05/25/2020 at 1:02 pm #77786Arizona MikeParticipant
- Location: Arizona
This is an idea that might help some of you develop regular customers among the film industry’s Set Decorator and Props departments. I’m about 90% book inventory, and have sold a few vintage books this way (and other non-book, vintage items back when I carried them in inventory), but it may be more useful to those of you that carry a large inventory of various vintage goods – like our forum hosts and many others do.
Most of us have noticed sales of vintage items to film departments, which is always kind of cool – knowing something you sold will wind up in a movie or miniseries.
I recently listened to a podcast interview with the Set Decoration Buyer for the Hulu miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s novel 11.29.63 (mostly set in the early 1960s), and it gave me a better understanding of how the process of acquiring vintage items for films works – basically, the Set Decorator is the overall supervisor of set decoration for the film; the Set Dresser and crew is responsible for loading the goods off the transport at the film site or set, installing it, and getting it ready for filming; and the Set Decoration Buyer (who is the person you want to contact and with whom you can, hopefully, form a business relationship) acquires items for the set. I had formerly thought this was handled by the prop department.
The Set Decoration Buyer in the film ecosystem is responsible for finding and acquiring everything for a set that isn’t built by the Prop department. That includes sets that are built on a soundstage, but also location sites that have to be retrofitted temporarily to have the appropriate wallpaper, fabrics, flooring, wall outlets, light switches, radios, furniture, phones, food boxes, books, etc., etc. for the period in which the scene is set. The Buyer finds these items by looking in prop departments at the studios, but also often by looking on eBay, scouting antique stores, yard sales, etc.
Generally, electronics equipments like radios, telephones, old cell phones, computers, etc, do not need to work for the film, so even non-working items can be sold – it’s not a bad idea to include the word “prop” in your listing for vintage items , especially for non-working items. It is also a good idea to try to provide a date range for vintage and antique items in the listing title.
If you have a large inventory of vintage items, and especially so if you specialize in one or more kind of item (vintage electronics, fabrics, toys, wallpaper, magazines, etc.), you can look at the on-line membership directory of the Set Decorator’s Society of America, most of whom have their business email listed, create an email list, and send an email introducing your business, and describing the kinds of vintage goods you carry. Suggest they bookmark your eBay storefront and check out your storefront the next time they are looking for vintage items for a film set. You might want to include a telephone number for direct communication if they need more information or rapid shipment.
As eBay lets you create categories within your storefront, you could cater to this market by creating categories and listing your items under the appropriate era (e.g., “Vintage 1950s items” “Vintage 1970s items”, etc.) or by product category (“Vintage Toys”, “Vintage telephones”, “Vintage Artwork”, etc.). This could be helpful for other non-film collectors as well. Since I changed my settings to indicate that I combine shipping on multiple items (which I didn’t know I could do before), I am getting a LOT more purchases of multiple items within my store by single buyers, which usually happens because buyers are looking at the categories listed on the left side of my listing page. Using categories this way could be helpful for set decoration buyers who are looking for a variety of goods from a particular period.
Thought this might be helpful to anyone who specializes in vintage items, and wants to create a new marketing niche.5+
05/26/2020 at 7:11 am #77803JayKeymaster
- Location: Virginia
Yep, set decorators and prop masters are big eBay buyers. We usually only sell one thing at a time to them. It’d be great to sell multiples.
I’d love to hear your experience reaching out to prop masters directly. I assume that they just do the search for the items they need, but if you have a large enough inventory of a specific era, maybe they’d make you their go-to. I know there are businesses in LA that specialize in renting set pieces.0
05/28/2020 at 10:00 am #77876amandawParticipant
Thanks for posting about this. Being a set decoration buyer is my dream job! I took the touristy Warner Bros Studios tour and my favorite part was seeing an entire warehouse of just lamps and realizing how their props and set design works. I am definitely going to look into connecting with this group of buyers and I need to clean up my categories so thanks for the reminder.0
06/03/2020 at 5:48 am #78056daisyParticipant
Wow, thanks for this amazing post Arizona Mike! Very good to know. I have thrown out-YES-thrown out many a thing that would have been perfect for a set. I just did not have the room or time to sell and at the time I was not selling on ebay. I, like Jay and Ryanne, used to pick up anything, and everything I found in my travels (in the neighborhood, that is). However, now with this virus, I have passed up much, and am not sure I’ll be picking up anything anymore. Kinda concerned about picking things up now.0
06/03/2020 at 6:22 am #78058Antique FrogParticipant
- Location: Leicester
The organisation that runs the thrift shop where I volunteer is instituting a 72-hour layover for donated goods when they re-open. The fomites (deposits of viruses on surfaces) are reckoned to be inactive after a certain period- the duration appears to depend on the type of surface. I’m more concerned about the tight working space where I sort the books. The primary route of transmission seems te be close proximity to an infected person in an indoor setting.
Reckon picking stuff up off the street is safe so long as you don’t touch your face/head until you’ve washed your hands thoroughly. Also store the goods away from where other people can handle them until after, say, three or four days.
If you’re outdoors in a crowd, and for some reason everybody’s coughing like mad because there’s some noxious chemical in the air, does that mean your chances of being infected go up massively?0
06/08/2020 at 11:56 pm #78235goomba478Participant
It’s so funny you mention this. I had an Apple stainless keyboard that looked gorgeous but was fried in a basement leak we had and was completely worthless…at least, so I thought. I had the crazy idea to list it as a “for replacement parts / movie prop” and sure enough only a few weeks later it was shipping to Hollywood, CA. I looked up the buyer and sure enough, he was a known prop designer for a major movie studio. Talk about funny :).
I hope to see some of my defunct hardware items in a movie some day haha.0
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