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Who was one of the most versatile artists of the Art Nouveau Movement?

Victor Horta
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Emile Gallé
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Art Nouveau
by Uta Hasekamp

Art Nouveau was a phenomenon with many faces. Between 1890 and 1910, artists developed a variety of styles from the plant-like forms of the Belgian-French Art Nouveau to the ornamentation of the Viennese Secession. They were all striving to create a new, modern style and pursued a comprehensive renewal of art and, in some countries, a renewed national identity.

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Art Nouveau—
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Although the Art Nouveau style wasn’t around for a long time, its influence affected every form of art, from architecture to pottery to furniture design and even glass and pottery. This short video gives a brief overview of the Movement.

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La Plume Poster Alphonse Mucha

So You Want to Hold a Yard Sale
by Bob Brooke


Your attic is chock full of all sorts of things, gathered over the years, that you haven’t used in a long time. Your basement contains more stuff. There’s not only items that you purchased long ago, but what’s left from your parent’s house after your mom’s death. Perhaps it’s time to get rid of those extra items. A yard sale sounds like just the ticket, but where do you start?

A yard sale isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes planning and organization, especially if you have some worthwhile items to sell. A yard sale does two things—it allows you to rid of things you no longer want or use and it allows you make some money. Okay, you won’t get rich, but you’ll probably make enough to go out to dinner.

Preparing for Your Sale
Begin planning your yard sale a couple months in advance. Start by setting aside items to sell. But be realistic and discard things you consider unsaleable. Chipped dishes and glassware, broken china and pottery, broken appliances, old books, and broken furniture won’t sell. In fact, adhere to one rule—don’t sell anything that you wouldn’t buy yourself.

Before you start selling, you should make arrangements to have anything that doesn’t sell taken away. Arrange in advance for a charity like the Purple Heart to pick up what you don’t want or plan on taking leftovers to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

To find out what things are selling for, visit thrift shops and flea markets. But remember, in both places, the owner must add in overhead, something which you won’t have. Also, yard and garage sales are at the bottom of the retail market. Don’t expect to get what shops charge for the same item. And don’t look to eBay for prices. Most of them are inflated, either because of bidding or as a “Buy it now” item.

The best place to find out prices at yard and garage sales is at yard and garage sales. So hop in the car on a Saturday morning and do some on-site research.

Consider taking more valuable things to consignment or antiques shops. Even though you’ll have to pay a commission of up to 50 percent, you’ll still come out ahead. Most yard and garage sale customers are looking for cheap items. Many regulars have a budget and probably won’t spend more than $20 the entire morning. For them, going to yard sales is a cheap form of entertainment.

If you’re selling antiques or collectibles, remember that your customers are probably Internet savvy and know what things are going for on eBay and other online auction sites. Antique dealers also use yard and garage sales to purchase new inventory, so they’re not going to pay what an item is worth because they need to double the amount to make a profit. Whatever prices you see for these types of items, halve them.

And what about getting together with your neighbors and holding a neighborhood sale? The more the merrier? A neighborhood sale can lure more buyers, but it also increases competition. But don’t be tempted to shop your neighbors’ sales and spend more than you’ll make at your own. Instead of each homeowner working alone, get everyone to work as a team and divide the advertising, signs, set-up, cleanup and, yes, even coffee and doughnuts.

Obviously, the best time for a yard sale is in the spring or summer. Fall is also good, as it’s pre-holiday and customers may be looking for small gifts. Winter sales don’t fare as well. First, then have to be held indoors, but also the number the customers will be less because people tend to stay indoors in colder weather. Don’t think that because it’s winter you’ll have less competition. There’s a reason why there aren’t very many sales during that season.

The best day for your yard sale is Saturday. Some sellers prefer Sunday and a few with lots of items hold their sales over both days.

Timing is everything: Be warned that dealers and yard-sale junkies may arrive an hour or two before your start time and can be aggressive, rifling through unpacked boxes or even walking into your house.. Stand your ground. Don’t’ let them intimidate you, thinking that if you don’t sell to the early birds that you won’t sell at all. The objective is to get rid of stuff, but do so on your terms. Start as early as 7 A.M. if you want to be the first in your neighborhood. Sales usually last four to five hours, not counting setup and cleanup. You’ll need to do all your selling during the morning.

Also, beware of pushy people who show up at your door from Wednesday on. They read your ad in the local paper and give you a sob story about how they just can’t get to your sale on Saturday and can they please have a look. These are usually pickers—people who purchase items at yard or garage sales and turn around and sell them to local antique dealers the same day for a hefty profit. Many lie their way in and hassle you until you give in.

At a yard or garage sale, all sales should be final. And no sale items should ever go back into your house. Remember, that a charity is coming for a pickup.

It used to be that newspaper classified ads were your best promotional device. But many people have abandoned newspapers for information online. While you can still take out a small ad in your local paper, you may find that it alone won’t be enough. List general categories like antiques or collectibles, housewares and toys, instead of listing specific items. If people read you have an Arts and Crafts dining table, they’ll only come to your sale if they want that item. You want as many customers to attend your sale as possible.

Today, social media is where it’s at. Promote your sale on your Facebook Page and check the Internet for Web sites where you can post a free ad. Many towns and cities have a weekly calendar on their site.

Don’t forget to put directional signs in your neighborhood at the intersections of the nearest main road. But check with your town or township to make sure it isn’t against the law to do so. Use bold lettering that can easily be read by people in passing cars and don’t forget to put an arrow pointing toward your home.

However you advertise, make sure you give clear directions, especially if your house is hard to find. Give a rain date or specify ““rain or shine”” if you can sell from a porch or garage. Add “no early birds” and “cash only” if you really mean it.

If things are pricey, call it an ““upscale”” or ““estate” sale. If items are basic and cheap, say so.

Setting Up
Even older items look and sell better if they’ve been cleaned up. Dust or wash everything. The nicer your items look, the more you can get for them.

And just as in any retail store, attractive displays sell items. Place covers over your tables. Old sheets or tablecloths or even remnant fabric will do. Stick to solid colors or plaids as they will make your items stand out. If you have a lot of glassware and light-colored china, use dark fabrics to show them off. Put like items together in tabletop “vignettes.” to encourage multiple purchases. For instance, place garden tools with flowerpots, kitchen utensils with cookbooks; kids car seats with strollers and kids’ furniture.

Use tables for breakables and higher-priced items. In fact, avoid placing items on a blanket or tarp on the ground. They’re hard for customers to access. Make it as easy for them as possible. If you’re selling clothing, buy or borrow a rolling clothes rack and put garments on hangers. They’ll neater and sell better. If you have large pieces of furniture that you don’t want to haul outdoors, plan to have someone escort buyers inside to see them.

Every good business has some sort of customer service, and your yard sale shouldn’t be any different. Have a mirror propped nearby if you’re selling wearables, as well as a yardstick for measuring things, plus a plugged-in extension cord or power strip for testing appliances. Start saving large paper or plastic bags a couple months before your sale and have a few sturdy boxes and old newspapers for wrapping breakables.

Mark chipped or broken items “as is,” and don’t try to hide flaws with price tags. And don’t say something works when it doesn’t.

And don’t forget to ask someone to keep an eye on things. Every store has some sort of security. Put small valuables closest to the person selling them or the designated cashier. Glass display cases are ideal for jewelry, silver and other pricey objects. Keep your cash with you at all times.

In order to get the most for your items, price everything. Customers tend to buy more if they know what the asking price is, especially is they plan to do some bargaining. Don’t get greedy: Don’t try to charge retail—even if the item still bears original tags. You’ll be taking a loss, but you’ll be getting rid of it. Consider offering volume discounts to avoid piecemeal haggling. Use removable stickers and tags so as not to damage what you're selling and use index cards to write out explanations or information about items that may need it.

Don’t get taken: You don’t have to accept a lower price than you really want. You can always give things to charity for a tax deduction.

If you have lots of little miscellaneous items, consider creating box “lots” by filling various sized boxes with similar items. For example, put a bunch of small kitchen utensils in a box and sell it for one price. You can also fill boxes with books----hardbacks in one, paperbacks in another—and sell them individually out of the box. You can also create signs for like items, such as “Shoes $5" or “All Stuffed Animals - $2 each." Some people also provide a box for bargain items. Create your signs on your computer and place them in plastic sleeves to protect them from inclement weather.

If a buyer asks that for an item to held for them due to lack of cash or need for a larger vehicle, offer to hold it for no longer than an hour, or request payment up front.

Designate someone as cashier if you won’t be. Make sure you have lots of change before the sale—ones, fives and tens plus a roll of quarters, because buyers often come with $20 bills from cash machines.

At the End of Your Sale
Don’t take anything back in. If you can’t get a charity to pick up our leftovers, look for a book bin to donate books and take anything useful to a homeless shelter or family-crisis facility. Everything else goes in the trash bin. Finally, be sure to take down all signs.

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Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

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