Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mini Lamp Shades: hiding in plain sight

I like "plain sight" finds. This is the type of garage sale item that's right out there on the table for everyone to see, but most don't realize is a money maker. Any good garage sale picker knows the value of the obvious stuff like a Longaberger Basket, American Girl doll or a vintage Coca-Cola sign. Since everyone knows the value, good stuff like that usually gets snapped up quickly at most yard sales. But the "plain sight" stuff are those items that other buyers don't even notice because they seem so common. An example of this are the Coleman "Lil Oscar" coolers I blogged about recently. You see those coolers everywhere, so who'd think they sell for a lot of money on eBay? Well today's your luck day, because the Dude has another "plain site" item for you: Mini-lamp shades. I've sung the praises of mini-shades before but it's worth repeating.

Think about it. How many garage sales have you spotted a set of mini lamp shades? They're as common at yard sales as George Foreman grills and dry flower arrangements! You probably walked right by a set last weekend right? Unfortunately you may have missed out on some money. But a word of caution first. Before I get e-mails from readers saying, "Dude, you steered me wrong! My lamp shades sank like a rock on eBay!" Let me point out one very important thing. The common "Plain Jane" beige lamp shades do not sell well. It's the high-end style that's popular. Shades made with silk fabric, beveled sides and fancy beads are what buyer are looking for. So the rule of thumb is: the more ornate the shade, the more money you'll make!

Beads = Bucks!
Ugly but profitable!
Who knew shades were so hot, right?  But all you have to do is check out the retail prices of mini-shades at your local home decorating stores. Brand new shades can sell for $15 a piece at Target and $25 or more at Pottery Barn! Multiple that by five or six shades and you're talking a hundred dollars or more. A savvy buyer would do well to buy on eBay, instead of shelling out that kind of money. I didn't realize how popular mini shades were until I posted a set we had on our dining room lamp. I changed out the light, so the lamps shades became eBay inventory. I sold that set for $25 dollars. I was a believer after that sale! Check out the set in the top picture. I bought these shades for three dollars at a garage sale. (Three to five dollars seems to be the common asking price for mini-shades at most garage sales.) The bead set sold on eBay for an impressive $38 dollars!  The goth-like group seen in the bottom picture were picked up for a single dollar. I think they're kind of ugly, but what do I know? I later sold them on eBay for $21 dollars! See what I mean? That's pretty good money for something that's overlooked by most yard sale buyers.

Just a few hints when you're posting mini shades. Make sure to explain in your description how the shade attaches to the lamp. In most cases, the shade simply clips to the light bulb. But even though this seems obvious, if you don't explain it, buyers will e-mail you asking. Buyers also want to know the circumference of the bottom and top of the shade. For these reasons my photos usually show the inside of one shade, as well as ruler in the picture. By doing this, you'll save yourself from answering a bunch of e-mails asking for that information. I would also steer away from very plain mini shades. As I said, they're not worth the few dollars you'll make to list them. 

Now is really the best time to find and sell mini-shades. With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, buyers will be looking for decorative items to spruce up their home for the holidays. So keep an eye out for mini-shades. They'll be hiding in plain site at most garage sales.

Do you have any "plain sight" yard sale finds? If so, let us know in the comment section below......

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  1. Who knew?! I have probably passed up 20+ sets of those this summer at all the richy rich houses holding garage sales! I will definitely be on the lookout from now on though, thanks for the tip Dude!

    Starbucks mugs and Character plush stuffed animals have seemed to be my plain sight finds this year, who knows what next summer will hold, I already can't wait for those eager spring cleaning sales!

    1. Samantha-The Richy Rich homes are a veritable mini-lamp shade factory,along with other good $tuff! Seek and ye shall find, right? Ha!

      Thanks for the Starbucks mug tip, I'll be looking for them. Plush stuffed toys are interesting. I'll have to look them up and see what sells for the most. If you had some good plush toy scores, let us know what characters to look for.

      Thanks for passing along your excellent tips.....Dude!

    2. My best plush score to date was earlier this month & it was a large Balto dog from the 90's movie Balto. I picked him up at a church sale with a TON of other items that I paid a total of $4 for and he sold the very next week for $149.99!

      I always look out for characters that aren't very common or were popular a while ago like ALF! I always pick up Alf if I find him! My last one sold to someone in Sweden for $33 + shipping!

  2. $150? That's great. Who would think on a plush toy right? I've heard Alf is a big seller...and huge in Sweden-Ha!

    Thanks for passing those plush toy tips along. They're on my list now....Dude!

  3. Great tips, thank you for sharing. I'm just starting out...I have sold some of our "treasures" on eBay but haven't gone out to garage sales and looked for others. Thought it might be fun and could use the extra money of course. I will definitely be on the look out for mini shades now.

  4. Stefanie-Thanks for checking in. You'll find it's pretty cool doing this. It's the thrill of the hunt, combined with treasure hunting and sometimes hitting the eBay lottery! Let me know when you make an awesome score....Dude!

  5. I'd just bought some mini lamp shades at a yard sale right before reading this so I was pretty proud of myself for buying them (especially since they caught my eye as I was leaving and I went back for them)! My auction recently ended, and I was definitely pretty proud of myself for tripling my investment! Great blog!

    1. Nice job! I am glad you were able to triple your money, that's what it's all about! There's something about mini-lamp shades-people just gotta have them!

      Thanks for writing in and liking the blog....Dude!

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