Friday, June 22, 2012

An Under Armour golf shirt finds me !

Sometimes this job is too easy. Sure, we all put in the hours schlepping through the thrift stores, garage sales and even the curb. But occasionally it can feel like the scores just find you! This happened to me not long ago when I was at my local St Vincent's thrift store. I've mentioned previously this store went through a big renovation-more windows, wider aisles and nice big shelves. The recent spruce up makes thrifting in this store a lot more enjoyable and apparently brought me some good karma.

Fore!...Whoops, I mean Score!
On this particular day, I strutted into the newly renovated store and greeted the little old lady who was behind the counter. After a quick glance in the knick-knack department, I dove right into the men's shirts. The shirts are displayed on two racks directly in front of the check-out counter.  I must have looked like I was up to something, because the little old lady kept an eye on me as I furiously paged through all the shirts. It was a good thing she was watching too, because I gave her a nice clinic on how to find good stuff fast! Looking like those good old boys who yank catfish out of a muddy pond with their bare hands, I pulled out a beautiful Under Armour "HeatGear" golf shirt out of the rack. This shirt was a major find! Under Armour golf shirts easily retail for $50 or more in the stores. Making the find even sweeter, Under Armour's "HeatGear" line  are designed to cool and ventilate in the hot weather. This makes the shirt very popular with golfers in the summer months.

Ecstatic over my quick find, I draped the shirt over my arm and continued to buzz through the rest of the rack. I went north to south on the rack in about a minute then did  a quick lap around the rest of the store. Finding nothing else, I proudly strutted over to the little old lady to pay for the $4 dollar shirt. Standing tall at the check-out counter, I had to restrain myself from spiking the shirt down in victory! The little old lady laughed and said, "Well, that was quick!" I smiled back saying, " Yeah, I  like to get in and get out, y'know?" She chuckled, bagged up the shirt and I was out the door. The whole thing probably took no more then five minutes...that's what I call speed shopping!

I posted the Under Armour shirt almost as quickly as I shopped it. As mentioned in a blog piece I wrote last year, summer is prime selling season for golf shirts. This time of year guys are out on the fairways and always need a nice golf shirt*. Under Armour golf shirts are one of the most sought after brands and my shirt was no exception. My quickie thrift store find sold for a very respectable $26 dollars. Now that's what I call making a fast buck!

How about you? Have you ever walked into a thrift store or garage sale and made a super quick find? Give us the scoop! 

*For more hot brand name golf shirts, see my blog piece,"The Boys of Summer."
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

The life of the party sells me a Lego set

It seems like a long time ago now, but around here garage sale season started in late March. The winter was mild, causing folks to clean house and start selling early. One of these early garage sales turned out to be pretty memorable. Not just because I scored a great find, but because the seller made an impression on me...and not in a good way!    

This particular garage sale was held at a townhouse on a crisp, cold day in late March. The early morning temperature hovered in the thirties-brisk weather that some people might call freezing, but I like to call invigorating! With a winter cap pulled snug over my ears, I pulled into the townhouse community looking for the garage sale. It was a tightly-packed neighborhood, the type where the driveways and mailboxes are practically on top of each other. Once parked, I walked up to the sale and found quite a little scene going on.  The seller was a very loud, boisterous women who seemed more interested in socializing with neighbors then actually running a garage sale. What really shocked me was how incredibly loud the women was at 8 am in the morning! Have you ever noticed how in cold weather sound seems to travel further? Unfortunately for this lady's neighbors, that meteorological phenomenon was in full effect. With every annoying shout-out, the women's voice echoed loudly between the townhouses! On what normally should have been a quiet winter morning where the only sounds heard are geese honking overhead, this women's voice carried like a foghorn! I felt bad for her sleepy neighbors who had to wake up to this noise pollution.

Blast off!
Looking to get out of there as soon as possible, I made a quick sweep of the driveway and spotted a clear Tupperware bin. The bin was full of Lego pieces. Popping off the lid, I discovered a Lego space shuttle set! Loud seller not withstanding, things were now looking up! I've had some major hits with Legos, including a Harry Potter set that I sold for close to $300 big ones! Although not as sought after as the Potter Lego sets, I knew I could make some money on this very cool space shuttle.

The seller's social party was still going full-tilt, so I waited patiently as she concluded one of her many conversations with a neighbor. Finally seeing my opening, I pointed to the Tupperware up and asked how much? Miss Block Party seemed to care less, telling me she'd take five dollars for the container. Five bucks? The Tupperware container alone was worth 2-3 times that! I didn't even bother negotiating. I quickly handed over a five spot and headed back to the peace and quiet of my truck.

Since my winter inventory was running low, the Lego space shuttle went on eBay almost immediately. The auction proved once again that almost any Lego set will do gangbusters on eBay. The Lego space shuttle went into orbit, selling for $61 dollars! Loud seller or not, making over fifty bucks on a quick sale was an excellent start to the garage sale season!

How about you? Have you ever come across a "Miss Block Party" at your local garage sales? Commiserate in the comment section below......
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

American Roadside Pickers !

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know the one thing I love more then a good deal at the garage sales, is a great deal in the trash! As I like to say, "Nothing beats the price of free." No haggling on price, no fumbling around in your pocket reaching for cash. When you find it at the curb it's as simple as grab and go! That was the case yesterday afternoon as I drove down a local road. Blissfully driving along in my truck, I spotted what I assumed was the remnants of a Saturday morning garage clean-out. (It definitely wasn't yard sale leftovers because the house wasn't on my list earlier that morning.) I slowed down and counted several bikes, a plastic sled and a Halloween blow mold.  A  "free" sign was posted on one of the bikes.  Passing by the house, I drove a little further then did a quick U-turn to re-evaluate the throwaways. Once back in position, I took a quick photo for the website then made my move! Now here's a test for my loyal readers: I only grabbed one thing....what do you think it was? Hmmmmm.......

Did you venture a guess? Here's a clue. If you read one my of my favorite blogs, Treasures in Thrifting Land you may remember beckyp recently bought two strings of blow mold owls at her local Goodwill for $6 each. It was more then she wanted to pay, but what can you do? You have to buy them when you see em! Good thing she did too, because she then turned around and flipped them for $50 awesome score! Also not long ago, I happen to discover an eBay seller who makes good money selling nothing but holiday blow molds; Santa Claus, Halloween pumpkins and everything else. Ever since reading about beckyp's owls and seeing that eBay Santa seller, I've been looking out for any blow mold items. Given this, you may have figured out what I grabbed. If you guessed the blow mold Halloween ghost you are a winner! (Sorry, no prizes  for guessing correctly.) 

It was an easy call for me. I had no desire to grab any of the other bulky items. Like most hardcore eBay sellers, storage is an issue at my house. I currently have one bike for sale on Craigslist that's just sitting in my garage. I don't need any more for now. I also completely ignored the kid's sled. I don't see a huge demand for this big hunk of plastic, particularly in June. Next to old George Foreman grills and fish tanks, sleds are probably one of the most common unsold items seen at my local garage sales. 

So with the other junk immediately dismissed and visions of blow mold sales dancing in my head, I jumped out of the truck and grabbed the plastic ghost. When I arrived home I immediately looked up the spooky guy on eBay. I found the exact same style ghost recently sold brand new for $32 dollars and a few pre-owned ghosts that sold for around $20. Not bad prices considering Halloween is months away.  Since I want to make the most I can on him, I plan to hold Casper until Halloween and sell him on Craigslist or eBay. If similar ghosts sell right now for a twenty dollar bill, I am sure I can fetch $30 or more for him in October!

Another great trash picking score, thanks to some folks who kicked their Halloween ghost to the curb. Good thing I was there to rescue him and hopefully flip him for a nice little profit!  Do you have a good "money in the trash" story you want to share? Let's hear about it!
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

A day at the beach...with a cart

Beach carts for sale!
It's pretty much summertime around these parts. In my local area that means time to head to the beach! From now until Labor Day, people will flock to the beach for summer weekends and vacations. This creates a fun little niche market for me during the summer months...used beach carts. If you live near a vacation destination like the beach, lake or mountains you may be able to become a used beach cart salesman like me!

For those not in the know, a beach cart is built similar to a light-weight baby stroller. In place of an infant seat however, is a large mesh net  suspended on the frame. These carts can hold all kinds of beachy stuff-chairs, towels, toys and anything else needed for the beach vacationer. The lightweight cart is a necessity for young parents when hauling their kid's massive amounts of required beach gear. Because they're easily maneuverable over the sand, older folks also like them  for transporting their chairs, summer reading and umbrellas. The not-so surprising fact about a beach cart is they can be very expensive when bought new. The price of a new beach cart in a typical summer resort town can be $80 or more! But here's the great unknown fact (until now) about beach carts...people sell them at garage sales for next to nothing! 

I've already bought and sold three beach carts this season. My total cash outlay for all three carts came to $12 bucks. The reason I get them so cheap is because they're largely ignored by garage sale buyers. The cart seen in this photo was snagged at a garage sale at 11:00 am. The homeowner was ready to close for the day when I came walking up his driveway and spotted the cart. The poor cart looked lonely, all folded up and laying flat in the driveway! Since the thing had been sitting all morning, I knew the owner was primed to let it go cheap. He wanted five dollars for it, but I offered him three and he was happy to take it! I tossed the cart in the back of my truck knowing with Summer vacations right around the corner, I would easily flip the cart for mucho money!

So how much do I get for these carts? How does two twenty dollar bills sound? Yep, using Craigslist I've been averaging $40 per cart. Not bad for a three to five dollar investment! The last one I sold went to a nice gentleman in his late Sixties. I met him at a local McDonald's to make the deal. He told me he and his wife go to the beach every summer. He desperately needed the cart because his arm got sore carrying all their beach stuff down to the Ocean. This fella happily forked over $40 dollars to me to save his poor arm!

Do you buy and sell a niche item that most people would overlook? Maybe something unique to summer vacations or the area where you live? Tell us about it! 

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