Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kiss...long may you rock!

Everyone knows Kiss rocks right? Yeah the music is ok too, but I am not talking about that. Kiss collectibles rock! The Kiss Army fan base is so humongous and passionate that with a little selective buying, you can make some big bucks faster then Gene Simmons can stick out his tongue!

Not long ago I drove to a huge garage sale out in the country-the last place you would think to find Kiss stuff. The place had a couple of out buildings filled with lots of overpriced collectibles. Included in all the old stuff were a ton of dolls. Each one had those little paper string price tags with the prices hand written on them. It seemed like the seller was an antique dealer or flea market seller. This normally means you have a low probability of getting a bargain price, especially if they took the time to attach little tags to each and every item! So I wasn't holding out much hope of finding a deal when I spotted a group of vintage Kiss dolls. All four members were in the lot and she had a price of $75 for all. I walked past them several times wondering if shelling out $75 would be worth it. I finally grabbed the Kiss Fab Four, and with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude, asked the seller if she would sell the dolls for fifty? The seller was pondering over it for a few seconds when her friend who was standing next to her gave her a little nudge, " Oh, just go for it!" To my surprise she did and I drove home rocking out with my own Kiss doll collection.

But when it comes to eBay, business is business, so I decided it was time to break up the band. In my mind most collectors are not looking to buy all four dolls. They may need just one or two to complete their set. So I posted each individually. The band members did me proud and sold as follows:

Ace - $38
Gene -$24 (missing most of his clothes)
Paul - $26
Peter -$112 (fully clothed and apparently harder to find)

So after selling of all four dolls I cleared $150...not bad!

On another more creative purchase, I bought a Kiss "Gene Simmons" Teddy Bear in the box. I did so after first buying what I thought was an expensive pair of cowboy boots for ten bucks. I went home with the boots and looked them up on eBay. To my dismay, the boots were barley worth the ten I paid for them. But I quickly recovered! Remembering the seller also had a Gene Simmons Teddy Bear, I went back to the garage sale and told the women the boots didn't fit me. I then asked in my most sympathetic tone if I could trade for the Kiss bear? The seller agreed and I dumped the boots and picked up the bear! I ended up selling the fuzzy guy for $30!

So look for Kiss stuff but practice a little caution. Gene Simmons has cranked out an enormous amount of merchandise. Some of it is worthless while other stuff is worth big cash dollars. If you are unsure of the value, look them up on your cell phone or call a member of your family back home to do an eBay "price check". With the right garage sale finds, you'll see that Kiss collectibles can rock your eBay world.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy think Christmas!

With the leaves turning, it's that time of year when the garage sales begin to drop off. I think I may have hit the high water mark last Saturday, there were plenty to go to and I got lot's of stuff. As an example, I literally drove about 2/10 of a mile from my house and found a great garage sale. I bought two American Girl dolls for only five bucks each and a ton of American Girl doll clothes for $30! I'll keep you posted how these sell, but suffice it to say American Girl stuff is money in the bank! This week's garage sales were pretty lame. It's amazing the difference a week can make. I hit one today after spotting the women tacking up her garage sale sign on a telephone pole. I whipped the truck around thinking, "Cool, I may be the first one there!" Upon my arrival, I literally could not tell if her stuff was for sale or left out for the trash. It looked like she had a previous sale and was too lazy to bring her junk back into the garage. There were even some leaves covering some of the was pathetic! With next week being Halloween, the quality and number of garage sales may drop down even further.

Although the number of sales begin to drop like the Fall temperatures, I can usually count on some garage sales until at least Thanksgiving. After that it's hit or miss. But once we reach the first weekend in December its pretty much over. People are thinking Christmas and not about having a garage sale. Then it's back into the thrift stores for me until early April.

So while the garage sales are still running I hustle out there to build up inventory. I try to accumulate enough stuff to carry me through the lean winter - like a squirrel collecting nuts ! I even back off on the number of Fall auctions I post, sort of slowing down my pace to prepare for the long winter ahead. The Christmas buying season is in about six weeks and this comes into play too. Buyers will soon start trolling eBay for Christmas gifts. Almost anything that didn't sell on eBay during the year has a very good chance of selling at the holidays. On top of that, a typically eBay item will for sell for more as competing Holiday bidders drive up the price!

With this in mind, I get a case of the Fall "yips" when pondering items to post. I have an agonizing time picking out stuff to sell from my inventory. My mind runs possible selling scenarios, " A Lenox picture frame? Nah...wait til Christmas. How about those new Hiking boots I bought? Nah, hold off....those will make a great Christmas gift for someone's hubby. " It goes on and on like this for me!

Not to make you crazy, but if you are selling in October choose carefully. Ask yourself, " Would this make a good Christmas gift?" If the answer is yes, then you may want to hold off. The wait may be worth it to you! Merry Christmas....uh, I mean Happy Halloween!
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Saturday, October 16, 2010


Even a garage sale groupie like me can have a rough time getting out of bed some Saturday mornings. Groggy and grumpy as my alarm clock sounds off, I find myself mumbling, "Must sleep's the weekend.. stay in bed!" When this happens I have a little mantra I repeat to myself to get moving. I quietly say, "Jack....Jack.....Jack." My mantra always works. I swing my legs out of bed, put my feet firmly on the floor and stumble out to the garage sales. Why would the mantra "Jack" get me moving? (Cue the Scooby Doo "back-in-time" music)

It was a Saturday morning with a threat of rain in the air. (Better for you as a buyer, rain keeps the competition home) I walked up to a garage sale and immediately took notice of a huge beautiful framed print of Jack Nicklaus. Jack was portrayed casually leaning on a fence at Pebble Beach, gazing off into the distance. The framed print was resting in a shipping box, still sealed in a protective plastic wrapper. From what I could see through the plastic, it came complete with all the artist's papers authenticating the print. The frame's dimensions were huge, measuring four feet high and three feet wide. The print was a wonder to behold, it belonged in one of those "members only" golf clubhouses, right above a stone fireplace. The price tag on the plastic wrapper read $50 dollars, a price that even a mini-golf guy like me could afford.

Not believing what I was seeing, I asked the seller what the background was on this work of art. (Always a good practice for when you re-sell it) The seller was a young, cocky guy who reminded me of Arie on "Entourage". He proudly went into a long story, bragging how he had won the print at a fancy corporate golf tournament. His insane reason for selling this beautiful work of art? He was a Tiger Woods fan and "not into" Jack Nicklaus! (This was before Tiger was chased down his driveway by his wife) Why any golf fan would sell a beautiful framed print of Jack is beyond me. Seriously, who doesn't like the Golden Bear? This seller's hero worship of Tiger was impairing his judgement but that was fine and dandy to me. I quickly paid him fifty bucks and headed home with Jack.

Once I was home the real fun began. Part of what makes this hobby interesting and exciting is doing Internet detective work on stuff you buy. The more information you can gather on an item, the better the chances of realizing a higher selling price. In the case of my masterpiece, I took a close look at the bottom of the print. I discovered the print was definitely the real deal! It was signed and numbered by the actual artist...very awesome! I then looked at the center bottom of the print-there was a signature there as well. I peered in at it closely. My mouth dropped in disbelief...was it...could it it possible?! You betcha...the Golden Bear had also signed the print too! I not only had a beautiful print, but I had Jack Nicklaus' actual autograph on it ! Slot machine bells went off in my head! DING-DING-DING-DING....JACK-POT!

After a celebratory dance around the kitchen table, I caught my breath and jumped back on the Internet. To make certain this was the genuine article I went to the artist’s website. There I discovered a photo of Jack and the artist proudly standing next to the original painting! I feverishly searched for a price on the print. My draw dropped again when I discovered the same exact signed print was listed for $2000 on the artist's own web site!

With this happy discovery, I got busy putting together an auction for my work of art. I took multiple pictures of the print outside in the natural light. I then posted Jack with a starting bid of $1000. Although a good price compared to the artist's website, I think buyer's are reluctant spend that kind of money on something they can't personally examine and verify. So it sat on eBay for a few weeks. After lowering the price, I ended up selling it during Christmas to two kids who bought it for their Dad. They paid me $730 for the print! I am sure if I wanted to stick it out I could have sold it for more, but I was pleased as punch with a profit of $680 big ones. The buyers got an awesome gift for their Dad and I made some big money...everybody was happy!

Like I said, it's not always easy pulling myself out of bed every Saturday morning. But my "Jack" mantra always gets my juices flowing. Your "Jack" find is waiting out there for you too. Say it with me ...Jack, Jack, Jack. Now get out there!
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Friday, October 8, 2010

Money in the Library !

We all have our first time with eBay, that "let me try one" posting that you do for fun in hopes of making some cash. Sort of a fishing expedition-you don't know if you'll catch something but why not throw the line out there and see what happens? For me it was over ten years ago. I began hearing stories from family and friends about people who were making nice side money selling stuff on eBay. Not just the hard-to-find stuff, but things anyone could could come across. I remember a buddy telling me his daughter had bought a bunch of Dale Earnhardt T-shirts at a local Wal Mart on clearance. She paid a dollar for each and turned around and sold them for twenty dollars a piece on eBay. Around this same time, my wife had opened an eBay account and sold some of the kid's Beanie Babies. She made some nice change and got some clutter out of the house. Those were the dawning days of eBay, a brave new world where anyone could make some quick money just sitting at the computer.

One of my first eye-opening auctions was the Model A Ford service manual seen here. This is a compendium of re-printed monthly Model A Ford service bulletins from back in the 1930's. Still in use today, the monthly service bulletins were sent out by car companies to their local dealerships instructing how to diagnose mechanical problems and make repairs. Model A Ford car collectors love these manuals. I was familiar with this obscure manual because my brother once attempted a restoration of a Model A Ford. He had a copy of this manual and I remember thumbing through it, fascinated by the neat old 1930's diagrams and photos.

Fast forward twenty years and I am at the local library with my kids. The library had a "books for sale" shelf in the lobby where I found a copy of the Ford Service manual. Remembering my brother's copy, I bought the book just for fun. It set me back a whole quarter! A few weeks later, I did an eBay search on my book and learned that my manual was a hot collectible. As a newbie, I decided this would be a good starting off point for me to try eBay. I awkwardly created an auction and posted my quarter book for the world to bid on.

At the end of the auction I became a true believer in the power of eBay; my library find sold for $75 cash dollars! Needless to say, I was hooked and the auctions have been coming ever since. When sharing eBay stories with family and friends, my brother always throws in... "Tell them about that Model A book!" So I recite that early story and my brother always adds, "Man, I should have kept my copy!"

You may think that specialty books require some unique niche-type knowledge on your part. While that always helps, much of your buying decisions can be good common sense reasoning. Books such as high school yearbooks, car manuals, military related guides are all specialty niche books. One basic rule of thumb that helps me decide if the book may be collectible is this: can you find it at the big box retail bookstore? If you can't, then then it may be worth buying and flipping on eBay. Other issues should be considered as well. For example, is it a subject that collectors, history buffs or hobbyist would be interested in? When looking at books for sale in the library, I have even logged onto a library computer and looked them up right there on the spot! Even if you are still not sure of a book's value, with most used books costing a dollar or less, what have you got to lose? (Nowadays, the Ford Service manuals sell on eBay for around $35. Less then the old days but still good money if you paid only a quarter) If you know of any "hot" books that bring in big cash dollars on eBay send me a comment to pass along.
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Friday, October 1, 2010

eBay buyers love Disney !

If you follow my blog, you know I am high on Disney products. Some time back I talked about a Disney Cinderella Castle I bought for a few bucks and sold for $60 on eBay. With Halloween fast approaching, I currently have auctions running for a few Disney children's costumes I picked up over the Summer. With all the Moms looking for Halloween outfits for their kids, I am certain my Disney costumes will see plenty of bidding action. So whether it's costumes, toys or DVDs, Disney products are often the gold standard when it comes to garage sale finds.

Above is a classic example: a Walt Disney World Monorail set. I recently bought this for ten bucks at a garage sale. Let me tell you something very important. If you are at a garage sale and see one of these sets you should make a bee-line for it. If you have to knock a few people out of the way to get to it - go ahead and do it! Don't worry, the person you knock over will be fine. Your actions will be justified because these sets are gold on eBay! Disney theme park monorail sets can't be purchased at Target or Wal Mart; they are sold exclusively at Disney properties and on their website. So if a collector wants a set, they either have to buy a theme park pass, find the Disney website or bid for one on eBay! On average I find a Disney monorail set about once or twice a year at the garage sales. These sets are battery operated and run around on an oval track. Just like the real Monorail, a voice welcomes you to Disney World as it glides along. I can't believe folks unload them at their garage sales! They cost big bucks in the park and are a fun Disney park memory.

When I brought this set home I took inventory to make sure it was all there. Turns out it was missing about three pieces of tracks. I was bummed, less track could mean lower bidder interest. But looking at other sets on eBay, I noticed that collectors also buy them to add to existing sets. So selling a set with a couple missing track pieces is no biggie. Posting my set, I stated in the description that it was missing track. I then sat back and watched the Disney "magic" take place. As I hoped, the missing track didn't seem to hurt my auction. Like the actual monorail, my set moved along nicely with bids all week. At the end of it's run the set pulled into the station at $81 dollars! Ironically, this was a few bucks more then the last "complete" set I sold.

So keep an eye out for these sets. If you list one on eBay, make sure you point out the color of the monorail cars. Apparently some colors are more collectible then others. I always state the color in the auction listing title. While your at the garage sales, look for other "Disney Park exclusive" products. For example, some of the various theme park pins are hot too. Let me know if you have sold a "hot" Disney product. If it's Disney... it's gold!
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