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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Saturday, March 29, 2014

The lost Beatles tapes

The lost Beatles tapes!
As part of my occasional series I call, "Stuff I sold from around my house," I bring you this blast from the past...long lost 8-Track tapes! Anyone remember these things? If you do, you're probably amazed as I am at how far we've come since those days. The glove box in my first car was loaded with these little plastic boxes. Each tape was ready to be plugged into my Panasonic tape deck which dangled precariously underneath the car dashboard. Looking back, the technology was pretty archaic. For example, an extended tune like Billy Joel's, "Scenes from an Italian restaurant" would be interrupted right in the middle of the song as the tape Ker-plunked over to the next track to continue! Other times, you could hear two songs playing at once. This was usually because the tape head was not lined up perfectly. The fix? Wedge a piece of cardboard under the 8-track to force it to align correctly. This stroll down memory lane probably makes me sound like someone's grandfather. But as the old folks like to say, "That's how it was in the old days!"

Back in the day, I accumulated a pretty good collection of 8-tracks. But as timed moved on, I left 8-tracks behind and transitioned to cassettes, followed by CDs.  Nowadays, I have all my music loaded on my Apple iPod. So other then serving as a reminder of my epic teenage years, I had no use for my old 8-track tape collection. Although I have to admit, it wasn't an easy decision for me to sell them. Normally, I am pretty cold and calculating when it comes to selling stuff on eBay. In this case though, I had some emotional attachment to my collection. But I shook off the fond memories and made the hard decision to part with them! The decision was made a little easier knowing that as 8-tracks age, they become brittle and can easily break when they're played. Recognizing this, I knew it was better to make a few bucks by selling the tapes now, before they became completely worthless!

Large lots of 8-tracks can sell for a ton of money on eBay. But value has everything to do with a band's popularity. As an example, just check out this huge lot of 8-tracks. Nearly $80 dollars for a collection of Kiss, Rolling Stones and other great bands! Not bad, right? Seeing this, I decided to auction off my Beatles collection and go for the big money first. My eBay research reinforced this decision. Out of all the Sixties era bands, Beatles 8-tracks sell for the most mucho dinero! (Elvis and the Rolling Stones come in a close second.) Pulling my dusty collection off a basement shelf, I laid out all the tapes for a photograph, then I posted the Fab Four on an Ebay auction. After seven days, the tapes sold for $43 dollars. Talk about a ticket to ride!

Elvis, Elton and more!
After doing so well with the Beatles tapes, I decided to assemble another 8-track lot to sell.  Although nothing nearly as great as the Beatles, the lot included many popular Seventies acts like, Elton John, James Taylor and Billy Joel. I also had a few oldies including, Johnny Mathis and the great Eddie Arnold. (My parents loved that guy.) While I knew I wasn't going to make the kind of money the Beatles netted me, the collection still did well, selling for a respectable $23 dollars. Pretty good money for a bunch of tapes that I hadn't played for thirty years!

Between the two auctions, I made $66 big ones! There's still a few more 8-track tapes I have laying around the house. I plan to auction them off on eBay soon. I'll also be looking to score more 8-track collections at the garage sales this season. While 8-tracks may seem as outdated as a polyester leisure suit, they sure can bring in the money!

Ever sell 8-tracks or CDs on eBay? How'd you do? Share your story in the comment section below....

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tomy Thomas paid for my toy trains! (Say that five times fast)

When you buy a box of stuff at a garage sale, there's nothing better then finding an unexpected little gem inside. It doesn't have to be a million dollar find that makes you quit your day job. (Although that be would be great too.) What I am really talking about is something that's hiding in the box that ends up making you some unexpected cash. Those surprise finds are one of the best garage sale scores you can get! Here's one that meets that description....

As you may have noticed from reading my past blogs, I am a big Brio and Thomas the Tank Engine buyer. I go way back with Thomas, having bought many of the wood trains for my boys back when they were little shavers. Although my guys have outgrown their Thomas trains, the wood toys have never gone out of style with parents and kids. Because of their continued popularity, I am always on the lookout for Thomas trains and Brio train tables. I'll buy any Thomas trains, as long as they're priced right. When it comes to garage sales, the trains are almost always sold in big lots, typically piled in a shoe box or a big Tupperware-type container. Once I buy them, I won't immediately list them on eBay or Craigslist. Instead, I'll include them with a Brio train table as part of a package deal. This always works out great, usually earning me a hundred dollars or more on a table!

Lots of Thomas the Tank !
Keeping with this philosophy, last year I bought a big Tupperware container full of various Thomas trains at a local garage sale. There had to be at least 50 trains and track piled inside, including James, Harold and Diesel. All were in very good condition. The Mom selling the trains was asking $25 for the entire lot. But since everything is negotiable, she agreed to come down to a twenty dollar bill for the whole kit n caboodle. Sticking with my usual plan, I stockpiled the container until I came across another train table to re-sell.

Wind-up Thomas by Tomy
Fast forward a few months later. After finally scoring another train table, I began fishing around the Tupperware container in search of a few trains to include in the sale. As I rooted around, I discovered a small, wind-up Thomas the Tank Engine toy made by Tomy. The train came with it's own little carrying case that opened up into a track for the engine to chug around. Since I had no idea that the toy was even in the container in the first place, it's discovery was a nice bonus for me. For kicks, I looked up the Tomy toy on eBay and discovered many were selling for pretty good money. Never one to miss out on making a few extra bucks, I snapped some photos of my Tomy Thomas Engine and posted it on eBay.

Now here's how it turned into a gem... After a seven day auction, the little toy sold for a twenty dollar bill! Your first reaction might be, "What's the big deal?" Well, I look at it this way...that little gem, discovered at the bottom of the Tupperware container, actually paid for everything in that container! Thanks to that little wind-up Thomas, the rest of the trains were now all freebies! It's a beautiful thing when you look at it that way, isn't it?

I get revved up over little victories like my Tomy Thomas train!  I'll bet you have a few stories like that too. Share some of your unexpected little gems in the comment section below....

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Irish Times

Irish times are here...Saint Patrick's Day is this Monday! But when it comes to yard sales, the luck of the Irish was definitely not with me Saturday morning. To be honest, I wasn't really expecting much. It's still too early for any good, quality garage sales. But I made sure to stop by three sales advertised on Craigslist. They were notably only for one reason-they were the first garage sales of the 2014 season. The first sale was a complete bust. By the time I arrived, the house had been pretty much cleaned out. The remaining two garage sales were your classic repeat offenders. Both sellers held yard sales last year, so pretty much any good stuff had been sold long ago. I did take note of a Bey Blades stadium however. I blogged about these very popular toys last
Bey Blades keep on rockin!
year. Pointing to the empty Bey Blade stadium, I asked the kid selling it if he had any Bey Blades? (Bey Blades are glorified toy tops that spin inside the stadium.) The kid explained that he'd sold all his Bey Blades at a yard sale last year. As he told me this, it dawned on me that I was the guy who bought his Bey Blades! (D'oh!) Talk about a was like I was competing against myself! I also remembered that I made a nice buck on the deal, paying $10 for the whole lot and flipping them for $71 big ones! Since 
the real money is in the actual Bey Blades, I passed on the kid's lone stadium. But if you see Bey Blades at your local garage sales, make sure you buy them. You'll definitely make money flipping them on eBay! 

Finding garage sale "reruns" I've already plundered is pretty much how my luck ran on Saturday morning.  It's okay though, because with the weather improving, the quality of the yard sales will improve too! But since Saint Patrick's day is here, let's talk about some good "Irish" scores. I've flipped a few Irish things in my day worth bragging about. Here's two that made me some nice Irish green...

First up is this classic Shamrock sweater. I bought it at my local Saint Vincent's thrift store back in late
Irish Times Garb
In anticipation for Saint Patrick's day, the nice ladies at Saint Vincent's had brought out all the Irish themed clothing they'd been stockpiling all year. You would not believe how much green clothing was on this one rack! I have to admit, I haven't had the greatest luck selling Irish sweaters. In fact, a few years ago I listed an identical sweater on eBay and it didn't sell! But at only five dollars and plenty of time to sell this latest sweater, I was willing to take another shot. In order to avoid any chance of a no-sale this time, I listed the sweater right away for a "Buy-It-Now" price of $30. (Plus shipping.) I figured there would be plenty of time to tweak the price downward if the sweater didn't get any Irish love. That turned out to be a non-issue, however. Just two weeks later, with over a month to go before Saint Patrick's day, the sweater sold for my asking price!  I guess the buyer was planning waaay ahead for the high holy day!

Irish + State Police = $$$
Here's another awesome Irish themed score that I hope to repeat someday. I found this State Police baseball cap in the local Goodwill store a few years back. It had a very simple design on the front-an Irish shamrock and the New Jersey State Police insignia. The hat was brand new and had a price tag of only two dollars. Lots of law enforcement collectibles do well on eBay, but I knew this particular cap had two things going for it-the Irish shamrock, combined with the State Police seal. I listed the cap on eBay using an auction format. It seemed like a gazillion Irish law enforcement collectors "watched" the auction. The selling price bore this out. My Irish/State Police cap sold for $64 dollars! Saint Patrick was smiling down on me on that flip, for sure!

Have you sold any Irish sweaters or related Saint Patrick's themed stuff this year? Share them in the comment section below. While we're on the subject of making a few coins, let me also share an  appropriate Irish saying in these Irish times....

   "May your heart be light and happy, may your smile be big and wide, and may your pockets always have a coin or two inside!"

Happy Saint Patrick's Day......McDude! 

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Nike & Under Armour deals !

Winter finally seems to be coming to a merciful end around here. While we had a decent snowfall on Monday, it wasn't nearly as bad as the weatherman originally predicted. Much of that snow melted after just a few days of warmer temperatures, revealing something that's been hidden since January....grass! That may sound like no big deal, but after looking at snow since the holidays, grass in the front yard is a welcome sight. The melting snow is also a sure sign that yard sale season is only a few weeks away. It won't be long until I light up the truckster and venture out to the yard sales. I am ready to break this cabin fever and get out there!

With winter coming to an end, it's also time for spring sports to kick into high gear. For high school and colleges, the biggies are baseball, softball, lacrosse and golf. Next time you drive by your local high school, take a look at the school fields. You'll see all the kids outside practicing. This makes it a great time to start listing spring sports gear. I've had some pretty good success timing my eBay auctions to the sports season. Check out these examples...

Under Amour sells!
Almost any Under Armour shirt will sell for good money on eBay. Buyers love the Under Armour brand, especially those popular "Heatgear" shirts. But how about listing an Under Armour shirt emblazoned with the words, "Baseball" during baseball season? A no-brainer, right? The timing for me could not have been better-I found this shirt at Goodwill smack in the middle of high school baseball season! After shelling out a whole two dollars, I immediately posted the shirt on eBay. It sold for $18 bucks-probably to a high school player who wore it to practice. You can do just as well with Nike Dri-fit shirts too. An added bonus to selling both Nike and Under Armour shirts is the low shipping cost. Because they're so incredibly light, they cost next to nothing to mail.

Hooded UA sweatshirts rule!
While we're on the subject of Under Amour, have you noticed how many people are wearing the famous UA logo? Just like The North Face clothing, Under Armour is everywhere! I've definitely noticed, so imagine my joy when I found this Under Amour hooded sweatshirt for five dollars at Goodwill! It was in perfect condition and best of all, it was in the universally popular size of Extra Large. And here's an obvious fun fact for you...hooded sweatshirts always sell better then without a hood. Luckily for me, this awesome looking sweatshirt was hooded. It ended up selling at auction for $40 dollars. You just can't go wrong selling Under Armour!

Sticks sell too!
Getting back to spring sports, another big-time activity this time of year is lacrosse. It's very popular in my town, so I always come across a few lacrosse sticks every year at the yard sales. If you want to find a used lacrosse stick, visit those community yard sales held in big suburban developments where there's lots of kids. There's a good chance you'll find a stick for sale. I only buy the all wood sticks. Most are made by "Brine" and "STX" and seem to sell for waaaay more money then the average composite sticks. A search of eBay listings show most all-wood sticks sell in the range of $40 to $150 dollars depending on it's condition and age. The stick in this photo is a good example. I paid one dollar for it and stored it away until spring lacrosse season. Once spring had sprung, it went up on eBay and sold at auction for $60 bucks! In fact, most of my sticks have sold in the range of $40 to $60. Not too shabby, considering I only pay a few dollars for each. One word of caution however when buying lacrosse sticks. Make sure the webbing is intact. If not, make certain you point this out in your eBay listing. While torn webbing can be repaired, it does effect a stick's value. Lastly, you're going to need a nice looong box for shipping the stick! But don't let a broken web and shipping boxes deter'll make money flipping lacrosse sticks!

All this spring talk is getting me psyched up! Maybe I'll be a positive thinker and put the snow shovels away for the season. On second thought, I'll wait a few more weeks...I don't want to jinx anything! But we can still think spring. What kind of spring season stuff are you selling? Share your ideas and scores in the comment section below.......

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A baby stroller trend

Over the weekend, I finally completed my trifecta in that awesome trash pick carried out last month. If you remember the story, I liberated three perfectly good household items thrown out by my neighbor. They included a beautiful wood high chair, a nice table lamp and a fancy Maxi-Cosi stroller. My neighbor has a history of tossing high-end things to the curb, even though they're in perfectly good condition. Pretty crazy, right? But I am here to save these items from the landfills...and to make a couple bucks too!

Last month's salvage mission began when Sonny Boy grabbed the stuff for me as he walked the dog. When he came home, I knew he had found some nice stuff. The table lamp now sits on a table in our family room. I sold the high chair in no time at all, making an easy $40 dollars. The stroller took a bit longer, but I knew it would eventually sell. To paraphrase a famous Bon Jovi song...I've seen a million strollers...and I've rocked them all! Instep jogging strollers...Baby Trend double strollers, or a Graco-it doesn't matter. There's always a buyer looking for a nice baby stroller. I wrote about flipping baby strollers in my blog last year. With a string of profitable flips behind me, I posted my latest trash-picked stroller on Craigslist. Here's how it looked:

  Maxi-Cosi Perle Stroller - $50

Maxi-Cosi Perle Stroller in very good condition. Nice and clean from a smoke free home. Sells for $150 or more in many stores. Below is the catalogue description:

The Maxi-Cosi Perle Stroller provides deluxe light weight and comfortable transportation for children with style and European quality. A full featured umbrella stroller that accepts the Maxi-Cosi Mico infant car seat. From 6 months + up to 40 lbs.
Aluminum frame and compact fold.
Multi-position reclining seat with canopy and window and adjustable footrest
5 point padded harness
Weathershield and reflective trim

Despite my confidence, it wasn't easy at first. My Maxi-Cosi stroller lingered on CL for over a month. But if you live anywhere between Canada and the Southern states, you can probably figure out why..... SNOW!  Even though it was a pretty good deal, who wants to buy a stroller in the middle of a brutal winter? So the stroller sat...and sat...and sat. Until something very important happened around these parts. The sun came out!

Not coincidentally, it was our first beautiful weekend of 2014! The snow had all melted, and temperatures were a spring-like 60 degrees! Heck, I even spotted a few robins around my backyard feeder! Just like the returning robins, I received an e-mail from a buyer asking if I'd accept $40 dollars for the stroller? Since I paid absolutely nothing for the stroller in the first place, I wasn't about to turn down her offer!

The young mom showed up about an hour later. Thinking it would be a bit awkward for my neighbor to see me selling their trash-picked stroller, I tried to conduct a quick, quiet, transaction inside my garage. This did not happen. Mom threw me a curve ball, asking that I give her a demonstration on how to open the complicated stroller. Since I had no idea myself, it was bluff time! My usual tactic is to happily agree, while pointing out that my wife is really the expert on this stuff. This serves as my "cover" when I can't figure out how to open a stroller. As I dreaded, this was exactly what happened with the complicated Maxi-Cosi stroller!

Along with the high price tag of this stroller, comes a complicated unfolding scissor legs construction! The whole system was baffling me! As the young mom quietly watched in amusement, my wrestling match with the stroller ensued. I began searching for any clips that would unlock the legs and allow them to unfold. This approach calls for tugging on anything that looks like a handle. After a couple minutes of tugging and pulling, I must have finally hit the right clips. The legs unfolded! The stroller then opened up into all it's glory. With the mom now satisfied, it was time to fold the stroller back up. This meant an all new struggle...only in reverse!

While it sounds easy, I always have the worst luck trying to coax a stroller back into it's folded position. After some huffing and puffing, I was only able to get the Maxi-Cosi stroller partial closed. Hoping she'd take some pity on me, I asked the young mom if it was folded enough to fit in her car? At this point, the stroller sort of looked like the letter K, half opened and half closed. Looking at this mess, the young mom was way too polite to call me an idiot. Instead, she just sort of smiled at me. Taking her reaction as a definite NO, I began wrestling with the stroller again. I was just minutes away from calling in Mrs. Dude for back-up, when the dumb stroller finally closed it up! (Whew!) At that, the mom handed me two crisp twenty dollar bills. As she drove away, I reminded myself to practice opening and closing my next stroller...before the sale!

The wrestling match with the stroller not withstanding, I made out pretty good in my three-for-one trash pick. It took about a month, but I was able to transform curbside trash into eighty dollars. (And a nice table lamp.) You can't beat that deal!

How's your winter flips going? Has the cold weather affected your sales ? Share your story in the comment section......

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