Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On the move again sadly...

Yesterday was a beautiful early Spring day, warm and sunny, little crocus and daffs poking up out of the tubs in my yard, sun sparkling on the river and my Kitties sunning themselves out the back. My friend the gander has just arrived back on the river after his winter trip to warmer climes and this year I hope he finds a mate... yes, yesterday was perfect and I was looking forward to my second summer here in Rhuddlan in this little flat I enjoy living in so much....

Until I got a phone call from the Landlady's agents saying she is putting it on the market!

Fab, just when I was starting to feel really settled. Having had to rent my whole life I have had more addresses than the average Gypsy and never been able to put down roots anywhere. If you have to move every year or so why just move down the road, why not move to a whole new area and get to see the rest of the country? I got so fed up of my enforced nomadic existence about 8 years ago that I moved back in with my Mum!!!

Constantly being on the move is costly, I am 49 and own stuff, even furniture, because I have found that having my own stuff around me to feather each new nest at least gives me some feeling of security. Plus, these days 'unfurnished" means you don't even get a fridge or washing machine so now renters have to cart all that stuff around with them too! I had to buy all curtains and window fittings to live here, more needless expense that I will never get back. Also, as a pet owner, not every rented property is available to me.

I wish I could just buy somewhere but I have been mostly self-employed throughout my career and never been able to save up enough of a deposit because of the escalating costs of constant moving. Now I guess I am too old to get a mortgage without a HUGE deposit to put down and the cost of housing in the UK is so damn high I could never make the sums work anyway. As my mother said years ago, I should invest in a Gypsy Caravan and take to the roads!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A slice of Magnolia Pearl Heaven for sale and a Giveaway

Pearl & John Gray of Magnolia Pearl fame are selling up their amazing 12 acre ranch in Texas and offering two stunning outfits worth around  $2,000 between them in a contest to advertise the property. If you would like a chance to enter and look at the rest of the pics, follow this link. Here is my favourite of the two outfits up for grabs and some pics of the ranch, which has been painstakingly personalised and 'antiqued' with paint techniques:


Friday, March 1, 2013

Happy St David's Day

Tee hee, look what's the Google mast head today :o)

Hapus dydd Dewi Sant i chi! (errr, I THINK)

International Sales vs Isolationism

Wow, serious sounding topic - but no, flippant as ever and relevant to doll makers/sellers!

Let's pretend I still get time to make dolls, one of the great things about the internet and venues like Esty and Ebay was that I no longer just sold those dolls face to face to people who had ventured out to a local Craft Fair. I could sell internationally and reach doll lovers the world over. Yay! Of course that throws up minor niggles like negotiating the baffling pricing and small print of international shipping, making buyers aware of the fact that THEY (not me) are liable to pay any Import Duty their country demands, and tracking parcels that have left these shores. Sometimes it's a headache, but on the whole I get a big kick out of knowing that there are people who own my dolls in the USA, Canada, Mexico City, Russia, Japan and all across Europe. It's all good then?

Well, last summer I decided to sell one of the dolls I collect (yes, I end up giving all the money I get from making dolls to other people/companies who make dolls!), a Sybarite fashion doll, on Ebay. Ebay and Paypal (both owned by the same company) have quite strict rules on refunds and if as a seller I post out an item that didn't have tracking information and insurance, well, if it doesn't arrive I just lost everything as the buyer gets an automatic refund and I get a black mark against my name. So when selling dolls as costly as Sybs, you don't want to take any chances!

Ebay now allows the seller to restrict the countries they will send to. This is very handy because from the UK there is no option for sending parcels to Italy with tracking and insurance. Therefore, reluctantly, I put Italy on my restricted list. Ebay then don't allow any user resident in that country to bid or contact me about my listing. That sounds great but a lot of Italian people love Sybarites and a lot of them found my doll on Flickr and began a ruthless hate campaign that really upset me. In the end the winner bought the doll on behalf of her sister in Italy and shipped the doll off at her/their own risk. She got the doll and all was well. Eventually the trolls got fed up and went back to being thoroughly unpleasant to whomever they normally aggress. I guess the moral of that story is to be inventive if you really want something and the seller can't send it to you because of ebay/paypal restrictions... oh, and sending sellers hateful messages won't make them keen to sell to you!

Today I get a message from a friend in the US telling me the outfit for my other nude Syb is available in a US Ebay shop. I follow the link but the seller will not send outside the USA and has put restrictions on her listings so not only can I not bid, I can't even ask her if I could buy and have it shipped to my friend. I guess it is someone doing the same as me with the poor Italians but this seller has stated that they will NOT SHIP OUTSIDE THE USA. This is a theme that comes up a lot with US based sellers on Ebay and Etsy alike. You send them a polite message saying you are quite happy to foot the shipping cost and pay all the duties and taxes, and get a terse reply that they are an American seller and only sell in the US! Isolationism or what?

I guess that wouldn't annoy me so much if this shop was selling US made/bought goods but Sybarites/Superfrock are a British company! That outfit was bought over the internet from here in the UK and shipped to the States, the buyer, being in the US, didn't have to pay the 20% VAT tax the rest of us in Europe have to foot and most probably got the parcel past the relaxed US customs system without paying Import Duties too. Then they have the nerve to say they won't sell to anyone outside the US!

Yes, I know, there are many really lovely American artists and sellers on Etsy in particular, who when sent a polite request from overseas, go to great lengths to ship out to foreign buyers. There are lovely outward looking people right across the States who see the Internet as a way of taking their business global, but lately I have had an increasing number of encounters with those who think the US of A is a big enough market and the rest of us can stick our money where the sun don't shine - Charming!!!