From the storefronts, the artists will sell their handmade wares - everything from sea-glass jewelry and children's clothing made from recycled men's shirts to hand-spun cotton figurine Christmas ornaments and photographs of Boston scenes - until Dec. 28.

Some 525 businesses call Downtown Crossing home, and about 230,000 pedestrians travel its streets per day, making it one of the largest shopping districts in the city. But the area is going through what Randi Lathrop, the Boston Redevelop ment Authority's deputy director for community planning, calls a transition period.

"This was the only shopping district for years" in Boston, said Lathrop, the brains behind the donated storefront plan. "It was going downhill."

The economic improvement initiative, launched by the BRA in 2004, was designed to reverse that pattern.

Though the number of empty storefronts is relatively low for the district, according to Lathrop, many are in its heart, where Winter and Summer streets cross Washington. The temporary art spaces, three on Washington Street and one on Bromfield, are prime real estate, and their visibility gives artists a chance to sell their pieces in a highly trafficked area beyond the niche market of galleries and weekend art shows.

Jessica Burko, a Jamaica Plain-based photographer and mixed-media artist, said that when the BRA approached her early this month with the offer of a space at 505 Washington St., she jumped at the chance. Burko is the founder of Boston Handmade, an almost 2-year-old collective of Massachusetts artists and crafts people who meet occasionally to network and who are all registered sellers on, a crafts website.

Burko quickly moved to set up a bank account, get a postal box and credit-card machine, and put the word out to Boston Handmade members to staff the store during operating hours. The group spent the rest of the time renovating the space, which Burko described as "very raw."

"I was worried no one wanted to work, but I was wrong," she said.

The time crunch proved to be the main challenge for Jen Matson, who is responsible for the space at 34 Bromfield St. A board member of the United South End Artists, Matson said she was approached only about a week and a half ago. However, unlike the space Burko inherited, Matson's storefront once housed a Ritz Camera shop and was more retail ready, making it easier for the artists to move in. Matson is now focused on having the shop ready for the open house that each storefront is holding this Thursday.

Each of the four groups that received donated space - the other two are Alternate Currents at 604 Washington St., and JP Art Market at 439 Washington St. - is responsible for staffing its own store and being open, at a minimum, Thursdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Although the groups won't be charged rent, they must pay the electric bill and the cost of insurance. The artists keep 100 percent of the selling price.

"The expenses are going to be low, but it's a busy time of the year" for artists, Matson said. Many artists she works with spend December weekends at various art shows and are unable to leave their pieces in the store for long periods of time. "The main challenge is going to be coordinating everyone to staff and inventory the store."

Matson, a photographer, said despite the challenges, this project is a great opportunity for artists to reach out to a more diversified public and for shoppers to buy directly from the people who created a work they admire.

"Those of us who do art shows find that people really like meeting the artists," she said. "They love the story behind the art."

Kimberly Sanfeliz can be reached at

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dressing For Recession -

Day to Day, November 26, 2008 · Retail spending is down — holiday sales are expected to be the worst in 20 years — but one writer and stay-at-home dad found a way to produce new children's clothes on the cheap. Well, at least they're new-looking clothes.

I was walking along a gritty, windswept thoroughfare in one of the outlying neighborhoods of San Francisco when my daughter, holding my hand, suddenly refused to move.

Emmeline pointed at the Salvation Army sign in front of us and protested, "No! I don't want to go to the fabric store!"

Because she is 2 years old and weighs as much as a Furby, I picked her up and went inside the thrift store anyway. Together we thumbed through vintage jackets and the kind of gaudy, sweat-stained blouses that were once high fashion for the Mad Men highball set and their cocktail-party wives.

Now, these oversized castoffs and floral relics are my toddler's clothes.

I call it Recession Wear.

As the economy takes a turn for the worse, our family has changed the way we shop for everyday necessities. Instead of shelling out $40 for the latest Janie and Jack dress or $30 for something from the Gap or Gymboree, we are treating thrift stores like fabric bazaars — buying ancient wool skirts or vibrant cotton sundresses and ripping them apart for the material.

Sure, there is the occasional embarrassing encounter with a worried clerk who wonders what a stumpy, stubble-faced man is doing in the women's section, holding up adult dresses to his daughter's chin — but it's worth it.

A few cuts here, a little elastic there — maybe some delicate pink piping along the hem — and we can produce children's clothes for a tiny fraction of store-bought prices.

My grandparents were raised during the Great Depression and spent the rest of their lives hoarding rubber bands, bacon grease and batteries. It used to fill me with empathy and embarrassment that they would actually rinse out Ziploc bags and reuse them. "Poor people," I thought. "Don't they know there's always more?"

I was raised in the Disposable Generation of Styrofoam boxes and plastic water bottles. If something ran out, you simply got a new one.

But this year, we are re-evaluating not just how we spend our money but also the lessons we pass on to a new generation.

I made Emmeline a skirt the other day out of a men's sport coat once sold exclusively at the Watergate Hotel. You can't buy that kind of fashion statement at Target.

On our most recent trip, Emmeline's glowery mood changed when she happened upon a shirt decorated with farm animals and said, "Ooh, now doesn't this look nice!"

I examined it and agreed, asking, "What do you want to do with it?"

Emmeline twirled her toe on the speckled Formica floor and thought it over for a moment.

A smile widened on her face: "Oh, I think that will make just the prettiest dress."

Her latest outfit cost $1.50.

Vintage Fashion: The New Trend -

20-11-2008 11:25

If there's one buzz word in the fashion world at the moment, it's 'vintage'. It has become the ultimate trend of the moment, with people cottoning on to the appeal of owning something retro, and in many ways unique.

The funny thing is that some people have been championing vintage clothing for years. They've been rummaging through charity shops, inheriting items from family members and creating their own style for ages, and it's only now that it's been offically given the cool label.

Celebrities such as Kate Moss and Agyness Deyn are huge fans of vintage fashion, as are Sienna Miller, Daisy Lowe, Fearne Cotton and Alexa Chung, which begs the question- how has this failed to be cooler sooner?

Charity shops have seen a surge in shoppers, as people abandon the big names in the hope they will find a rare gem, a designer cast-off or maybe a celebrity inspired outfit for the night. What's also pretty great is that most of the main trends this season are inspired by decades gone by, so you may bag a retro leather jacket from the 50s or a funky fur gilet from the 70s, the choice is yours.

We as a nation love the thrill of uncovering a bargain and charity shops undoubtedly give us that outlet to do so. Where else can you get a sequined mini-dress for less than a tenner? And before you say 'Primark' let me rephrase the question- where else can you get a sequined mini-dress that you are guaranteed not to see on all of your friends?

Specialist vintage shops are also cleaning up with this new boom. Despite always making a modest profit, as the doom and gloom of the recession starts to hit, people will be going to these places to pick up some unique and less pricey items.

The only downside to this fabulous boom in retro fashion is the fact that people are capitalising on this in an uncharitable manner. Claming a pair of manky old knickers are retro and charging a fortune for them is not vintage, it's just wrong, but unfortunately some shops seem to think we are stupid.

The key to bagging a truly vintage piece is to do your research about the shop and what exactly you are looking for, also set aside an amount that you are willing to spend and stick to it!

If you don't fancy hunting around in your local charity shop, or indeed visiting a specialist vintage haunt, then why not try the high-street. Yes, it may sound like an oxymoron trying to find genuine vintage on the high-street, and of course you won't, but you will find some vintage inspired pieces, which can be just as good.

It all comes down to your preferred method of shopping, some tend to mix vintage pieces with high-street finds and create a really funky look. Either way, this is a nice way to introduce yourself into some 'make-do' vintage, if you're unsure of the real thing.

High-street retailer Topshop has its own vintage section in London's Oxford Circus, Miss Selfridge has some gorgeous vintage inspired jewellery and Warehouse seem to have perfected the their range of 1920s art deco inspired dresses.

Considering that experts are predicting the worst for retailers this year, why not spread a little Christmas joy and go and bag yourself a bargain in the process- It will keep you and the retailers very happy this festive season.

FemaleFirst- Laura Terry

Transforming Art Into a More Lucrative Career Choice -

Some artists have begun to figure out ways to make money and make art — aiming to end the notion that “starving” and “artist” are necessarily linked.

Rather than seeing art as something to pursue in the hours when they are not earning a living, these artists are developing businesses around their talents. These artists are part of a growing movement that has caught the attention of business experts and is being nudged along by both art and business schools.

Living in the Internet era has certainly helped.

Claudine Hellmuth, for example, said that when she graduated from the Corcoran College of Art in Washington in 1997, career options for artists were limited. “You could teach, or do outdoor festivals, maybe get into a gallery,” she said.

At the encouragement of her mother, she took an intensive summer course in Web programming and design at George Washington University and then returned home to Florida, where she found work as an online designer. All along, she continued to paint on the side, thinking that her day jobs would support her. A layoff in 2001 proved to be a turning point.

“I now had the skills to use the Internet to my advantage,” she said. “I am so thankful that I left the art world for a little while.” With a little Web savvy, she says, it is relatively easy for artists to reach a global marketplace for their work.

In a blog post on the American Express Open Forum, Steve King, a small business expert with Emergent Research, cited Ms. Hellmuth as an example of trends that are creating new opportunities for artist entrepreneurs.

Mr. King said he discovered Ms. Hellmuth after her name kept coming up in interviews with artists for research his firm was conducting on artist entrepreneurs. Ms. Hellmuth’s success stems in part from the way she has created multiple revenue streams. She has an online store on, a Web portal where artists sell their work. She does custom illustrations for customers using photographs they provide. She licenses her artwork for greeting cards, calendars and other products. She has written two books about her techniques and has a third one coming out. She tours the country teaching both business and art workshops. And last summer she partnered with Ranger Industries to manufacture a line of products including paintbrushes, paints and canvases.

“When I am making the custom artwork for people, there are only so many pieces I can make in a week, so it really limits the amount of income I can make,” she said. By expanding into books and licensing deals for products, “then you have the potential to make a living.”

Through her business, Ms. Hellmuth said, she contributes an equal share of the household income as her husband, who works on the technology side of newspaper publishing.

Art schools, too, are starting to step in. At the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., students can now major or minor in a program called “The Business of Art and Design.” Larry Thompson, the school’s dean, said he was inspired to create the program when he read about Dan Pink’s book, “A Whole New Mind,” which popularized the notion that artists, especially those who can marry left and right brain skills, the analytical and the creative, will be in high demand in the coming years.

“I am committed to destroying the myth of the starving artist,” Mr. Thompson said.

Alexander Niles, 14, a high school freshman in Miami with dreams of making it big as a musician, is young to be focused on making a living. But he has already become an entrepreneur.

It all began by accident, he said. He was late in handing in his choices for elective classes and landed in a course on business. For an assignment to write a business plan, he turned to his passion, guitars, and decided to create a business building custom guitars for other people, something he had already done for himself.

After refining his idea in class, Mr. Niles entered his business plan into a local competition sponsored by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship and captured the grand prize for South Florida, which allowed him to compete in a national competition in New York this fall.

The price for his guitars starts at about $2,000, and he expects to make a profit of around $700 a guitar. So far, he has made four, including one for a former instructor, Alex Fox, a flamenco guitarist who has endorsed Mr. Niles’s company. Mr. Niles has set up a Web site, but he does not plan to start filling orders until he has lined up other endorsements, finished his YouTube video and started establishing his brand through an advertising campaign.

Though Mr. Niles has years of school ahead of him, he said he planned to tend to both his music and his business along the way.

“If I make it as a musician, then my guitars will go for way higher than I planned,” he said, citing the example of Brian May of the band Queen who built his own guitar out of firewood with his father.

Mr. Niles and Ms. Hellmuth have learned on their own what Elliot McGucken teaches in his course, Artist Entrepreneurs, which he developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a grant from the Kauffman Foundation. Mr. McGucken’s course, now taught at Pepperdine University, rests on the principle that those who create art should have the skills to own it, profit from it and protect it.

“It’s about how to make your passion your profession, your avocation your vocation, and to make this long-term sustainable,” he said.

Tristan Hummel, 22, a senior at the Art Institute of Chicago, said he wanted to help create a world where artists could do art as their primary practice and still make a living. Three years ago, after reading that Chicago’s El trains were available for rent, he got the idea to bring artists together to create an art show on wheels. This fall, his idea came to fruition with “Art on Track,” an eight-train car on the orange line that traveled Chicago’s loop while displaying the work of more than 200 emerging artists.

Mr. Hummel now has several other proposals in process, including one to turn a 16-story garage into a sod-covered hanging garden art fair. “Hundreds of artists I know are working hard to cope with the fact that art is traded and sold in a medieval way where artists don’t get to determine the price and what kind of work they create.”

So are these artists selling out by turning to business for the answers?

Absolutely not, Mr. Niles said. “Yes, playing music is mostly about the art. But it’s important to think about what you’re going to do with it. You can play it in a bar, or you can be striving to take it to the top.”

The steady decline of eBay - blogs

Nielsen's traffic data shows a steady decline in US eBay user numbers going back to the start of last year, Silicon Alley Insider notes. Factoring seasonal trends, like growth in the long month of January (presumably when everyone tries to flog their unwanted Christmas presents) and a dip in the summer, there is still an decline in average unique user numbers in those 21 months. By October this year, unique users were down 10% year on year, page views down 33% and the average time spent on the site per user had dropped 19%.


What is the cause of eBay's problems? Henry Blodget blames eBay failing to turn the business around, as well as overpricing and competition. We'll need to be further into the recession to see if difficult economic times mean far less people spending money on luxury second-hand stuff on eBay, or of the site might actually see some evidence of people trying to make essential extra cash by selling stuff they don't need.

But even if that is the case, eBay users have been frustrated by various rule changes, and the introduction of bulk retail listings in August this year that reinforced a very different direction from the home-seller users that got the site going. And as eBay moves towards a larger-scale retail model, and alienates the 'amateur' sellers who one formed its core audience, so sites like will continue to thrive.

• Update: More data on eBay; this time, UK figures show the site actually continuing to increase its UK audience in the past year.

Nielsen recorded eBay with 14.447 million unique users during October 2007 which, with some more of that seasonal wobble, rose gradually to a record 15.841 million unique users last month. That's year-on-year growth of 9.6%, according to Nielsen.

So how can eBay in the US be losing 10% of users in a year, while the UK gains 9%? Analyst Jim Clark of Mintel said there's a definite credit crunch factor: "UK consumers are the most sophisticated in Europe and it makes sense that they would be trying to do more online to extend the value of the pound," he said.

Mintel research had shown that between July and October there was a 5% increase in visitor numbers to price comparison sites in the UK, and consumers are also spending more at supermarket sites. That means consumers are "removing the possibility of impulse buying," said Clark.

eBay's decision to stop allowing negative feedback was extremely controversial with that original audience of lone sellers, and users will also have been inspired to try rival sites with lower listing fees. "eBay is the main price point, so that is the price to beat. Generally, consumers are more aware of other sites [like Etsy]."

Clark also added that security is a factor; consumers will prefer established brands they know rather than web entities.

The UK has heavy broadband penetration, and may well be ahead of the US in trends. Further into the recession eBay will have a clearer idea if it is working in its favour, or against it.

Perhaps, as one Twitter suggested, eBay might end up trying to offload Skype, the well-respected VOIP service it acquired in 2005.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Black Friday shopping strategies -

It takes a lot of stamina and a real hankering for a good deal to brave the local mall or electronics store on Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving. On what is traditionally the most crowded, frantic shopping day of the year, retail spots open at ungodly early hours and offer "doorbuster" bargains that last just a few hours or until supplies run out. Lines often stretch around the block.

Last year at a Fountain Valley Fry's Electronics, one group of shoppers landed the front position in line by showing up a full day early and holding their spot by switching off for food and bathroom breaks. Group members had done reconnaissance the week before -- they were all clutching index cards with product codes, aisle numbers and maps of the store. Considering joining the hordes? Here are some tips:

  • If you're planning to hit some of the midnight or early-morning openings, bring Thanksgiving leftovers to nibble on or scope out nearby coffee and snack shops beforehand and find out when they open.
  • Plan ahead, says Becky Whritenour, 50, a saleswoman from Long Beach and longtime Black Friday shopper. She spends Thanksgiving highlighting "attack points" -- products she's eyeing -- and clipping coupons for stores she intends to visit.
  • Don't bother trying to sweet-talk your way into the store early -- in Whritenour's 30 years of shopping Black Friday sales, she has never encountered a lenient store guard.
  • Dress in layers -- waiting outside can be cold at first, but you'll warm up soon from the sheer number of people. Whritenour keeps her wallet in a fanny pack and takes along a large backpack and collapsible dolly to stash her purchases.
  • Get there early for a decent parking space -- crucial for when you're unloading your haul -- and to score a prime space in line. Last year, Whritenour was waiting with nearly 100 people when JCPenney opened at 4 a.m. but was told that people at the front had arrived at 1 a.m.

Read on to find out how one veteran shopper avoids lines entirely ...

Adam Bell, 41, a freelance Web designer from Santa Clarita, likes his Black Fridays a little more leisurely. "I've done the line thing, but it's not worth it to sit there for hours to save $100, and then only if you're the first two people," he said. "It's not like you're camping out for a Grateful Dead concert." In 25 years of hitting stores during the shopping blitz, he's picked up a few pointers:

  • Websites like and post ads in advance, so Hall checks them out to figure out what's worth looking for in stores. He tries to get some shopping out of the way while he's online, or waits until the next week, when many stores offer discounts on Cyber Monday (Dec. 1 this year).
  • If a store is in a highly trafficked area, he tends to skip it. For example, the Staples in Valencia tends to draw huge crowds, he said, but the branch close to his house usually has a small line.
  • He scopes out areas where multiple stores on his list are only a short drive apart. He then creates a schedule, as he did last year, when he decided to go to Mervyns first because he knew the $99 vacuum he wanted at Kohl's was probably going to survive the initial rush. "You've got to pick and choose," Hall said. "Go to places where you know the stuff you want won't go away in 10 seconds."
Finally, the frenzy of the day may leave you a grumpy, sleep-deprived wreck, but don't forget to give and get some holiday spirit. Whritenour experienced it firsthand one Black Friday when she was navigating narrow aisles on crutches after a recent foot surgery, narrowly avoiding unruly children. While she was waiting at the end of a long checkout line in a Robinsons-May store, trying to maintain her balance while holding on to her purchases, a clerk opened a new register and let Whritenour go to the front of the line. And no one complained.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cute Thanksgiving Stuff from the Flickr CRAFT Magazine Pool

Ruffles, tweed and tights: A fall fashion review

y Ashley Kiely
November 19, 2008
Though runways across the world are already showing the looks for spring 2009, here at Elon, students are just feeling the effects of fall.

As the leaves change color and the air becomes crisp, the flip-flops of summer should be moved aside to make room for suede short boots and jewel tone flats.

This fall is about combining modern looks with a dash of the past. It’s not the season of bare legs and revealing dresses, but of the high-waisted trouser and Victorian- inspired blouses.

The Victorian ruffle has made its presence known on dresses, blouses and jackets this season. The look is elegant but youthful at the same time.

Though ruffles may seem a little dramatic for the collegiate setting, try pairing them with a form-fitting menswear jacket. Button or belt the jacket at the waist so the center ruffle is peeking out the top. This combination creates a delicate and modern look.

When looking for Victorian- inspired pieces, high neck blouses, feminine lace and neck bows all create a girly but sleek style.

Menswear pieces are a great way to achieve a minimalist look while still being fashion forward. The high-waisted pant and a men’s button-down shirt are sophisticated without looking overdone.

Revamp the classic fall corduroy in a slim fit and bold fall color. The cord can be worn with a belted sweater. Students can show off their studious side with a structured blazer instead, creating a preppy but polished look that will not fade.

The silhouette for fall is the bell curve, fitted on top with volume just below the waist. Designers such as Diane von Furstenberg and Proenza Schouler showed this look can range from modern casual to elegant dressy.

These labels may be high-priced for college students, but there are low-budget options. A simple way to create the bell shape is by cinching the waist of a loose dress with a belt.

Keep your legs warm in fall dresses and skirts with colored tights. They add a pop of color and contrast to an outfit while keeping it fun and classy.

One of the dominant parts of fall fashion are textures and patterns.

Out with the large print herringbone and in with tweed and plaid. These fabrics, when paired with rich velvets, create the old country look that will keep the chill away while looking chic on the walk to class.

Any journey to Moseley would not be complete without the right footwear. The shoe is an important piece of the “in” look, making the leather riding boot a must have this fall.

Keep in mind while shopping this fall that florals are not just a spring and summer pattern. Designers such as Michael Kors and Etro brought winter floral to the runway. Winter florals in fall hues and earth tones are a nice twist on the conventional heavy patterns associated with autumn.

A winter floral dress paired with tights is a great holiday outfit that can also be worn casually to class. It is a soft and romantic look that will brighten an overcast fall day.

Still not ready to push your floor-length dress to the back of the closet? Don’t cover it with sweaters yet. Bring that maxi dress into fall by adding a cropped jacket and scarf to bring it back to life.

Both military-inspired and leather jackets are great options to keep the chill away. The contrast of the long dress and the cropped jacket will elongate the body. You may even end up liking your maxi dress better in fall than in the summer.

Keep in mind this fall to first work with what you own already. Then fill in the holes with the fall looks that suit you to create a personal style that will rival any runway look.

Ruby Red Vintage Aigner Signature Wedge Kitten Heels
$24.00 Lova Revolutionary : Vintage

Featured Etsy Blogger : November : Storybeader

Our featured Etsy Blogger for the month of November is Storybeader, who has a fab little jewelry shop @ Etsy! Deb is the awesome jewelry designer behind Storybeader, found in beautiful Oklahoma. Deb is also a writer that attatchs haiku poems with each peice of jewelry that she creates. The haikus tell the story and inspiration for each beautiful peice that she creates. Deb creates necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and more, made of stone, beads, turquoise, silver. Storybeader is also offering FREE shipping on all US orders - so head over to Etsy & make a purchase! As a member of the fabulous Etsy Blogger Street Team, Deb also blogs about her jewelry creations, etsy news, & much more!

Find out more about Deb & Storybeader @

Check out some of her wonderful designs below!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thrift stores often have great gift bargains -

As you plan your holiday shopping, you might not naturally think about second-hand items for loved ones on your gift list.

But doing so is worth a second thought — especially if you want to save. You'll find something for every budget, and the list of gently-used items available is virtually unlimited.

There are plenty of ways to find bargains on used items in your own neighborhood, including garage sales, thrift stores and pawn shops. You also can try the Web, visiting popular sites such as eBay, and

To get a good sense of the kind of used-item bargains to be had, I checked in with the big daddies of thrift stores — the Salvation Army and Goodwill that give a chunk of their proceeds to charitable causes. That means you can shop for gifts at the same time you make a donation. What better way to spread the holiday spirit?

If you haven't visited one of these stores in South Florida lately — or maybe ever — you might be surprised what kinds of great goods you may find. Respectable-quality items — such as jewelry, clothing and collectibles — can be had at rock-bottom prices.

Shopping for particular items really makes sense, such as maternity and children's clothes since people only wear them for a short time. Other items, like DVDs and books, stand up to wear and can be used repeatedly — so why buy new?

"You never know what you are going to find, that's the fun of shopping at thrift stores like Goodwill," said Cal Miller, vice president of marketing for Gulfstream Goodwill, which operates 16 stores in Palm Beach County. Another seven Goodwill stores are located in Broward County.

"We tend to get busier during the holidays as the snowbirds return," says Miller, adding that the thrift store chain makes sure to put out holiday-related items early — including ornaments, decorative lights and artificial Christmas trees.

A sampler of used goods
What's interesting and fun about shopping at major thrift stores is the items range from inexpensive wares to high-end products.

Here are examples of items available recently at South Florida Goodwill stores:

A pair of women's black patent leather Chanel shoes (complete with original store tags) for $200 that retail for about $440. This find was at the Palm Beach Embassy Boutique Goodwill store.

A New York-brand lady's fur coat from Saks Fifth Avenue for $300, which retails for more than $3,000. This find was at the Dixie Highway Store in West Palm Beach.

A 2003 Sylvania 27-inch color TV with built-in DVD and VCR player in new condition for $50, which can cost more than $200 new. This find was at the Indiantown Road store in Jupiter.

Of course, you'll find a similar range of items and bargains at a local Salvation Army store.

"These days, why buy something new as a gift when you can get something gently used that are still beautiful gifts but don't cost an arm and a leg," said Henry Hudson, an administrator for the adult rehabilitation center for Broward County Salvation Army.

Again, you can find a surprising variety of items at a Salvation Army, from fine jewelry to fine China, from electronics to appliances. There are six stores in Broward County and two more in Palm Beach County.

Here are examples of items available recently at South Florida Salvation Army stores:

General Electric double-door refrigerator, $290, retails for $1,000 or more.

Avanti clothes dryer, $300, retails for $900 or more.

DVD movies, $2 to $3, retails for $15 or more. VHS movies, $1.

Hunting for bargains
If you plan to take the plunge, here are tips for shopping at a Salvation Army and Goodwill thrift stores:

Visit on Wednesday: At the Salvation Army, all clothing is 50 percent off. At the Goodwill, all items are 25 percent off for senior citizens.

If the price is not right, try again: Both chains reduce prices on items that don't sell right away. Miller of Goodwill recommends negotiating prices with store managers if you see an item has been in the store for weeks. Hudson says Salvation Army automatically reduces items that linger — if the item has been in the store 10 days, it's 10 percent off; 25 days, it's 25 percent off; 45 days or longer, it's 50 percent off.

Check every day: Both chains restock items daily, so it's worth visiting again and again to find new bargains.

While buying used can save your budget, there are some things you should avoid.

Avoid certain items
Consumer advocates recommend that some products — such as those involving personal-safety or wear-and-tear issues — not be purchased used. Among them:

Bike helmets: They are designed to protect you for one bad accident. A crash can crush the inner foam inserts, so damage may not be automatically visible.

Child car seats: Like with helmets, you never know the condition of a used car seat. And new seats can be inexpensive, starting as low as $50.

Certain electronics: Plasma TVs, DVD players and camcorders are among the types of electronics that can wear down over time. If you or your giftee is particular about quality, it's better to stay away.

Daniel Vasquez can be reached at, or 954-356-4219, or 561-243-6600, ext. 4219. To see more columns from Daniel Vasquez, go to

The Recessionista's Holiday Pick List: Taking the Spending of Christmas Past Out of Christmas Future All of the Fashion, None of the Guilt

Last update: 8:06 a.m. EST Nov. 17, 2008
LOS ANGELES, Nov 17, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Recessionista Blog has announced its first annual Top 10 Holiday Pick List for Budget Shopping. Despite the recent economic downturn, shoppers are still faced with the challenge of getting ready for the holidays, entertaining and playing Santa for their children. In order to help consumers everywhere, The Recessionista has put together the following 10 tips. The list is a guide for a cheap and cheerful holiday that combines luxury with economy.

The Recessionista's Holiday Pick List

1) Use those gift cards from last Christmas: Studies have shown that retailers have profited from selling gift cards to consumers that are forgotten or tucked away in drawers. Now is the time to find those gift cards, credit card points, and frequent flyer miles and cash them in.

2) Accessories: Look for a beautiful scarf, chic earrings or a special pin from discounters (Marshalls, Loehmann's or others). You'll find name brands at deep discounts.

3) Vintage Vogue: Wonderful vintage items can be found at consignment stores or thrift shops in upscale neighborhoods.

4) Designer collections at discount retailers: The Target Thakoon collection launches just in time for Christmas. You should also check Norma Kamali at Wal-Mart and Vera Wang at Kohl's. Retailers are offering low budget designer items for a fraction of their couture costs.

5) Handbags for less: The new collection of Anya Hindmarch handbags at Target are beautiful replicas of her high-end line. Enjoy all of the savings and none of the guilt.

6) eBay: There is nothing like a little online trading to stretch your holiday dollars. Take old Christmas presents and clothes you have never worn (some new with tags) out of the closet and put them on eBay. You can use the money from what is sold to buy new holiday gifts from eBay or other retailers.

7) Black Friday: Door buster specials, online sales and coupons available on Black Friday offer great bargains on electronics and kids toys. It's worth getting up early to save several hundred dollars.

8) Online shopping clubs: Clubs like Ideeli, the Gilt Groupe and RuLaLa offer invitation only specials with discounts of 70 to 80 percent on fashions for men, women and children. Several special invitations to these clubs are available at The Recessionista Blog free of charge.

9) Gift a cheap and cheerful bottle of wine: Several great wines are available at steep discounts through BevMo (5 cent sale), World Market,, Costco and

10) Don't forget simple pleasures: Take advantage of Kris Kringle type gift giving, holiday baking and the many free tree lighting ceremonies all over the country. Remember, you can revive the tradition of sending holiday cards using e-mail to save on card costs and postage.

About The Recessionista Blog
The blog is a source of information for women's fashions, wine and entertaining in the current economic downturn. Dedicated to helping shoppers do more with less, the blog was recently featured in the Sunday Style section of The New York Times. In a short period, the blog has found a loyal following and received international press coverage. To learn more, go to The Recessionista Blog at
SOURCE: The Recessionista Blog

Thrift Will Build Healthier Economy In Long Run -

Published: November 17, 2008

The holiday shopping purists among us don't even want to talk about the retail season ahead until the day after Thanksgiving. But with the economy looking bleaker by the day and stock indexes slumping from bad news on sales, all eyes are on holiday projections and that nebulous thing called "consumer confidence."

No one expects this year's Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving when the retail industry's ledgers start to go from being in the red to in the black - to put many of the nation's top retailers in the profit zones. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is optimistic because it expects some consumers who might have gone to pricier stores to seek their bargains. Other retailers, like Best Buy, however, have a dim outlook.

So what's a shopper to do when everyone - including Wall Street traders - is waiting with bated breath for you to whip out your credit cards and start spending? With most of us seeing housing values decline, retirement savings taking a hit and fearful of being laid off, running up a big credit card bill seems foolhardy.

Yet if consumers don't spend this holiday season, some economic experts fear the recession is going to get worse.

Where's George Bush when you need him to tell you to go out and shop?

The sad fact is that even what seems like a slight downturn in consumer spending can spell disaster in this fragile economy. According to the E-Tailing Group, Americans on average this year will buy 11 to 15 gifts rather than 16-plus gifts predicted last year. But one less gift multiplied by tens of millions of shoppers is a very big deal.

So consider this before you go and run up your credit cards in the name of saving the economy: While Americans showing new-found thriftiness may cause short-term pain, being able to resist the shopping spree is good for the economy's long-term health.

Last month, Fortune magazine reported that Americans are saving their money instead of going deeper into debt, reversing a decades-long trend of spending more than we make. The personal savings rate, which measures the amount of disposable income that isn't spent, increased by almost 3 percent in the second quarter of 2008 after being below 1 percent for almost four years.

Saving more is good over the long haul because domestic savings create sources of money that banks use to make loans to companies borrowing for new plants and equipment - which translates to job creation.

And while most of us probably don't need another flat-screen television set or another sweater under the tree, what this nation definitely needs is jobs.

So shoppers, hunt for the sales and seek out those bargains. Spend, but not more than you can afford.

And if you've got a little extra money because you've been pinching pennies, pick up a few items to donate to your local charity, toy drive or food bank. That's a double-dose of good will, putting money into the economy and some good holiday cheer for a neighbor who is worse off than you.

Drift to Thrift -

Posted by: Lisa Baertlein
Tags: Shop Talk, , , ,

As the economy founders and the ranks of unemployed grow, shoppers are embracing their inner thrift.

According to a new survey of 1,500 U.S. adults from WSL Strategic Retail, 52 percent of respondents agreed with this statement: “I’m proud of all the little ways I’ve found to save money.”

More than half of the participants were using more coupons and reading store circulars more closely. Sixty-two percent said they are more likely to wait for a sale before making a purchase.

Home cooking is back in fashion and so are leftovers — a trend supported by strong sales at companies like Kraft and weak sales at restaurants.

More than half of women polled said they were avoiding stores where they tend to overspend.

When its comes to paying the bill, 35 percent of the shoppers said they were less likely to use credit cards to pay for purchases. On the other hand, some said their credit cards were helping them get from paycheck to paycheck. So, it follows that 24 percent of respondents said they owe more on their cards than a year ago.

The money saving tactics go beyond stores. The survey also showed that people are doing more housework, from cleaning to gardening.

“True thrift is the intelligent use of time and money and we see it becoming a major trend to survive in these trying times … and likely a longer-term change in culture,” WSL said.

What’s your thrifty tip?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Low on cash, DIYers go handmade for the holidays - AP

CHICAGO (AP) — Since high school, Arielle Napier has occasionally made items like a bed-sized quilt or belts as Christmas presents for friends.

This year, staring down a bleaker-than-ever economy, the 27-year-old is forgoing store-bought gifts entirely and giving friends and family everything from her own photography to handmade hats.

In doing so, Napier's joining a small-but-growing chorus of consumers who are pledging to make 2008 a wholly handmade holiday. While the movement to buy and receive handmade gifts was already growing, it is getting an extra boost from the economic downturn that turned into a full-fledged meltdown this fall.

"Everybody gets so wrapped up in what big sparkly things they want or they're getting," Napier said. "I know it helps the economy, but how much impersonal crap do we need in our lives?"

The handmade and craft movement, encouraged by an online coalition of do-it-yourselfers, is half a concerted effort to save money and half a desire to shun the in-your-face consumerism that some people see as having led to a nation that got used to living beyond its means. Whatever the reason, observers say it's gaining steam.

Thousands of people have added their names to a holiday petition online, promising to give only items they've made themselves or handmade items that they've purchased, while asking friends and family to do the same. Notes one pledger: "When the economy is sour, let handmade rise to power." Another calls buying and giving handmade items the "original economic stimulus program."

Joan Holleran, director of research at consumer research firm Mintel, said the handmade movement is an extension of people's desire to simplify and seek control over their lives — the combination of which has caused them to rethink gift-giving in recent years.

But with the economy in tailspin, Holleran said she expected even more personalized and handmade gifts to find themselves in stockings and under Christmas trees.

"The economy is really hitting home and forcing people to think 'how can I keep this gift-gifting still really meaningful on a tighter budget?'" she said. "And personalizing it and giving that gift of time and our craft really is so much appreciated."

So far this year, sales at the four-year-old online handmade marketplace, where everyone from professional artists to occasional crafters can sell their wares, are up to $64.5 million. That's more than double last year's $26 million sales figure. And executives at Michael's Stores Inc. say their customer surveys showed that more than half of respondents said they were more likely to make handmade gifts this year than before.

To keep up, the Irving, Texas-based chain this month launched, a how-to Web site for customers, and is holding weekend workshops to help the less-than-handy who may be making gifts for the first time. Meanwhile, the effort helps the store nurture its revenue stream when overall retail sales are slumping.

"Consumers are much more cautious about spending and I think they are recognizing in these economic times they have to think about the holidays differently," said Michael's Chief Executive Brian C. Cornell.

But whether the movement benefits retailers' bottom lines remains to be seen, said Joan Storms, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities.

So far, she said, publicly reported data from major craft retailers doesn't show much signs of a boost from the handmade holiday campaign. Same-store sales — an important retail metric — were down 1.5 percent at Jo-Ann Stores Inc. and down more than 9 percent at A.C. Moore during the third quarter.

"You'd think that would be happening," she said. "(But) it's not really apparent to me in the numbers."

At Renegade Handmade, a craft consignment shop in Chicago's trendy Wicker Park neighborhood, store owner Sue Daly said business is holding steady this year, despite a nationwide decline in retail sales. And she's planning for bigger-than-ever crowds at an annual Christmas craft fair being held next month, while increasing the vendor space by a third to sell everything from kitschy collages to knitted scarves and felted wool toys.

"It's really on everybody's mind — this blatant consumerism and this hole we've been digging for ourselves by spending and buying," said Craft Magazine Editor-in-Chief Tina Barseghian. "And there has been this resurgence in craft as response to that kind of icky feeling, where after you go shopping you feel kind of gross. Making things is a kind of antidote."

At Jo-Ann Stores Inc., the holiday slogan — developed this summer, before the financial meltdown that curtailed many people's holiday spending plans — is "Let's Make Christmas."

"We anticipated, economically, this would be a tough Christmas for people," said Lorraine Schuchart, a spokeswoman for the Hudson, Ohio-based craft and fabric retailer. "And with that comes a return to the way people used to do things. And people used to make their own Christmas gifts."

Back at home in Dallas, N.C., Napier, a customer service representative and photographer, is already busy working on her Christmas projects, some of which cost as little as $3 for material.

"You won't be able to tell, though," she said. "That's the perk of making your own stuff. No one really knows how much you spend."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sisters perk up clothes business -

Sisters perk up clothes business
Sunday, November 02, 2008 By Cheryl Rickard
Sisters Sharon and Lisa Perkins turned their love of vintage clothes into a business last August, opening Perk Up! in Dublin to sell classic pieces and reworked garments.

Sharon previously worked as a freelance interior designer and as a production manager in the events industry. She moved to Australia for four years, completing a visual arts degree and setting up a vintage clothes stall at a market there.

‘‘Influenced by the vast array of amazing vintage clothes and the fashion scene in Melbourne, I felt I could inject a little of the same back home for Irishwomen,” she said.

Lisa was a holistic health therapist before managing a Dublin health centre and retail outlet for five years. On a career break, she joined Sharon in Melbourne and helped with the stall. ‘‘It was such an exciting time, as we had always worn and collected vintage clothing for ourselves and were delighted to get involved in a business we were both so passionate about,” said Lisa.

The sisters talked about the possibility of a similar venture in Ireland, and when they returned Lisa took a business course and the store location in the loft market of the Powerscourt Townhouse. After finding a dressmaker to look after the Perk Up! Revamp range, which Sharon designs, the shop was stocked with garments from estate sales, auctions and markets across Europe. Specialist buyers are also used.

The store has a number of designer pieces by Armani, Pierre Cardin and Laurence Kazar. Lisa sees vintage clothes as smart purchases.

‘‘Good vintage garments will increase in value as time goes on, so are investment buys, unlike high street garments, which decrease in value the moment you wear them.”

According to Sharon, the appeal of vintage clothing has grown. ‘‘In today’s economic climate, women are looking for affordable high-quality pieces. When buying vintage, they are guaranteed that it’s a one-of-a-kind item they definitely won’t see on anyone else.”

Both women believe that people now look for clothes that aren’t mass-produced. Perk Up! is open from Fridays to Sundays, and an alteration service is available at an extra cost. The sisters will also soon launch their website.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Vintage Pyrex @ Lova Revolutionary

Vintage Pyrex Large Green Primary Color Mixing Bowl

Vintage Pyrex Butterfly Gold Sugar, Creamer, & 2 Mug Set

Vintage Pyrex Constellation Yellow Star Burst Divided Casserole Dish

Vintage Autumn Harvest Food Storage Container Orange Wheat

Vintage Pyrex Terra Mixing Bowls Black & Brown

Spring Blossom Vintage Pyrex Salt & Pepper Shakers

Vintage Pryrex Twin Server Green & Blue Leaf Small Cinderella Casserole Dish

Set of 3 Vintage Pyrex Spring Blossom Green & White Mixing Bowls

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Vintage Hand Bags @ Lova Revolutionary

Even more Secrets! Tag you're it!

Oh my! I've been tagged again! I must share 7 super secrets and tag 7 others to do the same...I was tagged by Tulip's Talking, member of Etsy Bloggers Street Team and proud Etsy store owner of Mockingbird Designs & Tulips Treasure Box. So here it goes:

1. I love to bake, its one of my favorite things! I get my supreme baking skills from my mum, who is also a master baker and cooker for that matter. The holiday season is a huge time for baking in my family. I think we usually end up with more baked goodies than actual food but since the holidays are a time to indulge, why not! Looking forward to December and making dozens and dozens of cookies! (so expect to see more recipes coming soon to the blog, but probably not many for actual food) Anyhow, I generally bake about once a week and love to make things from scratch! I rarely buy any prepared sweet stuff, store bought cookies, etc. , I'd rather just make it myself, its usually yummier that way!

2. Sometimes I listen to gangsta rap in the morning, just gets my day going for some reason.

3. I have a terribly bad sense of humor. Well, I wouldn't say bad, but terribly dry, and it takes a lot to make me laugh! Which is a shame because I love to laugh, I just find that most things just really aren't that funny. However, when I do find something funny, I might bust out laughing for 5 minutes or even snort a little.

4. I have a "tramp stamp." For those of you that may not know, a tramp stamp is a tattoo on your lower back, at your waist line or close to your hips. I insist that I got it before tramp stamps were cool and I also insist that its not tribal.

5. Not so secret, secret. I sold my first painting on Etsy @ my new handmade shop! I've sold paintings before, just not on etsy, so I'm pretty excited!

6. Almost everyone in my fam, Pops, Sister & Brother all play the drums! I'm a music lover but never really had the urge to pick up an instrument. I can, however, play london bridge on the piano. My Dad was a drummer in a rock n roll band in the 60's and played around the Cleveland area in Ohio. He got to play with many big names of the day and was even scouted by The Sun Record Company - of Elvis and Johnny Cash fame! A few of his bands songs were recently rediscovered by a lover of old rare rock n roll tunes and placed on 2 internationally distributed compilation cd's - Teen Town USA Volume 15 & 16!

7. More about food, I like to drink iced coffees. I drink warm coffee sometimes, but prefer iced whenever possible. But my absolute favorite is iced chai tea!

Now spill more beans:

Tag your it!
1. uniquecommodities
2. DesignbyNora
3. DizzyDragonflies
4. 3RexesJewelry
5. SewItsForYou
6. maisyh
7. lilbees