Friday, May 8, 2015

Let's get small

Darth Vader & the gang
Garage sale scores come in all shapes and sizes. On some Saturdays, my finds consist of "smalls" that can fit in the front seat of my truck. Other Saturdays, my truck looks like I am heading to the town dump with stuff practically falling out my truck bed. Over the last few years, I've leaned towards bigger and bigger garage sale finds, even though they can be a pain to deal with. I think it's the influence of watching History Channel's, American Pickers. Those guys don't even blink an eye when it comes to buying the big stuff. Coke machines, antique cars, huge signs-if they like it-they buy it! But I don't have a warehouse like the American Picker boys. So on those occasions when I bring home something huge, I've got to move it fast! A good example are those humongous Star Wars figures I bought last month. After laying out twenty dollars to the seller, I could barely fit them in the back of Mrs. Dude's car. (My truck was off for the day.) Once home, they sat in the garage and were generally in the way all the time. Sort of like having house guests who refuse to leave! As mentioned in the previous blog, the things scared Mrs. Dude several times when she walked into the garage. Nothing more jarring then turning on the light and seeing Darth Vader staring at you! Fortunately, they didn't hang around too long. Using Craigslist, I sold the Star Wars fab four to a Dad who bought them for his son. He paid me $60 dollars for all four. A nice $40 dollar profit for me, and no more garage surprises for Mrs. Dude!

But although I've done pretty well with things that barely fit in the car, I get a bigger kick out of selling the small stuff. When it comes to yard sale finds, good things really do come in small packages! Smalls takes up very little space, both in your car and later on the inventory shelf. When it's time to sell, smalls are much easier to prepare for shipping and the postage is usually inexpensive. Give me a small over a big item any day of the week! To make this point, I've compiled a few examples of some great smalls I've flipped. 

Cats Eye, Cats Eye..Cat.umm.. oh dang! 
Here's a perfect example. Just a few weeks ago I bought this little bike odometer in the original package. The women wanted three bucks for it. Truth be told, I didn't buy it right on the spot. Instead, I walked back to my truck and recited the name of the product (Cats Eye) over and over in my head so I wouldn't forget. (The old short term memory ain't what it use to be!) Amazingly, I actually held onto the name just long enough to conduct an eBay price check on my iPhone. I discovered these little gadgets sell for good money on the auction website. Armed with this new info, I jumped back out of the truck and asked the lady if she'd take two bills for the odometer? She agreed, and I went home with what turned out to be a nice little find. A few days later, I sold it for a BIN price of $40 dollars! That's almost as much as I made on the Star War figures, but without the storage hassle!
A small dollar find

Here's another small, but mighty score. It's also what I call a MoneyintheGarage "heads up." When you're out and about
at the garage sales, keep your eye out for vintage firearms guidebooks and manuals. Gun collectors, outdoorsmen and hunters love these old guides and will pay top dollar for them. This particular book cost me a buck. It's an illustrated guide on how to prepare shotgun shells. Like the bike odometer, I sold this book on eBay for $40 dollars! Another awesome "small" find... easy to store and inexpensive to ship using USPS media mail. Better yet, no scaring Mrs. Dude in the the smalls!

Coach in the junk drawer
Lastly, how much space do you think a keychain takes up? Like hardly no space at all, right? Mrs. Dude had this Coach butterfly keychain hiding in her kitchen junk drawer for over two years. Originally received as a gift from some girlfriends, she used it for a short while, then upgraded to a larger keychain. After going on her Lia Sophia selling binge over the winter, she began tearing the house apart searching for more jewelry to sell! When she did, she found her old Coach keychain stashed away in the kitchen junk drawer. This butterfly keychain turned out to be one of her bestie jewelry flips, netting her $49 dollars. Since it was no bigger then the palm of your hand, the keychain fit into a small padded envelope. Shipping was easy and cheap. Not bad, right? Nearly fifty bucks....a lot of money for something condemned to the kitchen junk drawer. You gotta love smalls!

What kind of smalls have you made a ton of dough on? Sing the praises of the "smalls" in the comment section below !  

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How to purchase a Lego set for five dollars

Son, I am your...what? Not funny?
The 2015 yard sale season has begun! With the cold weather finally receding, the past two weekends have brought a smattering of sales around town. It began Easter weekend with three sales. Although I struck out at all three sales, it was still nice to get outside and get back into the swing of things. Last Saturday was a bit more respectable with five sales. But even with more sales to check out, I only opened the wallet for one purchase. A twenty dollar bill landed me these four life-size Star Wars cardboard figures. The figures include Darth Vader, R2-D2, Chewbacca and C-3PO. I currently have them listed for sale on Craigslist for a one hundred dollar bill. Judging from what I've seen on eBay, I think they're worth the money. While I am waiting to find a buyer, I am having some fun with the Darth Vader figure. Every time my Sonny Boy walks through the garage, I dart behind Darth and announce in a deep voice, "I am your father!" Get it? It's funny cause I really am his father and...ohhh never mind. My kid didn't think it was all that funny either! Mrs. Dude also isn't laughing about the Star Wars figures. Not only are they parked on her side of the garage, but every time she walks into the garage, the figures scare the Bejeebers out of her! Needless to say, both Mrs. Dude and Sonny Boy will be happy when I get old Darth and the gang sold.

I am hoping those Star Wars figures will be a nice start to the new season. But no matter what I make out of the deal, I know they won't come close to my final garage sale scores from last season. The 2014 season ended with a phenomenal find that I've been waiting to share on the blog. I touched on it in a November post, but with the new season starting, now's a good time for a follow-up to the story. As mentioned in my previous post, this particular garage sale was on the last Saturday of the season. It was a big multi-family sale that appeared to have been thrown together at the last minute. In fact, when I arrived at the house, some of the extended family members were still pulling up to the house to participate. As they unloaded their stuff from the back of a mini-van, I noticed one of the kids pull
"You sold it for how much?"
out a massive Lego box. The kid tossed it down on a blanket and I nonchalantly kneeled down to take a closer look. It turned out to be a Lego Commemorative set called, "Town Plan." The set is a recreation of a Lego set produced 50 years ago, consisting of various town buildings including a gas station, city hall and movie theater. The box had been opened, but all the pieces were still sealed in the little plastic packs. Now here at MoneyintheGarage, you know we specialize in flipping Lego sets. I've made a ton of money on these flips, usually with Harry Potter and Star Wars sets. But when it came to this special commemorative edition, I really had no clue what it could be worth. While I could have tried a quick price check on eBay using my iPhone, I decided why bother? When you get right down to it, Legos are Legos. As long as the price is right, you're going to make some decent money flipping them.

In this case, the price turned out to be very right. I asked the lady what she wanted for the set? She tossed it right back into my court, asking what I wanted to give her for it? Probably not the best question to ask this shark, because I proceeded to offer her five dollars for the set! Pretty crazy right? Here's what's even crazier...she accepted my offer! Realizing this garage sale appeared to have some very low prices, I eagerly began shopping for more stuff. I then found a Nintendo NES system in the original box. The family sold that to me for me another five dollar bill. I bought a few other odds and ends, including an old CB radio for three bucks.  I left pretty satisfied with my scores, particularly since it turned out to be the last yard sale of the season!

About a month after the sale, I sold the CB radio on eBay for twenty dollars. With that 20 dollar sale, I was now playing with the house's money.  Now it was time to really make some profits and sell the Nintendo system and Lego set. The Nintendo system was first to go, selling on eBay for $90 dollars. Not bad right? But as as they say in the old TV commercials for the Ginsu knife, "But wait, there's more!" I still had the Lego commemorative set to sell. Prior to listing it, I conducted a little eBay research on the set. I learned the set had been produced for a limited time back in 2008. Looking at previous sales, I also discovered that even partial sets without the box brought in big bucks. Seeing this, I had a feeling my complete set in it's original box would be no slouch at auction. It was now time to make some dough. I posted my five dollar investment on eBay using a seven day auction format. Boom! As I hoped, the set attracted multiple crazed bidders and topped out an insane selling price of $380 dollars! Yet another example of why I love flipping Legos!!! 

After making me nearly $400 dollars, the commemorative Lego set has now officially become my new "go-to" story when family or friends asked how my eBay sales are going? (Replacing my Jack Nicklaus signed print story.) When people ask, I slowly lay out the story, then hit them with the $380 punchline. When I do, the person usually shouts, "$380?" in disbelief, or spits out whatever it is they're drinking at the time! It's funny watching folks reaction to the story. Who can blame them? Turning a five dollar Lego set into almost four hundred dollars will make anyone do a double take!

All together, the Lego set and Nintendo system earned me a total profit of $470 dollars. Pretty lucky scores, considering it was my last yard sale of the season, but that's why we head out there every Saturday morning, right? Hopefully, the 2015 yard sale season will pick up right where I left off. How's your season going so far? Share your early season scores in the comment section below... 


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Saturday, March 21, 2015

You can make big money on Facebook !

Our house very soon!
Mrs. Dude is out of control! A few months back, I blogged that both of us had become frequent buyers and sellers on our local Facebook Yard Sale group. But while I've dabbled in the FB marketplace, Mrs. Dude has gone full blown crazy with it! She's been buying items to re-sell, while at the same time, finding stuff from around the house to sell. More then once, I've scrolled down the Facebook feed looking to buy stuff, only to spot something from our house staring me in the face! Just the other day, I discovered my favorite a floor lamp posted for sale on Facebook. Looking closely at the posted photo, I thought to  myself, "Gee, that looks awfully familiar." I then spotted my wife's name above the photo! I was like, "Hey, I need that lamp to read!" It's getting so bad that pretty soon our place will look like Cindy Who's house after the Grinch cleared it out on Christmas Eve. As Dr. Seuss' said,

  "On their walls he left nothing but hooks and some wire. And the one speck of food that he left in the house was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse!" 

While it hasn't quite gotten as bad as crumbs and wires left behind, there is a reason behind Mrs. Dude's selling madness. She's been saving up to buy new furniture. Specifically, a new kitchen table and a new sofa for the living room. As any motivational speaker will tell you, it's good to set goals in life. Goals can keep you focused and driven. Holy cow is Mrs. Dude driven! After just four months of Facebook flips, we now have a beautiful (locally built) wood farm table with chairs from Raymour and Flanigan. After eating dinner on this fine, sturdy table, I now plop down on a great looking leather sofa. (Also purchased at Raymour and Flanigan.) Both the farm table and sofa were paid for with proceeds from Mrs. Dude's Facebook finds and flips. It may seem like a lot of money to raise in a short time, but with the right stuff you can hit a goal pretty quickly. Here's just a few of Mrs. Dude's furniture fundraiser flips...

Thirty One Suite
One of the first big Facebook scores was this "Thirty One Suite" tote bag. Mrs. Dude told me that Thirty One bags are sold via home parties. This particular tote style was an "exclusive" given to women who agree to host a party at their home. Mrs. Dude snapped up the bag on the FB yard sale group for $25 dollars. She intended to use the bag for herself, but after seeing the prices Thirty One bags fetched on eBay, she decided to flip it instead. That's where this Dude comes in. Remember those poor wretched workers in the engine room of the Titanic? The guys who dutifully stoked the engine fires, keeping the great ship moving forward? Yeah, that's basically me, only with eBay. Mrs. Dude would send an order down to me in the engine room to post one of her finds on eBay. I would smartly salute and say "Ay-Ay Captain" and immediately post said stuff. It was hard work, but Mrs. Dude promised me I could sit on the new sofa! Following her usual order, I listed her Thirty-One bag on eBay. Within a few days, I was happy to report back to the "Captain" that I'd sold her bag for a BIN price of $100 big ones! With those kinds of dollars, I was well on my way to sitting on the new sofa!

Sophia Loren? No, Lia Sophia! 
Then there's Mrs. Dude's Sophia Loren costume jewelry collection. Ummm, I mean Sofia Vergara. No, wait, that's not's Lia Sophia. Yeah, that's it. (It all sounds the same to me.) Whatever it's called, this costume jewelry was also sold through home parties. A few years back, Mrs. Dude's sister was a Lia Sophia sales representative. Naturally, most home party reps sell primarily to members of their own family. Mrs. Dude was no exception, buying waaaaay too much Lia Sophia jewelry from her sister. Over time, all this fancy costume jewelry piled up in Mrs. Dude's jewelry box. Fast forward to last Fall when Lia Sophia officially went out of business. Now if you want to buy Lia Sophia, you pretty much have to go to eBay. This gave Mrs. Dude a great opportunity to unload much of her jewelry. The bracelet seen in the photo sold for $45 dollars on eBay. This was one of many Lia Sophia beads and bangles I listed for Mrs. Dude.  Collectively, these pieces generated several hundred dollars towards Mrs. Dude's furniture fund. Recognizing a nice opportunity when she sees it, Mrs. Dude recently picked up even more Lia Sophia pieces on FB. This stuff will be up on eBay in the near future.

American Girl
Another one of her Facebook finds included this huge lot of American Girl Doll clothing. The lot even included a skateboard, skis and ski poles. Mrs. Dude scooped up the lot on FB for only $25 dollars. While I was happy she found it, I couldn't help but be a little miffed at the same time. After all, I put in millions of miles, driving to countless garage sales in the hopes of finding an American Girl doll score! It's hard work, and if I am lucky, I may find American Girl a couple times each season. Along comes Mrs. Dude who scores a hugemongous American Girl clothing collection right from the comfort of her living room! Where's the justice in that? I am old school when it comes to flipping stuff. You're not suppose to just turn on your laptop and find a deal. No, you're suppose to get out and work the streets for a find of that magnitude! So she lucked out on that one. Like all her other finds, I headed down to the engine room and posted her American Girl lot on eBay. The result? The clothes sold for $104 bucks! I guess she did okay. It's not like I am jealous about it or anything. I mean just because she really didn't put the appropriate hard work and time in. Whatever, I am over it!

Makes it all worthwhile!
And so it, wine glasses, framed pictures, clothes, even that lamp I picked out of my neighbor's trash can last year. (Sold for ten bucks.) It all flew out the door via Facebook and eBay sales. By the end of February, Mrs. Dude had made enough money to buy both her kitchen farm table and the leather sofa. She even sold the old sofa and kitchen set on Craigslist, bringing in an additional $300 dollars towards the cause. The furniture was delivered a few weeks ago. Both look great and I eagerly anticipate many evenings plopped in that leather couch enjoying my favorite show, American Pickers. More importantly, there's something very satisfying about turning household clutter into cash, which in turn, becomes beautiful furniture. This brings us to another important "Dude" philosophy. I am a big believer in goal setting when it comes to this business. After all, if you're going to put the time and effort in trudging to garage sales, thrift shops and hunting down Facebook finds, why not make it worth it? If you can help it, don't blow all of your earnings on boring, everyday stuff. Try to put aside some of your hard-earned eBay dough. Then once you've saved up enough money, reward yourself by buying something, a flat screen, a home improvement name it! Something substantial that you can see, enjoy and gives you satisfaction every day when you look at it. This "reward" not only makes you feel good, but also motivates you to get back out there and keep at it. Don't believe me? Just ask Mrs. Dude!

Have you set a goal when selling? Did you turn it into something "big" for yourself or your family? Share the story in the comment section below.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Winter sale on Uggs, Under Armour & The North Face gear !

You don't have to watch the Weather Channel to know it's been freezing in many parts of the country. While my local area hasn't been buried in snow like Boston, it's still been pretty bad with temperatures hovering at zero and repeated snowfalls causing messy driving conditions. This Artic weather hasn't slowed down me or my fellow thrift store shoppers though. A few days ago, I decided to brave the deep freeze and head down to the local Goodwill Store. With the brutally cold weather, I foolishly thought shoppers would stay home, leaving me to have the whole store to myself. Not a chance! In fact, I've never seen the store more packed with shoppers! Naturally my first thought was, "What is wrong with these people?" But that's like the pot calling the kettle black. After all, I was there too. So I guess not even Artic temperatures can slow down thrift store shoppers. This cold weather isn't slowing down my eBay sales either. Over the past month, I've been making some nice bucks selling winter season items. Here's a few samples of my cold weather flips...

The North Face Steep Tech
Obviously, the most essential clothing item a person needs in the cold weather is a coat. In keeping with that, check out this awesome North Face coat I picked up at the Goodwill store. I bought the coat back in September and stored it away until winter rolled around. This isn't just your average North Face. This North Face is called "Steep Tech" and is designed for those hardy, winter outdoorsy types. They're heavily insulated and have lots of zippered pockets to hold your gear when hiking, skiing and I guess, climbing Mount Everest? You pay dearly for all those extras too. Brand new, Steep Tech coats sell for as much as $350 dollars! Fortunately, my Steep Tech coat was a little less money...just ten bucks! I posted the coat right after the holidays. It was an ideal time, as the weather was really starting to turn cold. As I've pointed out in past blogs, selling anything with the North Face logo on it is pretty much guaranteed money. My North Face Steep Tech proved this once again, selling for $75 dollars! A sweet profit that gave me a nice warm feeling inside!

Equal to North Face in selling power and popularity is Under Armour. These two companies market to a slightly different buyer. North Face is associated with the outdoorsy type, while Under Armour is marketed towards the athlete and the wannabe jocks. Although each company has a different type of buyer, both share one thing in common-they sell like gangbusters! I recently scored this great looking Under Armour "Coldgear" pullover jacket at Goodwill, paying only four bucks. (If it had been my size, I think I would have kept it for myself.) Just like the name implies, Coldgear is for cold weather wear. It's designed to retain body heat, while at the same time, vent away perspiration. Does it work? Beats me, but I know one thing for sure; buyers love the stuff! That, combined with listing it during winter, told me I had another easy sale on my hands. Sure enough, the cold weather pullover sold for $28 dollars!

Missing a button but who cares?
Lastly, you need nice, warm fuzzy boots before going out into the cold weather, right? If you're going to be in style, you just know they have to be Uggs. Here's a pair of Uggs I stumbled across at Goodwill. They were marked at the low, low price of only eight dollars. Like the North Face coat, I found these boots months earlier, but patiently waited for Old Man Winter to blow in before selling them. I really lucked into these boots. I am not exactly searching for Uggs in the thrift store. Most of the time, I am over in the Men's section, so I don't see much in the way of women's stuff. But as I was zipping through the men's shirts, I happened to look up at a shoe shelf above the racks. Mixed in with crummy sneakers and old slippers were a pair of Uggs! Lucky for me, the weird turquoise color and fur lining caught my eye. I picked them up and immediately looked on the back heel for the little Uggs tag. I was fully expecting them to be a cheap knock-off, but to my surprise, they were the real deal! The right boot was missing a wood button, but other then that, these boots were in great shape. Bidders seemed to like them too. The Aqua Uggs ended up selling for $47 dollars! Almost fifty big ones for boots mixed in with the smelly old shoes and sneakers-another amazing Goodwill find!

So that's how I roll this time of year. Ugg Boots, North Face coats and Under Armour jackets...give the people what they want and they will reward you! How's your winter sales going? Share some of your cold weather flips in the comment section below....  

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lionel, Bachmann & Aristo-Craft...Let it rain model trains!

No matter what kind of weather, it's rare for me to stay home on a yard sale Saturday. Other then Winter, when there's no sales to be found, I am always hitting sales each and every Saturday morning. As far as I am concerned, the only legitimate reason to stay home on a Saturday morning might be heavy rains. After all, who holds a yard sale in the rain anyway, right? Well, while most don't, there are a few hardcore sellers who won't let a little rain stop them. Since there's always a few "rain or shine" sales out there, I put on my raincoat and head out. It may seem a little nuts, but after reading this story, you'll see that I am not that crazy to go out in the rain...      

Way back on a Saturday morning in early September, I woke up to a light, but steady rain. I don't need the Weather Channel or Internet to get a weather report. I go old school, using my open bedroom window to tell me what I need to know when I wake up. On this particular morning, I could hear the drip-drip-drip from a gutter downspout outside the window. This meant steady rain outside. Groaning for a moment, I wrestled with the tempting idea of skipping the yard sales and going back to sleep. After all, most folks cancel their sales when it rains anyway, right? I tossed and turned, deciding what to do. Heading out could be a total waste of time or maybe, just maybe, there was a great deal waiting to be discovered. As it always does, the notion of finding a great deal won out. I dragged myself out of bed and headed out on a crummy, rainy day that would have kept most folks at home. 

Driving down the wet roads, it was obvious the steady rain had scared off the fair-weather yard sale shoppers. It also scared off most of the sellers too! Pulling up to house after house, I was finding the same thing-canceled sales. While a few sellers were considerate enough to post a sign outside announcing their cancellation, most would-be sellers just kept their garage door closed tight. It was as if the yard sale ad they posted on Craigslist meant nothing....the nerve of some folks! The cancellations continued and things were looking bleak, as I drove down the last remaining sale on my map. Dang the luck, they were closed too! But just down the street I spotted a ray of hope. There, in the pouring rain, was a small, soggy cardboard yard sale sign taped to a streetlight pole. It was pointing down a cul-de-sac. The sign read, "Yard Sale-Rain or Shine." Hallelujah...a seller who was bravely holding a yard sale despite the rain!

I had a good feeling about this yard sale. For one, it hadn't been posted in Craigslist. This meant few, if any, buyers would find it. Secondly, I knew exactly who the seller was since I'd been to his house before. He was a bit of an eccentric with some interesting stuff for sale his last go-round. But at this point in the morning, I didn't care what he had to sell-any sale was better then nothing! So I headed down the cul-de-sac hoping to salvage this washout of a day. And boy...did I ever!

Walking up his driveway, the seller greeted me as he moved stuff around in his crowded garage. He was an older gentleman; a tall and lanky guy who liked to talk...a lot! Normally, gabby sellers tend to slow me down, so I try not to encourage any unnecessary chit-chat. However, since I knew there were no other yard sales to be had, I warmed up a little and chatted to the guy as I looked through his stuff. As in his previous yard sale, the guy had a ton old record albums. Nothing I was really interested in, but that didn't slow my buddy down. He wanted to share his opinions on several of the albums in depth with me. I humored him, but  kept looking as he talked. I noticed a bulky stack of boxes in the center of his garage. It was a cloudy day, and combined with the lack of good lighting in his garage, I struggled to make out what was inside the boxes. Leaning into the pile to get a closer look, I realized I had a possible major discovery on my hands. The boxes contained a huge collection of old trains! Not just any trains either, most were "G" scale, which are humongous trains, each measuring 20 inches or more in length. My adrenaline started pumping! Keeping my poker face on, I asked the seller what the story was on all the trains? He explained that his brother recently passed away and he inherited his huge collection of model trains. He then said those magic words a yard sale picker loves to hear, "I just want to get rid of them." 

A few of the many trains
Ding-Ding-Ding! This was not a drill! In fact, it was a dream scenario. I found myself at a yard sale with absolutely no other buyers to compete against, coupled with an awesome train collection the seller wanted to get rid of. All the planets were in alignment! I knew there was only one thing to do. I had to take a stab at buying the entire collection from the guy! I could tell from his demeanor that my new buddy had no emotional attachment to the trains. To him, they were just taking up much needed space in his garage. I asked him what he wanted for the trains? As he poked around the boxes, he responded saying he hadn't really thought about a price. Throwing it right back at me, he asked what I wanted to pay? I countered, telling him I hadn't anticipated buying a huge lot of trains today and that I only had $130 on me. (All true.) I then asked him if $130 would buy the trains? He thought about it for moment, then shook his head yes and said, "Let me help you load them." Emptying my pockets, I handed my new buddy the entire wad of cash I'd taken with me that morning. I then wasted no time stuffing all the boxes and loose trains into Mrs. Dude's car! As I hustled the boxes from garage to car, I worried the guy might change his mind for some reason. But not only did he not change his mind, he scoured the garage to make sure I didn't miss any of the boxes. There were so many boxes and trains that when it was finally all packed up, the only open space in the car was the driver's seat.

Lionel Bank Building
I pulled up to my house praying Mrs. Dude wouldn't look out the window. She's very protective of her Rav-4 and would not have been happy at seeing her "baby" packed to the roof with old, dusty boxes and trains. Luckily, I quickly unloaded the train collection into the garage before she noticed. While domestic tranquility was preserved, I still had a lot of work to do. There were plenty of photos to be taken and listings to be posted. I decided to start with something I knew would quickly help me recover my initial investment-a vintage Lionel train bank building. Collectors go wild for these classic vintage tin metal buildings. Most collectors consider them a must-have when assembling a classic model train platform. Posting the bank building on eBay started my train sales off with a bang. The Lionel bank building sold for $100 dollars! With that very first sale, I'd instantly recovered a huge chunk of my $130 investment! I then posted a newer train set that my eBay research showed would also sell for big bucks. It was a small scale version of the Amtraks's Acela passenger train by Bachmann. This auction exceeded my expectations, resulting in a sale price of $182 dollars. With only two sales, I was now $152 in the black on my investment. Using both Craigslist and eBay, I slowly sold off all the train pieces including; locomotive engines, passenger cars, box cars and tracks. Because of the popularity in model train collecting, I had no problem selling most of my pieces for top dollar. It really doesn't matter what brand; Lionel, Bachmann, MTH, American Flyer or Aristo-Craft...model train collectors are extremely passionate about their hobby. Just the other day, I met a model train collector at the local Dunkin Donuts for a sale. He drove 90 minutes, meeting me on a freezing cold winter morning and bought the last train set from the original lot. It was an O scale set made by Aristo-Craft. He must of really liked it. He paid $225 dollars for the set!

You can probably see where all this is going. After many months, I've pretty much sold most of the train pieces from that rainy day find. While there's a few more bucks to be made in some leftover track I still have, I decided it was time add up my total profits. I was surprised what the calculator read. In total, my train score generated just over one thousand dollars in sales. Pretty big number, right? Now you know why every Saturday morning, whether it's rain, snow, sleet or hail... 


So don't let a little rain stop you from making a huge score. If it's raining, get your umbrella and head out there. You never know what you're going to find!

If you've scored a great rainy day find, here's your chance to brag about it. Tell us your story in the comment section below....     

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Make even more money with Facebook!

A few months ago, I marveled over the phenomena that is Facebook Yard Sale Groups. These local groups have spread like wildfire as members go crazy buying and selling their stuff. For us yard sale pickers, it's a great source for new inventory, particularly during the winter months when actual yard sales are practically non-existent. Although these groups have probably been around since Mark Zuckerberg went live with Facebook, I came late to the party. However, over the last few months I've been trying to make up for lost time. Using Mrs. Dude's Facebook account, I've snagged some sweet deals that I later flipped on eBay. Here's a sample...

Mega Block..Mega Bucks!
Exhibit one is this awesome Mega Block ProBuilder model plane I bought for ten dollars. This is one of my first scores using Facebook. Since buying it, I often follow the same pattern. When I spot something that looks good, I quickly look it up on eBay. For me, it's like a race against time as I feverishly research the item. There's no dilly-dallying during these crucial moments! Time is of the essence since any FB member can beat me to the punch and lay claim to it. When that happens, it can be a devastating moment! Not unlike when someone walks away from a garage sale with a deal under their arm, just as you're walking up the driveway...oh the horror! You may be wondering why I bothered researching the plane, instead of claiming it right away? While this model may seem like an easy decision, you can't be too certain. There are a gazillion model airplanes listed on eBay and not all of them sell. This is largely because the market is saturated with models of all shapes and sizes. But despite the overabundance, a good model airplane can earn you some serious cash. In the case of this Megablock model, I was able to confirm these planes sell for big bucks! Once confirmed, I jumped right back over to the FB comment section and typed "Interested," thereby claiming first dibs on the model. I picked the model up the next day and immediately posted it on eBay. The auction ran in early December, adding even more potential buyers to the mix due to the holidays. The result was a closing price of $75 dollars! It pays to be fast on that keyboard!

Wonder Pets..Wonderful!
Here's another Facebook home run-a Wonder Pets Musical Fly Boat. The Fly Boat and little characters were listed on Facebook for only five dollars. What the heck is a Fly Boat you say? Beats me, but I can tell you one thing...they sell! I've flipped a few of these toys on eBay
in the past and always see a lot of bidding action. Knowing this, there was no need to do a "discount double check" on eBay. Upon spotting the toy, it took me a split second to type "Interested" in the comment section. Boom! Just like that the toy boat was mine! After successfully laying claim to the little boat, I was overwhelmed with that yard sale adrenaline rush you feel after scoring a great find! You probably know what I mean...that awesome feeling when you absolutely, positively know you're gonna make some dough from your find. I guess it's how the California gold prospectors felt when they found a tiny piece of  gold in their pan, or when my Aunt yells "BINGO!" in the church hall! It's a natural high! Anyway, after coming down off my high, I picked up the toy, leaving a five dollar bill under the seller's welcome mat. Like the model plane, I immediately listed it on eBay. It was worth the drive to the lady's front porch. My five dollar "porch pickup" sold for $33 dollars!

Sorry big guy, I had to do it. 
Last, but not least, was this Fisher Price Imaginext "Big Foot" Monster. I captured this Big Foot for just ten bucks. Fisher Price has made various versions of these robotic toys, including a big dinosaur. All of them retail for huge money in the stores. This Facebook score required me to do a little acting when I picked him up however. The seller, thinking I bought the toy for my kids, gave me a painfully long demonstration on how to operate Big Foot. I patiently pretended to be interested during the demo, not having the heart to tell the lady I had a completely different plan for the big guy. He was about to be pieced out and sold for parts! My eBay research has taught me that in many cases buyers don't need the entire toy-they already have one. Instead, they need parts like the battery, remote control and charger for their own Big Foot. That's okay by me. It's a lot easier and cheaper to ship components then ship a big, bulky toy. So working like Dr. Frankenstein, I removed Big Foot's battery from deep inside his plastic body. I then posted the battery, charger and remote control on eBay. The three piece lot sold for $36 dollars! I still have Bigfoot, but he's just a lifeless, empty shell of his former self. In fact, I am pretty sure he glares at me from a shelf here in the MoneyintheGarage laboratories. I guess he's mad at me for what I did? But he'll get over it once I sell him at my next yard sale. I'll make a buck or two and he'll go to a new home. At that point, my total profit on the big guy will be $38 dollars. Not bad for a bear...or ape...or whatever the heck he is!

Those are just a few of my initial Facebook yard sale scores. With winter now settling in, I'll have even more time to scour the FB feed and hopefully snag more great finds. It's become a bit addictive and I am not gonna lie. While typing this blog piece, I took periodic breaks to check the Facebook feed. It's getting real bad and I may seek out some form of counseling...right after I check that feed again!

How's your Facebook finds going? Share some of your scores in the comment section below.    

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Holiday deals at thrift store prices!

Happy 2015! With the holiday craziness now behind us, there's nothing really left to do but count the profits and clean up the mess left behind from countless parcels wrapped and shipped. The season was a good one for me. I cleared the shelves of nearly every item I designated as Christmas inventory. I even sold some stuff that withered on eBay auctions earlier in the year! I've said it before and I'll say it again-almost anything will sell during the holidays. So now that the holidays are in the rear view mirror, let's take a look at a few of my favorite sales. Ironically, all the items cited below were sourced from my local Goodwill store. I guess that makes today's blog piece my special "Thrift Store" edition!

Fender Guitar thrift store find
The gift of music is always a good idea during the holidays, so what's better then a beautiful Fender guitar? I found this gem at the Goodwill Store a week before Christmas. Like most great thrift store finds, it was a matter of my being in the right place at the right time. In this case, the cashier told me the guitar had arrived in the store just hours before. Given it's brand new condition, I am certain it wouldn't have stayed on the shelf for very long. The guitar was priced at sixty dollars-fairly expensive for a cheapie like me! Fortunately, I had a 20% off discount card that I'd been saving for several weeks. The cards are handed out by Goodwill and are a pretty good deal. After ten purchases are marked off on the card, the customer can cash it in for a 20% discount on any purchase. Given the amount of stuff I buy at Goodwill, the cards can pile up quick for me. At any given time, I usually have one or two stashed away in my wallet. However, these precious discount cards are not to be squandered! My philosophy is to only use them for high price items. The $60 price tag on the guitar met this criteria, so I boldly tossed it down as if it were a "Get-out-of-jail-for-free" card. After applying the 20% discount, the Fender guitar cost me $48 dollars-a steal for an instrument that retails for around $180 on Amazon!

Once the hatch is closed...then what?
With Christmas only a week away, I immediately posted the Fender guitar on Craigslist for $125 dollars, a fair price for a very nice guitar. Days later, I was negotiating with a buyer and settled on a price of $100 bucks. We agreed to meet at a local 7-11 convenience store. It was a rainy night just two days before Christmas. Call me crazy, but it was an odd transaction for me. Normally, when I conduct a Craigslist "Meet & Sell" transaction, I have the buyer look at the item at my car, specifically, the rear hatch door of my Toyota. This keeps me in control of the situation and if the buyer balks, I can just toss the item in the back and leave. But with the Fender guitar, the buyer asked me to walk the guitar over to the rear of his car's hatchback so he could take a look at it. Since it was raining, I obliged him and he checked out the Fender in the rear of his Suburu's cargo area. Agreeing it was a fine looking guitar for the price, he told me would run inside the 7-11 to pull $100 cash from the ATM machine. But as he did, he began to close the rear hatch...with my guitar inside...and me with no cash in hand! Worried that a possible scam was about to unfold, I told him I'd stand under his open hatch out of the rain while he went inside the store to get his money. In fact, what I was really doing was guarding my guitar until he paid me! After all, once he closes that hatch, who's to say whether that guitar now belongs to me or to him? Heck, all you have to do is watch Judge Judy to know "rightful owner" disputes like that happen all the time. Yeah, I know, you're probably thinking, "Dude, you're paranoid. Where's your Christmas spirit?" But even during the Christmas season, Mom didn't raise no fool! The story ended happily for me, however. The buyer came out of the 7-11 and handed over five, crisp twenty dollar bills. At that point, I stepped out from under the hatch so he could close it. Although I was wet and cold, the sweet profit of $52 dollars warmed me up quickly!

Christmas blowmolds are an easy sell!
As anyone who follows my blog knows, I also love flipping blow molds. This year was no exception. Early in December I found these three vintage blow molds at Goodwill. Each were marked at ten dollars a piece for a total of $30. A little steep by Goodwill standards, but I knew I could at least double my money. Once again, I shrewdly applied another 20% discount card, bringing  the price down to $24 dollars. Several weeks later I sold them to a  Craigslist buyer for $65. Amazingly, the guy travelled over an hour to pick them up. He told me his whole front yard was decorated with blow molds. That's why I love flipping blow molds. As long as they're in decent condition, the buyers will always be there!

Mr.  Christmas Mickey's Clock Shop
Lastly, I flipped this fabulous Mr. Christmas Mickey's Clock Shop set. This was another Goodwill find, setting me back a whopping six
dollars. You read right...only six bucks! These sets are made by a company called, Mr. Christmas. The company produces many popular Christmas themed mechanical toys and decorations, many which sell for big bucks on eBay! The Mickey Clock Shop set is highly sought after by Disney collectors and always brings in top dollar. The set consists of a string of four individual cottages, each with a singing Disney character inside. Lucky for me, the clock was working properly. After passing my thorough inspection, I posted the set on eBay. It sold for an impressive $87 dollars! But it didn't stop there! As I prepped the set for photographs, I made an additional discovery. Inside the box were manuals and extra parts for two other Mr. Christmas toys. I flipped these on eBay too, earning an additional $34 dollars. All together, my original six dollar investment made me a total of $121 dollars. Sure glad I walked into Goodwill on that particular day!

There were a bunch more holiday sales which I'll try to share at a later time. Overall, it was a very good season. I hope you did just as well during the holidays and throughout 2014. Maybe you even picked up a few pointers from my site along the way. If you did, let me know. I'd love to share your flips with all our readers. Lastly, as we enter 2015, thanks for visiting MoneyintheGarage and for all your support and nice comments. This Dude wishes you and your family a happy, healthy New Year!


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