Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yard Sale Mommy: Saturday's Yard Sale Spoils: American Girl and Kitchen Littles Fever, plus Linky Party!

Yard Sale Mommy: Saturday's Yard Sale Spoils: American Girl and Kitchen Littles Fever, plus Linky Party!
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Dora, can you say change for a twenty? (pause) That's good!

Just sold this Dora the Explorer toy chest for $25. Yet another superlative tip from (Thanks Jen!) See my link to this great site on the right hand side of my post. I bought this a few weeks ago at a yard sale held at a pre-school parking lot. (Boy was it hot out that day!) The Mom was asking $20, but I talked her down to $15. It just needed a little cleaning up and the bottom floor panel needed to be re-inserted into the side slot. That took all of a minute to fix and it was ready for re-sale.

After a few pix using my Itouch, I posted it on Craigslist for $40. The response was underwhelming, so I lowered it to $30 this weekend. After that price slash, a Mom made contact with me to buy the toy chest. To be honest, I am sure I could have eventually sold it for $40 if I just waited for the right buyer to come along. But my philosophy is to flip things over fast and move on to the next deal. So in keeping with my "in and out" strategy, I arranged to meet the buyer's husband at the local Dunkin Donuts to make the sale.

Here is a little tip for when you meet a Craigslist buyer: bring plenty of change. I can not tell you how many times I've met a buyer who had only large bills to give me. Then they expect you to make change like you're a bank teller! What the heck? For this sale, the husband handed over two twenties, needing ten back. (Another Craigslist pet peeve: if a buyer knows exactly what they will be paying for an item, why don't they bring exact change?) Of course, I didn't have a ten, so the Dad dug around his wallet for smaller bills. He found a five note, and like the softy that I am, I told him that was fine. So to avoid these awkward moments, always assume the buyer is going to show up with a one hundred dollar bill. In other words, bring plenty of change! If you have to wear one of those little change dispensers on your belt, go ahead and do it!

So I walked away with a small profit of ten dollars. Not huge, but it was partly my own fault. Either way, I'll take a ten dollar profit any day of the week! As an interesting side note, I should point out that when the Mom called me about the toy chest, she also asked if I had any other "Dora the Explorer" items? So there's definitely strong interest in little Dora!

Put Dora on your buy list along with a note to carry plenty of change!
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011


There's a huge variety of stuff you can find at garage sales that can make you money. I am guilty of sometimes overlooking certain things because it's not in my area of expertise. Popular kid's toys are one of those areas for me. But lately I've been attempting to sharpen my knowledge base on kid's toys. If you follow great blogs like you'll know why. There is awesome money to be made on all the kid's toy stuff out there! For example, here's a nice flip I did a few months ago on something called V-Smile game cartridges. These systems are made by VTech, a well-known computer toy manufacture for kids. If you can't find these games on a given Saturday, either you're not looking hard enough or someone beat you to them! These lavender color games are super popular and are a frequent "for sale" item found at garage sales. The kicker though is this-the games sell very well on eBay. But the actual game systems...not so much.

I picked up all the games you see here, plus the gaming system for $8 dollars. I turned around and sold the games for a total of $36 dollars. But I wasn't done yet...I still had the game system. I've noticed though that the money is in the games and not the game system. So rather then sell the clunky game system for little profit, I took a page from my earlier exploits and sold just the system's battery compartment door. Kids lose those dang doors all the time! When the door goes missing how are you going to keep those batteries in place? Recognizing this universal problem made me an extra five dollars... a nice little profit! Taken all together, I cleared $33 dollars in all.

So Look for V-Smile games next time you are at the garage sales. If you find a battery door, buy that too!
(Got a good flip story? We share in this playgroup, so send it in to me at: for all to see! )
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen.....THE BEATLES !

Who isn't a fan of the Beatles right? They were the greatest rock band that ever was! I can remember when my older sister would constantly play her Beatles' records in her bedroom. When she would leave the house, I would sneak into her room and throw on the Beatles albums and sing along. Little did any of us know that one day with the help of a computer video game, anyone could practically be in the band!

To be the fifth Beatle all you need is the PlayStation Beatles "Rockband" set. (There's also a Nintendo Wii system version) I found this Sony PlayStation version at a garage sale back in the spring. It came with Paul's guitar, Ringo's drum kit, a microphone stand and the original DVD still in the wrapper. The women who sold it to me was a huge Beatles fan. Even though she never played Rockband before, she said she got swept up in all the excitement and just had to to have the Beatles version. Her devotion was admirable, these sets sold for $250 brand new! After owning it less then a year, she decided to make a little room in the house and sell the set.

The price tag for this awesome set was fifty dollars. I am not an expert on Rockband sets, but after doing some quick eBay look-ups on my phone, I realized I could easily double my money. Naturally, you never want to pay full asking price, so I tossed out a low ball price of forty. She agreed and the next thing I knew her husband was helping me load the set into my truck.

Once you score a set like this there are two basic ways to sell it. You can break it up and sell each piece separately. For example, Paul's guitar could sell for as much as $75 on eBay. While you might make more money going this way, selling each piece individually takes time and is much more work for you. There are more photos to take, more auctions to post and more packages to wrap and ship. Your other option is to keep everything together and just sell it as a set. The advantage to this is you make your money quicker and with much less work. Since I am a bit lazy this time of year, I decided to keep the Beatles set intact and posted an ad on Craigslist.

Using four photos including the one seen above, I started the Beatles set at $125. But after a week's time on Craigslist the only thing I heard were the sound of summer crickets. So I lowered the price to $100 and quickly received an e-mail from an eager buyer. He was an older gentleman who also grew up with the Beatles. He came right over to the house and handed me a crisp one hundred dollar bill. He and his kids were going to rock out with the Beatles! How's that for bringing the generations together?

So the greatest rock band in the world helped me turn forty into one hundred dollars! This eBay business...It's getting better all the time!
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter and the Magical Lego sets.

Unless you've been living in a cave this past week, you may have noticed all the hub-bub surrounding the movie lease of the final Harry Potter movie. In honor of that much publicized event, I wanted to do some bragging about some awesome garage sale flips involving good old Harry.

My best Harry Potter flip involved the set seen in this photo. I found this set at a garage sale a few years ago. Amazingly, it was from 2001 and had never been opened! I knew I hit the jackpot on this from past experience selling these sets. A few months earlier I had found an identical, but used set which I paid just two dollars for. The used set quickly sold on Ebay for $165! After that first sale, I knew to keep an eye out for any Potter Lego sets! A few weeks later, I found a smaller Potter Lego set in the original box for fifty cents. I turned around and sold this set on eBay for $41 dollars. Not a bad return for just two quarters!

Having learned about the great Potter Lego market, I discovered the above set at a yard sale of very big, fancy home. I almost lost the set to a middle schooler who also spotted it, but he passed over it for a Lego soccer team set. (Not worth nearly as much) As mentioned earlier, this set had never been opened! The castle and other buildings were still sealed in individual plastic bags. This was an incredible find! What was more incredible was the price... a meager five dollars! I couldn't believe my luck at finding a mint set that had never been opened. I knew I could sell this set for big dollars right away, but I decided to maximize my return and patiently wait until the Christmas season. (See my link to on the right side of this page for more great info on selling during the holidays.)

After waiting several months, I posted the Potter Lego set on Ebay in the beginning of December. I made it a ten day auction hoping that many "Moms" would find the set and cause a huge bidding war. Let's face it, when it comes to Christmas presents won't most moms do anything to buy that special gift for their kids? They will and they did! My Harry Potter Lego set soared like Harry on his Broom, topping out at a Wizardly $227 dollars! While I never read the books, I became a big Harry Potter fan after that impressive sale!

Keep an eye out for these sets at your local garage sales. While the movies and books have come to an end, the fans will continue to buy those "Magical' Lego sets!
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

All aboard for Brio train tables!

A consistent and well paying garage sale find for me has been Brio train tables. I come across them on average of one every six weeks or so. There are a few different versions out there. Brio is the "Cadillac" of all the train tables, but you'll also come across tables by "Imaginarium" and others that are basically good, solid knock-offs of the Brio table. Although the best one to buy and re-sell is Brio, you'll make money with most any train table no matter who makes it.

When buying train tables, you'll notice some people sell the trains separate from the tables. Obviously the best deal is when you can get both the table and the train sets for one low price. Like anything else at a yard sale, prices can range from practically giving them away to asking full blown retail. Some folks get financially attached to their kid's Brio Tables, remembering what they forked out at the store and expecting you to do the same. But I find most tables range in price from $25 to $50. After I bring a Brio table home, my routine is to haul it into my back yard for picture taking. If the table came without a layout, I maintain a small stockpile of Brio trains, houses and track purchased at previous garage sales. Before I start snapping pictures, I grab my box of Brio pieces and lay out just enough track, trains and buildings for a kid to get started. I don't go crazy adding pieces though, I figure their Mom and Dad can always buy more later. (Plus I don't want to use up my inventory!)

Once I have a basic train layout made, I take some pictures then the train table goes up on Craigslist. I find that just under a hundred dollars is a good listing price. However if your selling around the Holiday season, you may be able to go even higher due to increased demand. But no matter what the price is, this I know for sure: almost as soon as you post a train table parents will start e-mailing you looking to buy!

Above is a nice example. I paid a just ten bucks for this table....I kid you not! To make the deal all the sweeter, the train pieces were anchored down onto the table. While some buyers may look at this as a disadvantage, I pointed out in my ad that you would never lose a track piece or have the hassle of re-building the layout when the kids go all freaky on it! This seemed to hit a cord with buyers because I received a bunch of e-mails looking to buy. I ended up selling the table for $85 dollars! An excellent return on a ten dollar investment and I didn't even have to use my surplus pieces!

So when I see a train table at the right price, it's going in the back of the truckster and heading home with me. Check out the Brio train tables for yourself !

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth!

It's the Fourth of July weekend and what better way to celebrate America's birthday then a great eBay flip with a patriotic red, white and blue theme? Check out this lot of vintage Uncle Sam cake decorating picks. These would have been placed on holiday party foods such as cakes, fruit salads, appetizers and burgers. I bought the entire box of these guys for only three dollars. A pretty cool find considering it's almost impossible to find decorative picks like these anymore! These little Uncle Sam's had cardboard top hats and pipe cleaner beards. Ironically, each Sam was stamped "Japan" on the back. Yet another product cranked out in post-World War II Japan that people now find collectible. When you're at garage sales look out for small decorative items stamped "Japan". There's a very good chance it will earn you decent dollars on eBay or Etsy.

While a post-war Japan collectible is good, adding a patriotic theme to it is even better. For example, my Aunt Joan loves to collect anything, red, white and blue. At barely five foot tall, she's just a little thing but around the Fourth she gets all gussied up in the spirit of the holiday. Sporting an American flag shirt, flag hair clip, patriotic earrings...she looks like a walking fireworks display! Using personal experiences as a guide, I figured there were plenty more people like my Aunt who love to collect patriotic themed stuff. My Uncle Sam picks would be attracting both bidders who collect vintage Americana stuff and post-war Japan. Kind of a weird dichotomy, but still a nice variety of potential bidders.

So the Uncle Sam picks hit eBay and by the end of the auction fireworks were going off in my head! My three dollar investment in those little Uncle Sam picks sold for $44 All-American dollars! Three cheers for the red, white and blue!

Do you have any patriotic themed flips? C'mon and share with the group in our comment section! Happy Fourth of July !
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