Thursday, April 28, 2011

Don't let a little rain stop you!

Nothing hurts a successful garage sale excursion then rain. I am bummed when the weatherman forecasts rain for a Saturday morning because many folks cancel their yard sale. Such was the case one Saturday back in the Fall when I woke up to find it drizzling outside. When it rains I usually double check the yard sale ads looking for those that say, "rain or shine". If the fair weather yard sales wimp out, I usually can count on a few "rain or shines" to go to. On this rainy day I found one fella who consistently holds a garage sale every year. This guy is not one to sell junk either, so I made sure I stopped by. Sure enough he was open like his ad said, but his stuff was tightly crammed in his very well organized garage. (I'm jealous of guys like him) As I scanned around, he pointed out a pair of fishing waders to me that looked pretty expensive. I asked him his price and he told me he would take five bucks for them. Knowing that it could be the only thing I buy on this rainy day, and also that good quality fishing gear is always a winner, I gave him his five and scampered off. It turned out to be the only item I found that rainy day.

I posted them quickly, thinking the fishing season is fast coming to an end for this year. As I was hoping, my seven day auction attracted a lot of interest. This five dollar rainy day find closed with a sale of $35. Seven times my investment;boo-
yah!...a garage sale money maker!

My only downer was the buyer lived on the West Coast, costing me slightly more to ship then what I charged him.

So today's
garage sale tip: quality fishing waders and related gear equal a nice profitable return. Penn Reels are another name brand "hot" fishing item yo look for. Lastly, don't let a little rain stop you from hitting the garage sales!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Giddyup cowboy !

I squirreled away a few garage sale buys from last fall, holding them for my post Christmas eBay sales. With the slower winter months, I take my sweet old time getting them ready for auction. They may need to be cleaned up, repaired or require some Internet research. One of my stockpiled finds was this cowboy lamp made by the McCoy Pottery company. McCoy made all kinds of pottery: statues, dishware, lamps and more. A brief history on McCoy pottery including their maker marks can be found here:

I am not a pottery expert, but when I spotted this lamp I recognized that it dated back to either the fifties or early sixties. I could almost picture this bedroom lamp sitting on the Beaver's night stand back in 1957! My hunch on it's age was confirmed when the sellers, who looked to be in their seventies, told me the lamp was in their son's bedroom when he was a kid. I picked up the lamp and gave it a close look. Surely something that old and sitting in a boy's room must have a chip or two? After a careful examination, I was surprised and even a little shocked to find no flaws whatsoever. I then took a close look at the lamp shade. Once again, no flaws...this lamp was a real fifties era survivor! The sellers were asking a firm eight dollars for the lamp. I didn't want to offend the nice folks with a low-ball offer. So I saved my hard-boiled negotiation skills for another day and gave them their full asking price. Once I got home to my cowboy ranch, the lamp went on a shelf to await my post Christmas auctions.

After the holidays I focused again on the lamp and did some research. I found that there were quite a few McCoy cowboy boot lamps for sale. But more interestingly, none came with the shade still intact. I briefly thought about selling the shade and base separate, reasoning I could get more bang for my buck with two auctions. But after some more thought I decided against it. There were already plenty of the lamp boot bases selling for ho-hum prices. Why add another? What made my lamp unique was the shade and the base were complete and in excellent condition. So the lamp stayed as one complete piece for the eBay auction.

Things started out slow on the cowboy lamp auction, but when the "watchers" started to pile up, I knew I had something special. As the days progressed, the boot lamp galloped past 30, 40, 50....then over the 100 dollar mark. What price did the auction stop it's gallop? How about one hundred and thirty seven dollars?! Giddyup Cowboy!

After the auction, the buyer e-mailed and informed me that it was the beautiful lampshade that drove up the price. Just as I surmised from my earlier research, the lamp boot bases are a dime a dozen. But an original lampshade in pristine condition is much harder to find. The seller asked me to "please, please, please" double box the lamp shade to protect it in shipping . I happily obliged him. The shade had survived fifty years, no way I would let the post office ruin it now ! I sent it on its way fully protected in two boxes. A few days later the buyer told me the shade arrived intact. We were both relieved!

It was a nice winter eBay sale and well worth waiting a few months to sell. Subtract my original eight dollar purchase and I made $129. I reckon that's enough to buy a real pair of cowboy boots!
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

...and another not so "average" garage sale find.

In my previous ramblings on discovering "average" yard sale finds, an astute reader kindly suggested another item to be on the look-out for...JanSport backpacks.

I am familiar with these backpacks, my kids used them for years. Judging from their popularity with the school kids, it seems they're the "North Face" of backpacks. Just like North Face jackets, every school kid just has to have a JanSport backpack! They have two things going for them, they're high quality and are the "It" schoolbag to wear on your back. So parents like them because they're well constructed and kids like them for fashion. My kids use to stuff them until they were literally bulging with their schoolbooks. Despite this abuse, they always seemed to hold up well. Retail prices are not cheap, a really nice JanSport with multiple pouches will run you close to $100 new. Many parents will pay the higher prices though, rather then stick their kid with a Walmart cheapie that won't last the school year.

I did some eBay research and looked up used JanSports that sold recently. Glancing through the multiple pages, I noted that the majority of them sold easily. It seems pretty clear that you won't get stuck with a no-sale, especially if you were to sell it during the Fall "back to school" season. Average prices range in the upper twenties to mid-thirties. The one seen in this picture has a very durable leather bottom and sold for $34 bucks, I'll take that any day! Even better, if you find a JanSport hiking backpack at a yard sale, you'll do even better. The camping/hiking models can easily sell for a fifty dollar bill or more!

I am guessing most seller's will look at these bags as just as their kid's old book bag, setting the price for five dollars or less. If you can snag a JanSport for that price, you're looking at a nice return on your investment. In addition to finding one at the yard sales, like me you may wonder if the kids have an old JanSport stashed away in the house somewhere. I am convinced that I can find at least one, probably shoved in the back of a bedroom closet or under a bed. Look out dust bunnies...I am coming in!

Thanks to my reader for this great tip. We now have another "not-so-average" item to look for at the yard sales. We are always looking for more, so let me know what items you found that brought in big cash!
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