Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Making big money with a little money

Christmas in July
As October arrives, I am starting to get psyched up for holiday finds and flips. The season really begins with Halloween. To kick it off with a bang, I currently have several Halloween inflatables up for sale on Craigslist. It’s also football season, so in the last few weeks I’ve bought and sold a couple of football themed inflatables. Obviously this time of year is the exact right time to begin holiday themed sales. But I'll admit...I got a bit of a head start. Back in the summer, I scored a Christmas themed polar bear on my local Facebook yard sale group. The seller was asking only five dollars! This polar bear was huge, measuring eight feet tall. The rule of thumb with inflatables is this; the taller they are, the more money they sell for. Normally, I would have waited until the holidays to flip this big guy, but I got itchy, so he was posted on Ebay in July. This was right around the time QVC had their annual "Christmas in July" sale. It sounds crazy, but I really do think those QVC promotions prompt buyers to run to eBay and start shopping for Christmas. It did for my polar bear. He sold for $45 the middle of summer!

Flexo table lamp, Of course it works!
Hopefully that flip was a sign of solid holiday sales to come. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some non-holiday finds and flips. Up first is this very heavy-duty, articulated lamp made by Flexo. I found this contraption in the driveway of a local yard sale back in the summer. The sale was hosted by a long-married couple looking to clean house. When I asked the lady the price on the lamp, she quoted me five dollars. She then felt the need to add, “Oh, it works.” Hearing this, her husband, who was lugging household items down the driveway, proceeded to bark at his wife, "Of course it works. I wouldn't put it out here if it didn’t!”  As he continued to grumble a little more, I leaned over to check out the lamp. At only five bucks, buying this vintage piece was a no-brainer. I knew there was easy money to be made. I handed Mr. Grumpy a five dollar bill and picked up the light. When I did, I nearly threw my back out! The weighted base was as heavy as a bowling ball! I struggled with a two-handed grip on the base, slowly limping down to my truck while being careful not to drop it on my foot. A few days later, I wrestled with the lamp again for a photo shoot, taking pictures of it from all angles and positions. The light then went up for sale on Craigslist under the title; "Vintage Flexo Articulating Drafting Industrial Light.” That got the attention of a young hipster, who agreed to pay me $60 dollars for the lamp. I managed to make $55 dollars on the deal and not throw my back out...a good day for me!

Our dining room guest
Keeping with the industrial theme, here’s a beautiful wood stool I picked up at yard sale not long ago. When you're talking the industrial look, usually that means an item with all metal construction. If it has some dirt and grime on it, all the better! While this stool was mostly made of oak, it still had a grimy, metal under chassis in keeping with the industrial feel. The seller was yet another “downsizer" who was cleaning house in order to move South. Ironically, I am also attempting to clean house for an eventual move. More then once during this current yard sale season, Mrs. Dude has sternly cautioned me to keep the big size purchases down to a minimum. But at two bucks, how could I say no to a vintage industrial style stool? Naturally, I could not! The seller got his two bucks and once again, I awkwardly carried a prized treasure back to my truck. Much to Mrs. Dude's annoyance, I stored the oak stool in our dining room. This unused room sometimes serves as a weigh station for big purchases that I figure will sell quickly. After all, why haul something down to the MoneyintheGarage secret bunker, when it will be brought right back up again? Secondly, how often do you use a dining room anyway? We eat at the kitchen table! The dining room is used only for holiday feasts, and with Thanksgiving dinner months away, I had plenty of time to move the stool. Mrs. Dude wasn’t really buying into this theory, but I actually wasn’t too far off. The oak stool hung around for about three weeks. I listed it on Craigslist using hot buzzwords like; "Vintage Industrial Draftsman Stool" and "Shabby Chic.” I assured a skeptical Mrs. Dude that with this kind of masterful marketing, the stool would surely not be around around the dining room for very long! Sure enough, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in August, I met a buyer at the local post office. He paid me $75 big ones for the old stool. Not bad money for a three week stay in our dining room!

Have you had some good industrial style flips? Let’s hear about them in the comment section below. Enjoy the fall yard sale season!

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Make money selling stuff you don’t own

Who hasn’t browsed a thrift shop and found something that you just couldn’t decide whether to buy or not? I’ve been stuck in this situation numerous times. When I am in doubt, I usually go to my trusty iPhone and start looking up prices on eBay. But what if you can’t find it on eBay? It’s back to square one! For me, all the agonizing boils down to one thing: will it sell fast? There’s nothing worse then shelling out hard-earned cash for an item, then getting stuck with it for months until the right buyer comes along. A few weeks ago, I was faced with this dilemma, but rather then leaving it up to chance, I came up with a clever little sales experiment instead. It’s something I’ve been thinking about trying for a while and in in this case, it actually worked. Here’s what happened...

On Google Images
Dropping in my local thrift shop last month, I came across a set of children's street safety signs. The three piece set consisted of a figure holding a bright flag, plus two folding “Slow” signs. All the signs were in excellent condition and the price couldn't be beat-$8 dollars for the complete set! But even though it sounded like a pretty good deal, I hesitated on buying them. As mentioned in previous blogs, I am really trying to be careful about what I bring home, especially large stuff that takes up space in my garage. After looking over the signs, I walked around the store completely distracted, while debating in my head whether to buy them or not? The big question being-could I sell this set quickly? That’s when it hit me...why not post them on my Facebook yard sale group before I even paid for them? In other words, post them right then and there and continue shopping. I could kill a little time browsing, while waiting to see if any buyers would bite on the listing. Admittedly, the whole idea was a little risky. There was always the chance another store customer could have bought them while I was browsing, but I thought it was worth a shot. Not wanting to attract any attention by taking photos of the actual set, I found a few Google images of the signs and used it to post the set on my local FB yard sale group. I then priced the set at $30 dollars. After posting, I continued to browse around the thrift shop. After about ten minutes, I checked my phone again. Sure enough, a buyer jumped in and said they were interested! With that, my question on whether the signs would sell was answered. I put my phone back in my pocket and walked the signs up to the sales counter to pay for them. Later that day, the buyer came by MoneyintheGarage headquarters and forked over $30 bucks for the set. My great sales experiment had paid off..selling something that I didn’t actually own when I posted it. A risky sales technique, but one that I can’t wait to try it again!

Ummm, what’s going on here? 
Getting back to more normal flips, I've had some nice little money makers recently. While all my flips give me a warm feeling inside, I particularly like low cost “smalls" that turn into “big" profits. Who wouldn’t, right? For example, not long ago I came across this vintage  tumbler with what appears to be a gag cartoon printed on the side. The vintage logo and bright graphics caught caught my eye, not to mention the the bawdy depiction of two flying geese. I am guessing it was originally some sort of funny “gag" item you might find in a Spencer gift store? Whatever the intention, I looked it up on eBay and discovered an identical glass brought in decent money. Since Goodwill was only asking 99 cents for the glass, I really had nothing to lose. Turns out, I was spot on! A week later, I sold the tumbler for $35 dollars on eBay! Crazy, right? Naturally, I now look for this tumbler every time I walk into a thrift shop! Hopefully I’ll find a few more in the future.

Big guy...big sale! 
With the summer winding down, there's a new season almost upon us. No, not fall, I am referring to football season! It's only a few weeks away until the season officially begins. With this in mind,
I’ve started to check my current inventory for football items to post. For example, one of the best sales I recently made was this huge Gemmy inflatable football player. I acquired him last spring at a yard sale for ten dollars and nearly forget about him. He was new/old stock and still sealed in his plastic bag. After buying him, I tossed the box in the corner of my garage with plans to sell him during football season. I actually forgot about him, but re-discovered the box when I was straightening up the garage. I immediately put him up on on eBay. These large inflatables demand big bucks on eBay and my guy was no exception. I sold him for a “Buy It Now” price of $150 dollars! You may wonder why I did so well with him? Two reasons: he was new in the box, and at eight foot high, one of the tallest inflatables available. With sales like that, I continue to be a big fan of yard inflatables. While there's always a risk of getting stuck with a leaky inflatable, I feel it’s worth taking the chance due to the money you can potentially make. In fact, I have a few Halloween inflatables that will be going up on eBay in a few months. I’ll be sure to post about those sales come Halloween time.  

How’s sales for you this summer? Like my safety signs, have you ever sold something you didn’t actually own? Share your story in the comment section below......

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Of bikes and men.

The yard sale season chugs along with a few decent scores by yours truly. At the same time, I've also had a few strikeouts, including this past Saturday, when I missed out on what would have been the score of the week. It was one of those sad stories most yard sale pickers have been through. In my case, I carefully planned out my Saturday morning stops, but ended up making a costly miscalculation. I decided to make a community yard sale in a suburban development my very first stop of the morning. Upon arriving there, I discovered only a few houses were actually participating. Making matters worse, the few houses open for business were offering mostly newer kiddy toys. Not exactly what I am looking for when it comes to flipping eBay stuff. After wasting approximately a half hour trying to find some decent sales, I finally gave up the ghost and headed to a garage sale located on the other side of town. Walking up the driveway, I spotted a Panasonic Shortwave radio tagged for five dollars. These days, a quality shortwave radio can make you some serious bucks, so I was pretty psyched when I spotted the Panasonic. But as I bent over to pick up the radio, a big guy standing nearby uttered those dreaded words all yard sale pickers hate to hear.  “Sir, I just bought that.” Ouch! It was like a dagger to my heart! Hearing that, I released my death grip on the prized radio and lamely complimented the guy on his find. Then with head hung low, I slowly walked back to my truck empty handed. Being a bit of a masochist, I decided to torture myself further and look up the radio on eBay. Imagine my depression upon discovering the radio would have earned me at least $150 or more on eBay. Double ouch! It’s at this point when I began to mumble to myself in disgust. If ONLY I had decided to go to that garage sale first, rather then the stupid community yard sale...the radio would have been mine! A major bummer that could have ruined my day, but as Rocky said in his last movie, “It ain't about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit....and keep moving forward!” He’s right. So after taking that hit, I am moving forward to focus on the positive. (Thanks Rock!)

Take this vintage bike for example. About a month ago,
Sears bike before...
I rolled up to a yard sale being held by a 30-ish guy who’s father had recently passed away. The son told me he had traveled up from his Florida home to settle his Dad’s estate. This was the reason for the yard sale. Like the missed shortwave radio, an earlier visit to his sale probably would have netted me some pretty sweet finds. However, there was still a vintage bike left for sale. The bike was from Sears and dated back to the mid-Sixties. Although it had some surface rust and was dirty, it was was still in decent shape for it’s age. The son explained his Dad was the original owner. In fact, dangling from the handlebars was a string envelope containing the Sears warranty and paperwork to prove it. With nothing much left at the sale for me to buy, I decided this overlooked bike could turn out to be a decent score. After a little back and forth with the son, I bought the bike for twenty bucks and headed home.

When you’ve been at this game as long as I have, you develop a few “clients” who can be easy go-to buyers. One of my clients is a guy named Tony-a retiree who likes to restore and flip old bikes. Tony is a great guy and really knows his stuff when it comes to vintage bikes. Once I got the bike home, I immediately texted him to see if he’d be interested in buying it. It took a few hours for Tony to get back to me, but by late afternoon he was pulling up to my house to check out the bike. Slowly walking up my driveway, he apologized for not responding to my text right away. He explained he’d been enjoying a nice, mid-afternoon power nap. Now fully refreshed, Tony gave my bike his professional evaluation. Right off the bat, he told me he was not a buyer. He sheepishly admitted that at the behest of his wife, he was not looking to add any more bikes to his extensive inventory. Instead, he suggested I clean up the bike myself and flip it. He gave me a few tips, suggesting I remove the basket from the handlebars and clean up all the chrome with some steel wool (SOS). With his encouragement, I agreed to give it a shot. We shook hands and Tony reminded me to send him pictures once I had cleaned the bike up.

...and after.

It took a few weeks, but on a nice hot summer day I
pulled out the garden hose and went to work on the bike. After applying the SOS steel wool pad to the rims and handlebars, the old bike’s chrome began to shine. I then stole dishwashing liquid off of Mrs. Dude’s kitchen sink to gently wash the bike frame. In less then an hour I had the bike sparkling! With some extra effort and time, I could have even applied some car wax to the bike frame. But it was pretty hot outside, so I decided to pass on the extra work involved with a “Wax-on...Wax-off” process. Besides, the bike was looking good with just an hour of effort. I texted a few photos of my handiwork to Tony and he agreed! The bike was now ready for re-sale. I then rode the bike over to a local school field for a photo shoot. It was beautiful sunny day and the photos of the now-cleaned up bike really popped against the green grass and blue sky! Excited to see how my restoration would do, I posted the bike on Craigslist for $125 dollars. Two days later, I had a buyer in my driveway admiring the old bike. After some negotiating, I agreed to take $100 bucks for the bike. While I was hoping to get more, I always believe in the old "a bird in the hand is better then two in the bush” adage. But my profits were not limited to the bike sale alone! I later sold the original metal basket for five bucks on Facebook. Lastly, the original  bike warranty papers are on target to net me around $30 dollars on eBay! Taken together, I made over a $100 dollar profit and brought a dusty old bike back to life! That’s what makes this business so much fun!

That’s one ugly bike! 
And since we’re on the subject of bikes, here’s one I flipped a few years ago. I bought this ugly duckling at Goodwill for six dollars a few years ago. Not exactly on the level of a Schwinn, or even a Sears, this bike was a some sort of no-name brand. But it caught my eye, and at only six bills, how could I pass it up? Back then, I was not into cleaning up bikes for re-sale. In fact, short of sand blasting, I doubt there was much I could have done to get this old clunker to shine. So it went on Craigslist “as-is”. But as ugly as it was, the old bike did find a home. A gentleman offered me fifty bucks for it with one condition-that I deliver it to his house. Since I am always up for a drive, I tossed the bike into my truck and rolled it right up to the guy’s doorstep! He handed me fifty big ones....not a bad profit for a six dollar investment!

How’s your sales going? Flip any bikes or other modes of transportation for fun and profits? Share your story in the comment section below!

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Selling HGTV Fixer Upper farmhouse stuff

After a fairly mild winter around these parts, spring has now arrived and along with it, the yard sale season! Around my town, the season seems to have officially started last Saturday with several neighborhoods hosting huge yard sales. I hate it when multiple neighborhoods host their sales all on the same day. There’s just too much ground to cover. After all, I am only one guy with a truck! In any case, I did the best I could and came up with a couple of nice finds. One find has already netted me a few bucks. Here’s the story...

Kelty Kids Carrier
When faced with a big neighborhood sale with many streets to cover, I sometimes resort to the “drive-by” technique. This well-honed practice has me slowing down to a crawl in my truck, then giraffe necking while attempting to gander from a distance at the seller's stuff. It’s a time efficient, but risky technique since you can’t always see what might be hidden in a driveway. Last Saturday, I was executing my best drive-by when I noticed a seller with a huge amount of promising stuff in her driveway. As such, I deemed the stop “worthy” and pulled over to take a closer look. Walking up the driveway, I spotted a Kelty Kid’s carrier. These carriers are pretty high-end kid gear and cost big bucks when new. Eyeing it over, I asked the seller, a grandmotherly type, how much she wanted for it? She threw it right back at me with the overused, “make me an offer” response. It’s a pain when a seller won’t get the ball rolling and just name a price. When they don’t, they probably regret asking me to start the dance because I usually low-ball them. In this case, I decided to offer her a whopping five bucks for the Kelty Kids carrier. Naturally, she countered at ten bucks. Looking over the kid carrier a bit more, I commented that I had to be careful because I was under strict orders not to bring big, bulky stuff home. (A fact more or less true, since Mrs. Dude and I are trying to downsize in preparation for an eventual move.) This seemed to hit home with the grandmom and she quickly changed her tune, blurting out, “Okay, I’ll take five”. The next thing I knew, the big, bulky Kelty Kids carrier was heading home with me. Although it really was big and bulky, I didn’t need to worry about it taking up space in my garage. I posted it on Craigslist that afternoon for $35 dollars. By Tuesday it was sold. A thirty dollar profit for something I stored in my garage for only three days! I wish they all went that easy and quick.

Would Joanna hang this up? 
Speaking of downsizing, the saga continues for Mrs. Dude and I. In a recent excursion into my attic, I hauled down a large box of household items that had been packed away for many years. The box turned out to be a veritably Eighties time capsule, containing household decorative type stuff from our first home. Among the odds and ends was this neat poultry feedbag. This old feed bag brought back some nice memories for me. Long before Joanna Gaines of HGTV's, “Fixer Upper” decorated in her farmhouse country style, a lot of people, including us, were doing the Eighties version. If you were around back in the Eighties, you might remember that earlier farmhouse look. Instead of current color schemes of black, grays and shiplap, it was powder blue, white and stenciling....lots of stenciling! In our first house, Mrs. Dude had me slapping powder blue paint all over our kitchen, including the cabinets and wood trim around our windows. She then went crazy, stenciling decorative country borders on the walls, lamp shades and pillows. This Eighties farmhouse look was completed with some neat accent pieces, including the poultry feedbag. I liked it and even though we lived in a row home near a big city, our little place could pass for a farmhouse in Iowa. Even now, I would have no problem hanging that feedbag back up on the wall. (Neither would Joanna Gaines for that matter.) But alas...that was then....and this is now. That little country kitchen was three houses and thirty years ago. Today, Mrs. Dude has no love for the old poultry bag, so with her say-so, it went on eBay. Seven days later, the feedbag sold for $35 dollars. If by some miracle it ends up on a wall on HGTV's Fixer Upper, I’ll be sure to say, "I told you so" to Mrs. Dude!

The Masters chair 
Moving on, I am noticing a theme of $35 dollar sales, so let’s keep it consistent with this nice little find. About year ago, I headed to a garage sale held by a well-traveled and very affluent senior citizen. He too was downsizing and if you had seen his huge house, you would know why. The home could best be described as a French style, mini-castle right down to a turret! His yard sale reflected the look of his castle, with lots of antiques, art prints and various other high-end stuff. Included in this menagerie was a Master’s tournament portable folding chair. Each year attendees to the Masters Golf tournament purchase these light weight chairs to tote with them as they follow their favorite player along the course. Golf nuts will also buy on them on eBay. Interestingly, the year printed on the chair is also important to collectors. Fans like to buy chairs from the year their favorite player won the Masters. I’ve come across a few of these chairs in my garage sale excursions and will buy them if the price is right. (Usually five bucks.)  This particular chair had it's original price tag still attached which always helps the value. I hoped to get the old-timer to come down on his price of $12 bucks, but he wasn’t budging. Since it's not every day you find a Masters Tournament chair, much less one with it’s tag still attached, I decided to pay him his asking price. Although I was starting at a higher initial investment, I still did okay flipping the chair. It sold on eBay for $35 dollars. After fees, this worked out to be about a twenty dollar profit. Not bad, but hopefully my next Masters chair will be snagged for the usual five bucks, instead of twelve.

How’s the Spring yard sales treating you? Have you ever done the yard sale drive-by? Fill us in on your latest yard sale adventures in the comment section below.....


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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to make big bucks on Facebook.

As we enter spring, my downsizing efforts around the house continue. So much so, that I’d be justified in changing the title of my blog to "Money in the Attic.” It’s been fun getting rid of stuff that I’ve held onto for way too long and get paid for it!  But for now, I’ll resist elaborating on some pretty good household flips for a later blog. Instead, I’d like to share a few more recent Facebook yard sale group flips. As mentioned in a blog post last year, joining a FaceBook yard sale group is an excellent way to acquire things to sell on eBay. One of the best things about using FaceBook is you never have to leave the comfort of home to accumulate inventory! Just sit back and and wait for sellers to post their stuff on Facebook. Since joining a couple of these groups, I've been able to lay claim to some truly awesome finds. If you haven’t joined a Facebook yard sale group, you should. Here’s a few examples to get you motivated to sign up...

Lego: Buy on FaceBook... sell on eBay.
Followers of my blog know I am a big fan of Lego sets. Whether it's Harry Potter, Star Wars or other themed-based sets, it's rare that I don’t make pretty good money flipping Legos. A few months ago, I came across an unassembled "Mars Explorer” set on Facebook. Being ever vigilant on FB, I was the first to click “interested” and paid $25 dollars for the set. Obviously, it’s always best to try to be the first person to claim an item on FB. However, even if you’re not first, type “interested"and wait in line. Whether you're second, third or even dead last, occasionally people in front of you will pass, giving you a chance to claim the item. In the meantime, once you’ve claimed your spot in line, you can research the item on eBay to check it’s value. If you learn it’s not a big money maker, you can always tell the seller you’re passing on it. In the case of my Lego Mars Explorer, there was no need to pass. Although the seller was asking a hefty sum of $25 bucks, my eBay research told me I could easily double or triple my investment. After picking up the set from the Facebook seller, I posted it on eBay. It sold in a seven day auction for $95 dollars. That earned me a profit of $70! Not bad...not bad at all.

Bose “Wave" Stereo
Here’s another nice solid Facebook flip I made back in the fall. I found this Bose “Wave” radio on my local
FB yard sale group for $100 bucks.  If you think that's a little pricey, normally I would agree with you, but not when it comes to a Bose radio. Pound for pound, Bose Wave radios are recognized by audio fans as a quality piece of equipment that blasts out incredible sound for it’s small size. New, these bad boys sell for around $400 or more! Because of this, I knew I'd have no problem re-selling this Bose on eBay. Once I acquired the radio, I found it was a little older then I originally thought. It also needed some cleaning up. But not to worry, a few squirts of Windex and I had the Bose Wave ready for resale on eBay. I started the auction for exactly what I paid - one Benjamin. The auction proved Bose radios attract plenty of interest. Over the seven days, bidders pushed my radio up to a final selling price of a $160 big ones! An easy FB flip if ever there was one.      

Canon Rebel camera
But hold on, I can do one better then that! What would you pay for a nice Canon “Rebel" 35 mm digital camera set, complete with four extra lens and a carrying bag? How’s about fifty bucks? That’s what I shelled out on this very nice Facebook yard sale group score. This particular deal required a little more effort on my part. The seller was located the next town over from me and required a night time porch pick up. With Mrs. Dude driving and me riding shotgun, we headed to the house on one of those cold, nasty, December nights. It was the kind of miserable weather that makes me understand why people flee to Florida in the winter. Once we arrived at the house, I leaped out of the car and made a mad dash for the front porch while the cold wind pummeled my face! After leaving fifty dollars under the seller's doormat, I bolted back to the car, took a quick peak inside the camera bag to make sure it was all there, then tossed it into the backseat of the car. I didn’t sell the camera right away. At the time, the holidays were right around the corner and I already had plenty of things to sell. In fact, I nearly forgot about the camera and lenses until about a month ago when I finally decided it was time to flip it on eBay. In all honesty, something about selling big, multiple-piece lots can bring out the lazy in me. I tend to procrastinate on selling big lots on eBay due to the extra work involved. But knowing that there could be a serious pot of gold at the end of the sale, I got down to business. Extracting the Canon Rebel camera and all the lenses from the bag, I carefully laid everything out for some eBay photos. This included multiple views of all the lenses to show none were scratched or dinged. After this painstaking photo shoot, I posted the entire lot to a ten day auction on Ebay. The results should teach me to be a little more motivated next time. The Canon Rebel camera lot sold for $207 dollars on eBay! The buyer was located on the West Coast, and after receiving the camera, he couldn’t post positive feedback fast enough. I love it when I make big time money and the buyer thanks me for it on eBay! With that kind of money at stake, next time I get a camera lot I’ll be sure post the stuff on eBay lickety-split!

Not your average Uggs!
As good as all these FB scores were, I have one last deal that tops them all. In this case, the credit has to actually go to Mrs. Dude, who scooped up this incredible deal on Facebook. Back in the Fall, she was the first to claim a pair of embroidered Uggs boots on our local FB yard sale group. If you ask me, with colors of brown, black or white suede, most Uggs are pretty much all the same. Not this pair though. The Uggs Mrs. Dude found were decorated with a fancy embroidered floral pattern running up and down the suede boot. Apparently, these were not your run-of-the-mill Uggs. They can also be expensive. Recognizing this, Mrs. Dude snapped the boots up for an insanely low price of $25 dollars! Initially, I was completely oblivious as to how great a score these Uggs actually were. That was until Mrs. Dude educated me, pointing out embroidered Ugg boots sell for around $300 dollars in the stores! Hearing this, I couldn’t wait to see what Mrs. Dude’s boots would bring on eBay. I eagerly posted them to an eBay auction and a week later, they sold for a sweet $175 dollars. Thanks to Mrs. Dude's fashion sense and a quick click of the mouse, we made an impressive profit of $150 big dollars on the boots!

That’s a few great examples of what can be done using Facebook yard sale groups. Everyone loves to read about a good eBay flip story, right? If you use Facebook to score eBay inventory, share a few of your flips in the comment section below!

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Downsize and make money !

January could be one of the slowest times of year to sell on eBay. People are tapped out from their holiday buying binge and aren’t in the mood to spend. But sales eventually pick up as the weeks go by. In the meantime, there's plenty of things I could be doing here at Money in the Garage. For one thing, my work area is still a mess from preparing holiday packages to ship out. There’s also a ton of empty boxes that need to be stacked away, along with other general housekeeping. On the other hand, I can get to cleaning up later. It’s a lot more fun to head out to the thrift shops to find fresh inventory!

There’s also another long-term project I am trying to focus on. In the next few years Mrs. Dude and I are looking to downsize to a smaller house. To reach that goal, we have to seriously begin shedding unneeded stuff accumulated over the years. I am already hard at work trying to achieve this goal. As mentioned in my previous blog, I sold a box of vintage Christmas lights that had been sitting in my attic for years. about progress. With that sale, it’s one attic box down and dozens more to go! At this rate, we may have the house cleaned out around the time Haley’s comet comes back in 2062! But at least I am trying. Check out a few of the long-stored things I’ve recently parted with...

Vintage Casio Pathfinder
Starting off with the small stuff, here’s a 15 year old Casio watch that sat in my dresser drawer for many years. This watch tells the temperature, altitude, barometric pressure and oh yeah, it tells time too! Being an excellent packrat, I still had the original box and manual. I stopped wearing the watch about ten years ago for the same reason many other folks abandoned their wrist watch....cell phones. To me, wearing a watch is now something out of Fred Flintstone! Think about it; who really needs to strap a miniature clock on their wrist when their cell phone performs the same function? But even though it’s an antiquated concept, I found that some people still want to wear a timepiece. I sold my little Casio on eBay for $22 bucks. Not great money, but it’s all about trying to clean house. I’d point out this meager sale doesn’t mean all Casios sell for only a few bucks. Vintage Casio watches that feature multiple techy-type functions can sell for huge money on eBay. So even though I didn’t make a whole lot on my own Casio, I'll still keep an eye out for them at thrift stores and garage sales.

But’s shabby chic!
Another dust collector I had sitting around the house was this old, primitive stool. I bought this little guy many years ago at a yard sale. For a few years, it sat next to the fireplace looking very shabby chic. The stool was so beat up and worn, that I remember my Mom asking me why I even bought the thing? Like most people who grew up during the Great Depression, my Mom couldn’t understand why a person would purposely buy something so ratty looking and put it in their house? (She’d had that same opinion upon seeing her granddaughter wearing “distressed" jeans with holes in them!) But despite Mom's disapproval, I thought the the beat-up, old stool looked pretty cool by the fireplace. After a few years, however, we decided to clear some space around the fireplace, so the stool was relegated to a basement shelf.  But recently, I eyeballed the stool as a potential sale on eBay. There remains a healthy market for "shabby chic” stuff, plus the stool was small enough that I could easily mail it. I posted the stool on eBay and it sold for $25 dollars. More space had been cleared off my shelf and I made a few bucks too!

Lift using your legs!
Speaking of my Mom, a few years ago, I inherited an old stone crock from her. She bought it at flea market many years ago. If you’ve never picked one up, be forewarned: stone crocks are really
heavy. This one was no exception. I could visualize my poor Father complaining under his breath as he lugged it through the flea market and back to his Chevy Impala. In all honesty. I am not sure why my Mom really needed a crock? Once it was home, it seemed like it's sole purpose in life was storing a couple of Bell Telephone phonebooks! I guess it was the best use for it at the time, but when I took possession of it, phonebooks were a thing of the past. Instead, it sat empty and unused in my basement for several years. Realizing the old crock was just an albatross that I had no use for, I decided to sell it. Because it was so heavy, I used Craigslist instead of eBay, listing it for $40 dollars. A few days later, an older gentleman took an interest in the crock and drove to my house to check it out. After looking it over, he hemmed and hawed on the price. I didn’t want to get stuck carrying the albatross back inside the house, so I quickly dropped the price down to $30 dollars. At that, he agreed and the crock went to a new home!

The Classic Time-Life collection
Remember music CDs? I sure do and over time, accumulated a ton of them. The problem is, like many people, I no longer play them. Nowadays, if you want to hear your favorite music you have easier options like iTunes, Pandora and Spotify. I am not sure if CDs are even sold in stores any more? Likewise, trying to sell them on eBay is becoming harder and harder. Frankly, unless you have something really good like the Beatles or similar, you may be stuck with your CDs. But all is not totally lost on unloading these dust collectors. I found there can be a brief selling opportunity for holiday CDs during the Christmas season. For example, I lumped together about a dozen holiday discs and sold them on eBay for $15 bucks. That was just over a dollar a disc. Not a windfall, but once again, gone from my house which was my real objective anyway. While that sale was nothing special, I did hit a home run with another collection.  I discovered that buyers are still interested in the Time-Life "Treasury of Christmas” collection. This popular holiday set was originally sold in vinyl, then transitioned into a CD collection. Back in the day, you could not avoid seeing the Time-Life Treasury of Christmas commercial on television. It was on constantly! The collection was very popular and is now considered a classic. I sold my set on eBay for $26 dollars! (Along with two other CDs I threw in just to get rid of them.) Considering they’re old CDs, I was pretty impressed with that sale. Enough so that I won’t hesitate to buy the Time-Life collection if I ever spot it a future garage sale!

That's just a few examples of my downsizing attempts so far. Have you sold any good stuff you had laying around the house? How’d you do? Share your story in the moment section below!

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Vintage Christmas is the best Christmas !

The holiday selling season is coming to an end. As it does, it’s time to take a look at this Dude's holiday sales. For me, it’s always fun to look back and see what sold, and for how much? It helps me decide what to buy at future yard sales and stockpile for the next holiday season. Overall, I had a some pretty good sales. Check out a few examples of the holiday stuff I flipped this year.

Vintage “rope” candle set
Although I’ve never bothered with them in the past, I am starting to realize you can make some decent money flipping vintage Christmas decorations. Lighted candles, tree toppers and alike from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, seem to get plenty of buying interest. I guess for many people, vintage decorations bring back childhood memories of Christmas. For example, check out this vintage set of plastic ”rope” candles. I bought this set at a yard sale for a dollar, then stored them away until the holidays. They came in their original boxes which always increases buyer interest. Although a neat little set, I decided that once you factor in shipping and fees, they were not worth the trouble to post as an eBay auction. Instead, I listed them on a local Facebook yard sale group for ten dollars. But minutes after posting them, I began to realize I may have under priced the candles. Almost immediately, potential buyers began stacking up in the posting’s comment section. The candles had attracted way more interest then I’d expected! The following day, a Facebook buyer picked up the candles up, slipping a ten dollar bill under my welcome mat. While I’ll take ten bucks any day, after seeing a dozen people line up for the candles, you can be sure I’ll double my asking price next time! Live and learn, right?

Last minute Goodwill find!
Blow molds continue to be one of my favorite holiday items to sell. Over the yard sale season, I accumulated various blow molds and piled them up like cordwood in my garage attic. When it comes to yard sales, it seems like sellers price them very low. Maybe it’s because in spring and summer, holiday decorations are the last thing people want around their house, or they just need to get the big, bulky figures out of the garage? Whatever the reason, if the price is right on a holiday blow mold, I'll buy them. On occassion, I even luck into a blow mold at the Goodwill store. Just a few weeks ago, I bought this small, nine piece Nativity set for twenty dollars. Since it was December, the timing could not have been better. I immediately posted the set for sixty dollars on Craigslist. A day later, a buyer drove to MoneyintheGarage headquarters and handed me three crisp twenty dollars bills for the set. You have to love a quick flip like that!!

Staring me in the face!
I also need to brag a little bit about what most yard sale flippers would consider to be the Holy Grail of any holiday selling season...a vintage aluminum Christmas tree! I was lucky enough to stumble across this tree at Goodwill back in November. Believe it or not, I didn’t spot it right away. For reasons unknown, I actually was distracted by a toy robot sitting a few shelves below it. After looking up the toy on eBay and deciding not to buy it, I lifted my head, and lo and behold, realized there was a vintage aluminum Christmas tree right in front of my face. I couldn’t believe my luck! It had been a few years since my last aluminum tree find, and as far as I was concerned, it was long overdue! I quickly grabbed the old box and tucked it under my arm like a big football. Unlike other stuff I find in Goodwill, there’s never a need to to look up a vintage tree on eBay before buying it. I knew it was the score of  the day, if not the year! Adding to my holiday joy, the store had priced the tree at just eight dollars! After paying, I took the tree home and set it up for photo taking. If you’ve never set one of these trees up, let me warn’s a lot of work! Most trees have 75 to 100 separate
Big, shiny tree!
branches that need to be removed from their paper sleeves and carefully inserted into tiny holes on the main trunk. Being a little lazy, I filled in as much as I needed for the photo, then began snapping away with my digital camera. After the photo session, the tree went up on eBay. I made it a ten day auction so that as many people as possible would have time to find the listing. I also timed the listing so it ended on Sunday evening, when most people are home and ready to bid! My combination of luck and prep work paid off. After ten days, the vintage tree sold for $285 dollars! The buyer, who lived on the West Coast, paid all shipping costs as well. At nearly $300 bucks, it's easy to see why I consider vintage aluminum Christmas trees to be the Holy Grail of holiday finds!

Hopefully to shine again!
Lastly, I’ll mention the sale of another vintage Christmas decoration
that didn’t make me rich, but hopefully might be
making some little kid happy somewhere. The vintage Christmas lights seen here date back to the 1960’s. I know because these were the lights my Dad put up on our house back when I was a kid. Back then, I couldn’t wait until the lights went up. I would bug and bug my Dad until he finally found the time to get outside and hang them on the house. As he did, I would generally make a nuisance of myself under the mistaken belief I was actually helping him. Once they were up, the bright, colorful lights looked awesome! For me, it was one of the most exciting days of the holiday season and meant Christmas was right around the corner. But even though they looked great on the house, once the energy crisis of the Seventies hit, those big, electricity gobbling lights went by the wayside. Like many other people in the neighborhood, the big bulb lights were tossed aside in favor of smaller, more energy efficient lights. My father boxed up the old lights up and slid them into the attic. Years later, I pulled the old Christmas lights out of my parent’s attic with the well-meaning intention of hanging them on my own house. That never happened, so this year I decided it was time to finally part with the old lights. After posting them on Facebook and receiving no interest, I turned to eBay, listing them for $25 dollars. That’s exactly what they sold for! Fortunately, the buyer was located only one state away, keeping postage costs down. After fees, I made about twenty bucks. Not a huge sale, but since I am trying to downsize, there’s now one less box in the attic. Hopefully, those lights will get hung up again just like the old days. Who knows, maybe there’s a little kid trying to help his father hang them on their house right now? I hope so anyway.    

That aluminum tree and my Dad’s vintage lights were a pretty nice way to end the holiday selling season. I hope you had some great sales this season too. More importantly, as we come to the end of another year, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Thanks also for following my antics on MoneyintheGarage. Keep on flipping and let’s all hope for a safe and prosperous 2017! 


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