Friday, August 23, 2019

Little finds can turn into big money!

The pickings have been a little slow out there this yard sale summer. Last weekend, there were literally no sales being held. But I’ll admit this didn’t exactly break my heart. Although I know the importance of getting out to yard sales every Saturday morning, I also enjoy a relaxing morning at home with a cup of coffee. So I am not too worried. There will be plenty more garage sales to hunt through as summer turns into fall. While I wait for things to pick up, let’s go over a few small finds that put big money in my pocket.

A find at the end of the day.
It’s always fun when you can score a nice item right at the end of a long Saturday morning. About a month ago, I was finishing up the Saturday sales and stumbled upon an unadvertised garage sale just minutes from my house. It was late in the morning, so I was not expecting much, but I did score one very good find. Sitting on the seller's table was a small digital camera in the original box. The camera came with with all it’s accessories and looked brand new. Normally, I am a little leery about buying hi-tech electronics, but it was clear the camera probably worked due to it’s pristine condition. After some negotiation, the seller let it go for five bucks. At that price, I had a feeling I could make a decent profit from it. I posted it right away on eBay with a "Buy It Now" price of $45 dollars. This was based on similar models that had recently sold on the website. Within a few days, I had the camera sold, making me a nice little profit of $40 big ones. Pretty impressive for an end of day find!

Vintage Marx toy trunk
Next up is probably one of the smallest items I’ve ever flipped on eBay. Check out this vintage toy trunk made by Marx Toys. My guess is this little guy was part of a Marx toy train set, possibly intended to sit on the train station platform. Whatever it was for, I actually scored two of them at a local sale, paying one buck for both! Knowing the passion of vintage train collectors, I anticipated  these two trunks could potentially bring in some serious dollars. That speculation turned out to be true. I sold each trunk in separate auctions for a combined total of $48 big ones! Making the sales even better was the fact that shipping the tiny trunks  was easy-breezy. Sometimes good things really do come in small packages when yard sale picking!

Re-purposed into a lamp!
Lastly, another summer flip was a classic rotary desktop phone from back in the day. I’ve bought and sold many a vintage phone over the years, so I am always on the lookout for more. In this case, I paid one dollar for the the phone which dated  back to 1962. This style of old phones can do very well on eBay. There was only problem; it had the old 4-prong wall plug that hasn’t been used in decades. This obviously hurts the resale value, since it would need to be re-wired in order to use it as a working phone. (Although with cell phones, fewer and fewer home owners have actual hard wire phones in their homes.) Speculating that I wasn’t going to make much money selling the phone on eBay, I decided instead to go with posting it on my Facebook yard sale group for $15 dollars. While you might think I could have asked more, I’ve learned through trial and error, the strict spending limits at work with members of my FB yard sale group. It seems that anything approaching twenty dollars or more brings upturned noses! With that in mind, I posted the old phone for $15 and soon enough I had buyer. I’ll have to admit, this particular phone was not was not nearly as profitable as some in years past. But it was blog worthy for what the buyer did with the phone after buying it. He re-purposed the old phone into a table lamp! Now that’s a cool use of an old, outdated phone! I am not sure whether he intended to keep it for himself, or resell it. If it were up to me, I’d be asking fifty dollars or more for the phone on eBay. But either way, it was a very cool transformation!

So that’s some of the latest flips from my neck of the woods. As the garage sales pick up with the cooler weather, I am sure I’ll have plenty more blog worthy flips down the road to talk about. How’s the yard sales going for you? Bring all your latest flips to  the comment section below!

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Awesome prices for Coleman Camping Gear !

The yard sale season has been lurching along, with some weekends providing me with lots of destinations, while other weekends, there's barely a sale to be found. Now as we enter the hot and humid days of summer, many would-be sellers will wait for the cooler weather of Fall before setting up a table in their driveway. But that hasn’t stopped me from seeking out the few that are scattered around my town. Let me share a few of my recent scores, along with some more of my house moving flips. Between old stuff from my house and things I've turned up at garage sales, I am still happily humming along during these summer months.

Halliburton briefcase 
First up in the batter’s box is this very James Bond-like “Halliburton" briefcase. I sold one of these high end briefcases a few years ago for one hundred dollars. Remembering this, I couldn’t pass up this briefcase at a recent yard sale. There was only one problem however...the briefcase was locked! To make matters worse, the seller couldn’t remember the four digit combination. Since the briefcase was potentially locked forever, the seller offered to give me the briefcase for free. But locked or not, I knew I could probably make some money out of it, so I paid him a dollar. When I got the briefcase home, I tried working the combination like an international safe cracker. Starting at 0-0-0-0, I tediously spun the digits one combination at a time until I finally reached  9-9-9-9. I guess I am a lousy safe cracker. After two separate tries, I couldn't get the briefcase to open. That wouldn’t stop me from from selling the case though. Despite it being locked up tight, I posted the briefcase on eBay. My description specifically stated the briefcase was locked and there was no combination. Even with my brutally honest description, I still had bidders. After a ten day auction, the briefcase that wouldn’t open sold for a healthy $40 dollars! A pretty good return on my one dollar investment.  

Gorgeous Red Coleman Lamp
Another recent find was this beautiful, bright red Coleman lantern in the original box. Followers of my blog know I am big into flipping Coleman camping gear. There’s a huge market for many items bearing the Coleman name including lanterns, coolers and stoves. I found this lantern on a Facebook yard sale group for only five dollars. It also came with a small fuel tank which I sold separately on Ebay for $20. After that sale, I was already $15 dollars ahead. I decided to try my luck selling the lamp on Craigslist. This would avoid the hassle of shipping the lamp and risk it breaking in transit. After doing some cost comparison shopping on similar models listed on Ebay, I posted my lamp on Craigslist for $135 dollars. Within just a couple days, I received an e-mail from a buyer informing me that he would pay me my asking price. Ironically, I also received an anonymous e-mail from a troll who basically told me I was nuts and would never get $135 bucks! This e-mail I tucked away in my save file for some fun later. Several days later, I met my Coleman buyer at a local farm stand who happily forked over $135 cash for the lantern.

With my money now safe in hand, I couldn’t resist responding back to my troll with the following e-mail:

“Hmmm, you may be right, but do me a favor, don’t tell that to the guy who just paid me $135 cash for it!”

My troll responded back with a harmless insult, at which point we actually bonded over a discussion on how well Coleman gear sells. After another e-mail or two, we wished each other good luck out there in the garage sale hunts. With that, I guess you could say I was now $135 bucks richer and also made a new Craigslist friend!

Larami Super Soaker
Lastly, I’ll wrap up with another house moving flip. While cleaning out our old house prior to the move, I came across another remnant of our kid’s childhood. It was a hefty "Super Soaker" water pistol. These bad boys shoot an impressive stream of water, somewhat comparable to a fire hose. The water pistol had seen better days with some fading color and dings. It had  been hanging around the house for years, last used by my youngest son during high school for various senior prank hi-jinks. After his graduation, it sat in the trunk of his Honda for at least two years, then made it's way back into my garage where I encountered it. I was nearly on the verge of throwing it in a “Goodwill” donation box when I vaguely remembered that a certain brand of water pistol did well on Ebay. Not knowing if my kid’s water pistol was one of those, I scanned the plastic for the manufactures name, then typed it into the eBay search bar. Turns out, I was in possession of the most popular water pistol on eBay...Laremi! Many Larami water pistols sell for insane boo-coo bucks on the auction website. So it wasn't long before my kid’s old water pistol ended up for sale there too. Sure enough after a seven day auction, the old Laramie super soaker sold for $35 bucks! A pretty good price for a piece of plastic that had been rattling around in the trunk of my kid’s car for years! Needless to say, I now try to keep an eye out for any Laramie water pistols when I am at the garage sales. I would recommend you do too!

So that’s our updates for now. How’s your summer going? Any good garage sale or house stuff flips? Feel free to list them in the comment section below.

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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Downsize your house and make big money

The dust has finally settled since we moved to our new home. Since then, I’ve been reviewing my pre-move household flips. It’s been fun looking at all the things I sold, but also a little sad. Many are bringing back bittersweet memories of long-held items I parted with due to lack of space. We love our new home, but it just doesn’t have the storage space of our old house. As a result, stuff had to go before we moved. It was tough, but parting with those memories was eased by one fact...I made a ton of money! So much so, that we were able to use the money for a bunch of home improvements to the new place. That took away any sting I may have felt when selling some of my treasured stuff. Here’s a few examples of some of the things I sold off prior to our big move.

The Force made me some cash
Like most all-American boys, I went through a comic book collecting stage in my adolescence. At the time, comic book collecting, both as a hobby and an investment, was just starting to take off. During that period, I began buying and saving Marvel comic books, carefully wrapping them in plastic wrappers and storing them away. But my interest waned about the same time I began noticing girls and discovering it was fun taking them to the movies and holding hands! So with that, my comic books took a backseat and went into storage in my bedroom closet. Over the years, my small collection, comprised of six Tupperware containers, moved with me to my first apartment...then our first house, then second and so on and so on. But last summer, I decided that rather then move those comic books once again, it was time to sell them. Of course, I could have held onto to them and someday they would have been passed down to my kids, but I didn’t think that was a good idea. I envisioned a nightmare scenario whereby my kids, not wanting to be bothered with dealing with all those comics, sold them at a yard sale for next to nothing. This would not be good! After all, I didn’t hold unto them for all those years so some yard sale shark (like myself) could steal them! So instead, I sold them myself, grouping them into various lots by characters or themes. For example, I sold a group of "Sergeant Fury" War comics for $35, a group of Spiderman comics for $80. I even had a few of the original Star Wars comics issued back in 1978. I sold three of them for an even one hundred dollars. Because I'd accumulated a ton of comic books as a kid, it took me the entire summer to unload them all. It was worth it. I made just over a thousand dollars in total comic book sales. A very nice profit and when downsizing, it’s a lot easier to store $1000 cash money, then six boxes of old comic books!

Old school Microsoft Windows software
Here’s another downsizing flip. Over the years, my kids accumulated a ton of computer software and games. Most of the software was stuffed in boxes, or various desk drawers in our basement. My oldest son was helping us prepare for the move when he came across an original Microsoft Windows software package with diskettes. The software package had never been opened and the diskettes were still sealed in the original plastic packaging. My son pointed out to me that even though the software was practically obsolete, I could still probably sell the set on eBay. Naturally, that's all the encouragement I needed. The old Microsoft package went up on eBay. Sonny boy turned out to be correct...the software sold for $45 dollars. Not bad for something that had been setting in a desk drawer for years!

Re-purposed beer crate
As “Project downsize" continued, another cool item I parted with was a vintage wood beer case.
I bought this crate for five bucks about twenty years ago at a local flea market. It became a neat addition to my basement man cave, serving as a table to rest a beer on during intense games of billiards. (Played on my re-cycled vintage Sears pool table.) Although normally I avoid flea markets for reasons having to do with sensory overload, (Too much stuff to look at.) I have to say when looking for  a specific item, no matter how unusual, you'll probably find it at a flea market. I remember very clearly seeking out some kind of cool table for my man cave at the flea market and finding it in this beer crate. It sat in my man cave for many years and attracted it’s share of admirers. But like so many other things in my old house, it was not going to make the move to the new home. I posted it on an eBay auction and it sold for $46 dollars.    

Lastly, can you recognize this weird looking tool in the adjacent picture? It’s a “knee kicker', used to install and stretch carpet. I’ve had this carpet tool for so long, I can’t even guess where I bought it. I do remember why I bought it though. I needed the tool to install carpeting in the baby’s room of our first little row home. Pretty sure that was the first and last time I used it. Well, since that baby is now a grown man of 30 years old with a home of his own, I figured I wouldn’t be needing to to install carpeting anymore. I sold the old knee kicker on Craigslist for $30. Seeing there’s a demand for these unique tools, I couldn't resist picking up another knee kicker at a recent yard sale. It set me back two bucks and I currently have it listed on CL for $50. We’ll see  what happens with that.

That’s just a handful of things sitting around the house that I turned into cash. What’s more fun then getting rid of stuff and turning them into dollar bills? When it comes to downsizing....not a whole lot! How about you? Have you unloaded house stuff you overlooked in the past? Share your story in the comment section below. In the meantime, I am going to keep looking around my new house for stuff to sell!

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

...And we’re back!

Greetings! After nine long months, MoneyintheGarage.Com has risen from it's sleep mode! It’s been a long time and much has happened during the time we went dark. When I last blogged to this site, I was sitting at my computer some ten miles away in my former home. Since then, Mrs. Dude and I have moved. It was a long time coming. After 22 years in our former home and the kids out of the house, it didn’t make sense to maintain a four bedroom home. For this and other reasons, we knew it was time. We listed the house for sale last summer and I am happy to say, it sold in just a couple weeks. A young couple bought our home where I am sure new memories will be made. (I still drive by it just to check on things As for us, we’re now in a 55 and older community. Our new home is smaller, but there's still plenty of room for the kids (and our new grandson) when they all visit. The house even came with a bonus room, which I’ve converted into my “eBay office". Five months have passed since we moved in, and while we’re still getting settled, it definitely feels like home now. The whole moving process has left me with some interesting stories to share too. Here's just a few to begin with...

Old Town Canoe
One of the biggest challenges in our move was dealing with the stuff I’d accumulated over the years. Plain and simple, I am a pack rat. Not the crazy, extreme hoarder type that you see on TV, but I do hang onto stuff either for sentimental reasons, or because I think could make some money reselling it in the future. However, faced with downsizing to a smaller home with less storage space, I had to make some tough decisions. For example, you may remember my long-ago blog piece on how I trash picked an Old Town Canoe. Some years ago, Mrs. Dude spotted the canoe sitting out for the trash down the street from our old house. After reporting this unbelievable find to me, we immediately jumped into her mini-van and raced down the street to grab it. I quickly hustled the canoe into the back of Mrs. Dude's mini-van. Not wanting to waste time strapping the canoe down, I literally crouched down in the back of the van and held onto the stern as we drove away. The canoe had a few dings and missing pieces, but I ordered some replacement parts and made the necessary repairs to it. It was a neat project, and within a few months, we had it back out on the water. Over the years, my kids and I enjoyed many fun times taking it out on the local streams and lakes. But unfortunately, that was then and this is now. Once we sold the house it was time to make a tough decision. Do we take the big canoe with us or sell it? After some internal debate with myself, I decided the canoe wasn’t coming with us. For one thing, we hadn’t used it in years. Secondly, it wasn’t worth the hassle of moving and storing it until my grandson would be the right age to take it out. Besides, I could always buy another one when  the time was right. So with that, I sold my trash picked Old Town canoe on Craigslist for $300 dollars. In addition to the canoe, I also sold the oars and life preservers for another $50 bucks. Taken together, that entire canoe package netted me $350 dollars! That left me with less stuff to move and some extra cash in my pocket for home improvements to the new house.

Revitalized fountain 
Another  heavy item I had to decide on taking, was our ornamental garden fountain which sat off patio for many years. Mrs. Dude bought the fountain for me as a birthday gift twenty years ago. I really liked this fountain. Sitting on the back patio with the sound of the water falling into the basin was always relaxing. It also happened to look great. However, when it came time to move, I decided the fountain wasn’t taking the trip with us. For one thing, we rarely sat out back on the patio anymore. Secondly, the fountain was showing it's age. The spigot produced only a small dribble of water flow due to a partial clog in the pipe. Combine this with the fact that the fountain was as heavy as a small boulder, and I saw no reason to drag it to our new house. I posted the fountain for sale on my local Facebook yard sale group asking $25 dollars. I would have asked for more, but I felt the clogged spigot hurt it'’s value. Despite that, a women quickly scooped it up. She was an obvious fixer-upper person, because  she promptly powerwashed the fountain and somehow unclogged the spigot. The buyer was so proud of here restoration that she sent me a photo of the revitalized fountain. I have to admit, I felt a tinge of regret. My twenty year old fountain looked good as new!

As good as that transformation was however, another buyer really stepped it up. For many years, we kept a garden potting table on the side of our house. It served as a work table for various garden and household projects. Just as I did with the canoe, I had rescued the table from the trash after finding it curbside. Judging from it’s original appearance at the time, it looked like it had been used as a tile cutting table. Seeing it’s potential as a handy gardener's table, I hauled it home, adding a storage shelf underneath and a backboard with hooks and a barometer. I also rebuilt the table top, adding a new piece of plywood which I then painted green. It was one of the more practical salvage pieces I ever recycled and we enjoyed many years of use out of it. Over time however, the table top began to rot and just generally fall apart. I attempted a quick fix up, replacing the top board, but never getting around to a new coat of paint. The whole thing was looking ratty, so when the time came to sell the house, I decided the table was not coming with us. Once again, I used our local FB yard sale group, selling the table for forty bucks. It was purchases by a women who’s husband was a carpenter. When she got the table home, they went to town on it-ripping out my rotting plywood top and replacing it with spiffy looking wood planks. The result was a beautiful "Pottery Barn” quality gardener's table. After the restoration, the buyer e-mailed me a photo of their finished project. Once again, I felt a little regret and thought maybe I should have done the same thing. But in the middle of a move, who has time for that? So I made my peace with it and moved on. As the saying goes, “You can’t take it with you.” The table went to a good home and I made a few bucks.

There’s still more stuff I sold in those last months prior to moving. We’ll save those tales for another blog. I will say this for now. Of the many things I learned in this downsizing/moving process, the most important thing is this... GET STARTED EARLY!  If you plan to downsize as we did, get into your closet, attic and basement right now and start selling the stuff! Our downsizing journey began over two years ago. Once the decision was made, we started the process with a plan to begin by selling the largest, bulkiest items in my house first. Furniture, outdoor items, bikes and other big things were the first to go.  Although it was a lot of work, for me the whole process was actually fun. Every time I buyer walked away with something from our house, I thought to myself, “That’s one less thing I have to pay the movers to move!” In addition, all the money we’ve made from the sales will be reinvested in home improvements at our new house. It’s awesome to see the fruits of all those sales turned into tangible home improvement like new floor tile, landscaping, ect.

Now that it’s Spring, it’s only appropriate that MoneyintheGarage.Com is back with new garage sale flips and a few more downsizing flips too. This Dude is also back out hitting the yard sales and thrift shops. The process goes on...just from a new location.

How’s the flipping business going for you? Any examples of stuff you've sold during a house moving or downsizing experience?  If so, add your story in the comment section below.

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Monday, July 9, 2018

How to turn trash into cash!

As you may have noticed, my blog entries have slowed down quite a bit. No major reason, other then I am a bit lazy, combined with a corresponding lack of garage sales to talk about. I can understand my laziness in blogging, but I don’t quite understand the lack of garage sales. Just a few years ago, I’d easily see an average of eight or more sales on any given Saturday. Now? Two or three...if I am lucky. As mentioned in previous posts, I believe some of this drop off can be attributed to folks using Facebook to sell their stuff, rather then hosting a real yard sale. It’s just a lot easier to take a picture of an item and post it on the FB, then to do all the hard work involved with running a yard sale. But I won’t let this drop-off get me down. I am still holding out hope the yard sales come back with a vengeance in the Fall. In the meantime, there’s still sources like thrift shops, dumpster diving and Facebook. Here’s some great examples of stuff acquired through those sources. Best of all....non of these items cost me a dime !

Wrigley field brick relic
Back in the fall of last year, I took a family trip to Chicago. A great city with plenty to do, but what this Dude wanted to do most of all was see Wrigley Field, the home of those Chicago Cubbies. The baseball season had just ended, so the ballpark was closed. But my family and I walked around the outside, snapping pictures and admiring the beautiful, old stadium. Making our way around the park, I noticed a big construction dumpster out by the front entrance. Apparently, Wrigley was undergoing some major reconstruction. Never one to shy away from a good dumpster, I proceeded to climb up the dumpster and peer in. Inside the dumpster were broken bricks from the iconic stadium! At that, I reached in and started collecting various pieces. As I did, Mrs. Dude rolled her eyes in disbelief, while my sons chuckled and shook their heads. Now, had I been a local, I probably would have tried to completely empty that dumpster of Wrigley Field bricks. But alas, I was in a travel status. There were only so many bricks I could take home with me. So I loaded up what I could for the trip back. Once I got guessed it. I sold several of my salvaged Wrigley bricks on eBay for $15 bucks a pop!  While I didn’t make nearly enough money to cover our trip to Chicago, it did help pay for some of their famous deep dish pizza!

Come and get it! 
When not climbing into dumpsters, I find that scanning Facebook also continues to be a nice source of freebie inventory. That’s what happened with the garden shed seen here. This is was what I would describe as an emergency “Come and get it” listing. It usually occurs when the people moving out of their house need the stuff removed super fast, usually because the new homeowner doesn’t want it on the property. That was clearly the case with this shed. The owner was going to settlement on the house the next day. He listed the shed on the Facebook for free with one proviso: it had to be picked up that very day. It was a quiet Sunday evening for me with nothing to do, so I hustled right over to pick it up. The shed slid perfectly into the bed of my truck and I was back at my home before Mrs. Dude even noticed I was gone. So confident was I of quickly selling the shed, that I didn’t even bother moving it from the back of my truck. Using the original photos the seller had posted on Facebook, I had the shed up for sale on Craigslist that same night. A couple days later, I sold the freebie shed for $35 bucks!

And this too! 
A more recent Facebook freebie was scored just a few weeks ago. A Facebook member listed a boat/canoe hand trailer in our local yard sale group. Like the shed, it was a “Please come get it now" type listing. With my local town and surrounding area loaded with lakes and streams, I knew I could easily find a buyer for the boat trailer. I jumped in my truck and found the trailer left at the curb. Like a member of a Nascar pit crew, I leaped out of the truck, dropped the gate and muscled the heavy trailer into the back bed. The homeowners were in their garage watching my crazy fire drill. I gave them a thank you wave, slammed the tailgate shut and jumped back in the truck.  All told, the pick up probably took all of sixty seconds! Once home, the old trailer sat on the side of my house for a few weeks until I got back from summer vacation. After vacation was over, it was time to list the trailer. It took a few weeks, but I found my buyer. Meeting me at local Wawa convenience store, the would-be sailor told me he wanted the trailer to transport his pedal boat. After hoisting the trailer into the back of his truck, he gladly paid me $25 dollars for my freebie find. As he pulled away, I strolled into Wawa and treated myself to a hotdog and an ice cold Coke...a nice little summer reward for my efforts!    
Ikea shelves curbside

Lastly is a freebie find obtained by sheer dumb luck. Some months back, I was out on my usual Saturday morning yard sale runs. It was a particularly non-productive morning for me. I struck out at each and every garage sale I stopped at. Annoyed and frustrated, I made my way home, cutting through a neighborhood to take a shortcut. As I drove down a residential street, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There at the curb were two huge Ikea wood shelves. Taped to the shelves was a big, bright sign which read, “FREE”! With nothing to show from my other morning efforts, it seemed like a consolation gift from the garage sale gods! I backed the truckster up to the shelves and stacked them, one on top of the other. Pulling away with my new found treasure, I couldn’t believe my luck! If I hadnt taken that random shortcut, I never would have stumbled upon the shelves. By doing so, I salvaged what would have been a fruitless Saturday morning yard sale day! The shelves went up for sale on Craigslist later that afternoon. A few days later, they sold for fifty dollars. An awesome, and pretty lucky, "trash to cash" find!

Do you have any awesome freebie finds? If you do, we’d all like to hear about it. Shout about them in the comment section below.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Making money selling stuff around the house

It’s been an interesting winter, weather-wise, but spring has finally arrived in my neck of the woods. I like all four seasons, but the cold, crisp weather of late winter is one of my favorites. In addition to the flowers poking up in the garden, the yard sale season also begins to come alive around this time of year. You can be sure I’ll be checking Craigslist to see when the first sales are announced. In the meantime, I’ve been continuing my mission to clean out the house for an eventual move. I am definitely making progress. Over the holidays, my sonny boy went up into the attic to bring down our Christmas decorations. When he climbed back down the steps, he commented on how empty the attic looked. If my kid notices, I must be making an impact! Here’s a few examples of some long stored items that moved on to new owners....

Schwinn bike in my  attic.
Followers of my blog know I've taken an interest in flipping old bicycles. That trend started with this vintage boy’s Schwinn bike that’s been in my attic for years. I inherited this bike from my father, who I am sure, bought it at a flea market many decades ago. My father never used the bike, so it didn’t have any sentimental value to me. After holding onto it for over thirty years, I knew it was time to let it go. Using Craigslist, I sold the Schwinn to a vintage bike flipper (Tony) for $30 dollars. After the sale, I kept in contact with Tony. He told me later that he cleaned the bike up, flipping it for about double what he paid for it. Not a huge profit, but still decent money. As mentioned, I have Tony in my cellphone contacts. Anytime I come across a vintage bike, I always offer it to him first. If decides he doesn’t want it, he’ll usually give me some valuable advise on flipping it myself. Making friend and great contacts like Tony is part of the fun of this little hobby.

Another attic relic was this uncut sheet of Canada Dry soda cans commemorating the 1974 Philadelphia Phillies. Back then, my father worked as a machinist for the American Can Company and would occasionally come home from work with special edition collectible cans. Some of them would commemorate important historic events like the country’s Bicentennial, while others would memorialize local sports team. The Phillies sheet was big and unwieldy, and if your weren’t careful, you could cut yourself on the tin metal edges of the sheet. At the time, I thought the sheet was pretty cool and I stored it in my parent’s attic until I moved out. Like the Schwinn bike, the tin metal sheet followed me through my adult life, moving from one home to the next. Recognizing that after 40 years, I wasn’t doing anything with the sheet, I finally sold it to a Phillies collector for $60 dollars. The story has a funny ending. Back in December, I attended my family’s annual Christmas party. While the family enjoys some adult beverages and digs into various crockpots, my cousins will usually get around to picking my brain on the value of collectibles they own. On this particular festive occasion, while Santa (Cousin Tom) handed out gifts to the kids, my cousin Fran began telling me about a 1974 Philadelphia Phillies soda can sheet he owned. He wondered out loud, saying he couldn’t recall where he got the sheet from and also what it might be worth? Remembering that his father and my dad were pretty tight, I told him I knew exactly where he acquired the sheet. There was no doubt in my mind that my dad must have given him the sheet back in 1974. I went on to tell him that I had the exact same sheet and just sold it for sixty bucks!  My cousin was amazed I was able to come up with some instant provenance on his treasured soda can sheet, solidifying my reputation as the family expert on all things collectible!

Cold blast from the past!
Going from the attic to the basement, here’s a sale I got a good chuckle out of...a little air conditioner dating back to around 1986. I bought it at Sears paying somewhere around $125. Back then, we lived in small row home with no central air conditioning. This little guy went in the front bedroom window and did a nice job keeping the room ice cold on those hot summer nights. A few years later, we moved to a home with central air, so the little Sears unit went in storage in our basement. As the years went on, I'd occasionally dig it out for emergency use when our central air went on the fritz. But after installing all new HVAC in the house, I decided the little an emergency backup unit was no longer needed. I posted it for sale on Craigslist and amazingly, my 30 year old air conditioner sold for $25 dollars! (In the middle of winter no less.) How great is that?

Apple TV box for sale
Last on my list is this Apple TV digital HD media streamer, or as I like to call it...that Apple box thingy. About a year ago, my sons talked me into
upgrading our old Apple TV box to the latest model. Now if it were up to me, I would be perfectly happy getting by with one of those cheap digital antennas you see advertised on late night TV commercials. As far as I am concerned, cable is just one big ripoff! But instead, I folded like a cheap tent, shelling out a hefty $150 dollars for the latest, greatest Apple TV box. After my sons installed the new version, they told me I might be able to re-sell the old Apple box for a few bucks. They were right. The three piece package, which included the box, remote and power cord, went for $50 bucks on eBay; a nice return that made the Apple upgrade a little easier on my wallet.  

Not bad, right? As I said, I’ve made a pretty good dent unloading a lot of clutter around the house. I am not done yet, so if it’s not nailed down, it will probably end up on eBay! How about you? Have you made any money flipping stuff that was just gathering dust around the house? Share your story in the comment section below....

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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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