Sunday, December 30, 2012

Etsy Seller Remorse

Since the opening of my Etsy shop, Lifelooklens, I have been able to excuse my treasure hunts as business trips. At least, that's what I tell myself when I go to thrift stores, anyway. I'm there on business. Searching for vintage and antique treasures is FUN. Don't tell anybody, though. Strictly business, here, friends. 

I've found several awesome things lately. They're all listed for sale now at my Etsy shop. It will be hard to let some of these treasures go, because I get attached. That happens when you have to measure every little item you find and describe everything you know about it in your listings. By the time you actually sell it, you feel a little sad as you carefully package the little whatevers to send away to some stranger. You hope that they'll like it. You hope they'll treat it nicely. Doubtful that they'll spend hours brushing an old antique lamp with a toothbrush like you did, though. 

Yep, the other night, I found myself surrounded by every household cleaner known to mankind. I had just sold my favorite lamp. Or, so I thought. I mean, I did sell it. But it's still chillin' right here beside me as I type. It's staying. Not my fault, though. We'll get there...

It begins with a CHA-CHING!!

 I hear it and my heart gets all fluttery-like. It's the sound of success that occurs when something sells from my shop. I didn't hear it yesterday and I miss it already. 

I check my emails to see what little treasure is going to be shipped off, and I feel sad when I see it's the lamp. Not just any lamp- my FAVORITE lamp. I found it at Goodwill and fell in love with it. Go figure, that's the stuff that always sells. I secretly didn't want it to. Now, I knew what I had to do and it was nearly 11:00 at night. Great. 

That lamp had to be cleaned before it went to its new home. It was dirty. I had no idea just how dirty until I had to clean it. It took me a couple hours of scrubbing away at it with an old toothbrush, but I polished that baby to a shine it had never known before. It GLOWED. I mean, I guess it glowed from the beginning since that's what lamps are inclined to do. I just didn't know it could shine so much brighter after a good toothbrush scrub-down, that's all. 

The house wreaked of chemicals- probably a toxic mixture of this and that cleaner. Dab of tarnish-remover here, spray of Spic-n-Span there, dab of 409, plop of polish, etc. Q-tips littered my dining room table and I had to open windows just to make sure I wouldn't accidentally kill our dogs or my husband or myself. What an obituary that would make...'Nashville Woman Dies While Cleaning Lamp for Etsy Sale, Toxic Fume-Inhalation Deemed Cause'...yeah, I'd like to go out better than that, my friends.  
<-----------Potentially toxic mixture.

With the lamp shining in newfound glory, I searched around the house for a box that would accommodate its size. 

Boxes are a pain in the rumpus. Any seller will tell you that. This time was no less of an inconvenience, as every box I found was either too big or too small for the lamp that I now began to resent.

I asked Josh for help. We foolishly decided that the safest way to ship a fragile antique lamp would be to take it apart. Yeah, then it'll fit in the box...Stupid, Stupid, STUPID idea. We know that now. 

One should never, ever, freakin' EVER take apart this kind of lamp unless one is prepared to be filled with insurmountable levels of frustration. Just don't do it. I know it seems like a good idea. I know you think it'll work out- and it may, but not before you want to throw that lamp at the wall after cursing at it for another hour that follows your toothbrush-scrubbing madness. 

Once we'd taken the lamp apart, we noticed how ugly it looked in separate pieces. We decided our buyer would not appreciate receiving a lamp in bits of brass and glass, without including a detailed instructions manual on how to put it all back together like the Etsy pictures had shown. Even with a manual, this customer would be far less impressed with a broken down lamp than she would with a fully restored and assembled antique. What were we thinking, anyway? We'd just need to put it back together like it was in the first place. We'd find a bigger box, rather than send a bunch of parts across the country. No biggie, right? 

Oh, Dear God, WRONG. I did actually pray when I tried to put that thing back together. I also asked for forgiveness for my cursing spree that followed that first hopeful and desperate prayer request. 

Josh and I put it back together, 3 or 4 times. Each time, the top piece was loose. We'd take it apart again to pull the cord tightly, in hopes that the top part would securely fasten. It didn't. 

All hope was lost, for at least 15 minutes, while my husband and I discussed various strategies of lamp-assemblage. We each disagreed with the other's theories, which got us no closer to success. The lamp sat on the table, drooping it's little lamp head as though it knew it would never be the same. Two foolish twenty-something-year-olds hadn't even been alive as long as the droopy lamp. How in the world did they think they knew how to restore and assemble a once-beautiful relic? 

Josh had returned to his nightly ritual of video game activism, to a world where he is king and no lamps threaten his attainment of victory. 

"I'm gonna do it. I swear, I'm not gonna let this stupid thing beat me. It's a lamp. I took it apart and I'm going to fix it if it takes me all night." 

Josh glanced at me with a doubtful look that also conveyed sympathy for my slow descent into madness. "Doubt it, honey." 

So, I tried every theory we'd shot down, in hopes of somehow piecing those damn parts back together. Failure after failure, I'd sworn I'd do it. I'd even gone as far as to say, "I can do it, Josh, because I do everything I make up my mind to do. I always have." 

I hadn't meant to sound so conceited, but rather to pump myself up, I guess. I couldn't believe this lamp had lowered my self-awareness, but I had no shame at that point. I WOULD put it back together. I WOULD stay up all night if it killed me. It was decidedly so. 

At last, the lamp hung it's head no more. Miraculously, and because God probably felt sorry for me, the lamp was pieced together without any flaws. Victory was mine. 

The celebratory dance that happened next is one that I do not want any person to ever see. At least, not over a lamp. It was excessively joyful and belligerently arrogant. It was also involuntary. It just happened. Josh got up to check out my handiwork. 

"Yeah, it looks good, but what happens when you jiggle the top part. It falls, doesn't it? Let me see," Josh challenged. 

His doubt infuriated me, but it was expected since neither of us thought we'd ever successfully piece it back together. I jiggled the top of the lamp. I flicked it like somebody thumps an ear, out of meanness and spite. It didn't budge. 

More dancing ensued. "We are the champions" theme song was sung. God smiled. All was well at Dunailie Drive, once again. 

Then I heard a ding. 

Nothing's wrong with the lamp...I'll save you that suspense, because you're thoughtful to care and worry about me like that. :)

The ding means I have an email. No big deal, but I needed to check it. Could be a buyer question.

My heart sank as I read the email, which requested an order cancellation. No reason was given. Just 'please cancel my order, I'm sorry' ....


You've gotta be kidding. No way. But, WHY?

I ask the nice buyer why. I have to know why. I must know why. I neeeeded to know why. 

I told Josh. 

He asked why, too. He was calmer about it though. He saw the disappointment on my face and offered up encouragements like: 'Well, you get to keep it now, Gina. You didn't want to sell it and now it looks incredible and super clean!' 

Yay. hip. hip. horray. Even though he was right, I didn't feel exactly enthusiastic. 

I corresponded with my ex-buyer, who was extremely polite and a pleasure to deal with even though we didn't make a deal that endured more than an exhausting few hours of laboring over a lamp. 

As it turns out, the buyer had bought the lamp only because she'd needed the key part that turns it on. 

That shocked the crap out of me, seeing as how the listed price exceeded any that I'd pay for any key...unless it opened a door to heaven or something.  Nonetheless, she'd found the part she needed online for a few cents. Needless to say, she did not wish to proceed with the business transaction that would incur additional and now unnecessary expenditures. I didn't blame her. I mean, I understood her predicament and I knew the right thing to do was to issue a full refund and thank her for visiting my shop. I totally blamed her for the hours I'd spent cleaning and polishing a lamp that she had intended to take apart for the sole purpose of having a key turn-switch. I forgive her. She is nice. No hard feelings. I thanked her. She left nice feedback. That always helps when you sell on Etsy, where reputations are built upon the feedback of your customers. 

So, there's a lamp I have. 

It's really shiny and clean and pretty and wonderful. I almost kept it after this failed transaction. Instead, I re-listed it. I took lots of new pictures of it, as they show its pristine condition.  I forgot to upload those on Etsy, though. 

Maybe I do secretly want to keep it, after all. 

It's still for sale, though. I worry you might buy it and I'll have to ship it to you. I want to because I make money when you do that. However, if you're planning on taking it apart for a key- I will NOT give it to you. You may not do that. Not to this lamp, please. It has been through enough and so have I. Promise you'll take good care of it. You don't have to clean it now. 

I still need a box. I never got that far. 

Maybe I'll get there this week when somebody else falls in love with the remorsefully re-listed at Lifelooklens on Etsy. 

The top is blue. It's so clean, you can't tell how blue it is in this picture. Good ole' scrubby-scrub with a toothbrush did that. Who knew? :)

The key that caused so much trouble. Pretty lil' thang, ain't it?

The top's darker parts here are only shadows. I'm not defending it, I'm just clarifying that there's no dirt here. Seriously, none. It shines like the stars.

This photo wasn't featured on Etsy. None of these were. These are the clean up pictures. I'm not gonna put them on Etsy. If I did, you'd know how awesome my precious lamp is. Then you might buy it. I have mixed feelings about that and am uncertain of your intentions. :)

Here's the piece that gave us so much trouble when we tried to put it all back together. If you foolishly make the mistake of ignoring my advice to leave your lamp in one piece, you're gonna regret it. You'll run into the same problems we did. I'll help you, though, if you happen to do this. I know the secret that'll fix it. I'm still pretty sure it takes a miracle.

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