Saturday, June 4, 2016

Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, discovered on a Saturday morning

The sad passing of boxing legend Muhammad Ali has been all over the news. There's no doubt that Ali was the most famous and most recognizable professional athlete in history. On his passing, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share one of my little yard sale flips, that yes, actually had a direct connection to "The Greatest."

About two years ago, I was doing my usual Saturday morning picking, this time at a community yard sale held in the parking lot of a real estate office. Meandering around, I stopped at a table and spotted a piece of paper for sale with an autograph on it. The small, aged paper was protected under a clear plastic sheet, the type you might snap into a three ring binder. The seller was asking twenty dollars for it. Looking closely at the signature, my jaw dropped in amazement...it read "Muhammad Ali".

"The Greatest" found at a yard sale.
If anyone was watching me at the time, I am sure they would have observed a very confused looking dude. Could the autograph of the greatest heavyweight champion and most famous athlete in the world be for sale at a yard sale? Clutching the plastic sheet in my hand, I stared at the autograph wondering if it was legit or not? This once-in-a-lifetime find had me excited, but I needed more information before pulling the trigger. I asked the sellers what the story was on the signature? The sellers, a couple in their 70's, explained they once lived down the street from Muhammed Ali in the town of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. They went on to tell me they met the Heavyweight Champ at a neighborhood cocktail party. Describing Ali as a gentleman and very accommodating, they said the Champ gladly signed autographs for many of the neighbors on the street. Like everyone else at the party, the couple asked Ali for an autograph and he obliged them, signing the piece of scrap paper I was now holding in my hand.

Listening to the couple's story, it all seemed to ring true to me. I knew for a fact that Ali actually did live in Cherry Hill back in the Seventies. Also, the autographed piece of paper had some age to it and looked like it could easily date back to the 1970's. Processing all this information, it didn't take long to make my decision. However, just to reduce my exposure in case the autograph was a fake, I offered the couple $15 bucks which they accepted. As an added bonus, there also happened to be a separate autographed postcard of another boxer under the plastic sheet. This made my $15 dollar purchase a very nice two-for-one deal!

Jack Demspey restaurant postcard
Before getting to the main event, let me share how the postcard worked out. Researching the vintage postcard, I discovered it was signed on the reverse side by a boxing legend from an earlier time; the great Jack Dempsey. Dempsey, who was the heavyweight champ back in the 1940s, retired from the ring and opened a popular New York City restaurant, appropriately named, "Dempsey's".  In fact, fans of the first Godfather movie will recall the scene where young Michael Corleone was picked up by the "bad" cop right in front of Dempsey's restaurant. Unfortunately, I also learned that Dempsey gave out these autographed postcards to dining patrons like some establishments hand out after dinner mints and toothpicks. In other words, Dempsey's autographed postcards are quite common and not worth a whole lot. However, it was worth just enough to cover my initial investment. The autographed Dempsey postcard sold for $15 bucks on eBay. This sale brought me back to even on my initial investment with Ali's autograph still to sell.

The undercard sale of my Dempsey postcard now completed, I moved on to the main event. When posting Ali's autograph on eBay, I carefully laid out all the details the sellers shared with me regarding how they obtained it. To reinforce and back up their story, I also cited that fact that Muhammad Ali resided in the same town as the couple did during the early Seventies. And while not claiming to be a hand writing expert, I also pointed out my yard sale autograph looked "spot-on" to any of Ali's known signatures found on the internet. This elaborate description discussing it's provenance seemed to assure bidders. My Muhammad Ali autograph sold for $160 dollars! That's what I call a yard sale knockout!


As I write this, eBay auctions for Muhammad Ali's autograph are now going through the roof due to
his passing. Obviously my find would have sold for even more money today, but no worries. The Champ did me a solid a few years back with an unbelievable yard sale find that turned a $15 investment into $160 dollars. So here's to "The Greatest." There will never be another one like him.

How about you? Ever find or sell a famous autograph? Share the story in the comment section below...




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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Great bargains for under a dollar!

A few blogs ago, I spotlighted some one dollar yard sale finds I flipped for pretty good money. Dollar bargains are nothing to sneeze at, but you know what's better? How about stuff that only cost a quarter or two? That's why I always keep some loose change jingling in my pocket when heading out to the yard sales. You never know when you're going to snag a deal with just a coin or two.  Here's a few examples of my quarter and fifty cents finds. Enjoy!

Country stars of yesteryear.
Are you a fan of old time country western music? You may remember that way before there ever was a Florida Georgia Line or a Luke Bryan, there was Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. Check out this vintage deck of playing cards featuring all those great country western singers from back in the day. I paid twenty five cents for this deck at a church yard sale. Although I had no idea what they might be worth, how can you go wrong for a quarter? I am glad I did. They sold on eBay for $18 dollars. A pretty good return on a something that set me back two dimes and one nickel!

One ringy dingy
When it comes to dolls, I am not what you would call an "expert". With the exception of American Girl or vintage Barbie dolls, I'll freely admit I am in the dark on collectible dolls. But if the price is right, I'll always take chance. Fortunately for me, the price was right on this commemorative edition Bell Telephone doll. This gal is suppose to depict a telephone operator from the good old days. She was in the original box, and for only twenty five cents, I just couldn't say no. Prior to posting her on eBay, I did a little research on the doll and found out Bell Telephone produced several different versions of her. Each depicted a Bell Telephone employee from different eras. Called "Telephone Pioneers of America", they also made several others dolls including a modern day telephone repairman. Following my research, I posted my old time operator on eBay. She "connected" me with a caller who paid twenty dollars for her!


Everybody sells....some time.
Moving to more modern times, how about some nice rock band posters from waaaay back in the Nineties? Here's one of two REM posters I came across at a yard sale last year. The seller was a thirty-ish dude, who told me he hung these posters in his college dorm room over 15 years ago. Now married with a baby on the way, he decided it was time to part with his old college dorm room posters. At only a quarter a piece, I was a buyer. Even though REM broke up over ten years ago, they remain hugely popular and their music is still heard on the radio today. Preparing them for an eBay auction, I decided to sell both posters in a single auction. Why deal with two separate auctions, two shipping tubes and all the extra time and trouble? It worked out great. My quarter posters sold to a buyer in Germany for twenty five bucks.

Panasonic
Lastly, check out this funky transistor radio from the 1980's. I am a sucker for all types of old-school radios. From Citizen Band to police scanners to little transistor radios, if the price is right, I am buying. It's not just me who's into this dorky hobby either. There's plenty of electronic geeks out there willing to pay up for cool radios to add to their collection. In fact, I could do a whole separate blog when it comes to my radio flips. But since that would get kind of boring, we'll just stick with this one. Suffice it to say, radios can always make you some decent money. If you come across a name-brand transistor radio at a good price, it's probably worth buying. Generally speaking, the ones that fetch the biggest money on eBay were made prior to the 1970s by companies such as Panasonic, Zenith and Sony. The little Panasonic seen here cost me a quarter. I sold it on eBay for $19 dollars. See what I mean? Two dimes and a nickel put me just shy of a twenty dollar bill. Not bad.

So those are a few sweet examples of some quarter flips. How about you? Got a few examples of your own? Give us a run down in the comment section below. Thanks for stopping by and good luck out at the sales!










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Monday, April 18, 2016

Power tools cheaper then Home Depot or Lowes

It seems safe to say that Winter is finally behind us now. The yard sales are definitely picking up and I've already made some early scores. Mrs. Dude and I also took the opportunity to host our own garage sale. It's been about two years since our last one, so we were overdue. Nothing feels better then clearing out the MoneyintheGarage inventory shelves. I'd say we unloaded about half of what we put out in the driveway, making $85 dollars in total. The remaining leftovers are now in the back of my truck. As I did following previous yard sales, I am trying to sell the leftovers in one big lot for $30 bucks. I am hoping a flea market seller will come along and pay up. Either way, one things for sure-the stuff is not going back inside the house! If it doesn't sell, the whole load is going down to Goodwill. It's the circle of life, only in junk.

A Mini Cooper is great for transporting Ryobi table saws!
Getting back to my regular sales, I did have some pretty sweet flips during the last few months. First up is this Ryobi table saw scored off my local Facebook yard sale group. It cost me...now get this...five dollars!  Can you believe that? A Ryobi table saw retails for $130 or more at Home Depot or Lowes! Mrs. Dude spotted it and we claimed the saw within minutes of it's posting. Once we put dibs on it, I drove right over to the seller's house before he came to his senses. When I arrived, the guy told me he was cleaning out his garage and just wanted  the nearly-new saw gone! I threw it in the truck, drove home, took some photos and posted it on Craigslist. Two days later, I'd sold the table for $75 dollars. That's a funny story too. The guy who bought it from me drove over an hour to pick up the saw. We met at a local convenience store and the buyer pulled up in a what has to be one of the smallest cars on the road; a Mini-Cooper! I started to chuckle to myself, wondering if the guy could fit a Ryobi table saw in the back of a little Mini Cooper.  I'll give him credit though, he made it fit! I just had to take a photo as he pulled it away. Believe it or not, there's a large table saw in the back of that little thing! So not only did I make a quick $70 bucks, I got a good laugh too!

Mid Century Danish
Another sweet winter flip was this mid-century danish designed magazine table. I paid $7 dollars for this table in Goodwill back in the Fall. While not an expert on this, or any other style of
furniture, I have learned just enough to get by. Namely that his modern (for it's time) designed wood furniture can sell for big bucks to the right buyer. I procrastinated several months before finally posting it as a "local pick up" sale on eBay. Local pick up only formats almost never work out for me. Without fail, some distant buyer doesn't pay attention to the shipping details and bids anyway. That's what happened with my table. A Chicago architect was the winning bidder, paying $225 big ones for the table. He later e-mailed me and apologized after realizing the auction was suppose to be the pick-up only.  But the story has a happy ending. The buyer had no problem covering the nearly $100 cost of packing and shipping the table to his Chicago office. Not only that, he paid me $40 extra for my troubles, making it a $265 sale! The table arrived safely in Chi-Town and the buyer left me glowing positive feedback! Sometimes things just work out!

Coach Ditka wore them!
Since I am on the subject of the Windy City, check out this vintage Chicago bears sweater. This style was popular when legendary Chicago Bears head coach, Mike Ditka ruled the
sidelines. The big guy always wore this style sweater and it became an iconic image. (Sort of like Dallas Cowboys' head coach Tom Landry and his top hat.) I've come across a few of these "old school" sweaters in the past and always buy them. I paid four dollars for this one at Goodwill. I sold it last month for $25. Not a bad little flip. (Had I sold it during the football season, I probably would have made an additional ten dollars or more.) If you ever find this Chicago Bears style sweater, don't hesitate to buy it. The sweater vest version is also a big seller. Either style will make you money.


Easter bunny inflatable
Wrapping up my winter flips, take a look at this Easter bunny inflatable I found at Goodwill. I had to grit my teeth and buckle down on this purchase, paying $30 dollars for the eight foot tall bunny. That price tag was waaaaay more then I normally spend on an inflatable. But this Easter Bunny was brand new in the box. Also, the timing could not have been better. I found him about six weeks prior to Easter and wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. I posted the big Easter bunny for a BIN price of $135 bucks plus shipping. It sold within a few days, once again proving you can't lose flipping holiday inflatables!


That's it for now. Hows the sales going for you? Got any Spring flips you want to brag about? Share your stories in the comment section below.



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Friday, March 11, 2016

McDonald's collectibles you sell...and a few you keep.

Instead of my usual spiel recounting a few of my latest scores, I thought I'd take a diversion to talk about, of all things, McDonald's collectibles. Yep, the fast food joint. I am fascinated with the idea that common items found at Mickey D's can sometimes bring in crazy money on eBay. In some cases, it's everyday stuff found in a McDonald's bag as part of the meal, then thrown away in the trash! In addition to smaller stuff, there's also bigger store items that can bring in the dough. These once commonly found items prove there's more to take home from McDonald's then just a Happy Meal! Check out some of the things I found currently selling on eBay...

The classic McDonald's clam shell
I don't care who you are, once in a while you gotta treat yourself to a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder! Sure, you can't go crazy on them, but everyone deserves some occasional decadence. If you grew up in the Seventies or Eighties, you probably remember how the Big Mac or Quarter Pounder was served. Not in wax paper, but in a very environmentally unfriendly, Styrofoam "clam shell." They were like a little Styrofoam house for your burger! When you think back, it was a incredibly wasteful. Especially if you were just taking your Big Mac from the counter over to the Formica tables to sit down and eat. Once you sat down at the table, you popped open the box, ate your burger, then tossed the Styrofoam container in the trash can. Who needs a little Styrofoam box for that? After pressure from environmentalists, McDonald's finally figured it out, going "Green" in the late Eighties. Gone were the little Styrofoam boxes and in came thin cardboard boxes. Still kind of wasteful, but at least the cardboard breaks down in the landfill after a few years as opposed to 100 years! These days, even the cardboard box is gone. Now when you order a Quarter Pounder, it's back to being wrapped in paper just like they did prior to the clam shell. So, of course, now that the clam shell is long gone people want to collect them! Check out the above photo. A recent eBay check turned up this ten piece lot of vintage McDonald's clam shells. It sold for one hundred dollars! That works out to ten bucks for each clam shell...wow! It hurts when I think back and calculate how many of these clam shells I threw away. Each time I did, I was literally throwing a ten dollar bill in the trash can...Ugh!


Pssst, not just for coffee! 
That's not the only money I was throwing away at McDonald's. Remember the original McDonald's coffee stirrer? It had a tiny little spoon on one end with the Golden Arches at the other end. Back in the Seventies, it was the perfect tool for stirring coffee, and oh yeah, measuring cocaine! You read right. The "McSpoon" as it came to be called, was popular with drug dealers and users. In fact, the tiny spoon was perfect for measuring one hundred milligrams of cocaine. But in 1979, after learning their innocuous little coffee stirrer had become a big thing with drug dealers, McDonald's did away with them. Instead, they came up with a simple flat stirrer. No more measuring cocaine with a McSpoon! Today, McDonald's collectors (and maybe drug dealers) pay decent money for the discontinued spoons. A check of recent eBay sales show an average price ranging from five to seven dollars for each little hunk of plastic! Crazy, but true.

Nintendo Super Mario display
If you're willing to take a peek inside the dumpster in back of your local McDonald's, you may come up with some other pretty nice scores. Promotional pieces that sit on the counter or floor can bring in some nice money. In one eBay auction, I found this counter display piece promoting Nintendo Mario Brothers 3. When it comes to collecting, combining Super Mario with McDonald's can be a home run. Whoever salvaged this piece must have known that. The rescued piece sold for $200 bucks on eBay! I also found an eBay auction listing a small counter display for Happy Meal Matchbox cars. That piece sold for $140 dollars at auction. Like the Nintendo piece and so many others, imagine how many displays were just tossed in the dumpster once the promotion was over! Makes me want to take a lookey-loo in the Golden Arches dumpster every once in a while. Another possibility is call the local Mickey-D's manager and just flat out ask for the display when the promotion ends. While some smart employees may have first dibs on them, it's worth a shot.


Sold for $28
But some McDonald's collectibles you just can't put a price tag on. Take for example, these vintage McDonald's coffee mugs. These guys currently sell for as much as $15 dollars a piece on eBay. I actually remember when these mugs first came out. They were free when you bought the McDonald's Egg McMuffin breakfast. Back then, McDonald's had just started to serve breakfast. It was a pretty big deal, since prior to that, their menu was basically limited to burgers, shakes and fries and that was only after 11:00 AM! But around 1977, Mickey Ds started a breakfast menu featuring the "new" Egg McMuffin. My Dad was all over that! Thereafter, every Sunday morning after church, Mom and Dad would drive to McDonald's and order an Egg McMuffin sandwich and coffee with the free McDonald's cup. My old man thought those mugs were the greatest thing since the invention of color television! They were solidly made by Anchor Hocking/Fire King, the perfect size and best of all....free!

Over many Sunday morning visits to McDonald's, my Dad developed an impressive collection of those sturdy little mugs. The old man held onto those coffee mugs long after the McDonald's promotion was over. He put them to good use too. He always had some major project to complete around the house...painting, construction, major car repairs. You name it. Every weekend it was something different. But no matter what the project was, my Dad always, always had one of those freebie McDonald's coffee mugs in his hand. (With the ever present steam lofting from the hot coffee.) He loved those damn things! As the years moved on though, my Dad passed away and his favorite coffee mugs slowly made their way to the back of the kitchen cabinet, then eventually disappeared.

Not for sale.
Some eighteen years later, after my Mom had passed, my siblings and I cleaned out the family house. To my happy surprise, I found my Dad's McDonald's coffee mugs. It was kind of like seeing an old friend! Stacked neatly, but dusty and dirty, they were buried deep underneath the kitchen sink cabinet. (The cabinets my Dad had built years before.) I took the mugs home and have them to this day. Some still even have paint on them from a few of my Dad's many painting projects. But after all those weekend projects and trips through my Mom's Kenmore dishwasher, the mug's are not exactly in high value condition anymore. They've faded and are a little worse for wear. But it doesn't matter. They're not for sale anyway. Instead, every once in a while, I break one out and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and think about my old man. Like all those tough old coots from the Greatest Generation, I think about how my Dad went to church, loved his family, always worked hard and ate Sunday breakfast at McDonald's. All the while, perfectly happy and content with the simple things in life, like enjoying a cup of Joe in a free McDonald's coffee mug. We can learn a lot from that generation.

Anyway, what started out as a discussion on McDonald's collectibles, got a little sentimental. But hey, when it comes to your parents, what can you say, right? I'd keep writing, but apparently I got something in my eye, so that's all for now.

So how about you? Any good McDonald's or fast food collectibles in your recent flips? How about stuff you won't get rid of due to sentimental value? Share your story in the comment section below.





 
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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Great deals for only a dollar!

They say you can't buy much for a buck anymore. True, if your at the local mall, but not so at yard sales and thrift shops. I've found plenty of great stuff for a buck that I later re-sold for multiple bucks on eBay. It's fun watching these dollar investments turn into ten, twenty, thirty dollars or more! To give you an idea of what I am talking about, check out a few of these examples;

Ladies and gentleman-the Beatles!
Who doesn't like the Beatles, right? Finding a vintage Fab Four collectible at a yard sale is like hitting the lottery. Most vintage Beatles collectibles are worth serious bucks. For example, check out a typical eBay selling price for an original Beatles lunch box...WOW! Although I haven't been lucky enough to find a lunchbox, I did came across a 1964 Life magazine with the Beatles on the cover. I found the copy buried in a stack of dusty old Life magazines at a yard sale. The seller was asking a dollar per magazine. Generally speaking, old Life magazines are not very valuable.  Despite the fact the magazine went out of business years ago, old copies can still be found everywhere. It seems like everyone and their mothers held onto them! But some copies do have value. For example, issues that feature very famous celebrities on the cover like Marilyn Monroe or Ernest Hemingway are worth some major dough. In my case, I fingered through the dusty old stack, but could only come up with the 64 Beatles cover. But this wasn't just any Beatles cover issue. Nope, this happened to be the very first time the Beatles appeared on the cover of Life magazine! That's pretty big stuff, so I had no problem paying a dollar for this particular issue. I posted the copy on eBay and a week later it sold for $27 dollars. As John Lennon once sang, "Now gimme money...that's what I want!"

The great choke

Here's another very cool dollar flip also dating back to 1964. Check out this original 1964 Philadelphia Phillies yearbook. What's the big deal about an old baseball yearbook? For Philadephia Phillies fans, 1964 was a tragic, infamous year in Phillies baseball history. In the late summer of 1964, the Phillies were in first place with a six and a half game lead and just twelve games to go in the season. Leading all season, they were expected to easily clinch the National League Pennant. Instead, they choked big time and went on to lose ten straight games in a row, allowing the St Louis Cardinals to overtake them and claim the Pennant. It's considered one of the greatest collapses in baseball history and one that Phillies fans still mourn to this very day! Of course, all of this was flashing back in my mind as I thumbed through the yard sale copy I'd found. I couldn't believe I was actually holding an original yearbook from that tragic season! Maybe the seller was still grieving the loss too, because he only charged me a dollar bill for the yearbook. But because of this tragic collapse, there's actually no better Phillies yearbook to collect. Even yearbooks from the Phillies 1980 and 2008 World Series Championship seasons are not worth as much as the 64 "choke" season! This was born out when I posted the yearbook on eBay. My one dollar 1964 copy sold for $35 dollars! So while 1964 season was a rotten year for the Phillies, it was at least a good year for their yearbook!

Ugly Desktop Telephone
Here's a weird one. I've sold a lot of phones over my flipping career and made some good money doing it. In most cases, I've done very well with desktop phones in very specific colors like black or red. (Don't bother with beige or white.) A few years ago, I picked up this vintage desktop phone at Goodwill for a dollar bill. In my humble opinion, it's powder blue color is one of the ugliest I've come across. But at only a buck, I decided I'd take a chance on it. After cleaning it up with a little Windex, I posted it on eBay. To my surprise, this ugly blue phone sold for forty dollars! That's the amazing thing about selling on Ebay, you just never know what's going to bring in the big money. Even an ugly old phone can make you some serious bucks!


Finally, I have to mention a sweet find I blogged about a few years back. This one is definitely worth repeating! I came across this vintage mechanical Momma "Spanking Bear" in it's original box at a local garage sale. When you turn it on, Momma bear spanks a fussy baby bear positioned on her lap. Pretty funny action, and probably something that wouldn't get manufactured today due to political correctness. But if you're lucky enough to come across a vintage mechanical toy like this, you can begin counting your profits immediately. These old toys sell for plenty of dough on eBay. I paid one dollar for Spanking Bear. I posted the toy on eBay, and after a seven day auction, that dollar bill turned into $90 dollars. Probably one of my best dollars flips ever!

You gotta love dollar finds, right? How about you? Give up your best dollar flips in the comment section below.







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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Thomas the Tank Engine bargains

In January things are kind of slow at MoneyintheGarage. I am not exactly setting the world on fire with eBay sales, but that's deliberate on my part. With only thrift store and Facebook finds to bolster my inventory, I dial back the volume of listings. Why be in a big hurry to burn through what's left of my stockpile? Instead, I take my sweet old time. Hey, it's nice to kick back this time of year anyway. It won't be long until spring is here and I am back out plodding through yard sale after yard sale. So until then, it's a good time to relax and take a leisurely look back at some more of my end-of-year sales.

Les Paul Guitar
In early December, I headed to one of the very last yard sales of the season. When I pulled up to the seller's house, I realized I'd actually been there before. The sellers had hosted a previous sale back in the summer. The scenario was one I've come across countless times. The older couple downsizing and moving south to retire. This is always an ideal scenario to score some awesome yard sale deals. Retirees are super motivated to sell their things cheap. After all, who wants to load all that junk on a moving truck? That was the case with these folks. For example, they sold me a beautiful Les Paul electric guitar for a five dollar bill! But before anyone gets too excited, let me point out this was not a priceless Les Paul guitar from the 1950's. I am not that lucky! This was actually a modern day Les Paul guitar produced in China. While still very nice, these mass produced Les Paul guitars usually sell for a couple hundred bucks in most music stores. But either way, it was still a pretty nice find. I am guessing it was put out at the yard sale as a late morning afterthought. Otherwise, it would have been snapped up earlier before I ever showed up. Knowing I lucked out, I quickly handed over an Abe Lincoln to the retirees and swung the guitar on my back like some Bruce Springsteen Wannabee.


Everyone loves Thomas the Tank Engine!
Walking around further, I then spotted a big box of Thomas the Tank Engine track. The big box contained 16 smaller boxes of track in their original boxes. In fact, this find was "Deja Vu" for me! I had bought an identical lot from the couple in my previous visit months before! The sellers were definitely consistent in their pricing. Both times they charged me only five bucks for the entire box of Thomas track! I handed over another five dollar bill, knowing I could easily sell the track on eBay to holidays buyers. With two good scores in my pocket and stuff marked down to fire sale prices, I tried and tried to find a few more deals. But alas, after two garage sales their stuff had been pretty much picked over. After about ten more minutes of fruitless searching, I finally gave up. I wished them luck with the move and left with what turned out to be some pretty decent year-end scores.

With the holidays fast approaching, I wasted no time posting the Thomas the Tank Engine tracks on eBay. To make it easier to ship, I listed the track in lots of four boxes each. Once a lot sold, I immediately reposted a new lot to sell. With so much track to sell, I was able to list four separate lots at $40 a piece and one remaining odd lot for $30 dollars. If you're keeping score, that's a total of $190 dollars in sales. Not bad for a ten dollar investment! The Les Paul guitar was almost as good. I listed it on Craigslist for $125 dollars. After a few weeks passed with no serious offers, I lowered it to an Even-Steven one hundred dollars. Not long after, I was meeting a millennial age kid in the parking lot of a local convenience store to sell him the guitar. The kid was taking no chances, actually bringing an amplifier with him to test out the Les Paul guitar. After a few loud strums on the strings, the future Elvis slapped a hundred dollars in my hand. Having originally shelled out only five bucks, that was a pretty nice profit! Continuing our overall tally, I invested a total of $15 dollars at the retirees' yard sale which netted me $290 dollars in sales. Well worth the visits I made to their yard sales before they headed south!

Coke: Once again...the REAL thing!
If you're a member of a local Facebook yard sale group, you know how exciting it is to be the first to lay claim to a great find. It's one of the reasons I am seriously addicted to my FB yard sale group! This vintage brass Coca-Cola "button" is an example. Most Coca-Cola buttons are the traditional white lettering with red background. While these traditional buttons sell well, the all brass buttons are much harder to find and as a result, sell for way more. Amazingly, the seller listed this vintage piece on Facebook for only $30 dollars. In a classic example of being in the right place at the right time, I happened to be looking at Facebook the moment it popped up. I immediately snagged it. I've seen enough episodes of American Pickers to know vintage Coca-Cola advertising pieces are highly valued by collectors. Worried that the seller might come to their senses and back out of the deal, I immediately drove to their house to pick up the Coke button. I was eager to see what this rare brass Coke button would bring, so I immediately posted it using a seven day auction on eBay. Turns out, Coke truly is the "real thing". The button sold on eBay for an impressive two hundred dollars. With great flips like that, it's no wonder I am always obsessively checking Facebook!

How'd your year-end sales go? Any good Facebook or garage sale finds you want to brag about? Let us know in the comment section below.




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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas sales, Laser Lights and other tales

With Christmas sales wrapping up for the season, it's time to take stock of some holiday sales here at MoneyintheGarage. I built up a nice inventory of Christmas items to sell this year. This inventory consisted of a year long effort at area garage sales, thrift stores and Facebook finds. To keep it all organized, I stored my Christmas finds on one large shelving unit in the Moneyinthegarage warehouse. By the time November rolled around, the shelf was crammed with inventory. Now that the Christmas selling season has concluded, these shelves are now empty. I gotta admit, it's a pretty good feeling seeing bare shelves where all that stuff was once stacked. Overall, it turned into a very good season. Check out a few of my holiday hits and one near-miss...

Gemmy Airblown Santa Igloo
I continue to love wheeling and dealing in holiday inflatables. As mentioned in past blogs, while it can be risky business, the rewards can overcome the risks. This Gemmy Santa igloo inflatable is an example. I bought it on Facebook waaaay back in the summer for twelve dollars. It was brand new in the box. You just can't lose when buying a new inflatable-no worries about leaks or the material being stained or dirty. My Ebay research determined that "Santa stuck in the igloo" inflatables are a big deal with many a Clark Griswold out there. Knowing I had a winner on my hands, I posted the igloo on eBay at a "Buy It Now" price of $100 dollars. (Buyer paid shipping.) It was snapped up within days! At an eighty dollar profit, I was off to a pretty good start for the season!


Christmas season is also the time to sell holiday blow molds! I scored a major find back in the summer when I rolled up to a garage sale and found this huge Nativity scene. This set was hard to miss. The wise men alone stood over four feet tall! With the seller asking just twenty dollars for the entire set, it was a no-brainer. After peeling off a twenty for the seller, I carefully piled the individual figures in the back of my truck. (Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, of course, rode up front with me.) Once I got the set home, I stacked the figures in my garage attic. With only about five feet of clearance in the  garage attic, the collection easily reached the rafters. But at least they were out of the way until the holiday selling season. A few days after Thanksgiving, I posted the Nativity scene on Craigslist. The weekend right after Thanksgiving is always the ideal time to post blowmolds or inflatables. That's when folks like to get their decorations up on the house before cold weather sets in. That's what happened with my Nativity scene. After posting it, a buyer looking to decorate the outside of his house showed up to buy the set. After some give and take, we agreed on $175 dollars for the Nativity scene. He also bought two blowmold toy soldiers and two Noel candles from me for an additional $30. (I paid a dollar a piece at a summer garage sale.) To say the buyer was happy with his huge blowmold purchase would be an  understatement. He couldn't wait to get everything home and plugged in. He even gave me his address, inviting me to drive by his house to check out the display. I told him I would, and as he pulled away, I counted out out a total of $205 cash from the sales. After backing out my $24 dollar investment, I turned a profit of $181 big ones on the entire collection.  

Oh well, can't win em all!
But not all my sales went as well as my blowmold flips. Case in point-this Mr. Christmas, "Santa's Tree Trimmers" mechanical piece. I bought this at Saint Vincent DePaul Thrift Store hoping to re-sell it for $50 to $75 dollars. Before buying it, I did my due diligence and plugged it in at the store to make sure it worked. It did, so I handed over $25 dollars for what I hoped was going to be another awesome Mr. Christmas flip. Based on my past experience, Mr. Christmas pieces can be a big moneymaker...that is, if they work. Hoping to impress Mrs. Dude with my latest find, I got home and plugged Santa's Helpers into an electrical outlet to demonstrate how it worked. When I did, Santa and his elves began moving back and forth. That was, until they didn't. After just a few minutes of running, the figures froze up! Apparently, Santa and his elves decided to go on strike! An hour of tinkering later, I finally gave up on  trying to fix the thing and moved to a backup plan. I cannibalized the piece, stripping off the tiny light bulbs and plastic colored candle bulbs for resale on eBay. While I didn't make the big money I was hoping to, I did sell the salvaged parts for $40 dollars, thereby recouping my original investment and then some. Not huge money, but better then taking a loss.

If you've been following the news, you may have seen the stories about the shortage of Star Shower Laser Lights. The Laser Light projects thousands of festive green and red laser dots on your house. Mrs. Dude bought two at Walmart for forty dollars a piece for use on our home. I think they're great. A lot easier then risking life and limb hanging icicle lights up on the house. However, after setting one of the Laser Lights up, I decided there was no reason to use the second light. One Laser Light lit up the house just fine. But did we return the second light to Walmart for a forty dollar refund? Heck no! By the beginning of December, there was a shortage of Laser lights. In fact, they were in such high demand and short supply, that Grinchs' were swiping them from people's front yards! Recognizing a great eBay selling opportunity, we posted our second Laser light on eBay for a BIN price of $95. It sold within a day! (Buyer even paid shipping) If only we had a crystal ball back when we originally purchased the two at Walmart. There were at least a hundred Laser Lights stacked on the end cap aisle. Oh well, who knew, right? Guess we'll be happy with our $45 profit.

Those are just a few examples of my holiday sales. How's your sales going this Christmas season? I hope you're doing gangbusters and making nice money for you and your family. Share some of your Christmas flips with everyone in the comment section.

I'll have more stories and tips on what to buy and what to flip in the coming New Year. Until then, I want to wish all of the friends and followers of MoneyintheGarage, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year...... Dude!



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