Sunday, August 29, 2010

Uggs in the trash...a world gone mad!

Once again, opportunities to acquire stuff to sell on Ebay can be found in the least expected places. Working around my house recently, I went to my garbage can to dump some junk. I opened the trash can lid and stumbled backward in disbelief! Laying on top of the trash were my daughter's Ugg boots! If you know anything about girl's fashion, you know Uggs are the hottest boots around. All the girls just gotta have these high end boots while their poor parent's pay through the nose for them. A new pair of Uggs will run you $150 or more. The boots I retrieved from the trash were a Christmas gift for my daughter only two years ago! I even have home video of her that Christmas morning, smiling and happy as she tried on her new Uggs! Now just over two years later, the boots were cast aside in the trash like those poor misfits toys from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer!

I was incredulous; sure they were old and worn but these were still Ugg boots! So I fished them out and with disapproving looks from both my daughter and wife, went right to my computer to research Uggs on Ebay. As I walked past her, my sweet but naive daughter wondered aloud, "Who's going to buy an old pair of beat-up Uggs?" Clearly, all my hard work selling on eBay has not made one iota of an impression on my princess! I modified one of my favorite movie lines to answer her question, "Dearest, if you post it, they will bid!" My daughter rolled her eyes and went back to concentrating on more important things, watching the latest episode of MTV's "Jersey Shore".

If you searched "Ugg Boots" on eBay right now you would find there are over 500 used pairs up for auction. Just like my daughter's boots, not all of them are in great shape. I believe in truth in advertising, so when I listed my daughter's Uggs I was straight up about their condition: soles...worn, toe caps...worn....insole....yep, worn too! I also posted a bunch of pictures, including two that showed a wear mark on the inside sole and fraying on the boot's toes. I didn't want the buyer to complain later that I wasn't up front. Just to make sure these boot would not come back to haunt me, I made it a "NO RETURN/AS-IS" auction. My description emphasized that while they were definitely worn, they were still real Uggs. With the Ebay world flooded with Ugg knock-offs, at least my buyer knew they were getting the real thing.

As the auction ticked along, the trash-bound Uggs had 81 "page views" and nine "watchers". I listed the boots for a starting bid of $9.99 and they quickly kicked up to $16 in only the first day. I was starting to feel vindicated! Nobody wants used, beat up Uggs?....please! When the auction closed I was completely beside myself, those beat up Uggs sold for a winning bid of $32 dollars! This was money that was almost thrown away. I was happy and my buyer was happy too. She wrote this in my eBay feedback, "Thank You! Great Boots! Very Satisfied! Great Seller! A+++++" ...Now that's what I call a Win-Win!

Even though she initially doubted her dear old Dad, I gave my daughter the proceeds of the sale. I was a little conflicted about doing that, how's she going to learn the value of money when I keep handing it over to her? (sigh)

So I guess I need to check my own trash can on a regular basis. Who needs to waste time at the garage sales? My daughter is throwing away perfectly good stuff I can sell on Ebay!
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

A word about Pampered Chef.....

A reader sent me an E-mail asking about Pampered Chef after I mentioned the popularity of these clever kitchen gadgets in a previous blog. The stuff is everywhere! I would estimate I come across Pampered Chef gear at probably 50% of the garage sales I get to. I guess in my town there are lots of Pampered Chef parties, creating an overabundance of these gadgets in people's houses!

In doing some research on eBay, I found Pampered Chef items ranging from a corn cob buttering gadget to a pizza stoneware gift set. Most were in the "green" with active bids from $4 to $30 dollars. You just can't find that consistency with many other name brand products. Plus buying Pampered Chef at garage sales can be a "No-lose" situation. In the unlikely event that your item doesn't sell, you can always use it in your kitchen!

But just like all products, some Pampered Chef gadgets are winners and others are losers. As an example, I would stay away from the omnipresent Ice Shaver. I see them all the time at thrift stores and garage sales...don't buy them. They seem as common as paperback books at a garage sale and only fetch around five bucks on eBay. The stoneware gingerbread set is another commonly found piece. These really only sell well during the Holiday's. But if you don't mind stockpiling them, you can buy them for a low price, usually around three dollars. When the Holiday selling season comes-post away! I have sold them for as much as thirty dollars during the Christmas...Ho-Ho-Woo-Hoo! Another "Only at Christmas" item is the cookie tubes. Stay away from this scrap metal unless its brand new and the seller is only asking a buck or less. Other then these seasonal gadgets, if it's Pampered Chef in the box, you should see a nice return.

Here is a Pampered Chef gadget that will make you shake your head. This is a Pampered Chef Digital Thermometer. A little more sophisticated then your average Pampered Chef gadget, you stick the probe end in your turkey, chicken or what have you and read the cooking temperature. A senior citizen was selling it at her garage sale. She told me she barley used it. (A common trait with people who buy Pampered Chef, swept up in the party moment, they take it home and it sits in the kitchen drawer). Lucky for me, she kept this gadget in the original box. When I asked her what she wanted for the thing her husband looked over in disbelief...she was asking fifty cents! I always respect my elders, so I quickly dug around in my pockets and handed over two quarters!

This digital thermometer is one of those "can't lose" sales for a seller. It has name recognition, is in the box and it's easy to ship. I knew it was money in the bank so I wasted no time posting it on Ebay. Seven days later, my 50 cents had turned into $36 dollars!

With the Fall Garage/Yard Sales right around the corner Pampered Chef stuff will be everywhere. If you keep an eye out for the Pampered Chef stuff you'll turn quarters into big cash dollars!
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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Buying & selling new is the cat's meow !

When I started my eBay hobby back in the day, I originally focused on "vintage" stuff: old radios, old signs, old toys. My simple rule was this: if it's collectible and I can type "vintage" in the eBay title, I am buying it! But as time went on I came to the realization that there's good money to be made selling"new" stuff too.

New stuff has some big advantages over old. First off, if it's new there are no broken and/or damage issues that can later bite you in the backside. This means no angry e-mails from buyers complaining about a scratch or other "alleged" damage they find on the item. You'll find another advantage comes with deciding the opening auction price. Most products are easy to find on the Internet. You can check, Walmart or Google to learn what the product sells for retail. Best of all, when you find the product's website, just copy/paste the description for your listing. You'll have no writer's block issue. Just insert the manufacturer's original description into your auction listing...what a breeze! Lastly, new products are in the original packaging so you don't have to search around the house for a box and packing material. I usually just wrap it in brown shipping paper and mail it!

Above is a cat door I bought from a lady at a townhouse development. It had never been removed from the box and sat in her garage for a year or two. I purchased it for a single dollar bill. Researching cat doors on eBay and other sites, I learned they sell for $50 or more. I posted it for a "Buy it now" price of $35 (plus shipping) and it sold within days of posting...Meow!

Almost every garage sale has something "NIB" aka: new in the box. I have found things like bathroom exhaust fans that hubby never installed, the aforementioned Pampered Chef stuff, even Sear's Craftsman tools! If you think about it, you may have something similar to sell that you bought in one of those spontaneous shopping moments. Seemed like a great idea at the time but now it's still sitting "NIB" in the corner. So look around the house and the local garage gotta love the "NIB" auction!
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Friday, August 13, 2010

A nice catch....

Here is another example of a garage sale find that kept on giving. I came across this old, rusty tackle box back in the Spring. Take it from me, if you see a tackle box filled with fishing gear and the price is it! This old rusty box had a bunch of lures, tackle, hooks and lots of other stuff. While it wasn't overflowing with gear, there was still plenty to sell.The owner told me it was his Dad's and it dated back to the 1950's. He was asking $20 but after a little negotiating, we agreed on $17. I took it home and inventoried the contents. I decided to go with my "bust it up" strategy. I made individual lots, reselling the smaller groups of tackle on Ebay to maximize my return. This is how my auctions played out:

I started with three large fishing lures. These netted me $19. After this first sale I was basically "even". In other words, I made my initial investment back plus two bucks. Now the remaining auctions would all be free money! Here was the payoff:

(3) Original fishing reel manuals....$22 (I know, you're thinking people actually collect fishing reel manuals?)
(1) Pristine fishing reel manual still in the cellophane wrapper.....$15
(1) Large 6 " fishing lure....$20
(1) Smaller 4" fishing lure....$7

Last but not least, was the tackle box itself. It was big, old and had some rust. The gear left inside was basically the cast-off junk, nothing of great collectible value. I decided to sell this monster on Craigslist instead of Ebay. It's weight and bulk would really make it very expensive to ship, turning off potential bidders. That is the beauty of Craigslist, listings are free so you have nothing to lose by posting it. I listed the old rusty tackle box and got few nibbles. Finally after a few weeks a Dad contacted me saying he wanted to give his son an "old school" metal tackle box. I met Dad out on the highway and he gladly handed over $30 for the thing!

So adding up the final tally, I earned $96 from that old rusty tackle box. A nice "catch" at that garage sale!
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You turn me on, I am a radio!

Sometimes selling on eBay can be a quick process: bring stuff home, take a picture, post it, then a week later you count your money. But other times you bring the stuff home and hit an immediate road block... you discover the stuff is broken! You then have to ask yourself: do I try to fix it or just sell the thing "as-is" and take my lumps with a lower closing auction price?

I was faced with that tricky dilemma after I bought this Sony Shortwave radio. I paid only twenty dollars for it at the Goodwill Store and doubt I will find another one any time soon. This awesome radio was considered top-of-the-line when Sony manufactured it back in the Eighties. It has all the high-tech bells and whistles that shortwave collectors go nuts for ! (If you take away anything from today's story it's this; name brand shortwave radios are a solid Ebay sale for you. If you see a reasonable priced shortwave radio at the yard sale or thrift shop, don't hesitate to buy-it will sell.)

The problem with my Sony shortwave radio was that it did not turn on. Sort of an important function and probably why it ended up in a thrift store. However, the digital readout showed a mysterious message which read "Error 3". I pondered my predicament, should I sell the radio "as-is" or do some research on "Error 3". Selling the Sony as-is meant earning a lot less money. The "as-is" tag takes a whole segment of potential bidders out, leaving only the handy "fix-it yourself" types to bid on it. I decided to "Google" the problem and see if I could figure it out before resorting to the lowly as-is auction. I typed in the Sony radio model number, along with "Error 3" in the search bar. I immediately found several Shortwave collector websites and "strings" discussing what turned out to be a common problem with the radio. I learned that you could attempt to fix the problem by taking out the batteries and pushing a small re-set button in the battery compartment. I carefully followed these steps as if I was defusing a bomb! When I finished I closed the radio back up and hit the power button... lo and behold the "Error 3" message had disappeared and the radio turned on! Dollar signs appeared in my eyeballs just like a Warner Brothers cartoon character....Ka-ching!

I went ahead and posted the radio on eBay. No need for an "as-is" description, this radio was working great thanks to my Internet research! Shortwave radio collectors found my Sony and bid like mad! It was a fun seven day run watching my thrift store find go up and up. On the seventh day the radio closed with an impressive bid of, now hear this...... $220 bucks! This was eleven times my initial investment, well worth the extra effort I took researching and fixing the problem !

So if you come home with stuff that you think is broken don't lose faith. Take a few minutes to research the problem. With Google at your fingertips, you may be able fix it yourself and power up your final auction price!
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