Sunday, March 28, 2010

Boy do I feel stupid!

Sometimes you have to swallow your pride when hunting for merchandise to sell. As a guy, it can be really embarrassing buying certain kid toys, specifically girl's toys. Case in point, I use to buy those "My Size Barbie" dolls whenever I spotted them. These 36 inch tall Barbie dolls use to see a pretty good return on your investment. I typically would pick them up in the five to ten dollar range, then flip them on Ebay for $40 or more. Lately their prices have seemed to drift downward and I often pass on them. Believe me, walking down a driveway with a huge Barbie under the arm gets a lot of looks and smirks from people! The meager profit is just not worth the embarrassment of a middle age guy buying a Barbie!

When faced with these awkward situations, the lame defense that I throw out to a seller is that my daughter collects them. But that's starting to lose credibility with my graying hair. Soon I'll be faced with that dreaded day when instead I'll have to say, "It's for my granddaughter"... Ughh!

Not long ago I bought this Disney Snow White Castle. It came with all kinds of Disney characters. The seller was standing with her neighbor enjoying their morning coffee. She had priced the whole set at only three dollars! Knowing Disney toys are almost always a sure bet, I gladly paid it. As I walked away with my very girly Cinderella Castle, the seller just had to throw in a little zing, "Enjoy your Castle!" she said laughing. I threw out my usual response, "Oh, my daughter is really going to like it" and walked back to my truck grumbling !

But I had the last laugh! This Castle sold on Ebay for $60! So while I sometimes suffer zings and strange looks at the yard sales, it usually pays off in the end!
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dirty old sneakers.

One hot category that I have done well with on Ebay is old sneakers. Yep, dirty old sneakers! From teenage kids to baby boomers, interest in running shoes and basketball sneakers is huge and can give you a nice return. Nike seems to be the hottest, followed by Adidas, Converse, New Balance and other brands. For example, if you are lucky enough to come across a pair of original Seventies era Nike Waffle training shoes, you can sell them for hundreds of dollars on Ebay. Recently, a pair of Nike Waffle shoes in an ugly, but rare, lime green color sold for $410 dollars!

Vintage Nike and Converse shoes are considered “old school” fashion. Condition is always important, the better they look, the higher the price they will fetch. Always be as honest and thorough in your description when posting them. Post lots of pictures too. Occasionally you will deal with very particular buyers who complain loudly via e-mail or negative feedback, if they feel you did not describe a pair of shoes accurately. Give them as much information as you can to avoid this.

One advantage in buying for sneakers at yard sales is that you will have very little competition out there. People shy away from old sneakers for several reasons. Reason #1 - who thinks they can make money on Ebay with a pair of sneaks? Reason #2 - buyers have to worry about whether they will fit, particularly if they are buying for someone in their family. When buying at the yard sale it’s either take em or leave em. Most buyers leave em!

The best return I ever made on an old pair of sneaks were these Converse basketball "All-Stars" seen above. I found them in a local thrift store and paid $4.00 for them. These shoes were from the late Seventies era. I listed them on Ebay and during their seven-day run they sat quietly with no bids. I worried I was stuck with a pair of old dirty sneakers! But late in the week they started to slowly tick upwards, 10, 20 then 30 dollars. As the auction was approaching it’s close, two bidders began to drive the bid price up further. The bidding war came down to two buyers at opposite sides of the world...Japan and Camden, New Jersey! Talk about the international reach of Ebay! The battle of Camden versus Japan was won by Camden, closing at an amazing $126 dollars!

So don't rule out old sneakers, those Waffle trainers or Converse you find could mean a big bucks return for you!

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Friday, March 5, 2010

....and people are crazy !

Here is an awesome flip I made last yard sale season. It reminds me of that country song, "God is great, beer is good.....AND PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!" I found this metal detector at a very well kept, landscaped house. Entering the garage, I noted lots of interesting "country, primitive" decorative things which the wife was selling. She seemed to like to collect antiques, but priced them way too high for a garage sale. When I see overpriced "antiques" at a yard sale, I begin to look for the exit. I am there to score a deal that I can flip, not decorate my house.

So as I was getting ready to retreat to my truck, I noticed hubby had some stuff for sale too. The husband was a different story, he lacked the high price attitude and just wanted to get junk out of his kind of guy! I spotted this metal detector he had for sale. It looked brand new with not a smudge on it. I asked the husband what he wanted for it and he quoted me a price of $50 dollars. The husband explained that he paid $175 for the metal detector back in the Spring. He went on to tell me he bought it for one reason: he needed to locate some metal sprinkler heads buried in his front lawn. Once he found them, he stored away the metal detector and never used it again! In retrospect, it seemed like a dumb way to blow $175 bucks, but I was buying into the story since the thing was so pristine. However, always being a skeptic, I told him I would think about it and I actually put the metal detector down and walked back to my truck. Once inside my truckster, I feverishly whipped out my Blackberry and began researching prices of this metal detector on Ebay. I quickly discovered he was selling a high end detector that should easily net $100 or more.

I popped back out of my truck with cash ready! Now once you're ready to buy, it never hurts to low ball your seller! You're going to buy it anyway, right? Why not throw out a low offer? I picked up the metal detector and went over to the husband, "Would you take $25 for it?" To my amazement he had no problem with that and gave me a quick, "sure!"

Once back at home base, I briefly thought about keeping this awesome detector for my son. But we have one already, and if I kept every item I took a fancy to I'd never make any money. So I posted it on Ebay and sure enough, it was a home run! My $25 dollar investment closed at $110 bucks!

A flip like that is out there nearly every Saturday morning-you just have to go out and find it. Like the song says, "...People are crazy!"
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