Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Left behind

I talked earlier about the benefits of going to estate sales over the average garage sale. At estate sales you're more likely to find antiques, old furniture and other great old collectibles. But there's another sale I've come across where you can do nearly as well. It's what I call the "left behind" garage sale. You won't find this type of yard sale every Saturday, but when you do it can be an awesome buying opportunity. The left behind sale is where a new homeowner is selling stuff that was left in the house by the previous owner. The previous owner may have passed away and no one cleaned out the house, or the seller left in a hurry, abandoning his stuff. Personally, I can't understand why people would just leave stuff behind in a property. But for whatever reason that people do, new owners are stuck dealing with the stuff. Fortunately, some people wisely get rid of the junk with a garage sale. And when they do-they usually sell cheap! They're not looking to get rich, they just want it sold and gone! So you have old stuff at cheap prices, a double dose of good garage sale kharma!

About a month ago, I happened upon a "left behind" garage sale. This sale wasn't posted on Craigslist, so it was a complete surprise when I stumbled on it. (Making it more attractive...No advertising means less buyers) Walking up to the sale, the new homeowner had stuff all along the driveway which lead up to a detached garage. Since it looked like an estate sale, I asked the lady who's stuff it was? In an almost a defeated tone, she told me she and her husband had purchased the home and all the stuff in the driveway was found inside. Looking around at all the junk, I could tell immediately the previous owners were seniors. There were lots and lots of old things in dusty leaf bags and boxes....the search was on!

After combing through the driveway junk, I asked the new owner if I could look inside the old detached garage. She was fine with this and I began wandering through the old stick and frame building. Looking high and low, there were tools, auto parts, garden gadgets and other garage paraphernalia everywhere. Like some wide-eyed kid, I asked the new owner in breathless tones, "Wow, they actually left all this stuff when they sold the house?" Being that the new owner was stuck dealing with the mess, she was not nearly as impressed with the garage as I was. She reiterated what she had already told me earlier, "Yep, just left it here." The seller then went back outside to deal with buyers, while I toured the garage as if it were the famous Sistine chapel! Then my heart really started pumping when I overheard her price some things for buyers...she was a "quarter" lady! Almost everything she priced was just twenty five cents and nothing was over a dollar. Hearing this, I went into full buying mode!

After a careful search I found some cool stuff, most of which was priced at a quarter a pop! Some of my finds included; an old wood peach crate, a vintage tin thermometer I pried off the wall, a 1961 Scout jamboree bandanna and a set of old Coca Cola soda machines cups. I also found a Massachusetts state police cap and a 1980 John Deere riding mower manual. It was one of those sales where you keep walking around, combing through old bags and boxes hoping to find more. That's the sign of a great garage sale!

Turns out this sale made me some nice coin! Believe it or not, John Deere lawn tractor manuals sell very well on eBay. John Deere is the "Cadillac" of riding lawn mowers. As the advertising says, "Nothing runs like a Deere." So when an owner buys a used John Deere tractor, naturally they're "Jones" for the original manual too. Knowing that, I posted this manual on eBay and made a quick ten bucks! Then there was the Massachusetts State Police cap I found in a leaf bag. This old cap appeals to the law enforcement collectors out there. It screamed "vintage" right down to the gold oak leaves on the brim. This quarter find sold for $15 on eBay. Lastly, I sold the 1961 Boy Scouts Jamboree scarf for $23 dollars. The tally on these three sales came to a righteous $48 dollars. Just think, all that jingle for just three quarters!

So if you happen to come across a "left behind" garage sale, don't you be left behind. Get up that driveway and help that new owner clean house!
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  1. Dude: Sounds like a sale my dad would have LOVED! He was the kind of person that didn't care much about how much the stuff was worth. He loved buying things that were interesting to him. He had a BIG problem with selling things. But, he did love those quarter sales where he could get such interesting things, like you did. I am a little different. I guess I haven't reached that point yet, but old stuff to me isn't that interesting. I am more interested in getting something I know about for a huge bargain, and knowing when I re-sell, I will make huge $$. I have to learn to expand my knowledge and get into everything. But, like the old saying goes, stick to what you know. Otherwise you get stuck with this old pottery piece that had initials at the bottom, only to get home and realize it's worth peanuts! I am glad you had some luck! BTW, remember the Thomas search I did... well, in total I had 226 tracks and like 50+ actual trains. Well, only a stop sign and some other small yellow sign were the only ones that were bad. Oh well, it got the whole family looking through this huge lot of Thomas stuff. TTYL

  2. Sorry to post again.. but as you read above, I said that my dad had a problem with getting rid of the stuff...well, one of his most famous things that he was obsessed with was records! Those large LPs. He had (I should say has) thousands. As you know, he passed away a couple of years ago, and all of his "stuff" is still waiting for me at his house. We haven't been to his locked up house since he passed, and me being the only child will have to eventually build up the courage to go over and box every little trinket he collected. He was also poor at keeping things stored well. He ran out of room in the house and started using the detached shed. Well, the shed is not a good place to put LPs, let me tell you that. Especially in the condition the shed was in. I am trying to put off going there, but I am going to have to one day soon. Sorry to take up a lot of space here writing my story.

  3. GSA-That is a pretty amazing story. It's rough dealing with your parent's stuff after they've passed, no doubt about it. Hopefully you'll work it out as best you can.

  4. I thought of you today on my hunt! I only went to about 5 sales today. I went to a garage sale (the ones that I usually would bypass). The all kids toys garage sale. But, this one was not advertised, and no one was there and they had tons of stuff out. I stopped and looked around.. saw a lot of stuff that I tried to remember from blogs if they were worth anything in regards to resale. Items like Lego bionicles that I remember paying like $20 for one small kit for my son. Then I saw some items that required batteries! That's when your name came to mind. All of the "toys" that I bought (most required batteries) all had the batteries in them!! The mom even went to tell me that she turns the "off" switch on them to save the battery life! So, here I am with a baggie of about 22 AA batteries! Another great idea from dude much appreciated! Even got myself a small Dr. Seuss backpack filled with 12 actual Dr. Seuss hard cover books in excellent condition. All for $5! Score! Okay.. now that we are talking about score.. how about them Gators? Tonight 7pm Gators vs Kentucky Go Gators! :)

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  6. GSA- That's an awesome score, a bunch of great selling toys and a boat load of batteries! A homerun!

    The Seuss books you should sell all in one lot. Make sure you ship them "Media Mail"... a little slower, but lot cheaper!

    The Lego Bionicles can be tricky. You need to be sure the set is complete to assure a sale. Or you need to sell a massive amount in one lot to make a decent buck on them. Either way, good luck on the stuff!

  7. Thanks for the info Dude. The Bionicles were in a big tote. Some were already formed and the rest were just pieces. I got the whole tote for $7 (the dad wanted $10). So, yeah..I don't know much about them. So, I am just going to sell the whole thing together. Media mail all the way. Remember that backpack that you commented on that I sold? Well, I live on the East coast and the buyer (my luck) lived in California! Because of the dimensions, priority was over $50, and parcel post was a nice $18. So, I sent it parcel post. The buyer never left me a feedback. Not sure if he was upset with it taking so long to get there. I was sure to tell him the details and why I choose parcel post. He seemed cool the whole time, but I haven't heard from him since. Oh well. Remember my garage? Well, I am working on clearing out my "big stuff" by craigslisting it. Believe it or not, there is a Facebook page (2-in fact) that are in relation to my city and it's called. (for example, if I lived in Charlotte, NC) They have a page called Charlotte online garage sales. It's a private group and you have to ask to join. But so many locals look at it, and you are bound to get great coverage there. BTW, I don't live in Charlotte. It was just an example. I live in a pretty place with palm trees and beaches and all the pretty things. LOL :) Have a good one dude!

  8. GSA-I am on the east coast too, and when I mail to California it's a complete crap shoot when USPS will get that package delivered. If using parcel post (which I do sometimes to keep cost down) the package can take as long as two weeks. Its unbelievable!

    That's interesting about the Facebook page. I don't do Facebook but it might be worth a look.

  9. This happened to me a few weeks ago. My husband and I happened upon a sale in a dingy basement. The neat freak in me said "run" but my husband was ready to dig. He found a 1980s hp financial calculator for guessed it....a quarter. We quickly sold it for $50 on ebay. It's made me a little less hesitant about going into funky basements and garages now.