Saturday, May 5, 2012

Less of a book sale and more of an empty parking lot

St. George's Episcopal Church was supposed to be having a charity book sale this year to finance their mission trip to North Carolina.  Aren't there churches in North Carolina that could be doing missionary work without raising money for travel?  I mean, I want to buy your books for cheap, but my skeptical mind can't help but question the logistics.

Anyway, their idea of a book sale was suspiciously similar to an empty parking lot in front of a church where a book sale was not being held.  In fact, it was identical.  There went two hours of travel time.

To be fair, Quaint and I had already hit quite a few yard sales and come away with a box of old children's mystery/adventure novels, a poker table and a deviled egg plate.  Quaint loves her deviled eggs.  If she was a chicken, she would lay deviled eggs.  If she was a devil, she would get egged on Halloween.

"Now what?" I said, sweating in the car, missing air conditioning.

"There's a thrift store nearby.  It burned down and it's just now reopening.  Burning down means getting lots of donations when you open again!"

"Your logic is impeccable," the GPS said as it calculated a route to the new location of The Thrift Barn.

After sifting through an absolutely gigantic box of unsorted books Quaint had filled two boxes while I went to evaluate the Playstation games that had been mixed in with the audio CDs.

Our total was $12 for two large boxes of books and two PS1 games.  I think we can make a profit off that.  One of the games is worth well over $50.  I'm often glad that people running thrift stores don't know what video games are.  Finally, my extensive knowledge of obscure video games from 1989 through present day is paying off!

As I paid the proprietor said, "Would you like some lettuce?!" He hoisted a large bag of lettuce from a box on the counter.  It was sealed, so it probably isn't poisoned.  "The expiration date isn't until the 7th!!"

Quaint and I looked at each other, looked at the lettuce and, after a moment of risk analysis Quaint said, "Sure, we'd love some lettuce."

"Here," said the proprietor, "have TWO bags of lettuce!"

"Sure, we'd love two bags of lettuce," Quaint said.

Now my only thought is, "What am I going to do with all this lettuce??"

Wait!  I just remembered that my faithful Siberian Husky loves lettuce.  Now to research the health risks of switching a dog to an all lettuce diet.  I won't have to buy him more food this month!**


**Just kidding, I don't want to kill him.  I'll give him a piece or two, just to make sure it isn't poisoned.  We can play his favorite doggy game, Royal Taster.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Knowledge of a Job Well Done

Wow. It's been a month already. I'm not sure if the month went by quicker than I expected or slower, but it's gone! I have to admit, I was not expecting the first month to go so well. My goal was to work up to having at least $500 in the business account to put towards the next month, but I wasn't expecting to make that goal in the first month! There are a lot of things we need to work on. We haven't even set up our Ebay stuff yet, but that will be happening tomorrow. We haven't set up our Etsy account yet (I have such a good idea for that one! But I want to wait until we get Ebay set up). We haven't set up our Facebook page yet (But our logo is so close to being finished, so that will happen soon). There is a lot that we still need to do. But look at how much we've accomplished!
-We set up and sold multiple items on Amazon
-We've made our monthly goal of $500
-We've set up a business bank account
-We have a 4.8 seller rating on Amazon
-We have made 1-7 sales almost every day (I think there were probably only like 5 days that we actually didn't have any sales.)
-We've... sporadically... kept up our blog.

I'd say that's a pretty successful month! And May is already beginning. There's so much to do, and I do get pretty lazy at times. But I really want to make this work, so I'm going to work as much as possible on the business this month and see what else we can accomplish!

I was going to put a "to-do" list for May on here, but I think I'm going to wait that for a different post. I want this just to be about what we have done, because it's pretty amazing :)


"All the doors in this spaceship have a cheerful and sunny disposition. It is their pleasure to open for you, and their satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done."  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hi, my name is Life, but you can just call me Distraction.

Ok, so I've been terrible at keeping up with my blog posts! So let me give you the run down.

We've been selling books!! In the past few weeks we have sold... well... a lot (in my personal opinion). We've listed 357 books, sold 53 (I think?) made almost $400 (and it hasn't even been a month! Now, this is total not deducting the money we put into the business), got 4 reviews, giving us a 100% positive feedback rating, had 1 issue with shipping and made 2 returns. It hasn't all been easy, and things have been frustrating. But I'll be honest, things are going better than I ever expected in the first month!

We have only sold on Amazon so far, so we have a couple boxes of books to list on Ebay still (Curious is doing research on the best way to photograph the books so our listings look nice). Our wonderful artist friend is working on our logo (and let me tell you, it is amazing. Wait until you see it). We've yet to set up a Facebook or Pinterest account (you have to have a Facebook in order to get a Pinterest). I'm waiting for the logo to be finished before starting to network and actually telling everyone about our business/blog.

We've learned a few things:
-Curious doesn't like going to hundreds of little yard sales hoping to find a few books...I do.
-Organizing items by author works great, except for those that don't have authors and non-book items. We're going to have to reorganize our stacks this week
-The best way to keep track of cool yard/book sales you find is actually putting a calender together.
-It's much easier to do Amazon than Ebay, Amazon has everything set up for you! All you have to add is how much you want to charge for it. Ebay actually requires you to take pictures and post a description. However, Ebay is required if you actually want to sell vintage or collectible books.
-Keeping up on blog posts isn't easy to do! At least not for me.

And now I have a glass of wine calling my name. As always, please feel free to comment with any questions/comments/quotes.


Oh! did I mention that Curious has never read Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass!? I have handed him the book and informed him that he needs to read it as soon as possible. I may have been a bit annoying in that I kept trying to read him passages from it in order to stress my point.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things: 
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
-Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 1: The Sale

Quaint has been listing items for almost six hours and shows no sign of stopping. She's at 120 items. I've been putting them in cabinets as she goes. Friends has been the fuel for this endeavor. Chandler really, really wants Joey's girlfriend and...

What's this? A SALE? WE SOLD A BOOK??

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick.  The novel that Blade Runner is based on. Our first sale.

I'm glad Philip K. Dick was our first. Even though I like The Man in the High Castle better...

Robot Carrots Unite

So the last month has been crazy. We’ve hit a few more sales and pulled more books out of our own personal collections to sell. The next step is actually getting the store set up, including paying sellers fees and posting the items online. After a lot of thought we’ve decided that we’re going to just try selling on Amazon and Ebay. (ABEbooks was our first choice, but then we realized that we don’t know anyone who uses that site. So we figured we’d stick with what we know.) We’ll be using Ebay mostly for auctions with the older or unique items, and Amazon will be the remainder (and currently the majority) of our books.

There’s a big step between talking about having a store and actually getting things active. But the hope is that we’ll take that step this week! We’re still getting our office set up, and haven’t put together the work computer yet. But we’re getting there! I’m really excited about selling books. I even told Curious that I thought it’d be fun to list them! He just looked at me like I was crazy. I’ve been scouting out more yard sales/thrift stores. (Although I have to admit. It’s hard for me to go out and not find something I want to buy for myself instead of the store! I’m gonna have to work on that or else this business is gonna end up costing me more than I’m making... ) and trying to plan for the weeks ahead. I actually start my new (official) job on Monday, so things will be a little busy this month. But I think that I can balance the job and the business. It’ll be a lot of work, but I think it will be really good.

In other news Curious just had his 30th birthday! So happy birthday to him :D I baked a carrot cake for him and decorated it to look like a robot. A friend mentioned that she thought it looked more like a carrot than a robot... maybe I’m out of practice with my cake decorating.

My Goals* for the week:
Get Books listed and selling
Organize the office
Start a Pinterest account for Quaint and Curious Books (I’ll post the information here so you can all follow it! I’ve already found a bunch of cute book related craft ideas and I’d love to share them with you all)

"We are the hero of our own story." 
-Mary McCarthy, Partisan Review (March/April 1961).

*Disclaimer, Goals may not actually be accomplished.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Waking up early is not a part of my balanced breakfast, so when Quaint informed me that we were going to trawl yard sales I groaned, dragged my carcass out of bed and said we could head out at 9:30.  Five minutes later she asked, “How about a compromise...we leave at 9:15?”

“Compromise this!” I cried, pulling on shoes, grabbing keys, wallet and phone and storming out the door.  “Goodbye Husky!”  I patted him on the head, briefly berated him for existing, and before I could process the morning’s events I found myself in the car with Quaint bouncing up and down, grinning like a maniac in the driver’s seat.

“Which way should I take?” she asked.  “I was thinking THIS way.”

“I was thinking
THAT way.”

THAT Way,” the GPS intoned.

“Really,” I said, “either way is probably more or less the same.”

“No no,” Quaint said, “I’ve been outvoted.”

“I didn’t know the GPS got a vote.”

Post-Singularity Historians would later determine that simple act of giving that humble GPS enabled phone the vote is what would prevent a human/machine war.  But that is a story for another time.

The trip was going poorly.

We hit three yard sales.  One was a bunch of old person furniture and a chainsaw.  Another didn’t even exist.  The next had overpriced art, but Quaint ended up with a Art Nouveau style print of some classy looking lady drinking from a long straw.  That way people will know that Quaint is a fancy lady who only drinks from long straws.

Having exhausted our local options we settled down for lunch at a small diner on US Route 340. The atmosphere was quaint.  Walls covered in Redskins memorabilia.  A friendly, heavyset waitress.  Toothless locals sitting on stools at the counter.

As we were leaving Quaint noticed an advertisement on the cork board by the entrance.  GIRL SCOUT BOOK SALE.  The advertisement intimated heavily that this was its last weekend.

The Girl Scouts of America had been given a storefront from which to run their operation.  Hardbacks for $1.  Paperbacks for .50 cents.  Oh yes, we thought.  OH yes. We came away with around seventeen books.  Lots of first editions from the 1930’s and 40’s.  Some really neat Korean language books of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales.

My personal favorite of the is R.v.R. by Hendrik Willem Van Loon.  Here's the full title of the book:

Yikes...this man has a way with words!


Monday, March 19, 2012

A Titular Title

I was reading Tom Sawyer one day during my third grade year.  It was spring.  Bright, wet and humid.  Billions of gnats clouded the air with their fleeting lives.  I was curled up in a corner of the living room reading.

“Go outside,” my mother said.  “It’s a beautiful day and you shouldn’t just be sitting inside reading.”

Sure, because there’s nothing nicer than having gnats trying to swim their way in to my tear ducts by the thousands.  But I went outside.  My autonomy was somewhat limited as an 8 year old.  After a while my mother came to check on me.  “No!” she cried, “I wanted you to play, not sit on the porch reading!”

And then there were 20 or so years after that where I read a lot of books, went to a lot of school and had a lot of jobs.

I’ve worked for video game stores, book stores, financial companies, warehouses, software developers, video rental stores (remember those things?), and department stores.  I’ve never had a job I liked.  Working for myself at least cuts out the middle-man.  I can make myself miserable better than any boss or monolithic corporation!

So we'll see what happens.  Quaint has the enthusiasm, the brains, the looks, the energy, the drive to succeed and the dream...whereas I have a Siberian Husky.

He's not as smart as he looks

We obviously make a good team.


The First

I never know how to start a blog. I’m not a writer, that’s more Curious’ thing. I’m a reader. I love to read. And I’m very set in my ways about reading actual books. None of that online reading or Nooks and iPads for me. Don’t get me wrong--I love technology--but to me there is nothing better than having a book in your hands. The feel of it, the smell of it, the font, and the weight, all combined with the story. That is how I get lost in a book. And do I ever get lost in books.

I’ve been reading ever since I can remember. Normally fiction, with a focus on fantasy, science-fiction, or the classics. Pretty much all of my favorite things have something to do with books one way or another. My favorite movie is even You've Got Mail (and let me tell you, if anyone deserves the title “Quaint” it’s Kathleen Kelly). I go into every used bookstore I come across, even if I don’t buy anything. I just love the atmosphere for the stores.

I know that I love books, but the rest of my life has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve never known what I wanted to do. There are so many things that I could do, but nothing that I’ve desperately wanted. One thing I have always dreamed about (even though I never thought it would be an actual possibility) is owning my own used bookstore.

It’s not the money, obviously. You’d be hard pressed to find a small used bookstore owner who’s rich. It’s about doing something you love. Being surrounded by books, communicating with fellow book-lovers, bringing the joy of books into others lives. That’s why you become a bookstore owner. My ideal store would be a little shop in a quaint neighborhood where I have regulars who come in, children dropping by after school, a book club for the stay-at-home parents, and a pot of coffee (and tea) always on. Unfortunately, I don’t have a large supply of money that I can invest into a store. 

But one thing I can do, the closest thing to my quaint little used bookstore, is sell books online.

It all started when Curious and I were sitting around one day. To be honest, it was not a good day. The most recent of the many not-good days this year. Curious said “I have this much money in the bank. How could we start our own business with it?”. The rest is history, or rather, present. It started March 11th. We sat down and started thinking about what we needed to do to start selling books online. For me, it was to fulfill my dream of owning a used bookstore. For him, to be self-employed.

We don’t expect things to be easy. And there are no illusions about our guaranteed success. But we really want to try. We know we can do this and do it well. All we need to do is try.

Which brings us to this blog, and to you. This blog has many purposes. We’ll be writing about our adventure of starting our own online business, about the lessons we learn, and the cool things we find. About life, and of course about all things Quaint and Curious. We hope that you enjoy our writings, maybe learn something new, and most importantly we hope it makes you smile. Please drop us a comment or an email ( about things you’d like us to write about, about questions you have, books you are looking for, or just to say hi.

"What better way to get to know someone than through her choice and treatment of books?" 
-Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale