Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Christmas spirit does not extend to returns!

Happy Holiday season! Are you going crazy posting all your holiday inventory? I' ll bet that you are! Add to this mayhem, eBay's "one-cent" and "free" listing days and I am sure it's a nutsy time around your computer!

As you slowly go crazy posting listings, you may want to consider a strict "no return" policy for most items. That's what I am doing. While I do except returns during most of the year, I turn into old Ebenezer Scrooge during the holidays. Let's face it, most buyers haven't a clue what us sellers deal with when moving holiday inventory. They think we're all Wal-mart or Sears and can just take back returns with no problem. What they don't realize (or care) is sellers only have a four week window to get their stuff sold. If we except returns, more then likely that item will not be returned in time to be re-posted for a second auction. The seller is left "holding the bag" and usually ends up being stuck with the merchandise until the following year!

Take for example this Dept 56 New England Village school house. I paid $5.00 for this at a garage sale. Dept 56 buyers are always looking for additional pieces for their Christmas display, so I held it until the holidays to maximize it's sale potential. My selling strategy panned out, because this this school house sold for $36. Waiting until Christmas boosted the sale price and I made a profit of $31 dollars.

While all went fine with this sale, what if I permitted returns for this piece and the buyer decided to ship it back to me? There's no way would I have enough time to re-post this school house and sell it in time for the holidays! Frankly, do you know anyone who is buying Dept 56 Christmas January? I sure don't! In fact, that's when collectors are boxing them up and throwing them back into the attic. So by accepting returns I'd have to sell it for much less, or be forced to store it on my shelf where it would sit for 11 long months. Not a good scenario, so my listings are all no return.

Have you ever been left "holding the bag" on a holiday return? Tell us about it in the comment section.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Uggs in my trash can...Has someone in the house lost their mind?

Finding stuff to sell on Ebay can come from the least expected places. Not long ago, I was throwing some trash in the garbage can when I looked inside and stumbled backward in disbelief! Laying on top of the trash were my daughter's Ugg boots! If you know anything about girl's fashion, you know Uggs are the hottest boots around. All the girls just gotta have them and they're not cheap! A new pair of Uggs can easily retail for $150 down at your local mall. 

The boots I retrieved from the trash were very familiar to me. They were a Christmas gift to my daughter only two years before! I even have home video of daughter grinning from ear to ear when she tried on her new Uggs for the very first time! Now just over two years later, the boots were cast aside in the garage can like those poor misfits toys from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer!

I was incredulous...sure they were old and worn,
but they were still Ugg boots! So I fished the boots out and with disapproving looks from both my daughter and wife, went right to my computer to look up what used Uggs sell for on Ebay. As I bolted past her, my daughter skeptically commented, "Who's going to buy an old pair of beat-up Uggs?" Clearly, all my hard work selling on eBay had not made one iota of an impression on her! To help daughter understand, I modified one of my favorite movie lines, replying "Dearest...if you post it, they will bid!" My daughter rolled her eyes and went back to concentrating on more important things-watching the latest episode of MTV's "Jersey Shore".

Typing in "Ugg Boots" on eBay, I found over 500 used pairs up for auction. Just like my daughter's, not all the boots listed were in fantastic shape. But the important thing was that most were getting bids. That was good enough for me. I listed our trash can pair and was straight up about their condition. Soles...worn. Toe caps...worn. Insole....yep, worn too! I also posted a bunch of pictures showing all the wear and tear. I didn't want the buyer to complain later that I wasn't up front. My description emphasized that while they were definitely worn, they were still real Uggs. With the Ebay world flooded with all kinds of Ugg knock-offs, at least my buyer would know they were getting the real deal!

Uggs in the trash? It's a world gone mad!!
I listed the boots for a starting bid of $9.99 and they quickly shot up to $16 in only the first day.
As the auction continued to tick along, the trash-found Uggs had a ton of page views. What did my daughter say? Nobody wants used, beat up Uggs?....puhleeze! When the auction finally closed I once again proved that Dad knows best... those trash can Uggs sold for a winning bid of $32 dollars! The way I looked at it, that was money that almost got thrown away!

Even though she initially doubted her dear old Dad, I decided to give my daughter the $32 dollars. I was a little conflicted about doing that. I mean how's she going to learn the value of money when Dad just keeps handing it over to her? 

So I guess I need to check my trash can on a regular basis. Who knows what my kids are going to throw away next?!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An old bag

Riding the wave of a popular television show is always a good way to make some money on eBay. You may remember I found a phone shaped like a duck, similar to the one on MTV's Jersey Shore show that netted me $31 dollars! Not long ago, I found another artifact at a garage sale that did pretty good too....thanks to another TV show.

It was this old airline travel bag. This thing looked like it came off the set of Pan Am, the popular ABC television show. I came across this Sixties era luggage at a garage sale at a little old lady's vacation home. I could tell from her stuff, this lady came from money. She clearly had put this bag to use and probably jet-setted to glamorous and exotic places back in the day.

I picked up the bag and tucked it under my arm as I continued to look around the sale. Because of her age, the old lady had her daughters helping with the sale. But she was clearly in charge. Mostly, she sat in her rocker and gave orders to her kids from the front step. This lady had some attitude and looked like someone you really didn't want to mess with! Walking over to her, I expected to battle over the price of the bag. But her bark was worse then her bite. She charged my one dollar for the bag! I  gave her a quick, "Yes Mam, thanks" while handing her the  dollar. Relieved she didn't bite my head off, I happily walked away with a great deal. As I did, the old lady went back to ordering her kids around from her rocking chair.

If you want proof of how a popular television show can affect market prices on eBay, just try this simple experiment. Compare the selling prices of vintage TWA bags with vintage Pan Am bags on eBay. Both are defunct commercial airlines that were hugely popular back in the Sixties. But today, only Pan Am has a network television show named after it. You'll find that Pan Am bags are big sellers, while TWA bags see almost no bids. That's the power of television at work!

I couldn't wait to post my new find. My Pan Am bag went up on eBay faster then that old lady could get out of her rocker. It saw friendly skies during it's seven day auction and closed with a high bid of $30 dollars. Now that's what I call a smooooth landing!

So keep an eye out for vintage airline collectibles, particularly Pan Am. Here's another one that will really l get you motivated :

Wow, that's a lot of dough for a hat! But $30 for an old bag is pretty good too right?
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stop your listings tonight & save $$$ ! ! !

Stop the presses, hold your horses, and stop the clock! SUNDAY NIGHT NEWFLASH........!

I just received an e-mail from eBay a little while ago stating the following:

Seller Special
One day only: November 21
Applies to Auction-style listings
Pay just 1¢ to list an item
New eBay ads mean more buyer
Of course, I read this right after I hit the "List your item" button and paid 50 cents for a listing! (I hate when that happens.) But with this offer, I am done for the night. Better to pay a penny for a Christmas listing then 49 cents more right?

Just thought I'd pass the word in case you haven't checked your e-mails this evening. Back to posting tomorrow-for less money!
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Garage sale from H...E...double hockey sticks !

Is there anything worse then an unprepared garage sale seller? I ask that question because last Saturday I ran into one that was the "Titanic" of garage sales. Just like the great ship, this garage sale seemed to show promise, but quickly sank once people were on board.

The seller started off with the right idea. She hung signs all over town advertising her sale, along with a friendly Craigslist ad posted several times during the course of the week. The ad read as follows:

"Time to pass our treasures on! Clothing for maternity, babies, children and adults! Shoes, Handbags, Kitchen tools, China, silverware, Four Poster beds, Cribs, Brio Trains (tons of them...paid a college tuition for them over the years actually!), Brio Train table! Bikes, Armoire, TV, Coffee table, End Tables, Easy Bake Oven, Creepy Crawly (boys easy bake oven to make bugs), Shrinky Dink ...and much more!!! 7:30am-3:00pm"

Pretty intriguing ad right? Lot's of interesting stuff listed and hello...Brio trains! That got my attention! If you follow my blog, you know I am pretty keen on Thomas the Tank Engine stuff. The ad further teased me with the mention of a Brio train table. That could be the icing on the cake for this sale! A good Brio table, combined with trains, buildings and houses can be sold for a hundred dollar bill or more on Craigslist. Making the garage sale sound even better was the bright and early 7:30 start time. This women sounded like a real "go-getter" when it came to garage sales! My plan was to make it my first stop and head right for the trains and Brio table! I was practically counting the money I could make from this sale!

But alas, perception turned out to be way different from reality! As I rolled up to the garage sale, my plan quickly vanished in the early morning frost. Apparently, I wasn't the only cowboy at this were parked everywhere! Contributing to the problem was the overall meager number of garage sales being held that day. Only a pathetic five were listed on Craigslist! With so few sales for the day, there was a rare convergence of eager buyers all at the same location! It reminded me of those wedding dress shops that have a one day sale and all the ladies stampede into the store to grab anything they can find. It was almost that bad at this garage sale!

Despite the crowd, I forged ahead and elbowed my way up the driveway. That's when things went from bad to worse. The seller was completely unprepared for the influx of buyers who showed up exactly at 7:30. Not only that, it seemed like the seller had just threw open her garage doors but forgot one thing-stuff to sell! Only a few things had been brought out in the driveway, most of it still in the boxes. Compounding an already bad situation, the seller wasn't getting anything unpacked. She was too busy playing "sales girl" to people who inquired about her boxes of stuff! Don't you hate when sellers do that? In a fit of frustration I wanted to blurt out, "Hey...less yapping and more unpacking please!"

While she continued to chatter on, I squeezed around people and searched for the Brio trains she had advertised. But the trains must have still been up in her kid's bedroom because they sure weren't in the driveway! I did uncover what the seller had charitably called a "Brio" table. Just two little was all in pieces and it wasn't Brio! Since the table wasn't assembled, I couldn't tell what condition it was in. This garage sale sale was turning out to be a real mess!

I wasn't the only buyer frustrated with this disaster of a garage sale. A women standing next to me shook her head in disgust, mumbling she would come back once the seller stopped chit-chatting and actually put her stuff out. I was pretty much right behind her, leaving annoyed and frustrated. I never even bothered to go back, figuring by the time the seller did get set up, all the good stuff would be snapped up by other buyers. I was completely baffled and annoyed over this sale. How could a women who seemed to prepare all week by posting signs everywhere and multiple ads on Craigslist, mess it up right from the opening of the garage door? It was unbelievable! Clearly there should be some kind of training course for garage sale sellers.

Have you've been to any disastrous garage sales? I am certain everyone has been to a few disasters. If so, share your nightmare garage sale story below!

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Take the stuff off the's time to sell!

Happy Thanksgiving...wait a minute, I really mean Merry Christmas! Even though the leaves are still on the trees and Thanksgiving is in a few weeks, it's the holiday season for us eBay sellers. Just like those retail giants Wal-Mart and Target, you can also make your big money during the holidays. I am starting too pull out stuff to sell that I stockpiled during the year. In particular, I like to sell things like clothes with original tags attached and just about anything sealed in the original box. Some of my inventory includes Department 56 village pieces, Thomas the Tank engine toys, American Girl and all those special edition Barbies.

Selling during the holidays almost guarantees your stuff will go for higher prices. The Thomas the Tank engine piece seen here is a good example. It's the "Sodor Hospital" and came with Harold the helicopter and an ambulance. I bought this for a dollar way back in the spring. Rather then store it away until the holiday shopping season however, I made the mistake of selling it right away. It turned out to be a dumb move on my only sold for ten bucks! Now fast forward to present time where there are more buyers looking to buy Christmas gifts. The same Sodor Hospital just sold on eBay for $41 dollars! So waiting until the holidays would have netted me another 30 dollars in profit! Oh well, live and learn right?

The holiday selling season is "magical" in another way too. You can sell stuff that you just could not give away during the rest of the year! The plush carousal pony seen here is a good example. I posted this poor little pony on eBay on multiple occasions during the year without a single bid. She was almost destined for my own garage sale or Goodwill, when I re-posted her one last time during Christmas season. Good thing I did too... she ended up selling for twenty dollars! My pony proves you can really clean up your inventory during the holiday selling season!

What kind of things you do like to sell during the holiday season? Like my pony, have you ever unloaded stuff that was impossible to sell during the year? Leave a comment below then start selling!
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cowabunga's a mixed lot!

Take a look at these two baskets of toys. Originally I thought these were mostly Legos, but turns out they had some nice extra stuff mixed in. I bought them from a nice lady who started her garage sale at 9 AM sharp. Even though it was a late start, I somehow beat the "early birds" and had first crack at everything. Walking up the driveway, I was blown away at the amount of boy's toys. There were so many boxes and baskets of toys that it was almost overwhelming. Making matters worse, the toys were all mixed together. Don't you hate that? Basic Legos were mixed in with Bionicals. Duplos were thrown with Star Trek action figures. The mixed lot anarchy went on and on like this! It was enough to give any serious garage sale hunter conniptions! I mean gee-whiz, why can't kids neatly segregate their toys in separate containers by product? Yeah....maybe on another planet!

Despite the disorganized mess , I was able to walk away with a bunch of things including the two baskets of the loose pieces seen above. As I said, they included not just Star Wars Legos, but other brands too. I paid ten dollars for both baskets. After a little work combing through the pile, I was able to separate pieces by toy brands. If you look closely at the photo you'll see two little Lego Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles standing proudly in front of the whole mess. Those two little guys were the first to go on the eBay auction block. Even though one guy was headless, I managed to sell the pair for ten dollars-the exact amount of my initial investment. Now all the other pieces were pure profit! With my original ten dollars back in my pocket, the remaining pieces were sold as follows:

Lot of Power ranger action figures and parts....$15

Lot of Lego Start War figures.............................$20

Lot of Lego Star War spaceship pieces.............. $19

Lot of Polly Pocket figures..................................$15

Fantastic Four Action figure...............................$11

So adding up all the auctions, those two baskets made me $80 big ones! And I still have some leftover pieces that I may be able to squeeze a few more dollars from. That's why I love mixed lots. If you buy the right stuff they can just keep giving! As the Ninja Turtles like to yell, "Cowabunga Dude!"

How have you done with mixed lots? If you have a major "mixed lot" score go ahead and brag about it in the comment section below!
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