Sunday, September 9, 2012

American Girl Dolls for sale

Huge puddle ain't stopping me - there's a garage sale down that street!
It rained on Saturday morning. A very ill-timed rain, considering the previous holiday weekend was a complete bust for garage sales. Prior to the arrival of rain, this weekend's sales were looking promising. There were about a dozen garage sales beckoning all over town. Then it began to rain. But that's what separates the fair weather garage sale fan from the true hard core! I toughed it out and came up with some pretty decent items...some of it due to the rain!

My first stop was a VFW flea market. Typically, VFW posts have older members participating. I love the kind of things senior citizens sell. Tools, fishing gear, old radios-you just never know what you'll find on their table. (See my blog: Stop the truck-that guy has white hair!) When I arrived at the VFW, some sellers had already draped clear plastic tarps over their table anticipating rain. I guess the thunder rumbling off in the distance was a pretty good clue. About the time I stepped out of my truck a light drizzle began to fall...followed by a monsoon! Boy, oh boy, you should have heard some of those VFW seniors grumbling and cursing the skies! One seller, apparently talked into staying by her hubby, began scolding him like he was a schoolboy. As the rain picked up, she began yelling at the poor old timer, " I knew it all along...this is ridiculous! Let's go home!" Without a word, the hapless fella began sheepishly tossing their merchandise back into his car.  I chucked to myself-that poor guy was probably going to hear griping and complaining all the way home.

With the rain still pouring down, I ran into the VFW hall to check out the lucky sellers who had tables inside. However after looking around and finding nothing, there was no reason to hang around. (Except maybe to stay dry.) The rain began to slow down, so I made a mad dash to the truck and consulted my garage sale map.

Although the morning was looking pretty bleak, I had an idea. The previous night a women had posted the following Craigslist ad :

HUGE Yard sale-American girl! Sat. 9/8/12 from 8-2

Date: 2012-09-04, 8:59AM EDT

Tons of American girl merchandise. Clothes, furniture and more for your dolls. Kitchen appliances, furniture, toys, bakeware, costumes etc....Please stop by from 8-2.

Uggh! I cringe when I see a Craigslist ad like that! It blabs to the whole world that there's awesome stuff at this garage sale. In this case, super collectible American girl dolls! Sure, I know the lady wants to encourage buyers to show up-but that doesn't help me out! Have you ever seen a dog when they spot a squirrel? That's how I and every collector react when reading a CL ad like this. My ears perk up, I start jumping up and down...I may even begin drooling! Now imagine twenty more people just like me, all chasing that same squirrel-that's a lot of barking and drooling! 

Recognizing this problem, I tried to give myself an edge the night before. I e-mailed the lady, asking if I could come over to look at the American Girl stuff. This was probably the umpteenth e-mail she received making the same "sneak peak" request.  The lady batted away my plea with the following response:

"I have kind of a huge mess in my living room with everything for the yard sale, tomorrow would really be easier."

Dang! Not one to give up that easily however, I tried one more tactic. I asked how much she wanted for a doll? Theorizing that if she responded with a insanely low price, say $5 to $10 bucks per doll, I'd offer her $100 for the whole kit n caboodle. If I could pull that off, I'd be able to swoop in and buy all the dolls before my competition even had their morning coffee! A great idea except for one problem-the seller came back with a lofty eBay-like price of $50 per doll. With that, I figured the deal was done before it could even get started. She was way too overpriced for me to make any decent money. That was, until the rain interceded.

Rainy day find!
After leaving the rainy VFW post, I began thinking again about that American Girl seller. Her garage sale was only 15 minutes from the VFW, so I headed over to see if she was open for business. Pulling up, the lady still had her stuff out. It was all covered with clear plastic tarps, but I could see two American Girl dolls and some furniture through the foggy plastic. As I jumped out of my truck, the seller came out of her house with umbrella in hand. Making small talk about the crummy weather, I eyed the dolls which were "Addy Walker" and "Molly McIntire". I pretended to be oblivious to the doll world, asking if the dolls under the plastic were American Girl?  She confirmed what I already knew, adding that despite the rain, she'd already sold a few of the dolls. It was now time to put my "rainy day" discount theory to the test. I asked her how much for the remaining two dolls?

Now most people might think rain is a bad thing for garage sales. While that may be true for sellers, rain can be a very good thing for buyers! A rainy day can force sellers to drop their prices due to the low buyer turnout. That's exactly what happened in my case. Upon asking the lady how much for the dolls she sighed, "Well, with this rain I really don't want to bring everything back inside. How about ten for each doll?" 

The rainy day discount had taken affect! Just the night before she had quoted me $50 bucks per doll. Now she had lopped off forty dollars per doll due to the rain! I said okay to her price and peeled off a twenty dollar bill. As I handed over the money, she grudgingly added, "That's the deal of the morning!" I nodded in agreement, but little did she know I've scored American girls dolls for a measly five dollar bill! 

I wrapped up the dolls in a plastic bag to keep them dry. While still there, I also bought a Bitty Baby changing table for five dollars. Bitty Baby tables usually sell on eBay for about $25. If I see my usual profit on that table, I'll have made back the twenty dollars I spent on the dolls-a perfect buy/sell symmetry! After arriving home, I consulted my photo library of sold eBay items and verified that about two years ago, I flipped an Addy Walker doll for $50. I also sold the outfit separate from the doll, which netted me another $24. Given that, I expect to sell my rainy day Addy and outfit for around $75. Hopefully, I'll earn about the same for the Molly McIntire too. Not bad for a twenty dollar investment!  

So for a day that originally looked like a wash out, things actually turned out  pretty darn good. The moral of the story is this-Don't let a little precipitation slow you down. A rainy day garage sale can be excellent for buyers!

Have you made some great deals in the rain? Close your umbrella, shake off your raincoat and sit down to tell us your story!    

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  1. No rainy day tales here, but I'm happy that your American Girl doll story ended with you getting the dolls. Mine didn't, but they were not in nice condition like yours. I hope they sell well for you. Seriously Dude, do you save photos of everything you've ever sold?

    1. Miss Lorraine-LOL! I actually use to keep a photo of every sale, but how many Nike Golf shirts photos can you keep y'know? So now I keep the more significant sales. It comes in handy for researching and doing stories like the one above.

      On the American Girl dolls, I may hold off on selling them until Christmas. Hope you're scoring some nice finds.

      Thanks for checking in....Dude!

  2. Love a good score like that. I linked to this post on my blog I liked it so much.

    1. Thanks Thrifty Momma-I was reading your blog the other night...good stuff!

  3. It's rare that I have a rainy day find. All too often, it seems the rain will chase away the sale itself. I'll pull up to the right address and it will show no evidence that any such sale is supposed to occur. Overwhelmingly, my best deals are under sunny skies. I can't even recall a particularly great deal from a rainy day.