Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Enjoying the Process

I get quite a thrill when I find some awesome toy at a thrift shop/flea market/garage sale.  It’s so much fun to speculate on what its history is and where it’s going.  No matter what item I find, it usually gets fixed up in some form or another.

Take, for example, this lovely Grand Champion horse.  When I found her, she had grease pen on her flank and red and black marks all over her body.  Her hair rivaled that of a real horses for texture, frizz, and tangles.

I combed out her hair, along with about 20 other horses and ponies, while watching Dances With Wolves with my hubby.  That movie is long, slow, and doesn’t require much attention, so it’s perfect for restoration work!  After most of the tangles were taken out, the real fun began.


When I’m working on restorations, I slip into this awesome zone where I forget what time it is and I often forget about hunger or thirst.  I’m simply tuned in to the project at hand.  What is this marks origin?  What’s the best way to remove it? A mylar eraser took care of the grease pen and some of the red marks.  Mr. Clean Magic Eraser took care of the rest of the marks.  I conditioned the hair and left the conditioner in for two weeks.

I’m constantly thinking of solutions and whatever I’m working on, even when I don’t have the project physically in front of me. That tumbleweed of a mane and tale wouldn’t leave my thoughts for days. I knew many people on the Arena use flat irons to take care of extreme frizz, but I’ve never owned one or purchased one myself. You have to understand, after all, that I have very fine, wavy hair.  I very rarely blow dry and never flat iron it. I like my hair just fine the way it is.  Why would I purchase something I would never use?

Finally, I caved and added to my restoration arsenal- I bought a flat iron.  WalMart had a flat iron for only $10, so I bought one and dubbed it for “pony use only.”  Oh, my goodness.  These things are amazing! I really wish I would have bought one ten years ago. Check out these before and after pictures:


At the end of all that hard work, she looks amazing.  Now that the zen part is done, it’s time to find her a new home. I’ll have this beauty listed on the website in the next few days!

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Great Pony Migration

If you have ever cleaned/restored a large number of ponies at once, this is a familiar sight:

A dozen or more ponies, lined up along the bathroom sink. Don’t they all look nice and clean?

Ponies will set on my bathroom sink for a couple of weeks while I work on them. Fortunately, hubby doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he will occasionally move them around! I guess he felt the Grand Champion deserved to fly, because she was perched on the vase, high above all her minions.


And Cheerilee? She’s guarding the hand towel.

I love my hubby and his pony tolerating/moving ways.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Free ponies!

I used to work with some really awesome people at a bank. I just loved all of my coworkers and most of the customers!  I still keep in touch with my former coworker; partially because I now work with the step-daughter of one of them!

Last night, just before I left for work, Miss Priss' Mom (that's what I'm calling her!), called me.  She had been thrift shopping down in Zanesville and found something for me.  My ears perked up and I knew... PONIES!

We met at a restaurant that was on the way home for both of us and she presented me with these lovelies.  I just love Miss Priss' Mom's deductive reasoning on the McDonalds ponies.  She knew they looked like a real pony, but didn't have Hasbro anywhere on the hoof.  But, they eyes had the same shape, the same number of lashes, and they had the hearts on the hooves.  She decided to get them for me anyway. I offered to pay for them and she said not to worry about it, they only cost $0.29.  Yup, she got these babies for a dime each!  Whoo-hoo!

Thank you Miss Priss' Mom for thinking of me and my pony obsession =)

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Remember my February Desk Pony, Pinkie Pie?  Poor girl got blown up not too long ago.

Today, we have a happy story about her!

When I came in to work on Tuesday, I noticed a little green thing sitting on the brick we use to keep the door propped open.  Upon closer inspection, it revealed itself to be a little green alligator!

And he seems to be lacking in the teeth department.  Could it really be Gummy?

Yup!  Pinkie Pie now has her little gator friend to keep her company for the remainder of her stay at work.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why I Won’t Sell on eBay

Ah, eBay- land of awesome bargains, surprise sales, and the dumbest rules you’ve ever come across.  My eBay story is a long one, starting way back in 1999, when I started buying and selling things on my dads account.  What joy when I finally turned 18 and opened my own account!  Seriously, first thing I did the morning of my 18th birthday was open my own eBay account.

I used to LOVE eBay.  I would comb flea markets and toy stores for ponies and dinosaurs to sell.  Selling on eBay helped pay for my Girl Scout trip to Europe, paid for my car, and helped pay for college. I used to be a staunch eBay supporter. How could I not, when I could support my college lifestyle with it? Granted, I did have a part time job, but eBay really helped bring in the extra money I needed for tuition, books, and bus passes.

2008 saw a long hiatus from selling or buying.  I refused to support their feedback changes where sellers could no longer leave accurate feedback for buyers.  This move alone could be pointed to as the beginning of a long downhill slide for a once great company.  How could sellers know if a buyer was a problem and cancel bids? Buyers can take their time with payment, be rude, and leave negative feedback for no reason and there is nothing the seller can do about it.

After some long months of adjusting to the thoughts of pointless feedback, I returned to eBay. After all, I’m a great seller with lots of experience. I shouldn’t have problems with people leaving me negative feedback!  Then 2009 came with big changes to seller fees.  Sure, they dropped the listing insertion fee, but increased the final value fee by 80%.  That is a HUGE fee increase.  Frustrated and angry, I quit, vowing to never sell on eBay again.

Like an addict, I returned.  The thought of selling things from home and bringing pony joy to people around the world was too tempting. Besides, I had some credit card debt that needed to be paid off and any extra money I could make on eBay would help with that.  Through 2011, I was selling like a fiend. I would get 20 items a week listed, sometimes more.  The Friendship is Magic line really revitalized the pony market and I had fooled myself into believing the glory days of the early 2000’s had returned to eBay.  Uh, wrong.  One buyer complained about shipping charges, stating that $3 was too much to ship a single blind bag pony.  Uh, when you factor in the cost of the envelope, shipping label, ink, and actual shipping costs, that’s pretty darn accurate.  I usually lost a little money on shipping.  Another buyer who purchased items two weeks apart complained about me not combining shipping.  Their first item had already shipped; it was impossible to combine shipping. Apparently, these two upset buyers, and one other who I have no idea what their problem was, left me 1 or 2 on the star ratings for shipping.

Black Friday, 2011, I logged into PayPal to see what my balance was and to ship some items. There was a message at the top of my account that stated:

“"While you establish a successful sales history on eBay, in most cases, funds from eBay sales are available in 21 days - or sooner, based on how you ship the order. To help get your funds faster, print your shipping labels on eBay or PayPal, upload your tracking information, or mark the items as shipped on eBay. If your buyer reports a problem, it may take longer to get your funds.”

While I establish a successful sales history? I’ve been selling under my own account since 2001. How is a decade not an established history? To make matters worse, there was a link next to each payment stating “Completed- Funds Not Yet Available”  Clicking on the link provided me with the following popup:

After numerous phone calls to PayPal, I discovered that it was eBay who had placed the holds on my funds. When they reviewed my account, the three low DSR’s (Detailed Seller Ratings)  had labeled me a sub-standard seller. Three people who left low ratings in a year had locked up all of my auction funds.

I raged. I complained to numerous people at PayPal and eBay.  I filed reports with the California Attorney General's office. I began a campaign against eBay on the Arena and carefully documented every interaction with both PayPal and eBay.  I even began recording my phone calls because I constantly received conflicting answers from the reps.  One would tell me the restrictions on my account would be removed within 48 hours, the next rep would tell me 30 days, and yet another would say “when your account is next reviewed.”   I was hung up on, placed on hold for an hour at a time, and treated like dirt.  Clearly, eBay does not value their sellers.

The end of November gave me a little hope.  According to May, an eBay rep, all I needed to get the restriction removed was for three individual buyers to leave me all 5 star ratings on the DSR’s.  My account would be reviewed again on December 20th and then the account restrictions would be removed.  I listed three auctions that members of the Arena “purchased” and gave me positive feedback with 5 star ratings.

 Guess what happened on December 20th?  Nothing. The restrictions were still there.  I paid my eBay seller fees and walked away forever.  In fact, when I last logged into eBay to buy something (just last week), I received a notice about my sub-standard performance and a link to information on improving as a seller. That put a sour taste in my mouth and I didn't buy the item. Sorry seller, blame eBay.

My issues with eBay are many.

      1)    The legality of the holds is in question. I was the head teller at a bank for 3 years, so I am very familiar with federal regulations on holding funds. Reg CC states that funds can be held for a MAXIMUM of 14 business days. eBay holding them for 21 calendar days goes far beyond that period of time.

2) I was never notified that my account was in jeopardy of having restrictions placed on it. I was never notified that restrictions were placed on my account. I only found out about the hold after it was placed.

3) It took THREE phone calls to find out why the hold was placed! Customer service is terrible and rude.

4) Even after their criteria have been met, my account still has restrictions.

5) 10 years as a seller, over 800 positive feedbacks with no negatives, and numerous repeat customers is classified as a sub-standard seller.  If my best efforts are trash in eBay’s eyes, then they don’t need my business.

 My husband started calling me “eBay’s Battered Housewife.”  This, while funny, is frighteningly accurate.  Despite the repeated and numerous restrictions that were placed on my account, I kept remembering the good times and telling myself that I could deal with it. The high from selling another item kept calling me back for another pummeling. At this point, even having the restrictions removed would not be enough to bring me back to eBay. I guess I’ve finally taken one beating too many and have left for good.

There is a silver lining to all of this. It pushed me to grow my sales at Etsy and the MLP Arena.  And, it has given me the impetus I needed to get my The New Gray Mare up and running.

It is my goal to provide the ponies and and other items people are looking for quickly, with accurate descriptions, and shipping at cost. I try my hardest to be friendly and fair. I want my customers to have the best online purchasing experience possible. If I can't do that on eBay, then I can do it elsewhere.

For further reading:

My BattleAgainst eBay- at the MLP Arena Traders Support forum (Link will be updated if/when the post gets moved to the new Arena)
The first 14 comments on this thread are my posts copy/pasted from the MLP Arena thread.
Detailed Seller Ratings is Denying Seller’s Rights Warning- possibly offensive language/images

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pinkie Pie at Work

As I have previously posted, I like to have a pony on my desk at work.  For February, it's been Pinkie Pie. This morning, I received the following video in a text message.

RIP, Pinkie

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lights... Camera... Cat?

Light boxes, according to people over at the MLP Arena, are awesome tools for getting the best photographs of ponies or items in general.  I was intrigued by the ideas presented in this post. Good lighting in photos. Hm. 

I love the idea of a light box, but have never built one because of the room it would take up.  Sure, I have the space for 800 ponies, but certainly not for a gigantic box to take photos in!  Besides, any box left laying around here instantly becomes a cat bed.

This idea popped into my head in the birthplace of most ideas, the shower. Why not make a three sided lightbox that can be propped up and flattened for storage? I quickly scribbled down the idea before leaving for work and purchased my supplies on the way home.

Supplies needed:

Ruler/Yard stick
Xacto Knife
Foam Board (whatever size you want.  I got the largest Kroger had available)

Using your handy dandy graphite marking tool and ruler, measure the foam board into thirds.

After you have your board neatly divided, measure measure 1" in from the sides. You need to make windows for the light to get through, so you want to mark what will be cut out on each panel.

 Carefully cut out each window panel. It's best to do this before the next step, or else the board will be too flimsy to hold up when you cut the sides.  Be careful you don't cut yourself! If you're afraid of the knife, allow your feline assistant to help you.


Now, carefully cut along the lines dividing the panel into thirds.  You don't want to cut all the way through the foam board, just through the first paper layer and the foam layer.  This will allow the board to bend, but stay together.

 Your light box is almost ready to use! It should be able to stand up on its own. 


 Now, all you have to do is tape the paper to the openings.  This will diffuse the light and soften shadows.

Your light box is now ready to use!  If it's too short, you can easily prop it up with whatever you have laying around.  I use the green magnetic strips above the art desk to hang fabric from for my backdrops. A lamp was placed at each of the openings to even out the lighting.  Be sure to inspect the inside for any trace of cat treats before photographing ponies!

 And, to show an example of how useful a light box is, the following picture was taken without the lightbox, but with the same three-lamp setup. Notice the shadows between Pinkie's eyes, the sharp shadow on her neck, and the dark shadow under her?  It's not a bad photo, but it can certainly be better.

 This photo was taken with the light box.  The camera settings and light setup are exactly the same. I really should have taken the time to iron my fabric and crop out the light box edges, but those aren't the main focus of the photo.  See how Pinkie is now an even color and almost glows?  This is the difference a light box can make.

 There is a lot more information out there on post-processing your photos and on various lightbox setups.  In fact, I have some nice resources for you!

 When you're done with your photo shoot, the light box can be flattened and placed behind the art desk or wherever you choose to store it. No massive thing to take up precious pony space, but all the benefit!  What more could you ask for?  Chocolate, maybe, but you'll just have to buy that for yourself ;)

Additional lightbox and photo resources:

Taking Professional Looking Photos Without a Professional
Pictures of Ponies and how to take them