Monday, December 27, 2010

Go "Green" after Christmas!

Christmas is a time for giving gifts right? But what do you do with all the leftover boxes, packing material and plastic wrappers once the gifts are opened? Don't throw it all away - it takes up valuable trash can space and fills up the local landfill! Recycle the "waste" for your eBay business! What may look like trash strewn around the Christmas tree can be excellent, low-cost packing material.

Every Christmas I beef up my supply of mailing boxes, packing paper and shipping material with the throwaways contained inside the gifts. With some imagination you can put a lot of this "waste" to good use in your eBay business. More then once my kids have rolled their eyes when I stopped them from trashing a gift box with a "Keep's the perfect size for shipping eBay stuff !" Clear plastic wrappers used for new shirts or electronics can be re-used for packing clothing to ship. When I sell a team jersey on eBay, I slip it inside a recycled shirt wrapper then mail it. The buyer receives their jersey neatly packed in clear plastic. It makes a nice impression and a happy buyer means a higher feedback rating for you!

Styrofoam packing material such as peanuts and big foam blocks used to protect electronics are invaluable! Shipping stores like "Mailboxes Ect" sell these same packing peanuts in large leaf bags for 20 bucks! Why pay those prices when you have the same stuff right inside many of your Christmas gifts? Just salvage them from the gift boxes and store them for eBay wrapping and shipping. If the Styrofoam blocks are too big you can break them down to a manageable size. It's worth the time and effort-there is nothing more frustrating then not having enough packing material. Ever see those big air bubble wrappers you get in Amazon boxes? They also make excellent material. Another awesome "waste" product to recycle are the soft spongy wrappers used to cover things like new TV screens. We gave our daughter a plasma TV for Christmas. After she opened the box I grabbed the spongy wrapper before it ended up in the trash. It's going to have a second life protecting fragile dishware or a picture frame.

It's all good, useful stuff and you should save as much as you can. As the months pass, you'll use every bit of the recycled packing material. So by thinking "Green" you're not only helping the environment, but that's less bubble wrap and peanuts you have to buy. Green is good!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! As the old Andy William's song says, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Unfortunately with the economy being so bad it's been a difficult year for some folks. Hopefully, you've picked up a few ideas from my blog this year and made a little extra money during these rough times. If so, that's great! Take some of the money you earned and buy the kid's an extra Christmas present or treat yourself to a nice deserve it!

Here is a nice little flip that's in keeping with the holiday season. I found this vintage postcard of Santa and Uncle Sam in a shoebox chock full of old postcards. Many of the postcards dated back to the 1940's. I paid only a couple bucks for the whole box which had over 200 postcards inside. So when you average it out, each postcard cost me a few pennies. Not only were they cheap, but they were a lot of fun to look through, inventory and auction off. I sold this Holiday themed postcard all by itself. I knew it would appeal to both Santa and Uncle Sam Collectors. I also listed the postcard on eBay during the Christmas season, increasing the number of bidders in the holiday buying mood. Of course my two favorite people in the world; Santa and Uncle Sam did not let me down that Christmas.... they sold for $22 dollars!

If you come across big lots of vintage postcards at your local garage sales you should buy them. You can sell them grouped by subject matter such as vacation destinations or if they are really unique, like Santa and Uncle Sam, you can sell them separately. As long as you pick them up at a reasonable price you should do well with them.

So Happy Holidays to you and your family! Here's hoping you find lots of money in the garage in 2011!
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's the Law...Police and Law Enforcement collectibles sell!

If you found a shirt or hat at a garage sale with a police badge emblazoned on the front would you buy it? You better Danno, because Ebay is filled with Law Enforcement collectors! LE (Law Enforcement) stuff is very collectible. I always keep an eye out for golf shirts and hats with police emblems on them. There is a huge segment of collectors out there who love to buy, display and trade all things LE.

But you have to be a little bit careful. There are some eBay regulations on law enforcement collectibles. For example, once I tried to list an old wooden police night stick but it was quickly removed by eBay because it is considered a weapon. You will also get a nasty e-mail if you attempt to sell a "Fraternal Order of Police" or "PBA" anything, so don't bother with those either. Both FOP and PBA are very protective of their associations and trademarks and will be on you like a cop making an arrest!

Avoid any local police department shirts, these have only limited interest and can draw the ire of the local coppers if they see it on eBay. I once listed a local police department polo style shirt and was subsequently bombarded via E-mail by a local “Barney Fife” type. Deputy Fife basically accused me of somehow stealing the shirt from his police department. I politely explained to him that one his officers must have donated it to Goodwill since I bought it there. He must have been a heck of a police investigator, because he didn't believe my story and with no further evidence basically called me a thief! I was getting ready to blast him back when a cooler head interceded. His Police Chief followed up with an E-mail explaining that they did not want the shirt to fall into the wrong hands. ( I guess that's why he was the Chief and Barney was only a deputy!) I think it was an overreaction on their part, the shirt was not official uniform type stuff. But I am very pro-law enforcement, those guys have a difficult job and I am not going to cause them any extra aggravation. Even though the Chief offered to pay for it, I ended up donating the shirt to the police department and mailed it to him gratis.

But don’t let that little side story dissuade you, I have done very well selling State Police and Federal Law Enforcement shirts. I occasionally find these shirts at the thrift stores. The above picture of a great looking US Secret Service polo shirt was a big winner for me. It had the agency emblem stitched on the front, very top quality stuff. I paid only five bucks for it at the local Goodwill Store. No secrets here... the shirt sold for fifty bucks on eBay! Now that's a sweet return! So keep an eye out for the right kind of law enforcement collectibles and buy and sell em Danno!

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Garage Sale Season 2010: Officially Closed!

Here it is a Saturday morning around 9 AM and I am home drinking coffee. No further evidence is needed that the garage sale season is officially kaput for the year. It's cold outside, maybe in the upper thirties so few people are thinking, "Hey, let's have a garage sale!" Of course I did find one garage sale listing on Craigslist but it's a real stinker. She is a repeat offender, one of those people who holds a yard sale almost every Saturday. I find these re-runs to be real annoying...nothing but junk to sell. I want to send her an e-mail, " Lady, give it up, it's over!" Hopefully, when there is snow on the ground she'll get a clue and pull the plug on her weekly exercise in futility.

But now that the garage sales are done I am also a little relieved. I get to sleep in on Saturday mornings - no rushing around, woofing down breakfast, making coffee and grabbing my maps as I run out the door. Now I get my Saturday mornings back for about for about four months. My thrift shop finds and remaining inventory from the garage sale season are going to have to get me through the winter.

While the winter garage sale is a rarity around here, I do occasionally find them and it's mostly by accident. Last winter I was heading down a local state highway and spotted a guy with a few tables filled with stuff. Naturally I whipped the truck over to the side of the road. It was cold outside and the wind was gusting around as I perused his merchandise. I pegged the guy as an auction buyer given the random stuff he was selling. Amongst the stuff was a Seventies era Barbie dollhouse and a "Malibu Barbie " in the original packaging. The dollhouse even had it's original Mattel string tag still attached to the handle! The seller was asking twenty for both but I got him down to $15. I was pretty happy with this find for two reasons. First, I wasn't even expecting to find a garage sale. Second, anything I can find in the winter is a bonus to me. I look at it as one more listing that gets me closer to the spring garage sale season.

So I listed each piece separately on eBay and did very well. The dollhouse sold for $27 and the Malibu Barbie saw a closing bid of $41 bucks. I would have done a little better on the doll but the clear plastic packaging had come away from the cardboard backing. I am sure this dampened the bids down slightly, but I'll take two twenty dollar bills any old day! Together, I cleared $53 on both-not too shabby for a winter find!

So even though the garage sales are shut down I am going to keep my radar up for the rare winter find...once I finish this cup of coffee ; )
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ralphie's Lionel Christmas train and other Holiday deals !

Holidays are a crazy time. I am busy selling off all my Christmas inventory accumulated over the garage sale season. I stockpiled tons of stuff in anticipation for the Holidays: Dept 56 Christmas village houses, new shirts and sports jerseys, American Girl doll stuff, train sets and more. Just as soon as something is paid for, I wrap it and get it in the mail. I don't want sold items hanging around this time of year. During the Holiday hustle and bustle it can be easy to overlook a paid item and forget to get in in the mail. To prevent a slip-up I follow a simple soon as the buyer pays-it ships!

When it comes to inventory it's not difficult to find stuff if you know where to look. A great hunting opportunity begins in January. That's when the post-holiday mark-downs really kick in at the stores. For example, last January I found a Dallas Cowboys football jersey for Tony Romo in a local Kohl's department store. It was hidden in the back of the racks with a mark down price of only three dollars. The original retail price was probably around $30 or more, now that's an awesome mark-down! Since very few people are buying football jerseys in January, I stored it away for my Christmas auctions. I posted the jersey the first week of December and it sold for $28. This was a net profit of $25...thank you Kohl's! (As an aside, selling sports team jerseys is a smart niche eBay business. A friend of mine did this and drove a weekly circuit, going from store to store. He would find marked-down football and baseball jerseys at his various stops and flip them on eBay for nice bucks.)

Another place to look for post-holiday deals is your local Goodwill store. Walking into Goodwill sometimes feels like entering a Target "clearance" Store. Once Christmas is over Target donates much of their Holiday inventory to Goodwill. I am told they do this because they need to quickly make room for their Spring and Summer inventory. If you go into a Goodwill Store you'll see Target packaging everywhere; lights, trees, decorations, household stuff and more. Over the last several years I have consistently found Lionel Train Sets sold exclusively by Target. You'll know the sets because Target has their name slapped right on the front of the box. Last year Target sold a Lionel "A Christmas Story" train based on the movie with Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun. A few months later I found a set at the local Goodwill Store for only $25 bucks. Like the football jersey, I stored it away for Christmas. Just a few days ago I listed it on Craiglist. It was snapped up by a women who bought it as a gift for her nephew. She paid me $60 for it, so I cleared $35...a quick sale and a nice profit!

So when the holidays are over don't get the blues. Head out to the local department stores and Goodwill to scoop up those post season bargains. Maybe you'll find Ralphie's Red Ryder BB gun...just don't shoot your eye out!
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