Saturday, November 24, 2012

You can get cold feet walking through a Dept 56 Christmas Village !

Ah....the  joy of eBay Christmas shoppers. They flock to your auction listings and eagerly enter multiple bids, driving up the prices of your items. It's all good...until they get cold feet later and plead with you to withdraw their bid! Bah humbug!

A bidder can get cold feet in this village!
This exact drama sadly played itself out between myself and a waffling eBay bidder a few days ago. Earlier in the week I noticed one of my Department 56 Christmas Village pieces I'd listed went from no bids to $70 dollars overnight! To my happy surprise, it was a piece that initially attracted little interest. I'd started the auction with an opening price of $30, guessing it might sell for around $40. But overnight the bidding action had taken off. I busted with pride the next morning when I discovered it was sitting pretty at $70 dollars! Awfully good, considering I only paid $10 dollars for the piece at a garage sale back in the September. 

But then, like a cold snowball thrown in my face, I received the below email from the top bidder. Appropriately, I'll call her "Debbie Downer."
  
"I want to withdraw my bid. This is up to you. I will honor the bid if you do not agree. The person behind me is only trailing by $1.00. I will go along with what you say. Thanks."

If you've ever received an e-mail from a bidder who asks to withdraw their bid, you know what a bummer it can be. Her request that I cancel her bid showed I was dealing with an eBay rookie. Debbie didn't seem to know a bidder can retract their own bids-they don't need a seller to do it for them. Making matters even worse, the auction only had one other bidder. By withdrawing Debbie Downer's bid, the price of my Dept 56 piece could potentially revert back to the opening auction price. It's sort of like playing Jenga-pull a block out from the bottom and the whole tower comes crashing down! What was doubly frustrating was trying to figure out why Debbie Downer bid so aggressively in the first place? She drove the price up-then changed her mind a few days later! What's up with that? Overall, the situation made me dream of a day when eBay would crack down on buyers for pulling these kind of stunts! But alas, I know that day is never going to come!

Reading over her e-mail request, I was now in a quandary. If I let her off the hook my auction would revert back down to the initial starting price of $35. But if I refused to retract her bid and forced her to buy the Dept 56 piece, she could easily seek revenge by posting negative feedback. It was a Catch-22 scenario! While wresting with this dilemma I decided to do what any seasoned eBay seller would do.....stall for time! I wrote back the following:

"I am sorry, I am not sure what you are requesting? You want me to withdraw the bid that you entered?"

Her response was a little more in depth, revealing that Debbie Downer apparently did not carefully read my auction description. But to her credit she admitted she made a mistake, explaining she bid thinking the piece was new. (Despite my clear description stating it was pre-owned.) Personally I think the piece could easily pass for new.  However there are some extremely picky buyers who will find any little reason to criticize a piece-a tiny scuff, a mark on the ceramic, ect. If there's a minute flaw-they will try to find it!

Pondering what to do, I initially thought about rejecting Debbie Downer's request. I was hoping another bidder would come in and outbid her at the last minute. By doing this, Debbie would've at least served as a useful tool in driving up the price of the piece. However, after thinking about the Christmas spirit and all that holiday goodwill stuff that my Mother hammered into me as a youngster, I decided to let Debbie Downer off the hook. So like a good boy, I cancelled her bid and guess what happened? As predicted, the bid price deflated like air from a kid's balloon, dropping from the once soaring price of $70 back down to an earthly $30 dollars! Bah Humbug again! But I guess Mom would tell me it was the right thing to do at Christmas time, so uggh....whatever! Ultimately it all works itself out and I'll console myself with other great holiday sales, some of which I'll be blogging about in the near future.

How are your Christmas auctions going so far? Have you ever had a buyer get cold feet after placing a bid? If so, how'd you handle the situation?  







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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving: Would you rather eat turkey or surf eBay?

This is a "Money in the Garage" public service announcement to all sellers! Today, we are one week out from Thanksgiving. I bring this to your attention because you may want to avoid posting any seven day auctions today. An auction posted today would end on Thanksgiving day. I suspect there will not be too many buyers trolling eBay that day. Most will be too busy eating turkey! Better to time your auctions to end over "Black Friday" weekend when buyers are thinking holiday shopping! Of course, you could also make the argument that everyone will be out at the stores, lowering the amount of buyers on eBay. But you have to start posting Christmas listings sometime, so for me it's "Game on" starting this weekend.

Instead of posting tonight, I plan to continue to take photos of my Christmas inventory. You'd probably agree that taking photos can be a lot of work! It gets exhausting laying stuff out, folding it back up, ect, ect.  I also use a small step ladder to get up higher when photographing clothing. I do this to avoid the angled view you see with many eBay pictures when taken from average eye level. But while the step ladder makes for a better photo, the up-down, up-down can get a little old!

Despite the workout, the photo shoot has to get done! I've been building up a nice little holiday inventory this year. Some of the stuff I've accumulated includes; Dept 56 Village pieces, toys, vintage Christmas trees, decorations, blow molds and new clothing with tags attached. Over the last week I've felt some self-imposed pressure to start a few of holiday auctions early. Every year I stress out, worrying I won't get everything listed in the crush of the next five weeks. Because of this, I've actually cheated a bit this year and listed a couple holiday items early. One these items includes the classic airplane pedal car seen in the picture. I posted it on Craigslist. This toy plane is a thing of beauty and should bring in a hundred dollars or more. Once I sell it, I'll share the story for all to enjoy.

Hopefully, the next five weeks will be busy and profitable for you! But before we completely plunge into the holiday season, there's one more thing I want to say.....have a Happy Thanksgiving!


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Monday, November 12, 2012

What's funky, furry and sells well on eBay? Osiris shoes!

You don't need to be an expert on everything in this business. For example, I recently made a great flip on an item I had no previous experience with. It was a great example of keeping an open mind when hunting for deals. 

I came across this particular score at my local Saint Vincent's thrift store. You may remember a few months ago when I was singing the praises of this recently remodeled shop. Ever since the store was re-done, it's produced some excellent deals for me. As an example, I found this sharp looking Under Armour golf shirt there. Under Armour golf shirts are a "must buy" if you see them. They consistently sell for $20 or more on eBay. What made the find even sweeter was I'd just sold the exact same style and color shirt a few months earlier for $30 dollars. When I found the identical shirt again for only $4 dollars it was a no-brainer. I grabbed it knowing some easy cash was about to be made again on eBay! To be honest, I am lazy when it comes to posting stuff on eBay. So since the shirt was identical to the previous one (except for size) I just re-posted my old eBay listing. I didn't even take a new photo-why bother? The only edit I had to make was the shirt size. That took me all of ten seconds. But once it was posted, I half expected a picky buyer to take notice that the photo showed a different size shirt. Luckily nobody seemed to notice and my "instant replay" shirt sold for $21 bucks. That was a quick and easy $17 dollar profit! That's the kind of luck I've been having at the new and improved Saint Vincent's thrift store!

So it's with this lucky streak at Saint Vincent that I recently found the below funky looking pair of "Osiris" sneakers. Up until that moment, I'd never heard of the company. The shoes were priced a tad high at $8 dollars, but they definitely stood out from all the others on the rack. Osiris was emblazoned in big letters across the tongue of the shoe. They even had a fur lining on the inside-you don't see that every day in a sneaker! I decided the shoes deserved further investigation. I discreetly broke out my phone and looked up Osiris sneakers on eBay. It's a good thing I did. I discovered that Osiris are a brand of skateboarding shoes that retail for upwards of $100 dollars a pair. Used pairs are nothing to sneeze at either, with many selling in the respectable range of $30 dollars on eBay. After thumbing through several completed listings, I was now a believer. I grabbed the big, bulky sneakers and headed to the cash register.

When I buy stuff, I like to quickly get out of the store with not too much chit-chat. But that wasn't happening this day. Tossing the shoes up on the check-out counter, the little old lady at the cash register proceeded to offer an opinion on my purchase, "Oh, I like these, what a nice pair of sneakers!" Now, if you follow my blog you know this is one of my pet peeves! Why is it that some thrift store employees feel the need to give you their unsolicited opinion on stuff you're buying? It's totally unnecessary. In this particular case, these crazy looking shoes are worn by young "skater dudes" with long hair and ripped jeans! I chuckled to myself over the idea that  this lady would like a pair of skateboarding shoes! But okay, I know what your thinking....she was just making small talk. I guess that's true. So despite it not making much sense, I just agreed with the lady and went on my way.

Once home, I did a little more eBay research on Osiris shoes. The more I looked, the more confident I became in my find. The added bonus seemed to be the fur lining inside the shoes. This was an extra feature not found in all Osiris shoes. With my research complete, I eagerly listed the shoes on eBay with a bold starting bid of $25 dollars. Turns out the little old lady wasn't the only person who thought the shoes were nice. I had four "Skater Dudes" bid against each other during the seven day auction. The "dudes" drove the final price up to an amazing $68 dollars! That was a sixty dollar profit on an item I knew nothing about until I stumbled across them!

Which brings me back to my original point. Keep an open mind when looking at stuff you're not familiar with.  Just like I did with the Osiris shoes, if you don't know what it is-look it up. You can learn something new every day in this business!

Do you have any "newbie" finds that you did well with? Share your story below......



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Sunday, November 4, 2012

A hurricane can't stop this Imaginarium train

I've been a little busy thanks to Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane's eye passed precariously close to the Moneyinthegarage studios. What a day it was! I can now scratch "standing outside in the middle of a raging hurricane" off my bucket list. Me and my loyal dog went for a walk in the middle of the storm. The power and fury were awesome! Fortunately, we only lost phone, cable and Internet at our house. (Which drove the kids nuts.) More importantly, the lights stayed on.

Like many other folks around here, I've been out helping Hurricane victims who really got walloped. These poor people are in bad shape. If you haven't done it yet, you should throw a few dollars at the American Red Cross. It's easy to do using your PayPal account.

Now that I am dry and warm inside the house, I'd like to share a great e-mail from a reader. Pam e-mailed me to say she'd bought an Imaginarium train table for $30 and was looking to flip it. Prior to posting it for sale, Pam asked what I thought she could get for the table? She sent me a photo and it looked even nicer then the table I flipped a few months ago. Being the eternal optimist, I told Pam she should ask $125 for the table. A few weeks later Pam sold her table. While she didn't sell it for my estimate of $125, she still made a nice piece of change. Check out Pam's flip....

Hello!
I tried to comment on your train table but it kept saying I was typing in the wrong words to verify that I wasn’t a robot! Anyway, here is what I tried to comment:


Just thought I'd let you know I sold the table today for $100! I didn't get any calls at all the first week so I lowered the price to $100. I got a couple of callers that wanted me to take less than that. Yesterday I got a text from someone wanting to look at it this morning and they came and handed over $100, no questions asked! I know it's less than you thought I should get but the table is on sale at ToysRUs for $129 so I think I got a pretty good deal. I made $70! Thanks for the ideas you put on your blog! It helps me to know what to look for!
~~Pam

Imaginarium table



I've been in Pam's situation. Sometimes it's just better to take the money now, rather then store the table for weeks on end. As Rocker Tom Petty says, "The waiting is the hardest part." (The ToyRUs sale sure didn't help either!) But as we approach Christmas, selling a train table for one hundred plus dollars is just a matter of the right buyer showing up. Either way, I'd take a $70 profit any old time.

If you have any sweet scores, I'd love it if you'd pass along your story to me. We'll get them up on the site for all to benefit from. See you all soon......Dude!






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