Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Check out these low, low prices on electronics!

Here we are in the throes of winter. It’s cold outside, but a good time to warm ourselves with memories of thrift shop and yard sale scores. For this winter time review, I thought I’d discuss some sweet electronic finds and flips.  Although potentially lucrative, electronic sales can be risky business. From burned out light bulbs, to acid encrusted battery compartments, there’s always potential problems with electronics. For that reason, I am very choosy when buying tech items. But if chosen wisely, the payoff can be pretty good. Here’s a few examples:

It’s electric...boogey, woogey!  
Remember electric typewriters? Since the advent of desktop computers and printers, they’ve mostly become a thing of the past, but can you believe there’s still buyers out there for them? It’s true. I’ve flipped a handful of old-school electric typewriters over the last few years. One model, the Smith-Corona SL-600, keeps surfacing in some of my local Goodwill stores. Weirder still is the fact that I often find this model in pristine condition in it's original packing material and box. I am not sure what the story is, maybe folks buy them and never get around to using them? For whatever reason, if it’s mint condition in the original box, I am a buyer. The typewriter seen here set me back eight dollars. I turned around and flipped it on Ebay for $50. This particular model was pretty basic, but more sophisticated typewriters with spell check features can bring in even more money. A word of caution however: make sure you charge enough for shipping. Typewriters are big and heavy. If you are not careful in calculating a shipping rate, postage could cost you big money.

Turn them into big money!
Switching from work related stuff to actual fun stuff, the market for good quality turntables can be very good. I’ve made some excellent flips selling "old school" turntables. There’s plenty of “Audiophiles” who still prefer to listen to their music on “vinyl” rather then downloaded tunes. I am by no means an audio expert, but I do know that “direct drive” is preferred over "belt driven" tables. The model seen here fits that description; a Dual DC-9, direct drive turntable. I bought it last fall at a yard sale. The seller was asking $25 dollars. While she claimed it still worked, she admitted she hadn’t actually used it for years. My usual negotiating tactic is to point out that if it didn’t work, it could run into serious money trying to repair it. The seller was a tough cookie, and we went back and forth until she finally agreed to let it go for $17 dollars. When I got it home, I tested it out. To my untrained ear it seemed to be functioning fine. Ultimately, I knew that even if there was a minor problem or two, it wouldn’t make or break any potential deal. Most collectors know they are going to have to do some tinkering with an old turntable anyway. I decided to skip an eBay listing and use Craigslist instead. I wasn’t about to mess with the shipping hassles that go along with an eBay sale. A few days later, a serious vinyl guy came by to take a look at it. He pointed out a few flaws that only an Audiophile would see, but handed over $75 dollars for it anyway.

Flipping answering machines is a calling .
As mentioned earlier, buying older electronics can be risky, but why not remove any risk by flipping something new in the box? Often referred to as "New/Old stock”, you just can’t beat flipping  vintage electronics that are sealed in the original box. Not long ago, I came across a new/old stock Panasonic answering machine in the original box at a local thrift shop. The price was right at only eight dollars. Like electric typewriters, there are buyers who prefer the old style answering machines that use little cassette tapes.  While my answering machine looked near-new, it can be tricky to determine whether devices like an answering machine have ever been put to use. But being the crack flipper that I am, I look for a few tell-tale clues. One; does it show any signs of dirt, dust or wear?  If it’s been used, most devices will have some dirt or smudges on it somewhere. Another clue is the packaging. If the devise has never been used, the components should all be tightly nestled in the styrofoam packaging. A big tell-tale sign are the wires and plugs. If the wires appear to be neatly factory packed and bound together with little twisty ties, there’s a very good chance the device has never been removed from the box. My Panasonic answering machine met all these criteria, making it an easy decision to buy. Since it was new, I only needed a few quick pictures for the listing. I posted one showing the outside of the box and another showing the answering machine still cradled in the styrofoam. That seemed to do the trick. A day after it was posted, the Panasonic sold for a "Buy it Now” price of $50 dollars. You got to love that!

Old school boomboxes are booming business!
Speaking of Panasonic, check out this big old, Panasonic boom box from back in the day. I found this monster at Goodwill a few months ago. The store manger told me he had just put it out on the floor, adding that he personally tested it and it worked great. I decided to see for myself and began playing around with the radio’s different features. Other then being a little dirty and dusty, the radio seemed to work fine and sounded awesome. At only seven bills, the boom box was ridiculously priced. Adding to the deal, the manger had loaded six brand new “Mad D" batteries in the back. (The batteries alone probably cost seven bucks!) Old school boom boxes are bringing in seriously crazy money on eBay's auction website. In fact, the older, bigger and more bells and whistles they have...the more dough they bring in! My Panasonic boom box had a lot of those features going for it. Not one to pass on a sweet deal, I grabbed the heavy radio and marched it right up to the front counter. Once back home, I did my best to clean up the dust and dirt with some paper towels and my always dependable bottle of Windex. After cleaning it up, I posted the boom box on eBay for a ten day auction. At nearly a week and a half, this would provide plenty of time for buyers to find it...then drive up the bids. The strategy worked. My Panasonic boom box topped out at $153 dollars...nice !

That’s a quick look back at a few of my recent electronic finds and flips. You have any similar scores to share? Go ahead and post them in the comment section below.    

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas deals, bargains & flips

The Christmas selling season is winding down. As in years past, December was a good month for sales. I sold plenty of Christmas themed items, some of which had been stored away for over a year, others just recently bought and quickly flipped. Here’s a rundown of some of my more interesting flips for this holiday season...

Rescued from the trash!
Holiday blowmolds continue to be a favorite of mine since you can always find a buyer for them. The popularity of old blowmolds is partly due to nostalgia. Boomers recall their childhood days when Santa and Nativity scene blowmolds were on many front yards in their neighborhood. Another reason for their popularity is scarcity. Full size blowmold figures just aren’t made any more. For these reasons, I always keep an eye out for them. Over the last year, I salvaged three separate figures that were being thrown out with the trash! In one case, the credit goes to my daughter, who found a Wiseman by the curb and rescued him before the trash truck came. After the rescue, she proudly texted me a hilarious picture of the Wiseman propped up in the back seat of her car. (As a proud parent, I must brag that I have taught her well!) Like my trash picking daughter, I too was also able to rescue a Mary and Joseph blowmold from the dreaded trashman. None of the three figures were in perfect condition, In fact, only Mary still had a working light bulb fixture, but those are easy fixes with a trip to the hardware store or Amazon search. I posted my three figures up on Craigslist for ten dollars each. After receiving several no-show inquiries on them, I finally sold all three to a husband and wife at a slightly discounted $25 dollars for all. Their plan was to re-assemble a complete set to display on their front yard. Talk about dedication...after leaving my house, the couple were heading off to another seller who lived over an hour away to buy yet another Wiseman! I was happy to help them achieve their goal of assembling a complete nativity set, but also relieved. I was beginning to worry I’d be stuck with these huge hunks of plastic for another year. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and instead of storing three huge blowmolds in my house, I am storing $25 dollars in my wallet!

Fisher Price Santa Cottage
Moving on, I recently had what I like to call a “Quickie” flip. This is when I can score and flip something from the comfort of my home with very little effort or time. In this case, I was perusing our local Facebook yard sale group, when up popped a Fisher Price Santa Cottage. The set included Santa, his cottage and some additional figures. I was first in line to grab it, snagging the set for a twenty dollar bill. Some quick research determined that Fisher Price Santa Cottage sets were selling for very good money on eBay. After claiming the toy, I texted Mrs. Dude, who just so happened to be heading back from her favorite Target store (surprise, surprise). She was able to pick up the Santa Cottage on the way home. That same night, I posted the set on Ebay for a "Buy It Now" price of $60 dollars. Two days later, it sold. In just 48 hours, I turned twenty dollars into sixty....that’s why I call them “Quickie” flips!

Bright lights, big city.

Here’s another pretty neat flip I made this season. Not so much because of what they sold for, but because of who bought them. Check out the vintage Christmas lights consisting of a string of  old “petal” style lights and a classic “Noma" bubble lights. The Noma lights came in the original box, but had two of the seven lights missing. This probably made them a little less attractive to buyers, since I tried selling these same lights last year with no success. Hoping to move them this year, I posted them on eBay in late November to get a head start. My strategy seemed to work. The lights sold for $25 dollars.  Interestingly,   I shipped them to the world famous "Tavern on the Green" Restaurant in New York City. I thought that was pretty cool. My lights are probably twinkling above the heads of restaurant patrons as they dine and enjoy the Christmas season in the Big Apple. 

The biggest sale of all! 
Lastly, one of my really big sales this season had to be the animated Christmas carousal seen here. When I mean big, I literally mean BIG! The box it came in was a monster, nearly filling the entire back bed of my truck. Also big was the price, costing me a whopping $80 bucks at the Goodwill Store. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I pulled the trigger after realizing this mechanical carousal retailed for over $200 dollars in the stores. After hauling the monster home, I knew I had to move it fast so as not to get stuck with it. I assembled the carousal to take some pictures and immediately posted it on Craigslist for $150 dollars. After about a week of buyer nothingness, I dropped the price to $125. At that, a buyer contacted me and we agreed to meet at the local Dunkin Donuts for the sale. The guy was thrilled to buy the carousal, even telling me what a great deal I was giving him! Naturally I agreed, as I helped him jam the huge box into the back seat of his car. As he pulled away, I was $45 dollars richer and he left a very happy buyer. 

Those are few of my Christmas flips this year. Overall, I had pretty good holiday selling season. I hope you had some nice Christmas flips too. If you did, share a few in the comment section below. More importantly, I hope my blog gave you some ideas and helped you make some sweet flips this year. Here’s wishing you and yours, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sell weird stuff and make big money

When it comes to finding inventory at a yard sale or thrift shop store, some stuff can be an easy decision to buy. As seen in numerous past blog examples, whenever I come across stuff like Legos, American Girl Doll and Coleman camping gear, I can’t get the money out of my pocket fast enough! But then there’s times I find unusual stuff, causing me to scratch my head and wonder if it's something I can make any money on?  It can be hard to decide whether to spend hard-earned money on stuff you never sold before, but in these thrift store examples, I made my money back and more!

Dog training collar 
For example, a few years back I was rummaging through a local thrift shop when I found a box that contained what looked to me to be just a glorified dog collar. But this wasn’t any run-of-the-mill dog collar. In fact, it was a shock collar designed to train dogs, particularly hunting dogs. Using a hand-held transmitter, the collar emits a light shock activated by the owner when training the dog to do things like return and other skills. As I usually do when faced with a buy/no buy situation, I conducted a quick look up on eBay. When I did, I saw these collars sell for serious cash, with retail prices going over $200. The thrift shop was only asking eight dollars for the collar, so while there was no way of knowing if it actually worked, I decided I could afford take a chance on it. Back home, I took some time to clean up the collar and the radio transmitter. Also a little more research on eBay gave me some encouraging news. Apparently, many hunters need multiple collars since they often have more then one dog with them out in the field.  Learning this, I figured I could at least advertise the collar and transmitter as a spare.  After gaining this rudimentary knowledge on the collar and  transmitter, I posted them up on eBay. In the description I pushed the idea that the collar would be a great backup or “spare” if needed in the field. I guess whoever bought it agreed. The collar and transmitter sold for a nice solid, $71 dollars. Not bad for something you don’t find every day.

Vintage toy ukulele
In another unusual thrift store find, I was scouring through a local Goodwill store. After about 30 minutes of searching, I thought I'd struck out when my eye caught a festive looking box in the glass display case. A closer look revealed something you don’t see everyday-a vintage "Arthur Godfrey" toy ukulele in the original box! Most folks probably don’t even remember Arthur Godfrey, but back in the days of radio, he was a huge star. When TV came along, Godfrey made the transition to the small screen with a variety show similar to Ed Sullivan's. Godfrey was also well known for playing a ukulele on his show. Apparently he also wasn’t above making a few bucks by slapping his name on toy ukuleles. This particular toy appeared to be from the late 1950’s. With a Goodwill price tag of just ten bucks, I had to take a chance and buy it. The little toy ukulele went right up on eBay. I wasn’t sure how it would do. When you think about out, who's really interested in ukuleles anymore? But proving there’s a market out there for almost anything, my Arthur Godfrey Ukulele was bid up to an incredible $171 dollars! The buyer was from France! I am guessing ukulele’s are big in France? If so, I have just one thing to say...."Vive la France!”

Go sell a kite!
Hard to top that one in the unusual category, but I think I can. In the same thrift shop where I found the dog collar, I also came across a vintage “Sting-A-Ree” kite by Gayla. The kite was laying in the corner of the shop, unnoticed by most shoppers. Judging from the cardboard label attached to the top of the plastic wrapper, it looked to be from around the Sixties or Seventies era. And talk about a time capsule...the kite had never been opened! Although the Gayla kites came in all different cool styles and colors, this particular kite was fairly basic in blue and yellow. You might also assume Stingray kites have been around forever, but I remember it differently. Growing up in the Sixties, there were basically two kinds of kites: box kites and the triangular kites with the tail. Both kites had one thing in common-they were a pain in the @#* to fly! These "old school” kites spent most of the time spinning in circles, then violently crashing to the ground! But then along came the “Stingray” style kite. A cool, modern kite that even the most uncoordinated kid (like me) could easily fly! Hoping that a few collectors would have the same fond memories as I did, I forked over a whole two dollars for the vintage kite. With this complete and untouched kite being so unusual, I couldn’t wait to test out the kite collector's market on eBay. To borrow a Star Wars reference, I discovered the force is strong in the kite market! In a seven day auction, my Sixties era kite topped out at  $202 dollars! An awesome sale. In fact, anytime I am in that same thrift shop, I always glance into that corner  hoping to somehow find another $200 dollar kite! (Sigh)....maybe some day.

How about you? Whether it’s an old kite, a dog collar, a ukulele or any other unusual stuff. Tell us what you flipped in the comment section below.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Making big money with a little money

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Make money selling stuff you don’t own

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Of bikes and men.

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

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

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

...and after.

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

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

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

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Selling HGTV Fixer Upper farmhouse stuff

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

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

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

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

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


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