Saturday, September 20, 2014

Very large stash acquisitions and how I have found them

 This is a long post.  But it's the story of my biggest stash acquisitions and how I got them.  (Some of them for free.)  Perhaps my tips can help someone else find some awesome stash too.
I have to admit that I have a lot of stash.  Like...a lot a lot.  But I have only paid full price for about 15% of what I own.  The rest, I have literally stumbled upon with some searching as well as some sheer dumb luck thrown in for good measure.
But I wanted to share a little bit about what I have done and how I've done it, so maybe it can help someone else find awesome deals over time as well.
Now first let me say, that finding rare items or huge lots of items at barely there prices isn't something that happens all the time.  You have to keep your eyes and ears open and if you're lucky, you'll end up on the receiving end of "once in a lifetime" kind of stash hauls a handful of times over many years.  
I've been stitching for 30 years but I have been serious about stash hunting for only about the past 6 years.  In that time, I've had two large stash influxes completely free, one very large one for pennies on the dollar and one, "once in a lifetime" acquisition again, for pennies on the dollar.  I'll explain how I got them and what they were in this post.
The first "method" is really easy.  It's not really a method at all, but perfectly natural and not something I do with the purpose of acquiring stash.  (I would be mortified if anyone took it as that.)  It is simply a natural outflowing that happens. 

Make friends inside the stitching community. 

Share your ideas, be generous with your own time and even your own stash through give a ways, swaps or "happy mail."  (For those that don't know, "happy mail," is the term given to patterns, kits, notions, etc sent from one stitcher to another just because it's nice and fun to share.)  My very best friend in the world, I met over ten years ago on a Yahoo stitching group.  We are the very definition of besties.  When I first met her she was a die hard cross stitcher.  But over the years her preferences have veered more toward seamstress work.  Also over those years, my passion for cross stitching has only grown by leaps and bounds.  So because I had made such a good friend within the stitching community, when she decided to "de-stash," ~ it came my way.  She has been very generous and my own stash has bulked up quite a bit simply because she switched gears but knew that I would put these things to use.  Another example of this is last year I stitched an eagle (the exact same pattern I did for my charity project, picture here) for an older lady at church ~ simply because she asked me to.  Now I won't say that I'm going to stitch for anyone at all that asks, I won't.  But I knew that this lady had been a stitcher in her younger years.  So I did it for her, because I knew that she understood the craft and would respect the work I put into for her.  I knew, that she knew what it was she was asking me to do.  So I spent many weeks on her eagle.  I gave it to her proudly and will admit to basking in her praise over my stitching, lol.  And then ~ I didn't give it another thought.  But several months later she called me to come to her house because she had the eagle professionally framed and she wanted me to see it.  I happily obliged.  But when I got there, she had a huge amount of her own stash pulled out and she gave to me.  She said that she couldn't do it any longer and she wanted it to go to someone who she knew would appreciate it.  So that was the two stash influxes I got for free, simply for being friends with someone or being nice. 
What goes around really does tend to come around ~ and especially so in the stitching community.

My second tip is to get to know the owners of your local needlework shops.  Forge relationships with them in person and correspond with them on their shop's social media sites.  And by local, I don't necessarily mean the town you live in.  If it is within your ability, expand what you consider "local" to about 2-3 hours (or however far is feasible for you) around you in all directions.  I literally live out in the middle of nowhere.  In order to get any decent selection in anything from food to clothes, we have to drive a minimum of 45 minutes.  In order to get to a sizable city, it's 2 hours.  So I originally started my search for stitching shops in those two cities.  I found a shop in the city 45 minutes away from me, but it specializes in needlepoint, not cross stitch.  But ~ that doesn't matter!  I still went there and forged a relationship with the owner and she sells a full array of flosses that are good for any fiber artist regardless of specialty.  Through her, I was able to get a couple of wishlist items from the last Market in St. Charles.  She had previously told me if there was anything I wanted to let her know.  Market Day kind of crept up on me this year and I ended up texting her at literally the last minute while she was on the Market floor and she got me want I wanted.  ~~  I also found a shop in the city two hours from me and got to know that owner too.  Through her I was able to take the needle class I blogged about in a previous post.  Her shop hosted it.  I'm able to go to her shop once every few months.  When I took the needle class, she had only ever seen me once in person.  But because I had made a point to talk to her when in her shop and talk to her on her shop's FB page, when I showed up for the needle class as soon as she saw me she came over saying, "There you are!!" And gave me a big hug.  She knew exactly who I was.  There are more shops in a city five hours from me.  I'll be attending a retreat through one of them this Fall.

Forging friendships with shop owners can open doors for you to find out about new products and notions as soon as they come out, give you lots of learning opportunities with classes and seminars and also give you a lot of social opportunities to meet other stitchers because almost all shops host stitching days or evenings, retreats and get-a-ways.  It's definitely worth it and you usually will make some awesome stitchy friends in the process.

The big stash acquisition that I made just this past week was because of a shop owner.  Like I said before, I don't restrict myself to just cross stitch shops.  There was a quilt shop in a small community close to mine, but in addition to quilting supplies the owner also sold a full line of DMC floss.  She decided to close her shop and retire and, of course, had a major going out of business sale selling her goods at or below wholesale cost.  She and I had a lot in common because she does a lot of charity stitching too.  She's a lovely lady.  So when the time came to sell her DMC storage boxes - you the ones that shops keep their threads in for sale - she sold them to me.  I got them at half off wholesale cost and she also told me that if I needed any thread in the future to let her know and she will sell what she has to me at wholesale cost.  Now, how awesome is that?  I got ten DMC thread storage boxes from her, which I will share about those another post all it's own. 

And lastly, my last tip garnered me my biggest, "once in a lifetime" stash haul.  Check Craigslist.  Regularly.  Now of course, be careful.  Use common sense and don't meet strangers alone and a public place is always best.  But I have found a lot of really good cross stitching stash over the years off of Craigslist.  I check it about once a month or every two months.  I usually use the search terms, "cross stitch," and "DMC."  But the search that led to my biggest stash haul wasn't even mine, but my best friend that I talked about earlier.  She called me one day and told me that she had found an unbelievably huge cross stitching stash on Craigslist in a community next to hers.  She spoke to the lady selling it a few times, making plans to purchase it.  She and I split the price for the lot, so we each only paid half.  She and her husband picked it up and - it really was enough to open a small store.  It had all belonged to the lady's great aunt and when her aunt died ~ she inherited all of it.

Now I just want to interject here to say that this lady did understand what she had.  She knew that she had literally thousands of dollars worth of supplies.  But...she was over it.  She didn't want it, didn't want to take the time to sell it to get the best dollar amount and she simply wanted it gone and out of her house.  So it's really not like my friend and I took advantage of someone who didn't know what they had.  She completely understood.  She just didn't care.  In the end we got a ton of fabric - in all different types and colors.  Kits out your ears.  Patterns, books and leaflets - too many to count. Mirabilias, Told in a Garden patterns. A lap stand, specialty yarns and then even more material and more patterns and kits.  The only type of things we didn't get were notions.

And after splitting the cost with my friend, I paid....about what it costs me to fill up my gas tank on our truck.

The first thing my friend and I did was to pull out everything we knew that we did not want ourselves, things we knew we would just never use ~ and we started giving away all of those items to other stitchers.  If we didn't want something, one of us knew someone else who would.  So we gave away, mailed away, a lot of other things to other stitchers.  Then we were left with only the things that we liked and wanted.  My friend split it with me ~ giving me about 60% of the items and her keeping 40%.  She did this because I cross stitch more and some of the items she just didn't want because she doesn't do it as much anymore.  So in the end, I did end up with a few thousand dollars worth of cross stitching supplies for well under $100. 


When used cautiously and carefully, it can be a very good thing.

So that's the story of my major cross stitch hauls and how I've only paid retail for about 15% of what I own.  Keep your eyes and ears open, get to know shop owners and others in the stitching community and perhaps you can find some awesome stash hauls too!

Keep those needles flying!!  :0)

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