Wednesday, September 21, 2011
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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