Thursday, June 25, 2009

The endless sorting

One of the things I love about selling beads and cabs is the sorting.

I have spent whole days hunched over a table, happily sorting beads and cabs into piles while watching (or mostly, listening) to eighties shows on DVD. It's probably one of my favorite aspects of this business.

It always leads to questions of selection, however.

Let me explain. This is the last portion of a huge bin of mixed cabs, glass gems, rhinestones, that I purchased a couple years ago.

At first, I simply bagged them randomly in large bags and tried selling them, with mixed results.

Then I separated the glass gems and the flatback cabs and sold those in assorted bags. That, too, had mixed results.

Then I separated the glass gems and flatback cabs by colors and sold those in assorted by color bags. They've now become steady, if not great, sellers in my eBay store.

Now I'm pondering breaking it down even further into foilback/transparent sets for the oval cabs, and perhaps by color for the rhinestones.

It's intriguing, because I don't use any of these items in my own jewelry, so having to try to guess what consumers will want--and how they will want to buy them--is a puzzle. Do they want matching sets, and if so, how many in each set? Will some people still want assorted lots?

I know from experience that people do like both. When I first started selling dollar bags of beads, I'd spend a lot of time picking through everything to make bags that contained only one kind of bead. Then one day I was rushed, so I threw together some mixed bags. At the next show, the mixed bags sold first, and so from then on I always made sure I had a few of those.

Anyway, the nice thing about today's sorting is that this is the last of these cabs and glass gems. Over the last two years I've gone through about eighty pounds of this by hand and pulled out all of the interesting funky stuff and put it aside for special lots.

My strategy for the next couple days is to separate by style and color, and then separate further into foilbacks and transparents, and see how they do. I think I'll keep the mixed lots, too. It'll be interesting to see if it makes any change in how they sell.

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