Monday, February 27, 2012

Vintage Computer Games for sale

Imagine this scenario. How would you like to pull something out of the back of your closet and turn it int0 big cash dollars? Something you had stored away and pretty much forgot about over time. Maybe as the years pass you considered throwing it away, or selling it for a few bucks at your garage sale. Then you finally pull it out of the closet and wisely decide to sell it on eBay. You end up being way glad that you did, because as the auction progresses you realize you just may have something big on your hands!

That scenario may have happily played out with one lucky eBay seller. While researching vintage gaming systems, I found this listing for an old "Sears Tele-Games Motorcross Sports Center IV. " (Say that five times fast!) Basically, it's a video motocross racing game. You can also play a riveting game of pong on this system. It seems like just another Sears knock-off, but these early sets were made by Atari for Sears back in 1977. It was the dawn of home video gaming-no longer did Mom need to drive Junior to the local Mall to play video games in Spaceport. Junior could now save the quarters and play video games at home! Since kids can be pretty rough on games and toys, few of these systems survived. (I had an early "Tank" game system and pulled the toggle handle right out of the game base!) But while you can still find the original Atari systems at garage sales, this Sears game system is much harder to come by. Check out the seller's excited description:

"I got this system new in 1977 maybe 1978 and have had it for over 35 years and I have only used the controllers maybe a couple of times. I still have the cartons they came in. I just recently took the controllers out of the cartons that are included that house them in the box. There are 20 games in all to play. Only 3 or 4 of them are stunt cycle games. The others are every variation of Pong, Super Pong, Super Pong Ten, Hockey, Tennis and others. This system is so much fun to play!!!
I have no idea what the seller means when he mentioned his vault. Maybe he has a gigantic safe in his house? Either way, this guy was selling hard with his super enthusiastic description. But he didn't need to work too hard because this rare system sold itself. He could have just listed the name of the system and typed "works" under the description. The thing still would have sold for big bucks. How big you ask? The Sears Motocross Sports Center IV game system that he owned for 35 years sold for $909 dollars! Can you believe that? That's just $91 dollars short of a about a pay day!
I've had some pretty nice scores on old game systems, but this one takes the cake! You can bet I'll be hoping to find one of these bad boys at the spring garage sales. Have you ever sold something that was stored away for many years and it netted you big bucks? Give us the low-down below!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cheap discount on Carhartt clothing

In another example of my watching other shoppers at the Goodwill store, I bring you this Carhartt winter coat. Carhartt is another "hot" product to look for at thrift stores and garage sales. Carhartt coats, jackets and bib overalls are rugged, heavy and made to last. Next time you pass a construction site on a cold day, take note at what the guys are wearing. Most will be sporting Carhartt coats. The company doesn't just sell work clothes either. They also make outdoor sportsmen gear like camouflage hunting coats and parkas. Check out their website at

Getting back to my stalking story, I was flying through the Men's shirt racks at Goodwill when I noticed an older gentleman pull a Carhartt coat off the "newly arrived" rack. (These are the mobile racks the employees use to bring out the "new" merchandise.) Normally I make my way over to these racks, but the old-timer beat me to it. So I kept my eye on the fella as he tried on the Carhartt coat. He walked over the mirror to check out the fit. Taking his sweet old time with the coat, it was clear he was on the fence about buying it. After a little more fiddling with the zipper and snap pockets, he finally took the coat off and hung it back on the rack. I was relieved, there's nothing worse then watching another shopper beat you to a great deal! I waited for him to walk away from the rack, then swooped in on the coat like a vulture. The coat was priced at $25. Being a five dollar shirt guy, this was a little more then I was use to spending. But I knew I could at least make my money back on the coat. There was also the option of just keeping it for myself. I could always use a cool, rugged style like a Carhartt. Trying it on in the store, it seemed to fit me pretty well but was a little long in the sleeves.

After several more admiring poses in the mirror, I decided the coat was coming home with me. I walked over to the cashier and as I did, the old timer stood in line right behind me. He noticed I was holding the coat and commented that he had just tried it on. Trying not to sound too stalker-like, I told him, "Yeah, I noticed you tried it on. It's a nice coat right?" He agreed, raving about the great price and how he almost bought it. We continued to bond over the Carhartt and as I left the store, he told me one last time how I got a great deal on the coat. Talk about positive reinforcement!

Like the old-timer, I seriously thought about keeping the coat. But standing in front of the mirror at home, I just couldn't get past the sleeve length. It was just a bit too long. I looked like a little kid in his Dad's coat! Knowing this was a deal breaker, I decided to sell it. The timing to sell a good quality working man's coat was perfect. It was late Fall and the weather was starting to turn cold outside. Guys in the construction trades always need a heavy, durable coat for outdoor work. So I posted the coat on eBay with a starting auction price of $25-the exact price I paid for it. Any higher bids would be profit. (Less eBay fees of course.) It's also important to remember to charge enough to cover your postage costs. Coats like these are very heavy. You don't want to short yourself by not charging enough to cover shipping. A flat rate of $15 is a safe bet, but you can always go to the USPS website to calculate an exact rate.

In the end, I was glad I spotted that old-timer trying on the coat. My Carhartt sold at auction for $60 dollars! A nice profit of $35...not bad for an item I almost missed. Keep an eye out for any Carhartt products at thrift stores and garage sales. If you scoop them up at the right price, there's some great money to be made. If you've flipped any Carhartt or similar construction or sportsmen clothing, let us know in the comment section below.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Deja vu down by the curb

If you're guessing this piece has something to do with Bombay furniture, you'd be correct. I left a teaser in my previous re-blog. In that earlier adventure, Mrs. Dude found a Bombay Company Furniture half table for $30 at a garage sale. She sold it later that same day on Craigslist for $60- doubling her money in just one day! A sweet score by any measure, but we recently outdid that Bombay flip. You may also remember in my first blog of the new year I proclaimed 2012 was going to be a great year! This furniture set was the reason why I made that enthusiastic prediction.

On New Year's Day, we visited Mrs. Dude's sister in her suburban neighborhood about an hour from our house. After an afternoon of football, good food and family, it was time to head home. As we left, it was dark outside and beginning to rain lightly. Driving down the street, we were only a few houses from her Sister's home when we spotted something at the neighbor's curb. Although hard to see at first, it turned out to be two pieces of furniture that looked vaguely familiar. Pulling closer still, we realized what was sitting out at the curb-a Bombay Company Furniture cocktail table and matching pedestal! It was the exact style as the half table Mrs. Dude had doubled her money on a few years before. In the excitement of spotting this find, Mrs. Dude began excitedly hitting me in the arm while giving orders. Peering out the car window, she commanded like a drill Sargent, "Slow down...okay....Stop, Stop, Stop !" She was making me nervous with all these intimidating orders. It was like we were suddenly on some kind of black-ops commando mission! Despite my bruised arm, I found the strength to pull over and maneuver the van so the headlights would shine directly on the furniture. Taped on the table was a paper sign with hand written message, "Free-take me!" (That's the actual sign in the pix) We sat in stunned silence for just a second, then Mrs Dude began to whack me in the arm again! (It was starting to hurt now.) Her voice went up a few more octaves and she yelled excitedly, "Quick, go out and get it! Go-Go-Go!" I dutifully jumped out of the van.

For the record, Mrs. Dude didn't have to keep hitting me in the arm...I was going out in the rain anyway! Like a trash-picking Ninja, I quietly grabbed the two furniture pieces and carefully placed them in the back of the van. Slamming down the hatch, I jumped back behind the wheel and hit the gas. The old mini-van peeled down the rain slicked street, speeding away at a solid 20 miles per hour! Feeling like we just pulled off the biggest heist in the world, we both started giggling like Bonnie and Clyde after robbing a bank. We exchanged a few, "Can you believe it?" and "Who would leave that stuff out at the curb?" comments, while looking back at our cargo in disbelief. After getting a few miles behind us, I found a well-lit parking lot. We stopped to wipe down the furniture and inspect it. The night and rainy mist hadn't played tricks on our eyes. It was definitely Bombay Company Furniture and it was in excellent condition! More high fives and giggles ensued as we headed home.

Remembering how well Mrs. Dude did on her last Bombay flip, I posted our trash-picked treasure on Craigslist the very next day. I was little heady from our New Year's day find and started with an asking price of $250. A bit high, but I figured you just never know. While I was initially pretty psyched about the set, nobody else seemed to be. I received absolutely no inquiries. This was in stark contrast to Mrs. Dude's half table, which sold in just one day. Hoping for some bragging rights, I began to lower the price incrementally.

The price of the set continued to drop with the help of Mrs. Dude's weekly inquiries. She felt I set the price of the set too high. Feeling all emboldened from her quick sale of the previous table, she would innocently zing me asking, "Has anyone inquired about the Bombay set yet?" I would sheepishly respond, "No dear, but I'll lower the price if you want, OK?" Further pouring salt in the wound, Mrs. Dude would feign bewilderment and wonder aloud, "Gee, I sold my half table in just one day. I wonder what the problem is?" I would respond with a shrug while thinking to myself, "Ok, I get it...lower the price!" After weeks of this slow drip-drip-drip of subtle, but ruthless attacks on my pricing strategy and my ego, I finally dropped the furniture to $125.

The $125 price point turned out to be the magic number. I guess it only makes sense. Mrs. Dude sold her Bombay piece for $60. This was two pieces at $125. The buyer was a furniture dealer with a store up at the local mall. He told me he'd been watching my set for weeks while the price slowly drop. (Thanks for letting me twist in the wind buddy!) Knowing Mrs. Dude is always looking for a reason to head up to the mall, I told the buyer we would deliver the set to him. I loaded our trash salvaged set in the mini-van and Mrs. Dude sped away to the mall-one of her very favorite destinations. Later that day, she returned home with $125 cold, hard cash! Proving our marriage is grounded in deep respect and mutual compromise, I totally agreed with her super practical idea to save the money for the family vacation! : (

So it turned out to be a great beginning for 2012. After a few pointy elbows in my arm and few shots to my ego, we made $125 on our New Year's Day trash pick. After all my bruises heal, I may just drive by that neighbor's house again!
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

A sweet deal revisited.....

Dude's note: I am re-posting this popular blog piece from 2010. In my next "edition" you'll understand why....enjoy!

Oh no, now my wife has gotten the bug!

For years, she has watched me return home from the garage sales loaded down with good stuff. Occasionally she has accompanied me to the sales. I found having Mrs. Dude along helpful since she knows about products that I am not familiar with. For example, she clued me in on "Pampered Chef" and how women love buying the gadgets at parties. So I tested the Pampered Chef market and quickly learned the gadgets are hot sellers. A Pampered Chef item found at a garage sale is often like finding money laying on the table. If it's new and still in the box, (which for some reason I find fairly often) it's a guaranteed sale!

So having my wife with me as I make the rounds is like an extra set of eyes. My only complaint is while I like to move fast through a sale, she likes to linger. I usually end up standing at the bottom of the driveway, asking if she's ready to go. (Time is money!) Other times we take separate cars to cover more sales. Mrs. Dude is all for this strategy, then she can take her sweet old time without me trying to hurry her along! So last Saturday she hit a garage sale solo and came back with the above "Bombay Company" hall table. Mrs Dude scored a sweet deal, paying only $30. She briefly thought about keeping the table, but it doesn't go with our furniture. So instead, she posted on Craigslist for $60. Amazingly, it sold later that same day for her asking price, doubling her money.

Moral of today's story is this: everyone has a knowledge base that they can use to profit at the yard sales. I know the value of "guy" stuff, my wife knows things like furniture and related stuff. Everybody knows something about something! So take your spouse, a friend or even your kid to the yard sales. With their help, you may find a great deal that you would have missed out on!
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dear Buyer, Thanks for returning the pound of chuck roast!

Oh, the trials and tribulations of being an Ebay seller! Occasionally I'll hear from a buyer complaining that I improperly packaged an item for shipping. In most cases, the item didn't get damaged. The buyer just wants to nit-pick, claiming I could have packed the thing a little better.

When I receive these e-mails, I have to fight my urge to respond with a wise-crack. Instead, I bite my tongue and put on my "customer service" hat. Believe me, it's hard to do sometimes. But I look at it this way-although the buyer is being a royal pain, what's the harm in replying in a nice, friendly manner? Even if I think they're dead-wrong, there's really no extra effort on my part in being customer friendly. All it takes is a few keystrokes. Heck, I can even make gagging faces and roll my eyes while typing the friendly response...they'll never know!

It's important to take this approach. Buyers who take the time to write and complain are just a mouse click away from entering negative feedback and low DSR ratings. So even if I think they're off their rocker, my response will usually contain an acknowledgement they were right, along with an apology. It usually goes something like this:

"Sorry to hear you were disappointed in how the item was packed. You're right, I am definitely going to be a little more careful when packing the (______) in the future. Thanks for letting me know. I hope you enjoy the (__________.)"

In this scenario the buyer is just looking to be reinforced and told they were right to complain. It's a psychological game your playing with them. Sort of like defusing a ticking time bomb! But your real intent is to simply calm them down so they don't torpedo you with poor eBay ratings. Most of the time this works with a nit-picky buyer. More then once, I've received a response thanking me for getting back to them. They'll even tell me how much really they like the item. When I get a response like that I know the bomb has been defused!

I bring this issue up because while a buyer can complain about poor packing, the seller can't do the same when the situation is reversed. Recently, a buyer returned a beautiful LL Bean shirt claiming it didn't fit him. (This despite the fact that I clearly stated the shirt size and measurements.) Knowing eBay sellers can't win this battle, I told the buyer to return the shirt for a full refund. Several days later I received the above "package" in my mailbox. The seller had tightly rolled up my beautiful LL Bean Shirt like some Persian rug. He then shipped it in brown grocery bag paper! I am lucky the police didn't knock on my door. This suspicious package looked like an illegal drug shipment that came across the Texas border. It also reminded me of a few pounds of ground chuck roast. The type "Sam the Butcher" use to wrap up and hand over the counter to Alice on the Brady Bunch! Inside this brown paper bag, I found my once beautiful LL Bean shirt. It was all wrinkled and crumpled, like something from the bottom of my son's clothes hamper!

Now here's where the double standard comes in. What would a buyer think if they received a shirt packaged like this? Wow, I could see my five-star rating plummet as soon as the wrapper was opened! But even though the buyer did an awful job packing the shirt, did I complain? Nope...I just bit my tongue and gave him his refund. So the guy got his money back and I re-washed, dried and ironed the shirt. I'll eventually re-post the shirt and make my money, but the eBay "double-standard" is frustrating and annoying!

Have you had some rotten "double-standard" sales like my "chuck roast" return? Share your sad story in the comment section below...
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