Saturday, November 22, 2014

How to buy Lego sets for less money

With the leaves off the trees and the thermometer dropping to sub-freezing temperatures, I can now make this official "Dude" Pronouncement. (Clears  throat) The garage sale season is now over! Yep, put a fork in it. Folks are now planning for the holidays, not hosting a garage sale. You won't see me shedding a tear though. For the next five months when the clock strikes O-seven-hundred, I won't be springing out of bed like a maniac. Nope, I'll be rolling over for a few more Zzzzzzs. That's one of the few things I enjoy about the weather turning colder! For me, the end of yard sale season is much like baseball or football season ending. It gives the player some much needed time off for the three R', relaxation and recovery. Otherwise, just like a highly trained athlete, a yard sale picker will burn out. If that happens, yard sale picking stops being fun and turns into drudgery. Who wants that? Not me! So for now, I am going to enjoy my time off on Saturday mornings.

Keep it? Sorry kiddo, ain't gonna happen. 
The season effectively wrapped up last week with just three sales. Two were listed on Craigslist, while the third sale seemed to be a last minute, "let's throw one together" type
deal hosted by two families. This last minute sale was a doozie and ended my season with a big bang! When I rolled up on the house, the sale didn't look like much. But as I started looking around, I came across some pretty great bargains. Things started off well right off the bat when I eyeballed a vintage NES Nintendo set in it's original box. The guy only charged me five bucks for it. I've scored a few of these Nintendo NES sets in the past and can usaully count on making some nice cash. Check out this set I flipped a few years ago for $50 bucks. Since then, prices have gone even higher. A recent Nintendo NES set sold for over hundred bills on eBay. I am guessing I'll sell my set for about the same. Not too shabby for a five dollar investment on a crisp Saturday morning in November.

After I took it home, I stashed the Nintendo set in my garage. Not surprisingly, my Sonny Boy happened to be walking through the garage when his eyes locked in on the set. I knew this was trouble! Like most 18 year old "Pepsi Generation" kids, he then suggested I keep the set so he could have some fun with it. It's a good thing I wasn't sipping coffee at the moment he made this crazy remark, because I am pretty sure some would have come out my nose! I mean, Seriously? After all these years, he should know his old man a little better then that! As I once taught him many years ago, these "things" are just visiting our house. They stay a short time...then I find them a good home. (While getting paid for it.) But even though he should know my selling philosophy by now, I wasn't taking any chances. Just to be on the safe side, I hid the Nintendo set down in the basement...out of site...out of mind!

The right sets will make you big cash money!
In addition to the awesome Nintendo NES system, I snagged a few other items that will make me a some decent bucks. But the "piece de resistance" was a large Lego set I found. I laid eyes on it as the mom was walking it out of the garage. She set it down on a blanket in the yard, and following Lady Ga-Ga's advise about keeping a poker face, I casually walked over to it. The set was untouched and complete in the box. I was really hoping it was a Star Wars or Harry Potter set. Alas, it wasn't. Instead, it was a Lego commemorative anniversary set from about ten years ago. Not to brag, but when it comes to Harry Potter Lego sets, I've knocked it out of the ballpark several times! In fact, I've gone upper deck on some, selling a few for over $200 hundred bucks! While I had no idea what a commemorative set would be worth, I did know it's pretty hard to lose when flipping any Lego set in the original box.

I asked the mom how much she wanted for the set? She hemmed and hawwed as she thought about the price. For a yard sale picker, this is the most sensitive, high drama moment in a transaction. Those tense, awkward seconds waiting for that very important make-or-break number. If you've been in this situation, you know these can be agonizing moments. Sort of like time standing still. With the Lego set, the mom struggled for what seemed like an eternity as she pondered a price. Since it seemed like she was experiencing a brain freeze, I decided to help her along by throwing out a number...five bucks. You might think that's low, but at least it broke Mom's brain freeze-she accepted my offer! I peeled off a fiver and walked the
Boom....pop...kaboom...last score of the season!
huge set back to the truckster. But the real fun began when I got home. I looked up my newly acquired Lego set on eBay and was met with a huge surprise. The special edition Lego set I scored for five, sells in the range of $350 to $500 dollars! How's that for ending the yard sale season? Sticking with my baseball analogies, it's sort of like a big, fantastic fireworks display after a long ballgame! Boom, Pop, kaboom! You gotta luv it! Even though it should turn into huge money, I haven't listed it on eBay yet. But I plan on doing so very soon, taking full advantage of the Christmas buying season. For now, it sits near my computer where I look over and admire it. Kind of like owning a winning lottery ticket that hasn't been cashed yet. When I do sell it, I'll be sure to feature it here on the blog.

How's the yard sale season going for you? Is the season over, or are you still going strong? Give us your story in the comment section below....

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Who needs Walmart when you have a sure thing?

It's time once again to discuss another example of finding the illusive "sure thing" at the garage sales. Ahhhh yes, the sure thing! You know what I mean. In fact, you're probably smiling now just thinking about it. Nothing beats it, right? If you're like me, you get a garage sale "high" you when you find the sure thing. It's that special item you confidently know will earn you big bucks on Craigslist or eBay! In past blogs, I've gushed over various sure things including; jogging strollers, Legos, Coleman camping gear, baby gates and American Girl dolls. All stuff that's a stone-cold lock to make you big money! Well, I am happy to report this Dude's "sure thing" list has now grown with a new addition.

NOT this type of bike rack.
Are you ready? (Now would be a good time for a drum roll.) It's two rack! No, not those big metal monsters you use to chain your old Schwinn to at school. No, I am actually referring to the type that attaches to the back of a car so you can take your bike on trips. Not very exciting, right? Maybe not, but I can tell you those contraptions have earned me some serious dough over the last few years! Let me explain how the lowly bike rack made it on my sure thing list.

A few years back, my brother asked me to look for a bike rack for him. After many vacation trips hauling his bikes down the Jersey shore, his old bike rack had fallen apart. I told him I'd keep an eye out and shortly thereafter found a used "Thule" bike rack for only $40 bucks. Although it may sound like a lot of money, this was actually a pretty good deal. Thule bike racks are the most popular on the market and don't come cheap! Even at Walmart, where prices are suppose to be discounted, Thule bike racks sell in the range of two to four hundred dollars. That's a lot of dough for some metal tubes!

Thule Bike rack-buy low, sell high!
The Thule bike rack I found was a "hitch" style, meaning it plugged into a trailer hitch below the bumper. Feeling all proud that I'd scored my brother a highly desired Thule bike rack, I called to tell him the good news. But it turned out that my yard sale find was a big swing and a miss! Unfortunately, my brother didn't have a trailer hitch on his car, so my rack was of no use to him. He needed the "trunk" version which rests on the car's trunk and bumper to support the bike rack. I was bummed that I bought the wrong type, but got over it pretty fast when I realized I could flip the bike rack on Craigslist. A few days later, I posted my Thule bike rack on Craigslist for an impressive $100 bucks. It quickly sold at my full asking price! That's when it dawned on me....there was money to be made flipping bike racks!

Saris bike racks sell too!
Since then, I've always had bike racks on my BOLO list. While you won't find a bike rack every Saturday, you will come across them occasionally. Make sure you stick with the name brand racks, not some cheap, no-name brand. As my little story demonstrates, you'll never lose buying a Thule bike rack. On average, I snag them for five to ten dollars and sell them for $50 to $100. There's a few other brands that will make you money too. Recently I came across this space age looking bike rack by Saris. I paid ten dollars for it and flipped it on Craigslist for $50. Had I listed it on eBay, I could have potentially made $75 or more on it. But with it's big, bulky shape, I didn't want the hassle of finding a large box and dealing with all the related shipping costs and fees. It was much easier to go with Craigslist. I made a quick forty dollar profit and moved on to the next deal. You gotta love it!

From jogging strollers to Thule and Saris bike racks, the yard sale "sure thing" list gets longer and longer! What's your list of "sure thing" yard sale finds? Share them in the comment section below....

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Make money with Facebook !

Here's a word of warning for all my like-minded yard sale flippers. Are you on Facebook? Have you joined a yard sale group? Are you addicted to it? This topic has been bandied about by my fellow bloggers in recent months. At the time I read all the comments, I had no idea what the big fuss was about? Then a few months ago, Mrs. Dude joined not one, not two...but three Facebook yard sale groups! Holy cow...we both got hooked like a couple of Breaking Bad ice addicts! Like any good junkie, we've had some highs and lows, but keep coming back for more of the stuff!

Lots of Facebook groups out there!
I ain't gonna lie. There's a lot to like about joining a Facebook yard sale group. Instead of having to leave the comfort of your home to go sourcing for inventory, the stuff comes to your home computer. An abundant, steady stream of stuff, both good, bad and ugly flowing down the FB newsfeed. It's an awesome raging river of merchandise that never ends. For example, I was blown away by the amount of Ugg boots, Coach purses and Vera Bradley purses that constantly show up on my local Facebook yard sale group. Admittedly, some of the stuff is priced way too high to make any money flipping. But it's there for the picking if you're fast on the mouse.

Being fast on the mouse is not the only skill you need when surfing an FB yard sale. It's also important to be "ever vigilant" and check the feed often. You just never know when something good is going to pop up in the newsfeed. This can be good and bad, because you can become a bit obsessive as you scour that feed constantly. When something good pops up, you have to act quickly to be the first to claim "dibs" on it. A quick post to the comment section proclaiming "interested" will lock it down for you. The beauty of claiming it first is this: it gives you some time to research it, before you actually buy it. There's been a few times when I grabbed dibs on an item, then quickly dumped it after doing some eBay research on it's value. As I said, all this obsessive FB news feed checking can become very addictive and distracting if you're not careful. You'll know if you have a little "problem" when you're not on-line. You may find yourself trying to concentrate on other matters when all of a sudden you become distracted, wondering if you're missing something good on Facebook? And you'll know you got it really, really bad when you refuse to take your eyes off Facebook on Saturday afternoons or Sunday evenings. That's when the steady stream of listings turns into a raging river! A few weeks ago, Mrs. Dude and I went on a little weekend get-away. While out and about, guess who kept checking the Facebook yard sale group? Not was Mrs. Dude! I pointed out to her that even if she scored something good, we were away from home and couldn't pick it up. She kept checking anyway! But that's how bad the "fever" gets when you're a member of a Facebook yard sale group.

On a positive note, Mrs. Dude has been selling a ton of household stuff like costume jewelry, clothing and decorative items using the local FB yard sale group. (Mostly small stuff not worth selling on eBay due to fees, shipping, ect.) She's become pretty good at it and uses the "porch pickup" method. Buyers retrieve the item off our front  porch, leaving the money under the welcome mat. There's literally no face-to-face contact. I usually know when she's made a sale. The dog runs to the front door and starts barking when a buyer stops by to pick up an item. Next thing you know, Mrs. Dude is pulling a ten or twenty dollar bill from under the welcome mat. It's really a beautiful thing!

Apple Ipod on Facebook!
As always, my FB participation is all about finding good stuff to re-sell on eBay or Craigslist. So far, I've done good! I bought this Apple Ipod on FB for ten bucks. It's an older model, but Apple geeks still want them. It sold on eBay for $92! I also scored a garden windmill in the original box. I've had some past experience flipping garden windmills. A few years back, I blogged about flipping an old windmill for $75 dollars. The one I just found on Facebook is new/old stock in the box. I paid $15 for it and expect to easily sell it for more then a hundred bucks-all thanks to my local Facebook yard sale group!

So Mrs. Dude and I have just barley scratched the surface on the FB yard sale groups. But don't be overly concerned that we've turned into Facebook junkies. Mrs. Dude has already dropped one yard sale group she deemed unworthy, proving we can break the habit. Well, sort of, we're still on two other FB groups. In fact, I better go check them now. It's been a while since I last looked at the newsfeed, so I am starting to get the shakes!

Are you in a Facebook yard sale group? Share your flips and FB addictions in the comment section below....

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Halloween ideas that sell!

Now that we're in October, it's time to finish selling off any remaining Halloween items you might have laying around. I started early. My Halloween inventory went up on eBay way back in the July. Starting early is always a good idea if you don't want to get stuck with smiling pumpkins and skeletons staring at you for an entire year, not to mention the royal pain of storing big, bulky Halloween decorations.

A Halloween idea! Sell em on eBay!
My Halloween sales began in July as a trickle. I posted one eBay listing at a time to get things moving and to free up space in the MoneyintheGarage warehouse. I began with this huge pumpkin inflatable. Most yard inflatables are made by a company called Gemmy and can sell for big bucks in the stores. If you snag one at the right price at a yard sale, they can be excellent flips on eBay. I bought the pumpkin seen here at a yard sale back way back in June. In fact, I actually bought five holiday inflatables from the same seller that day. I paid $10 dollars for each one. They included three Halloween pumpkins, one Thanksgiving turkey and a snowman. But while you can make a lot of money flipping yard inflatables, it also can be risky business. The main problem? You may get  stuck with one that doesn't fully inflate. Usually this is because of a hole somewhere in the fabric. The dead giveaway is when your inflatable refuses to stand straight up after plugging in the fan. Who wants a saggy pumpkin on their front yard, right?

But while it's wise to test out an inflatable before paying, I rarely do. If it's cheap enough, I fork over the dough and go! Most of the time, I'll snag a holiday themed inflatable for around five to ten bucks. In the case of the five inflatables I bought in June, the seller promised me they all worked. He even told me that if any of them didn't inflate, I could return them. With that money back guarantee, I forked over $50 big ones and hoped for the best.

Obviously, you always want to test out an inflatable prior to re-selling it. Once it's fully inflated, you can also snap some photographs for your Craigslist or eBay listing. In the case of the five holiday inflatables, I decided to test all of them on a hot summer day in July. Take it from me, there's nothing stranger then the sight of a huge Halloween pumpkin or Frosty the Snowman on your front yard in July! To avoid calls to the police from my neighbors, I test out my inflatables in the backyard away from prying eyes. There is one neighbor I can't hide from. He lives right next door and can't help watching my antics in full view. But he's grown accustom to seeing me photograph all kinds of weird, wacky garage sale finds in my back yard. In fact, I was in the middle of inflating one of the giant pumpkins when he wandered outside and looked over. I waved at him and yelled, "Happy Halloween!" He just waved back, shook his head and walked back inside his house.

Halloween decorations sell for big bucks!
Once the testing and picture taking was completed, I packed all five inflatables back into their boxes and stacked them on my inventory shelf. Noticing that five inflatable boxes can take up a lot of space on the shelf, I decided to take a shot at selling them early. I began by  posting the eight foot high Jack-o-lantern for a Buy-it Now price of $65  plus shipping. Before the month was out, a buyer snapped it up! Feeling lucky, I then posted what I though was my crown jewel of all the inflatables-a combination pumpkin, turkey and scarecrow. I listed the trio for a BIN price of $65 dollars. These guys were quickly snapped up too! Keeping my streak going, I posted my final Jack-o'-lantern in September for $50 plus shipping. He sold just as quickly. At this point, all of my Halloween inflatables have been sold and shipped. In total, I made $180 bucks on a $30 investment! I still have the Thanksgiving turkey and the snowman waiting in the wings! If I can keep up the pace, I should make around $275 dollars on all five inflatables. That's pretty good money for spending fifty bucks at a June garage sale!

Have you sold any yard inflatables? How'd you do? Share the score in the comment section below...    

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Batman phone

Old telephones are one of my favorite garage sale items to flip. Not just any dusty, old phone though. I am talking about those classic telephones the phone company use to "lease" to customers back in the day. The Bell phones are a "must-have" for many collectors who use them as an accent piece in their home. Not only do they look good, but you can actually make a phone call on them! Making a telephone call on an old Bell phone just feels good. The click, click, click of the rotary dial. The heaviness of the handset when you hold it. They're solid, substantial and always dependable. There's no doubt when you're talking on a Bell phone, the person at the other end hears you loud and clear!

Ma Bell phones were built to last!
The old "Ma-Bell" phones were manufactured by Western Electric and were built to last. In fact, I still have a Western
Electric wall phone from the house I grew up in. It's in the classic "avocado green" color that was all the rage back in the Seventies. I can still picture my mom sitting at our kitchen table every day and talking to her sister on that phone. The phone finally came down off the wall after my father made some kitchen renovations. Prior to Bell's breakup, the phone would have been returned to the phone company. But this was long after, so I grabbed it for future use. Some years later, I hooked it up in my basement adjacent to my workbench. Keeping my mom's tradition going, I would endlessly yap away on it. I still have that phone today, although it's been disconnected and relegated to the closet. But I keep telling myself that one day I'll hook it up again. While it's unlikely that I will, I am definitely not going to sell it. How could I possibly get rid of my mom's telephone, right?

I am not the only one who has a deep, abiding affection for the old Bell Phones. Lot's of people like them. Even upscale retail stores like Pottery Barn sell knock-offs of the old Bell phones. But nothing beats an original, so when I see them at a garage sale, I buy them. You have to be somewhat selective however. For example, black rotary dial phones are aways a winner. You can usually snag one these phones for around five bucks at the yard sales. Flipping them on eBay will typically earn you around thirty to fifty dollars. Beige or "bone" color phones are a different story however. They seem to attract only lukewarm interest on eBay.

The cool!
But in my overall experience, the most sought after color is the red Bell phone! Red phones are a rarity at yard sales, so it's the old supply and demand theory at work. Because there are fewer red phones available, prices on eBay are higher. All that makes sense, but I also have another theory as to why red phones are popular. Many of us baby boomers vividly recall that Commissioner Gordan always used the red "Batphone" to summon Batman for help! That's the real reason for the red phone's popularity! Yes, I am 100% certain that's why people seek out red rotary phones! Most definitely it was Batman! What's that you say? My pathetic Batman fixation, which I've clung to since youth, might be clouding my thought process? Very well then, ummm, (clears throat) okay, let's just go back to red phones are really, really hard to find.

Whether it's the red Batphone or other popular colors, I am always on the lookout for vintage Bell phones. Not long ago, my quest paid off at a moving sale. The seller had tons of boxes spread out in his driveway. Buried inside one of the many boxes, I found Bell's illusive red wall phone. I pulled it out and asked the buyer how much? He quoted me two dollars and I didn't even dicker with him.

After cleaning up the phone with some Windex, I posted it on eBay with a starting bid of $20 dollars. By the end of the first day, the phone had already reached $25 bucks. Not a bad start, considering there were still six days to go in the auction. But then things got even better. I received an e-mail from a potential buyer who begged me to end the auction immediately. In return, he offered to flat out pay $130 dollars, plus shipping for the phone! Normally, I don't like ending an auction early. Instead, I prefer to let the bidding run it's course and let competing bidders decide the price. I usually feel bad about canceling bids. It sort of feels like your pulling the rug out from underneath bidders. But I didn't feel bad this time. For one thing, I've kept track of many of my previous sales and know that I've never made $130 on a single phone. By continuing the auction format, I didn't see any chance of even approaching $130 in bids. In fact, the guy may have been able to buy it for less if the auction continued! So I had to jump on the guy's offer right away. Realizing this would be fast, easy money, I knew what had to be done. The auction was shut down! (Sorry eBay bidders, no hard feelings-business is business.) Once cancelled, I immediately re-listed the phone for a Buy-it-Now price of $130. Within minutes of posting the BIN auction, the guy bought my phone! Just that fast, I turned two dollars into $130 dollars...a new personal best for me!

Bell phones all in a row!
The following day the phone was in the mail to the buyer. It arrived at his mailbox two days later. The guy loved the phone!
We exchanged several e-mails, mostly from the buyer thanking me for selling him the phone. In addition to his extreme generosity, the buyer turned out to be a great guy. He explained that he collected old Bell wall phones and had almost every color except red. That was until he found my auction. The red model finally completed his collection. He even sent me a photo proudly displaying all his phones on the wall. He pointed out that every single one of his phones actually work! Can you imagine what that sounds like when a call comes in? All heck breaking loose!

If only every garage sale flip could be that sweet. A huge profit and a grateful buyer. What more can you ask for in a phone? I mean, other then maybe calling Batman on it?

Have you ever flipped an old Bell phone? If so, which model and how'd you do? Share your story in the comment section below...

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Vintage industrial furniture

Ever hear the expression, "Pay it forward?" Basically, it means to do a good deed for another person. Then that person, in turn, does a good deed for the next person down the line. A few days ago, I paid it forward to a fellow yard sale picker. Instead of keeping a hot yard sale lead for myself, I passed it along to a fellow picker. The lead should turn into an awesome flip for the guy. I got to be honest though, my gesture wasn't totally altruistic. The guy had just bought two rusty old stools from me! So he paid me... then I paid it forward! Confusing, but here's the story:

A few Saturdays ago, I was wrapping up the garage sales for the day when I spotted an unexpected sale on the way home. The sale hadn't been advertised on Craigslist, so this almost always means less buyers and more stuff! I was feeling burned out from the long morning and actually debated whether to stop. Usually I lean on the rationalization that arriving at a garage sale late in the morning means the good stuff is already gone. But after finding so many late morning scores in the past, how could I not stop? So I stopped and guess what happened? Yep....SCORE!

Pulling up to the house, I immediately felt a good vibe. The sale was being run by an old timer. This always increases the odds of finding old, valuable stuff. This theory proved true again, when I found two vintage industrial metal stools. Old industrial furniture are hot sellers on eBay. Prices can go sky-high, but most come in at around fifty to a hundred dollars depending on the piece. The two stools I found met all the major criteria-very sturdy metal construction with just the right amount of patina to give them "character." The History Channel's American Pickers show often spotlights industrial furniture. American Picker's Mike Wolfe is completely obsessed with the stuff, buying anything from old factory shelves to light fixtures, chairs and stools. Basically, anything rusty or gritty that came out of an old factory or warehouse. One of the reasons industrial furniture is so popular is it represents a time when America was the undisputed manufacturing powerhouse of the world. A time when most things bought in this country were proudly stamped, "Made in the USA."

The metal stools I found were clearly made in the USA. They said so right under the seat! Grabbing one in each hand, I walked over to the old timer to see about a price. Unfortunately, he was engrossed in a conversation with a neighbor. I don't know about you, but when sellers get wrapped up in conversations with neighbor, friends or buyers, it can be an annoying situation. Should you patiently wait until they're done yapping, or just jump in and interrupt? Sometimes interrupting can be your only option, otherwise the jib-jabbing can drag on forever!

In the case of the old timer, I decided to quietly wait until he was done talking with his neighbor. The conversation mercifully ended after a few more minutes. Turning his attention towards me, I asked him what he wanted for the two stools? He grinned and gave me the old, "Waddya gimme for em?" Now I have to admit, at this point I was a little cranky. It had been a long, hot day and I had just waited patiently while the old fella yapped it up with his next door neighbor. Feeling a little sour, I low balled him, offering just five bucks for the pair. To my surprise, he smiled at me and said okay. Suddenly, I was feeling much better! After paying him, he laid out the back story on the stools. They dated back to the 1940's and were from an old firehouse. I was pretty happy with this last minute find. Not only did I score two vintage industrial stools, but the firehouse story made them even cooler!

The great thing about flipping old industrial finds is you don't necessarily have to clean them up. The grittier and "sweatier" they are, the better. When it comes to this stuff,  the old Billy Joel song fits perfectly..." I love you just the way you are!" After some light dusting, I sat the stools in front of my garage doors and photographed them.  Here's how they looked on my Craigslist ad:

   Vintage Firehouse Industrial Steel Stools - $100 

Great looking pair of vintage Toledo-style industrial metal stools. These stools are two feet high. The concave seats measure one foot across. (Very comfortable to sit in.) I acquired these from an old timer who told me they came out of a local firehouse. He estimated they date back to the 1940's or thereabouts. Nice industrial detail to these, check out the angled legs and fluted feet. They don't make them like this anymore!      

 Looks like a winner, right? Well, yes...and no. As much as I admired these two stools, the buyers were not exactly beating my door down. One thing I learned is Industrial is hot in many upscale, big cities. But if you don't live near those cities, then you're not going to get the calls. While I could have posted the stools on eBay, the shipping would have cost me around $80 for each stool. So I stuck with Craigslist and waited for a buyer. After several weeks of posting, then reposting, a buyer came along and offered me $50 for both. I countered with $75, but he wouldn't budge, explaining that after cleaning them up, he planned to re-sell them for $50 each. His explanation seemed legit, so I put up the white flag and told him to come get them. After all, turning five bucks into a fifty bucks ain't so bad!  

Paying it forward with a Facebook find
When the buyer picked up the stools, I realized he was a kindred spirit and a pretty good guy. We began trading garage sale flipping stories. He shared one incredible story about buying a huge lot of old trains for twenty dollars and flipping them for $900! (I am working through a train lot too. Will share that story at a later time.) After trading a few more stories and getting paid, I decided to pay it forward with my new buddy. Knowing that the guy had an interest in industrial, I gave him a lead I'd found on a local Facebook yard sale group. It was an old Industrial cart offered for $30 dollars. He jumped right on the lead, contacting the seller and buying the cart later that day. That evening, I received an e-mail from the guy thanking me. I told him that us yard sale pickers have to stick together! So it worked out pretty well for both of us.

Have you flipped any Industrial finds? Share your flip in the comment section below...

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to host a yard sale

August continues to be a rough time of year for a yard sale picker. As mentioned in a previous blog, the garage sales have really dropped off. Although I have no scientific data to back this up, I think this summer has seen the fewest number of garage sales in a long time. The last few weeks have been particularly brutal, with only two to three sales each Saturday. What's a yard sale picker to do? In my case, I decided to stop whining and take matters into my own hands. If you can't find any yard sales, have one of your own! This decisive action was strongly encouraged by Mrs. Dude, who's been harping, ummm, I mean suggesting, we hold a sale to get rid of some stuff.

Stuff piles up fast!
After several non-starters due to rain, family events and other things that typically get in the way, we finally had our yard sale last Saturday. While we had a bunch of things from around the house to sell, much of our merchandise was made up of what I call my eBay "stinkers." This is yard sale or thrift store stuff I bought, but could not get sold on eBay or Craigslist. Hey, it happens! Even though I've honed my skills pretty well, once in a while this Dude gets stuck with junk I just can't sell. When I do, I usually conclude the item is a "stinker" and relegate it to a junk pile in the corner of my basement. Since it's been about 16 months since our last yard sale, the stinker pile has gotten big! I am sure more rational people might get rid of the stuff by donating it to Goodwill. That would be the easiest thing to do, but as the old saying goes, "In for a penny, in for a pound." In other words, I already paid for the stuff, so I might as well make a few nickels and dimes by selling the junk at my yard sale!

As a professional yard sale picker, I know a thing or two about running a sale. I begin by posting my sale on Craigslist early in the week, then reposting it every other day to make sure folks see it. It helps to put in a few teasers in the ad too. Mentioning good stuff you're selling like old furniture, old records, trains and other goodies brings the buyers out. In addition to my Craigslist ad, I post the all-important yard sale signs around town. This time out, I chose a very bright, very purple poster board. This ugly purple could be spotted a mile away. If you follow my blog over time, you'll notice that crummy yard sale signs are one of my biggest pet peeves. They can be too small, illegible and/or drooping over. Since these signs help buyers get to your sale, they should be clear, concise and easy to read! In my case, I keep it simple. My signs look like this...




Brief and to the point. When you think about it, how much more information can a person process when flying by a sign at 40 miles per hour? You don't need the hours of operation or the date. That's all useless information. Keep it simple and just point them in the right direction. (That's what the arrows for.) On Friday evening, I made a bunch of purple signs just like the above and with Sonny Boy's help, tacked them up around town.

After the first influx of pickers
On Saturday morning we opened at about 7:30. I was in no hurry to open up, but Mrs. Dude dragged me out to the driveway before I even had breakfast! (She's quite the taskmaster!) Surprisingly, we didn't get hit with a big influx of early birds. The ones that did show up early were pickers like me. I am sure when they pulled up to the house their eyes lit up. Our tables were packed with lots of colorful merchandise like old Fisher Price toys, wood puzzles, plush toys and other yard sale eye candy. To the untrained eye, it looked like the garage sale mother lode. Making it even more attractive, I priced most of the stuff cheap, no more then three bucks for any one item. It was funny to watch the pickers scoop up stuff I had no luck selling on eBay. One guy had his arms crammed with stuff from my reject pile. I got a chuckle out of his buying enthusiasm. If the guy could find a way to make money on my eBay stinkers, more power to him!

eBay stinker...this time.
After the first wave of pickers left, the tables looked a little bare. That's when you have to reposition stuff to fill in the empty gaps on the table. You don't want incoming buyers to think all the good stuff has been picked through. I made adjustments as the morning proceeded and even dug more stuff out of the house to sell. Stuff was selling quickly, even the the eBay stinkers. For example, I had some old newspapers for sale. I bought these 1980's era papers in a weak moment about a year ago for five dollars. I previously had some good luck selling old newspapers on eBay. There was a big difference however. My previous newspapers were much older. Apparently few people are interested in newspapers from the Eighties era. These dust collectors were impossible to sell on Craigslist or eBay! Fortunately, I found a buyer for them at my yard sale. A guy paid me five bucks for them...exactly what I paid for them a year earlier.

We were busy with sales like that all morning. As they day wore one, it was satisfying watching the eBay stinkers thin out and transform into dollars bills. While we didn't sell everything, we got rid of a lot of stuff. All in all, we made over $200 bucks at the yard sale! Not bad for a morning standing in my driveway. For now, the money went into the piggy bank. Mrs. Dude is looking to buy a new kitchen table, so we'll use the cash towards that big ticket item. Best of all, I was able to clear out that annoying pile of eBay stinkers that accumulated in the corner of the basement. Now the corner is completely empty...for now!

How's the summer wrapping up for you? Have any good yard sale hosting stories to tell? Share them in the comment section below.

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