Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fisher Price & Tonka Trucks for sale

Yard sale sellers can be all over the map when pricing their stuff.  Some set their prices based on what they originally paid for an item. If they paid a lot, then they think they can sell it for a lot. Other sellers are under the delusion that certain items are highly collectible and jack up their price accordingly. A few consistent examples I've found are; Hess Trucks, Barbie "collectible" dolls, comic books and baseball cards. What sellers don't realize is this mass produced stuff can be found at many garage sales. Hess trucks and Barbie collectible dolls are a dime a dozen around my town. When it comes to modern baseball cards, the market is saturated. There are way too many cards for too few buyers. But good luck trying to explain this to some yard sale sellers.

Not every Tonka is worth big $$$!
I came across a lady with this high-priced mind set at a recent yard sale. Only in her case, it wasn't Barbie dolls or Hess trucks. Instead, it was an overpriced Tonka truck. Not every Tonka is worth big money, particularly the newer versions. It's the older Tonka toys that fetch the high dollars. How can you tell if they're old? Look for all metal parts on the toy. New Tonka trucks use more plastic, particularly in the under chassis. In the case of the lady's Tonka, I found plenty of plastic parts, so I knew it was fairly new. But even though it was newer, I was still interested at the right price. I asked the lady what she wanted for the Tonka? But before she gave me a price, she stated the obvious, informing me it was a Tonka truck.

Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate a teachable moment as much as the next guy. But I already knew it was a Tonka truck...and not just because I am a seasoned garage sale picker. No, it was actually the famous yellow paint and the large letters spelling out "Tonka" on the side of the truck that pretty much gave it away! But having now informed me of what I had in my hands, I waited for the seller to whack me with a high price. That's a consistent trait with sellers who feel the need to announce the name of the item back to you. That's exactly what this lady did, proudly stating she wanted thirty bucks for the Tonka. But since plastic Tonka trucks are barley worth half that, I just nodded and quietly put the overpriced Tonka back on the table. I continued to look around her table hoping to find something she didn't overprice. Soon enough, I found it.

Fisher Price Western Town
As I turned away from the table, I practically tripped over a brightly colored Fisher Price box sitting on the ground. I picked up the box and checked it out. It was a vintage Fisher Price "Western Town" set. I've made some nice money on Fisher Price sets, mostly flipping the more commonly found family house, the school and parking garage sets. Since the Western set is much harder to find, I had a hunch it might do well on eBay. The set contained a jail, cowboys and indians, horses, wagon and a stage coach. The box was a little damp from being outside, but other then that, it was in pretty nice condition. I decided to work the damp box to my advantage. Picking up the box, I asked the seller what she wanted for the set? I added that even though the box was wet, I was still interested in it anyway. She pondered the damp box for a moment. More importantly, unlike the Tonka, she did not announce the name of the toy back to me! Instead, she quoted me a price of only three bills...much more reasonable then her Tonka toy prices! I handed her three dollars and grabbed the (slightly damp) Fisher Price set.

The wet box turned out to be a non-issue and was practically dry by the time I arrived back at MoneyintheGarage.Com Headquarters. A few hours sitting in the back of my truck on a warm spring day will do that. After a little dusting, I set up the Cowboys and Indians for their eBay photo shoot. Having never flipped this particular set before, I was anxious to see how my three dollar investment would do. Turns out, it did great. After a seven day auction run, the set sold for $64 bucks! (Buyer paid shipping.)

That's what I mean about sellers and their prices-all over the map! In the case of my Tonka lady, she way overpriced the Tonka truck and waaaaay underpriced the slightly damp Fisher Price set. You gotta love those type of yard sale sellers...inconsistent and unpredictable!  What's some of the commonly overpriced stuff you've seen at garage sales? Share your examples in the comment section below.....

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A box of highs and lows

Talk about a roller coaster ride! Recently, I found a box of toy cars at a garage sale that generated some great eBay flips for me. But a few other toys from this same box ended up biting me in the backside. Let me share the ups and down of the story.

A few months back, I walked up to a garage sale in one of the local suburban neighborhoods. There were lots of toys and household stuff all lined up along the edge of the driveway. Towards the top of the driveway, I spotted a big box filled with small die cast cars. This grabbed my attention since I am always on the lookout for original Hot Wheels cars from the Sixties. The early Hot Wheels are called "Redlines" and are sought after by baby boomers. It's no kid games when it comes to these Hot Wheels. Many can sell for huge bucks! (The Redlines refer to the red sidewall on the car's tires.) Seeing some older looking cars in the box, I asked the seller if he had any old Hot Wheels? His response hit me like a ton of bricks! Apparently there had been a few old Hot Wheels in the box, but a buyer had grabbed them an hour earlier. Despite hearing this bad news, I kept a calm demeanor and began searching through the box anyway.

Lucky for me, my diligence paid off. The previous guy had missed a few! They weren't in the greatest condition, but I know from experience collectors will still pay decent bucks for almost any Redline. I asked the seller how much he wanted for the cars? He gave me a slightly annoyed look and pointed to the word scrawled on the side of the box which read "Free." Since I am not totally mercenary, I told the guy I'd give him five bucks and take the entire box. With nothing left to negotiate, the guy took my fiver and I tossed the box in the back of my truck.

Redline Hot Wheels - banged up, but still worth $$$!
Redline Hot Wheels can be a sweet eBay flip. While it's rare that I find Redlines, when I do, it's always guaranteed money. Searching through the box back at MoneyintheGarage headquarters, I discovered a total of 14 vintage Hot Wheels. Since some cars are worth more then others, I carefully researched each car on eBay and came up with a game plan to sell them. Because of it's value, I decided to sell a Volkswagen  bus all by itself. The resulting auction earned me $26 dollars. I was off to a good start! Next, I auctioned off two VW bugs. These earned me an additional $21 dollars. Finally, I auctioned off all the remaining, slightly shabby, Hot Wheels in one lot. These guys netted me $28 dollars. Collectively, I made $75 bucks between all the auctions. Pretty good, right? I was on an emotional high! But little did I know, my next sale would soon bring me crashing down to earth!

Looking at the remaining car and trucks, I decided there were no big moneymakers left in the box. The toys all looked like common type stuff, including Matchbox cars, some larger plastic cars and a ton of smaller plastic cars. Content that I'd already made all my big money, I decided to sell the rest in one big lot on Craigslist. I posted a few pictures and listed everything for a twenty dollar bill.

Big bucks hiding in plain site!
With over a hundred cheapie cars for sale, I figured it would take some time before I unloaded this box of junk. But after only a day, a buyer reached out to me. In retrospect, maybe this should have been a sign that something was up. The guy told me he wanted to buy all the cars for his kid. But when we met in the parking lot of my favorite Dunkin Donuts, he changed his story, claiming he was really only interested in two trucks in particular. Pulling the two larger trucks from the box, he asked me if I would just sell them? Since I'd already listed the whole lot for $20, I offered the trucks to him for five bucks. Thanking me profusely, he quickly handed over five bucks. He continued to jabber on and nervously reached into his pocket and handed me another five dollar bill. Being the Honest Abe, I told him he'd already paid me. I then braced myself for some possible bad news and asked why the trucks were so special? He sheepishly admitted that the trucks were "collectible" and pointed to the lettering across the top of the windshield which read, "Stomper". I began to get a sinking feeling.

See the Silver & Camo trucks? Yeah, big bucks!
As he thanked me again for selling him the trucks, I put on a brave face. He then jumped back in his car with the Stomper trucks. I, of course, immediately jumped into my truck and feverishly typed "Stomper" into the eBay search bar on my phone. As the buyer pulled away, I got my answer. Many vintage Stomper cars and trucks can sell for over fifty bucks...Dohhh! The tables had just been turned...the hunter had just become the hunted! Realizing I may have let a hundred bucks slip through my fingers, I exited my truck and began banging my head on the hood. Well, not really...but I wanted to!

Looking back, I really can't beat myself up too much over this missed opportunity. Even if I had noticed the word "Stomper" over the window, I am pretty sure I would have concluded it was decorative and not the actual name of the toy brand. In fact, I'll never really know what those trucks could have sold for on eBay. But I know one thing for sure..they were worth more then the five bucks I got for them! Hopefully, this hard learned lesson will pay off for me in the future.

Have you ever been "schooled" like yours truly? Share your story below.....


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Sunday, June 1, 2014

How I save on Keurig Coffee Makers

Recently, I found myself at my favorite little thrift store and once again came across another great score. Walking along the shelves, I spotted a Keurig coffee maker. But it wasn't your average kitchen countertop Keurig. Nope, this was a heavy duty model usually reserved for offices and business. Dana, the store manager, had priced this special Keurig model at $25 bucks. Not a bad price, considering similar models sell for well over $200 bucks new. I was definitely interested, but a bit nervous about spending $25 big ones for something that might not be working. Not wanting to take any chances, I did what any smart thrift shop picker might do. I decided to plug it in and test it.

Grabbing the bulky coffee maker, I walked to the back of the thrift shop where my buddy, "Sarge" volunteers his time. A former Vietnam vet, Sarge has his own workshop in the rear of the store where he makes repairs to donated items. Usually when I check in on Sarge he's tinkering with some donated item. Other times, he's taking a well-deserved snooze in his chair. The little guy likes to put me to work too, often asking me to help him move furniture when he spots me. Fortunately he cut me a break this day. No heavy lifting was required! With coffee maker in hand, I stuck my head around the corner of the partition that separates Sarge from the rest of the store and asked him if I could plug in the coffee maker? Sarge loves company, so he gladly welcomed me back to his kingdom.

Being invited back to Sarge's work area is a special treat. The main reason I enjoy it so much is because he reminds me of my grandfather and his basement workbench. Like my grandfather, Sarge's bench is neatly organized with lots of little drawers and shelves for all his tools. On one shelf he has an AM radio that's always playing oldies while he works. On another shelf sits a fluorescent lamp shining down on Sarge as he tinkers away. Above the bench on the wall is a cross and an old framed photo of President Kennedy. The President looks down on Sarge as the old veteran makes his repairs. I guess it's a guy thing, but I love hanging out with JFK and good old Sarge at his workbench.

My conversations with Sarge almost always follow the same pattern. He begins by proudly showing me something he's repaired. Usually it's a vacuum cleaner, stereo or boom box. He then tries to convince me that the repaired item is something I just can't live without and urges me to buy it! My response is always the same. No matter what the thing is, I compliment him on fixing it. I then tell Sarge that's although it's really nice, I already have one. (Whether I do or not.) I wrap it up by assuring Sarge his repaired item will sell quickly once it's put out on the shelf. I am not sure if Sarge realizes I give him the same old lines, but he always seems to enjoy our give and take.

Back at the workbench with the Keurig, Sarge showed me where I could plug in the coffeemaker. We also filled the tank with some water. I then turned on the Keurig and while the screen lit up, nothing else happened. As President Kennedy watched from high on the wall, Sarge and I proceeded to fiddle with the Keurig, but to no avail-the thing wasn't working. But even though the coffeemaker looked like a dud, I was still interested. I knew there was a chance Keurig might replace the broken coffee maker if I called their consumer hotline number. As I ran all my options through my head, Sarge called over Dana, the store manager.  It was time to negotiate with her. Telling Dana that the Keurig didn't seem to be working, I asked her if she'd sell me the broken coffeemaker for five bucks? To my surprise, she agreed with no hesitation. With that, I unplugged the coffeemaker, told Sarge I'd see him later, and headed to the front of the store to pay.

If you don't know already, I am big a fan of Keurig coffee makers. I've blogged about these great machines several times in the past. So once I got my office version Keurig home from the thrift store, I really, really wanted it to work.  So much so, in fact, that I decided to give it one more try at home. Setting it up on my kitchen counter, I plugged the machine in and hit the brew button. Guess what happened? Yep, the dog gone thing actually worked! Don't ask me how it happened, because I have no idea. Maybe President Kennedy threw down some Irish luck at me as I was leaving the store? Whatever the reason, the thing was now operating perfectly fine. Needless to say, I was ecstatic! The Keurig now had the potential to earn me some major bucks! With that in mind, I wasted no time posting the miracle Keurig on eBay.

Lo and works!
Keurig coffeemakers are big sellers on eBay. Many used models sell in the range of $40 dollars. Large office versions sell for even more. How'd mine do? The Keurig that miraculously decided to start workinng after  leaving the thrift store sold for $120 dollars! And to give you an idea of how well my luck was going with this Keurig, I'll blow your mind with one more piece of incredible happenstance. You can imagine how hard it is to package a big, bulky Keurig for shipping? Well, not for me. I actually found an empty Keurig coffee maker box for the exact same model in the local school recycling dumpster! I often visit the dumpster to retrieve boxes for shipping. Obviously the school must have purchased the same model and tossed the box with it's packing material in the dumpster! With the recovered box, I just slipped my Keurig inside, slapped a shipping label on it and sent it on it's way. The buyer probably thought it was the originally box for the coffee maker. It sounds unbelievable, but I swear it's true!

All in all, it was a pretty lucky thrift store flip! But that's what makes it all worth while, right? Have you flipped a Keurig or other coffee maker? Share your story in the comment section below. Meanwhile, I think I may go visit Sarge at his workbench. Who knows what I'll find there next?

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Trash to cash....again!

Once again, my neighbor has come through for me! If you read my blog back in January, you'll remember the story. For reasons unknown, my neighbor doesn't want to donate his household goods to Goodwill or hold a garage sale. Instead, my neighbor takes perfectly good stuff he no longer needs and kicks it to the curb for trash pick-up. He's done it so often that I am beginning to think he's messing with me. Maybe the guy gets a chuckle out of seeing me go head first into his trash can? Well let him laugh, because whatever his reasons for throwing away good stuff, the guy is making me some coin!

Are you kidding me? 
Ironically, it wasn't long after I posted my last blog piece about his throwaways, when the guy was at it again. As I drove down the street, I saw something big, bright and colorful sticking out of the top of his trash can. Slowing down to take a closer look, I realized it was a baby exersaucer. If you're not familiar with them, the saucer helps a baby "exercise" by standing in a harness and safely rocking in place. I know from experience that these big hunks of plastic are a fairly common sight at garage sales. Because of that, I wasn't thinking it had a whole lot of value. But with a good track record of flipping my neighbor's trash into cash, I was willing give the baby saucer a shot. After all, who can turn down a freebie sitting right across the street? Not this dude, that's for sure! So just as I did in my previous trash runs, I waited until the cover of darkness to salvage the saucer.

At around 9 PM, it was go-time! Not just for me, but for my dog too! I figured if anyone spotted me, I'd look like I was just out for a nice walk with my dog. After Poochy did his business, we discreetly walked up to the treasure...I mean, trash can. I am not gonna lie....I was pretty slick. With one hand holding Poochy's leash while using my head to keep the lid open, I yanked the saucer out of the trash can. It was now mine! Walking quickly back across the street, I learned something very important - baby saucers are kinda hard to carry with one hand! Making matters worse, as I grappled with the saucer, a neighbor drove down the street. His headlights lit me up like a spotlight, and I could only imagine what he was thinking. Probably something along the lines of, "Why is that dude walking his dog and carrying a huge baby saucer? I felt like an escaped convict in a prison break movies when the big spotlight hits him - so busted!

Soldiering on, I sheepishly nodded at my neighbor as he drove past, then hauled the saucer into my house. Taking a close look at it, I discovered it was an Evenflo "Triple Fun" Exersaucer. Despite the fact that it was in the trash, the saucer was in excellent condition. Using Google's "shopping" search engine, I found tons of listings for the saucer, ranging from Amazon to Walmart. Just about all the sites were selling the saucer for over a hundred dollars! However, there was one small problem. An arched wire with hanging animals was missing! I then remembered that in my rush to pull the saucer out of the trash can, there was something bright and colorful hidden underneath it. It had to be the arch! What good was an Exersaucer without it's arch? There was only one thing to do - I had to go back for that arch! Armed with my flashlight, I snuck back across the street and opened the trash lid. Shining the flashlight into the can, I spotted the missing arch and grabbed it! My Saucer was now complete!

Now that I had everything, it was time to see how much dough I could make. As I've done with past Craigslist ads, I copy/pasted the catalogue description to save me time. Why re-invent the wheel when you don't have to? Check out the listing....

Evenflo Triple Fun Exersaucer ! - $40

EvenFLo Exersaucer in very good, clean condition. Retails for $100 in Target. Below is the catalogue description:

The Evenflo Triple fun Exersaucer offers 11 fun learning activities that help your baby achieve important developmental milestones. Rocking, spinning and bouncing actions strengthen your little one's leg, back and neck muscles. Fully loaded with toys and activities, this height-adjustable exerciser converts to a playmat and activity table. Take With Me Toys transfer to other Evenflo items, and the seat pad removes for easy cleaning. With its Life in the Amazon theme, this colorful entertainer is sure to keep Baby engaged.

Lots of fun for your little one...Hurry before it's gone!

As mentioned earlier, I've spotted many an Exersaucer at the thrift stores and garage sales. Generally, I've ignored them, thinking they're not big sellers. But I may have to re-think that in the future. A few days after posting the exersaucer, I sold it for my asking price of $40 dollars. If you're keeping score, that's a total of $120 dollars pulled from my neighbor's trash over the last several months! Crazy, but true!

Have you sold a baby Exersaucer? If so, how much did you make? Share your flip in the comment section below.  

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Great deals on The North Face

Around my neck of the woods, we've put away the snow shovels and gassed up the lawn mowers. Spring is here! After a slow start, the garage sales are finally starting to pick up, turning my Saturday mornings back into a spring marathon. With the cold weather now behind us, most folks would just assume forget about the brutal winter. But I'll say one positive thing about it. The winter sure was great for coat sales! This observation comes from a dude who doesn't sell many coats on eBay. But after I tell you about this flip, you'll wonder why I don't try to sell more? Check out the story....

Back in early March, I was perusing a local Goodwill and decided to take a quick looksie through the men's coat section. Not expecting to find much, I was flying through the coats when I came to a screeching halt. Hidden between a couple of ratty old raincoats that Columbo might have worn, was a beautiful North Face coat! Because the color was close to fire engine red, the coat would have been hard for me to miss. Pulling it from the rack, I looked it over and discovered it was a Youth Extra Large. In my mind, this was even better. As I discussed in a previous blog, kids love The North Face. If you need proof, just take a stroll through your local mall or movie theatre lobby during winter. You'll see The North face logo everywhere!

Needless to say, I was tickled pink that I'd found a North Face coat at the Goodwill store. To me, it's like finding an expensive diamond ring in the costume jewelry section of Sears. It's not something you're expecting! The coat was priced at five dollars. Think for a moment how crazy that is! Five dollars for a North Face parka coat? Really? I felt like I'd just hit the jackpot! But as I headed to the cashier to pay for it, I knew one thing for sure. Since it was now the beginning of March, the time to sell winter coats on eBay was quickly slipping away. I had to get this North Face parka up on eBay immediately!

The North Face sells!
Once home at the MoneyintheGarage studios, I got busy taking photos of my North Face coat. Among the many shots, I especially like to take a few close-ups of the The North Face logo on the front of the coat. When you get right down to it, the main reason people buy North Face is so they can proudly show off that famous logo on their chest. Very few people are actually scaling the "North Faceof a mountain in these coats. It's all about what's hot in fashion-not what's going to keep you warm as you reach the peak of Mount Everest. For now, it's definitely North Face. With that in mind, I enticed bidders with a close-up shot of the logo. During the photo session, I also came across an additional piece of good fortune with the coat. I discovered it had a fleece liner which could be removed and worn as a separate jacket. Whoo-hoo.....bonus points! I now had two coats in one. An important and very practical feature I bragged about in the auction description!

The North Face coat was posted less then 24 hours after I purchased it. While I would have preferred to post the coat in January, early March still brings with it plenty of cold weather. In fact, I may have over analyzed the timing of my auction because bidders didn't seem to care. My North Face coat sold for $85 dollars. No matter what time of year, that's some cold hard cash!

As great as that flip was, I am actually hoping to duplicate it. I recently found another North Face coat at Goodwill. But I am not taking any chances. The coat is going into storage until next winter. Hopefully, it will be something to blog about next year! How'd you do with cold weather sales? Sell any North Face or other coats you found in a thrift store? Share your flip in the comment section below....  

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Beyblades are a sure thing. (I hope)

One of my BeyBlade scores
Last week, I was contacted by Janet. She's a fellow thrift store picker who learned about the popularity of BeyBlades after reading about the toys on my blog. Using this knowledge, she then wisely scored a huge lot of Beyblades for only ten bucks at her local thrift store. After inventorying her mega score, Janet contacted me to ask how she should go about listing them on eBay?

If you're not familiar with them, Beyblades are basically spinning tops on steroids. They come with a launcher and ripcords which shoot the Beyblade into an arena where they do battle with a fellow Beyblades. I've blogged about Beyblades in the past, pointing out that they sell for big money on eBay. After congratulating Janet on her mega score, I advised her to check other auctions on Ebay in order to get some ideas on how to list them. I added that taking plenty of photographs was important, since it gives bidders the opportunity to look over the toys. Janet followed these steps, posting her Beyblade lot in a seven day auction with a confident starting bid of $49 dollars. She also provided me a link to the listing. This way, I could watch the bids roll in. The only problem was...there were no bids!

I have to say, I was more then a little surprised. Like a coach watching his player on the field, I nervously paced the eBay sidelines while Janet's auction sat dormant with no bids. As the days ticked by with still no bids, I wondered what was going on? Sure, I know buyers often like to watch an auction for a loooong time before bidding, but kid's toys are usually different. Kids have no patience-they bug their parents to get the bidding started! I began to wonder what the problem was? Did the bottom drop out of the BeyBlade market? Had the Beyblades craze end without anyone informing me? Whatever it was, the auction dragged on. Day five of the auction came and went with still no bids. Things were getting worrisome-the Dude's reputation was on the line here! It's sort of embarrassing when you tell folks that something is a big seller...then that something doesn't sell. Talk about getting egg on your face...I was ready to break out the washrag!

But despite the depressing lack of bids, Janet found a nice way to put a positive spin on the whole ordeal. About halfway through the auction, with no bids yet, here's what she wrote to me:

"Dude......Here is what I'm thinking. If I were to go to the movies, even on senior day, it would cost right around $7.  Add in my popcorn (that I MUST Have) and I am at more than $10 dollars. That's the same money I have into these tops! Heck, the entertainment just researching, listing and following has been worth much more than the $10 I have invested! I'm all good with them selling for just enough to cover my cost and postage ......I suspect I will have a nice profit. But if I don't, I figure that the entertainment value has me in the black before I receive single bid. I want to thank you again for all the things you have taught me!" - Janet  

I couldn't agree more with Janet's positive outlook. (Especially the part about eating popcorn in a movie-I MUST have movie popcorn too!) But fortunately, Janet didn't have to settle for just covering her costs. It took a while, but after a long wait, Janet watched three eBay bidders battle it out for her Beyblades. When the battle was over and the dust settled, Janet's Beyblades sold for an incredible $76 dollars!  After the auction ended, Janet contacted me again to say thanks. (Which was very nice of her.) She also told me something very interesting, pointing out that her auction had over 350 page views. An awesome auction for Janet and a testament to Beyblades continued popularity. Congrats to Janet on a great score and an outstanding profit of $66 dollars. That should pay for a lot of movie popcorn!

So until otherwise noted, let me just say it again...

                               When you see em!!!! 

Have you flipped any Beyblades, or similar toy? Share your story in the comment section below.    

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Is there a return policy at garage sales?

In my town, the start of the garage sale season began last week. Overall, I'd have to say it was a pretty good opening day. What started off as three sales, turned into more, as I came across a few bonus sales not listed on Craigslist. I did better then expected. In all, I bought four things, and oh yeah, I made one return. You read that right. I actually returned something to a seller only hours after I bought it. It's the first time I've ever made a garage sale return. Although I'll admit it's unusual to return something to seller, you'll see why I did it after I share the story.

It started out looking like a pretty good purchase. At one of the garage sales, a guy had two vintage
Vintage metal toy train
metal locomotives for sale. They were battery operated tin toys made in Japan and sold back in the Fifties and Sixties. I've had some decent luck flipping the old tin toys, including a Sixties era rocket ship I bought for a buck and sold for $90 smackaroos! With the memory of that great score in my head, I was definitely interested in the trains. The trains were identical, measuring a foot in length. Holding them up to the seller, I asked what he wanted for them? He took a long drag on his cigarette, then puffed out, "Gimme $50 for both." I then asked a very important follow-up question. Did they work? He assured me they did, laying out a long-winded story about how he owned the trains since he was a kid and adding he took excellent care of them. He even got into an elaborate description, promising me that the trains blew smoke when they operated. (I'd later find out who really was blowing smoke.) As I continued to look the trains over, I began the dance, asking if he'd take $40 for the pair? He countered with $45 adding, "That's a bargain, they go for a lot more then that!"

First of the season finds!
This was my first serious garage sale negotiation of the season. Typically when the yard sale season begins, I have to be extra cautious. I have a tendency to be a little more "loose" with my money and more willing to take risks on stuff. The excitement of those first few Saturdays can cause me to blow through cash like a drunken sailor on weekend leave! In the case of those toy trains, I would have been more cautious had it been later in the season. But chalk it up to cabin fever, because even though I knew buying old battery operated toys can be risky, I shelled out the $45 dollars anyway! After paying, the seller wrapped up the two trains in bubble wrap and I headed home.You can see them in the photo on the left, peeking out of the bubble wrap. (I'll save the Apple Computer score for another day.)

Once home, the moment of truth had arrived. I unwrapped the trains and retrieved some batteries to test both out. Gently slipping in the batteries, I closed the compartment door and flicked on the switch. Guess what happened next? Dead silence-I got nothing! No light, no wheels moving and definitely no smoke that the seller had bragged about! Although things were starting to look bleak, I still had one more train that could salvage the deal. I went through the same drill and turned on the switch. Once again-nothing! I stared at the trains in frustration. For the sum of $45 bucks, I was now the proud owner of two hunks of worthless tin!

As I said earlier, I've never asked a seller for my money back. After all, it's not like I bought the trains at Sears or Walmart. Everyone knows that garage sale purchases can be risky. But this garage sale purchase was different. The guy not only assured me they were working, but he went into this big elaborate story about the smoke puffing out the stack! Worst of all, his bragging that the $45 dollar price tag was, as he said, "a bargain" was now burning my biscuits! I decided I wasn't going to be stuck with this almost $50 dollar "bargain." The trains were going back.

Arriving back at the garage sale, I found the seller lounging comfortably in a soccer chair. I decided my plan of attack would be to start off friendly, raising the attitude only if he gave me some resistance. Fortunately, the guy was cooperative. He tried to feign some mild bewilderment over the fact that the trains didn't work. He even tried to get me to bite on the idea of a half price refund, suggesting I keep the trains. I didn't take the bait though. Even at twelve dollars a piece, the broken trains were no deal, much less a bargain. After returning my hard earned cash, I suggested to the guy that he look into having them repaired. He agreed, but I am sure he won't pursue that angle. My guess is he just put the trains back out on his table to sell. Hopefully, he told any potential buyers that they weren't working.

It was an interesting start to the garage sale season. But despite the train deal that almost went bad, I still scored some other awesome finds that hopefully will be blog-worthy in the near future. How's it going so far for you? Have you ever returned something you bought at a yard sale? Share your "deals gone bad" in the comment section below.

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