Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rescue me...

You just never know what treasures are inside a twenty five cent box. That's the "catch-all" box, wherein the seller throws in anything they think is pretty much worthless. Most of the time I give them just a quick glance, fully expecting to find cheap junk. My speed picking nature doesn't allow me the time to really root through most of those boxes. But this story shows that taking a good look is worth the time.

A few weeks back I found a garage sale which looked promising. The house was a small cottage and the husband/wife couple were into cottage shabby chic decorating. The sale had quite a few antiques, fabrics and old knicky-knacky things. Walking around, I spotted a huge box marked "25 cents" and started rooting around in it. I was flipping through stuff in a perfunctory way, not really "feeling it" with this box. There were lot's of cast-offs; playing card decks, ashtrays, cheap souvenirs and other junk. But as I dug further, I spotted what looked like a Barbie doll hidden in the bottom. I am no Barbie expert, but even I could tell this girl was old, she had a beehive hairdo and the more angular fifties style face. I nearly fell into the box as I leaned in to retrieve Barbie from the bottom! Looking at her more closely, I knew I had uncovered an awesome find! This Barbie was definitely from the late fifties to early Sixties era. I double checked the outside of the box to make sure of the price. In black magic marker it read, "25 cents - any item". I chuckled to myself, "OK, sounds good to me!"

I am always paranoid that sellers will change their price if they realize they threw a collectible item in a low-end 25 cent box. So I decided a quick hit and run tactic would be my best bet when paying for Barbie. As I was getting ready to pay, I held Barbie up to the husband but only fast enough that he could glance at her. Then I held her down by my side out of his view. I gave the husband a quick nonchalant, "Hey, this doll was in your quarter box. I am going to get change from my truck." He nodded and I quickly walked down the driveway to my truck and tossed Barbie inside. With my poker face still on, I handed the husband my quarter and casually said, "Here's for the doll".

This casual act is one of my buying tactics. It always good to play down your interest in an item in front of the seller. Unlike Mike and Frank on my favorite show American Pickers, I never freak out and gush in front of the seller over an item. With the Barbie I didn't say, "Here's a quarter for your woefully under-priced, vintage and highly collectible Barbie doll." Enthusiasm like that could cause the seller to jack up the price or change their mind in selling the item. (Which has happened to me) For my awesome Barbie find I simply said, "Here's for the doll." Low key means low price.

Once I returned home to the "Money in the Garage" corporate office, I researched my twenty five cent Barbie. Turns out she was a "Midge" doll dating back to the early Sixties. I took a few nice photos and posted her knowing I had another "sure-thing" sale coming my way. My plunge into the quarter box was well worth it....Midge sold for $34 dollars! A good day at the garage sales!

So jump into those quarter boxes...stick your head and hands way down to the very bottom. Barbie or some other great find could be down there waiting for you!
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  1. Good Job!
    I'm enjoying your blog, thanks for the tips!

  2. Thanks Lee, keep coming back for more.....!

  3. I have that same doll. She was given to me as a gift "Brand New in Box" in 1977. Also with Ken and a whole lot of clothing. I played with them a lot and still have most of it but in a played with condition and no longer have the box. Each time I go to sell her I change my mind she has too much sentimental value.
    I once purchased a big plastic bag of Barbie clothing for $5. I posted a few of the clothing items. One 70s/80's dress alone sold for $15.

  4. I know what you mean, I have about 100 Mattel Hot Wheels cars that were mine as a kid. Back then they sold for 75 cents each and today some are worth $125 per car. But like you, I could never part with them, their part of my childhood. It's funny because I've found identical cars at yard sales and I put them go up for auction with no hesitation!

    I have other toys from back when I was young but my rule is my stuff stays! I'll let my kids divide them up someday. (They'll probably sell them asap!)

    Nice deal on the Barbie clothes, I made a pretty good score on the same...I need to post it soon. Thanks for reminding me ; )