Sunday, December 29, 2013

After Christmas sales and deals

With Christmas over and the New Year just ahead, it's not exactly the greatest time of year to sell on eBay. After all, most people are way busy taking down decorations, driving to the mall to make after Christmas returns and planning their New Year's Eve parties. Shoppers are burned out! The last thing they want to do is spend any more time or money on eBay. As a result, items that were red hot just a few weeks ago, will barely get a look-see now. For example, you might have the greatest toy in the world to sell on eBay, but with Christmas over, how many people are interested in bidding on it? Pretty much nobody! So what's a seller to do? My answer is to list only stuff that appeals to a specific type of buyer. The type of person who will actually seek out and bid no matter what time of year it is. Who's this person? Hard-core collectors and hobbyist!

People who are really into their hobby generally don't lose interest just because it's the holiday season. If they're passionate about their hobby and know they can't take a "time-out" during the holidays. The hard-core collector also knows an item they want could pop up on eBay or Craigslist at any moment. So they stay ever vigilant, scouring Ebay and Craigslist for that special something, no matter what the season. Since there's not a whole lot of other buyer's trolling eBay right now, you have to give the collectors and hobbyist what they want!

After Christmas sale
Here's something I just sold yesterday that meets that criteria-a Ham radio antenna. The guy who bought the antenna was a very enthusiastic Ham radio hobbyist. For those not familiar with the hobby, Ham radio is like a CB radio. But instead of transmitting to people across town, a Ham radio can transmit across the country and even the world. Ham radio operators are very passionate about their hobby and will look for "gear" any time of the year! This particular antenna looked like something "Doc" invented in the movie, "Back to the Future", but it's actually used to transmit on a very specific frequency in Amateur radio. New antennas of this type can sell for more then $100 dollars. I bought this one for ten bucks at yard sale. I know, I know, pretty boring right? But believe me, Ham radio guys live for this stuff! In this case, the buyer drove 35 miles out of his way and paid me $40 dollars for this contraption! The guy was a real character! He then spent another twenty minutes using his very loud "outside" voice explaining to me what he intended to do with the antenna! See what I mean? Collectors and hobbyist don't care that's what time of year it is; Christmas, New Years, whatever....they're serious buyers all year around!

Another after Christmas deal
Another example is this NHL All-Star game hockey jersey. I recently snagged the jersey at Goodwill for six dollars. It was brand new with all tags attached. In keeping with my theory that hard core collectors want what they want-when they want it...a hockey nut bought the jersey on the day after Christmas. He gladly paid me my Buy-it-Now price of $35 dollars. I am not gonna  lie. I was actually a little annoyed the buyer was making me work the day after Christmas. I was really hoping to kick back in my jammies all day and recover from a long day of Christmas entertaining! Instead, I was forced to package the jersey and drive it down to the local post office! But what could I do? The guy was obviously a hockey nut and wanted the jersey now!

There's plenty of stuff that will sell during the lull of the post-holiday season. Some items I've done well with include, HO trains, HO slot cars, unique team jerseys, collectible vintage toys and tools as well as the above mentioned Ham and CB radios With the holiday season ending and a new year beginning, take a hard look at your inventory. Use your imagination and list those items you think people will be the most passionate about collecting.

What are some of the items you have no problem selling, no matter the time of year ? Give us your list in the comment section below.  

Wishing you a healthy, happy and profitable 2014....HAPPY  NEW YEAR....Dude!


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Saturday, December 21, 2013

O Christmas Tree !

With Christmas just a few days away, there's much holiday things to do around the house. But feeling neglectful after reading Lorraine's WeareClamco, as well as several other fine blogs, I decided to get off my duff and crank out a piece to wrap up the Christmas selling season. Although time is slipping away this weekend, I'll get to wrapping Mr's Dude's gifts just as soon as I finish this post! (Hopefully)

The famous "pie cover" edition
With most buyers also down to wrapping gifts, there's little selling activity for me on eBay. The few items I do have listed are effectively on auto-pilot using Buy-It-Now. The hot and heavy selling all took place a few weeks ago, generating some nice Christmas jingle for me! One slam dunk was this Classic Betty Crocker "Pie Cover" cookbook. This particular copy was a version sold exclusively by Sears. It features a special insert with several pages of Christmas party meals that would have made Alice from the Brady Bunch proud! It's funny to page through the cookbook and see some of the popular dishes from back in the day. One color photo displayed a full plate of boiled brussels gross! It's no wonder I never ate my vegetables as a kid! Gross veggies notwithstanding, I bought the Betty Crocker cookbook at the local thrift shop for eight dollars. While I thought the price was a tad high for a thrift shop, I knew I could still make some money out of the deal. My instincts proved correct, as the cookbook was quickly snapped up for the BIN price of $30 dollars! That was a quick profit of $22 bucks. 

But my absolute home run this season would have to be the ceramic Christmas tree seen below. I bought this piece last summer from a senior citizen who was in the process of moving to Florida. His little yard sale was a funny sight. He had carried a handful of items to the bottom of his driveway, probably thinking if he didn't sell the stuff, he'd just leave them out for the trash. Included in his treasures were a dated stereo system, a vacuum cleaner, an old bowling ball and fortunately for me, a 20 inch tall ceramic Christmas tree. 

The Christmas tree was the only thing grabbing my attention, so I decided to jump out of my truck to take a look. The old-timer was asking ten bucks for the tree. I nearly passed on it however, obsessing over the prospect of shipping such a large, fragile item in the mail. But after much agonizing, I decided to buy it, reasoning I could just sell it on Craigslist and avoid any shipping problems. Some haggling ensued, resulting in the future Florida resident agreeing to part with the tree for eight dollars. I packed the tree in the truck then talked with my new buddy about his pending move south. After a few minutes, our conversation was cut short when a neighbor came by to chat. This gave me an excuse to get on my way, so I wished the old-timer good luck on his move and drove off with the ceramic tree safely tucked behind my seat.
Oh Christmas tree!

When I arrived home I had the foresight to clean the dusty tree before bringing it inside. But due to all the little light bulbs and birds, dusting off the tree would be a challenge. My solution? I pulled out the garden hose and blasted the tree with with water! (I like to work smart, not hard.) This rinse and repeat process did the job and after drying the tree in the warm summer sun, I carefully placed the tree on my "Hold for Christmas" shelf.

Fast forward to earlier this month, when I decided it was time to sell the tree. Still dreading the idea of shipping the ceramic tree and risk it being damaged, I decided to try Craigslist first. After some research on eBay, I posted the tree for a reasonable fifty bucks. While it seemed that some ceramic trees sold for as much as a hundred dollars on eBay, I was at peace with making fifty if it meant avoiding a potential shipping disaster! But even at this fair price, there were no takers. Facing the dilemma of being stuck with the tree for another year, I decided to take my chances on shipping and listed the tree on eBay. This turned out to be a very fortuitous decision! 

I am not sure what eBay bidders saw in this tree? Maybe it was the fact that the tree had both colorful light bulbs, as well as little birds? Whatever it was, bidders went absolutely NUTSO for my eight dollar yard sale find! All week long, the bids kept climbing higher and higher, until it finally sold for... are you ready for this? .....Two hundred and fifty dollars! Crazy, right? This was the same tree I almost passed on, not to mention almost gave away for fifty bucks on Craigslist! Needless to say, I was full of Christmas cheer after that sale!

Once the buyer paid via PayPal, I gently wrapped the tree in excessive amounts of bubble wrap and peanuts. Sealing the box, I then placed it inside another box to insure additional protection. Even though the box was bulky, shipping only cost me $30 dollars-just $15 more then I charged in the listing! After mailing the box, I nervously tracked the package as it headed down to the Carolinas. To my relief, it arrived at it's new home safe and sound. (Whew!) The nice lady who bought my Christmas tree posted the following positive feedback:

                          Excellent condition yay! Thanks so much!

With all the eBay intricacies now complete, I knew the $250 dollars was now officially mine to keep! Merry Christmas to me! The sale taught me a new garage sale rule to follow. Whenever I find a ceramic Christmas tree for sale...just buy it!  

So that's a few highlights of the Christmas selling season. Hope you had some great ones too! What's been your best Christmas sale? Share them in the comment section below. 

Lastly, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas to you and your family. Here's hoping we all have a terrific and profitable 2014 to come!

                          Merry Christmas.......Dude!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

HO Trains and Holiday Sales...a little bad, but mostly good!

Holiday sales continue to chug along here at MoneyintheGarage. Using eBay and some Craigslist, I've been able to clear out nearly all my Christmas inventory. I am a one-man version of Amazon...shipping packages all over the country! I even broke down and began selling stuff I'd been saving for winter auctions like hockey and basketball jerseys. You have to strike when the iron's hot, so why wait?

The Post Office said it was delivered!
But even with the awesome number of sales, there's always a small downside. I've noticed that increased holiday sales always brings a corresponding increase in buyer complaints! It's just the way the numbers work. This past week, I've attempted to de-fuse three separate complaints. One buyer wrote me claiming she never received her item...even though USPS tracking showed it was delivered! This is an all too familiar story for seasoned sellers. Many know that despite having proof of USPS delivery, Ebay will still give buyers a refund when they claim non-receipt! Seriously, what's the point of tracking and proof of delivery if eBay chooses to ignore it?

In another test of my patience, a buyer balked at the condition of a HO scale model train building purchased in one of my auctions. The building in question was a small plastic farmhouse in the original box. Similar models have been selling on eBay in the neighborhood of $60 dollars. While my set wasn't perfect, I knew it would sell for decent money. Vintage HO railroad pieces are always popular with train hobbyist. I listed the model in "As-Is" condition. I also attached a bunch of close-up photographs. I believe in giving buyers the opportunity to really look the item over. This "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" approach helps to avoid complaints regarding an item's condition. The train model ended up selling for $44 dollars! A nice sale...until I received an e-mail from eBay's Resolution Center. This is Ebay's version of getting called down to the Principal's office! The buyer whined about the model's condition, complaining it had some drips of paint on it. He even went so far as to claim the paint drips made the model unusable! This despite the fact the small paint drips were clearly visible in the original auction photos! Gimme a break!

I tried to compromise with the buyer, offering him a $25 refund and reducing Mr. Picky's out-of-pocket costs to $19 dollars. But this magnanimous gesture on my part was rebuffed! It was obvious the guy knew eBay always takes the buyer's side in most disputes. Facing this no-win situation and possible negative feedback, I waved the white flag and gave the guy his full refund. I didn't even ask him to return the model back. Why bother? With the buyer insisting I pay the return shipping costs, it would have been just another expense in a losing proposition. So the guy kept the model and got his money back. I'd be willing to bet my model is sitting on his HO train platform right now...paint drips and all! But I am over it. Besides, it's Christmas time and for every deal gone wrong, I have a hundred happy Christmas sales that went right!

I had a great experience a few days ago when I sold a nice little HO train set on Craigslist. I purchased the train set at a yard sale last summer for ten dollars and waited until the holidays to sell it. I posted it for $75. A young dad e-mailed me, asking if I would go any lower on the
The little guy loved his HO Train set!
price? Heck, I am no Scrooge, so I agreed on $65 dollars. Before I knew it, Dad and his adorable four year old son were standing in my garage eager to pick up the trains! I am not sure who was more excited about buying the train set...the dad or his kid? Dad was definitely in the Christmas spirit, constantly referring to me as "Mr. Train Conductor" in front of his son. I played along and this delighted the little guy, who actually thought I worked on the railroad! After I explained how to assemble the set, Dad handed me $65 dollars. Some more small talk ensued, while the happy little kid looked over his new trains with wide-eye wonder. I then handed Dad the large box containing the HO train set. I gave his son the much easier job of carrying the roll of green platform paper. As they headed back to their car, Dad promised his little guy he would set up the trains that night. Watching this cute scene between father and son would have made even the Grinch bust out with Christmas spirit!

So around here, Christmas sales are going pretty great. How's your sales going?

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

LL Bean Coupons for the LL Bean Outlet Store

Why can't every day be like Christmas? Especially when it comes to eBay at the MoneyintheGarage factory outlet stores, stuff has been flying out the door! Green "bid" prices are lighting up many of my auction items. Sales are going so well in fact, that I intended to take a photo showing a particular lucky streak of listed items. Nearly everything was in the green with nice, high bids. But before I had the chance to snap a screen shot, all the stuff sold! As fellow eBayers know, before you can count your money there's still some work to do. Like one of Santa's elves, I've been wrapping packages and making multiple trips to the post office!

Like having an LL Bean coupon
As mentioned in previous blogs, inventory that sat around with no bids have suddenly found buyers. Case in point-I just sold this beautiful LL Bean sweater with tags attached. Believe it or not, even though the sweater was new, I couldn't get it sold during several auctions last winter. Considering it was brand new, it was baffling to me. Maybe I should have offered an LL Bean coupon? After giving up on the sweater and placing it in storage, I finally re-listed it last week. The result? It finally sold for $16 bucks. The buyer could not have scored a better deal if he went to the outlet store and used an LL Bean coupon! Although it wasn't much of a profit for me, at least it was out of my inventory. Normally, I wouldn't even have bought the sweater, but with the tags still attached, I figured I couldn't go wrong. So much for that theory! In the future, I'll stick to the tried and true, LL Bean hurricane shirts. Those things sell like hotcakes in the winter!

Sweaters notwithstanding, most of of my other items are doing excellent. So well in fact, that I've nearly burned through all my Christmas stockpile already! One item that just sold this morning was the vintage Santa blow mold seen below. This guy cost me one dollar at a yard sale last Summer. He stood 34 inches high. This made Santa just
Santa gave me $19 dollars!
tall enough to cause me some concern over shipping costs. His size could have easily pushed him into what I call the postal service, "large package/gotcha!" rates. Invariably, when I sell a larger, heavier package, it's always to some buyer waaaay out on the West coast. This almost always guarantees a high shipping rate that can wipe out any decent profits. In the case of my Santa, I didn't want my profits to be eaten by the good old post office, so I decided to list him for a twenty dollar bill on Craigslist instead. The buyer picked him up this morning. I guess I made the guy's day. He told me already had one identical Santa at home, but needed a matching Santa to pair up at the entrance to his driveway. He was so excited over finding an identical Santa that he let out an, "All right!" walking back to his car. What can I say? I am here to spread the holiday joy!

So I made a few buyers happy this season. I also made a nice little profit by using Craigslist over eBay. Identical Santa blow molds have recently sold on Ebay for a only ten to twenty bucks. Factor in the high cost of shipping plus the fees and commissions both Ebay and Pay Pal steal, whoops...I mean charge, it's usually wiser to sell larger items on Craigslist. The $19 dollars I made on jolly old Santa all went straight to me...eBay and Pay Pal didn't get a dime! Score one for the Dude!

How's your Christmas sales going? Have you made any nice flips so far? Share the story with your fellow elves!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Turkey, cranberry sauce and another Imaginarium train table !

Alas, it looks like closing time for this year's garage sale season! With Thanksgiving just days away, the number of yard sales has really dropped off. I was reduced to about five decent houses this past Saturday. Sadly, this upcoming weekend looks even worse. As of tonight, not a single garage sale has been posted on Craigslist for this Saturday. It also happens to be the weekend before Thanksgiving, so I am certain many folks have their attention focused on turkey, football and parades! Can't really blame them, but I am still a little conflicted. While it's a bummer to see the garage sale season come to an end, I am also not against sleeping in on Saturday mornings!

It rained-but I still scored!
But if last Saturday was my last hurrah for the season, it wasn't a bad way to go out. Although a bit rainy, I still found a handful of sales to attend. At one sale I scored something that will probably make me sound like a broken record... another Imaginarium train table set! Unbelievable, right? I discovered the table at a sale held inside a jam packed garage. It was easy to spot. To save space, the sellers had it standing upright. Surrounding the table were lots of cardboard boxes waiting to be moved out to the driveway if the sun peeked out. Most yard sale pickers have been in this challenging situation. Too much stuff shoved in too small a space. Not only was it impossible to look at everything, I nearly broke my neck trying to walk around the garage! But despite all the boxes, I was really only interested in one thing...that Imaginarium train table. The lady was asking a $50 dollar bill for the table and track pieces. That was a number way more then I wanted to pay. I immediately negotiated her down to forty big ones, pointing out the fact that selling the table would free up much needed space in her garage. Although she agreed to take my offer, I think the rain and low buyer turnout had a more to do with changing her mind then my negotiating skills.

Arriving home, Sonny Boy help me carry the Imaginarium table into the garage. Ironically, we plopped it in the same spot where the previous table had sat just weeks before. Once again, it took up residence on Mrs. Dude's side of the garage. Logistically, it just works better for my garage sale acquisitions to be stored on Mrs Dude's side. Although Mrs. Dude hates losing her prime spot to a train table, I did my best song and dance to convince her the table would be sold quickly. It's a no-brainer! In fact, I am so confident that it will sell, I listed it on Craigslist for a very bold price of one hundred dollars!

The hundred dollar mark hasn't seemed to scare anyone away. The table attracted a huge amount of interest. However, it seemed like all my potential buyers were super busy moms who couldn't find the time to drive to my house! Most told me they really, really wanted the table, they couldn't pick it up right away due to a kid's doctor appointment...a work conflict...a school schedule...or hubby had the car. The reasons were endless! The e-mail activity got so crazy I started losing track of all the moms and what they told me! In the future, I am considering sending a form e-mail to all future inquiries with the simple instructions, "Please just call me when you're actually in your car and prepared to pick it up!"

But despite all this frustrating e-mail dancing, I did get the table sold. A nice lady stopped by and paid me a cool $100 dollars for the table. She told me she bought the table for her young daughter. I helped mom carry the big Imaginarium table to her car. After figuring out how to drop the rear seats on the borrowed SUV, we pushed the big table into the rear cargo area. This time, no toes were hurt in the process! (See previous blog.) After making an easy sixty dollar profit, I wouldn't mind scoring one last train table for the season. That's a bit of wishful thinking on my part, considering the garage sales have all but ended for the year!

Speaking of the holiday season, if you haven't already done so, any Christmas themed and gift items should be posted on eBay immediately. One look at all the Christmas commercials on television proves the holiday buying season has already begun! I started posting my holiday stuff over a week ago. In addition to it being the "most wonderful time of the year," I love the fact that almost everything I post on eBay ends up sold. Junk that sat dormant in previous auctions will get plenty of looks and attention during
Thomas Train piece finally sold!
this time of year. Even things you wouldn't expect like pre-owned clothing will often see holiday bidding. It's a great opportunity for you to clear out "stinker" inventory. For example, here's one that might surprise you; I bought this Thomas the Tank Engine piece for two dollars at a garage sale last year. It was brand new in the original box. While you might think a new Thomas piece would sell quickly, this piece went unloved for many auctions. Weird, right? After several auction strikeouts, I finally reposted it last Christmas and sold it for $15 dollars! So even if you are absolutely convinced you have a stinker that won't sell, try one more time during the holiday season.  

But let's not completely rush past Thanksgiving just yet. It's one of my favorite holidays and this Dude has a lot to be thankful for. Down a few lines on my list is my incredible garage sale hobby wherein  I regularly turn dollar bills into twenties, fifties and even hundreds! I am also thankful for the many readers who visit MoneyintheGarage and share your great comments and tips. With that in mind, be sure to have a great Thanksgiving celebration with your friends and family. Enjoy some turkey, take in a parade and rest up while you can. The busy Christmas season is about to begin!


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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Imaginarium & Thomas train table outlet store

I love buying train tables. Whether it's a Brio, Imaginarium or others types...I always make money flipping a good table. But for some strange reason, this year was nearly devoid of train tables. It was looking bleak. But just when I thought my luck had run out....boom! In a single day at the yard sales, I found not just one...but two tables! As the saying goes, when it rains-it pours. On that particular day, it poured train tables!

If you're caught up on my previous posts, I bought the tables on that busy Saturday in September. Yard sales were everywhere! So many in fact, that I nearly got lost in my own town! But I can't complain. In addition to the train tables, I scored plenty of stuff that will keep me busy selling for months. But nothing that day beat the two train tables I scored. I found the first table at a community yard sale held in a townhouse complex. Slowing driving through the neighborhood, I spotted the always popular, Imaginarium train table. It was complete with track and houses. The mom selling the table didn't live in the community. She told me she brought all her stuff to her parent's home to sell. Given this, I knew I already had an advantage. The mom would be super motivated to sell the big table, rather then face the prospect of hauling it back home. Taking advantage of her predicament, I bargained her down to a twenty dollar bill for the table. Even though it was a steal for me, the mom was pleased as punch just to get rid of it. (A common trait with most sellers. Train tables are too big to store, so folks are usually desperate to unload them.) The seller's elderly father even helped me load the table in the back of my truck. I pulled out of the neighborhood pretty pleased with the deal. Imaginarium train tables are always an easy, big bucks flip!

With one in the bag, I figured I already hit my limit on finding train tables for the day. But I should have more confidence in myself! Rolling up to the final garage sale of the day, I eyed another winner. This time it was the much loved, "Thomas the Tank Engine" table! The table was sitting under a shade tree in the children's toy section of the garage sale. It looked awesome, but with an Imaginarium table already filling up the back of my truck, I wasn't sure I had room for one more. But then I reminded myself that after going the entire season without finding a train table, I shouldn't ignore this gift from the yard sale gods. I decided that if the price was right, I'd make room for one more!

Walking up to the table, I found the Mom and asked her how much she wanted? She came back at me
Double decker train tables!
with an outrageous price of forty dollars! I shook my head no, adding that forty dollars was way too rich for my blood. She then dropped her price down to thirty. Still playing hardball, I told her she was still asking too much. Mom then asked me how much I'd offer for the table? At that point I pulled out my trump card. Pointing to my truck, I told her I already bought a train table today. Mom glanced over to the truck and looked defeated. Moving in for the kill, I told her that even though I already had one, I'd take the table off her hands for twenty bucks. She glanced nervously at my truck parked at the curb, completely stymied over what to do. Being an old pro, I decided to give her a gentle, psychological nudge. Smiling at her as if I could see into the future, I gave her this advise, "Look, I give you twenty bucks...and you don't have to carry the table back into the house later." That was all the push she needed. Agreeing that she didn't want the bulky table back inside, she accepted my low ball offer. After handing over an Andrew Jackson to her, I happily carried the Thomas the Tank Engine table down to my truck. I strapped the second table to the first and headed home. It was a momentous "two-train table" day for me. A personal garage sale best that I won't soon break!

Train Table Outlet Store
With two train tables now taking up massive space in my garage, it was time to get to work. I decided to post only one table at a time on Craigslist. To do otherwise would just be competing against myself. The Thomas Table went up on CL first. Since the table had no accessories when I bought it, I added some Brio track and buildings I had in reserve. (Parents want tables that come with train, track and buildings...a total package.)  Within days, I got a bite from some young parents. Prior to their arrival, I moved the Thomas table into my driveway, closing my garage door so they couldn't spot my Imaginarium table. I didn't want the young couple to get distracted, or think I was running a train table outlet store! After checking out the Thomas table, the young parents gladly paid me my asking price of $150 dollars. Cha-Ching! With one down, it was time to move on to the second table.

The young couple had barely left my street, when I posted the Imaginarium train table. This sale turned out to be a little more amusing. After a few weeks on Craigslist in which I dropped the price several times, an interesting couple finally showed up to look at the table. The couple's son was barely a year old and clearly not ready to play with toy trains, but young mom wanted the table anyway. The enthusiastic mom checked out the train table while her husband, who was much older then his wife, stayed in the car with his sleeping son. Mom liked the table and immediately paid me my asking price of $100 big ones-not bad for a twenty dollar investment!

After paying me, mom told me the table was for her first born and only child. I also learned that dad had much older kid's from a previous marriage. This explained the age difference between the two. She then yelled to her husband, coaxing him out of the car to help carry the table. I smirked as older dad reluctantly shuffled up the driveway. He looked like he'd rather be any place but my driveway!  With thinning, disheveled hair and a few wrinkles, he had at least fifteen years on his young wife. He also happen to be wearing
C'mon...wear some shoes!
white socks with open toe sandals! This struck me as a bit unusual, but maybe I just need to get out more? Either way, I felt a little sorry for the guy as he grudgingly carried the table down to the car. We then attempted to fit the big table into the back of his small SUV. Struggling to make the table fit, we began tilting the monstrosity. This little maneuver did not work out well for old of the table's large board panels fell out, landing squarely on dad's stocking toe! Closing his eyes tightly for a moment, he silently grimaced in pain while his young wife attempted to console him. It was quite a scene and I won't took every fiber of my being to keep from laughing! (That's what he gets for wearing sandals!) Not wanting to look wimpy in front of his young wife, older dad rallied. He shook off the pain and we finished jamming the table into his SUV. Dad limped back into his car and they pulled away. The coast was finally clear for me to laugh out loud over the whole misadventure!

As I said in the beginning-it's fun flipping the train tables. In fact, maybe I should consider opening up that train table outlet store. Where else can you make a quick $250 in cash and have a good laugh at the same time?

Have you sold any train tables this year? Did any of your buyer's almost break their toe in the process? Share your story below.....


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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I have a pretty weird, (but funny) garage sale story I've been saving for this time of year. It involves what I thought was a vase, but turned out to be something very different. It proved you can find some scary things at a yard sale!  

About two years ago, I rolled up to a garage sale being held by an older couple. As I've said many times, I love yard sales held by senior citizens. Older folks usually have vintage and interesting things for sale. This sale initially didn't look all that good, but my blurry eyes spotted what looked like a bright, colorful baseball themed vase. On the front of the vase was the Philadelphia Phillies logo. Because of it's uniqueness and color, the vase stood out from it's lonely spot in the driveway. Adding more interest to the vase was a Post-It note with the words "free" written on it. Looking over the vase, it seemed to be in perfect, brand new condition. On the top of the vase was a plastic bubble containing an actual baseball. I wasn't sure why you need a baseball on top of a vase, but the thing piqued my interest. Being a Phillies fan, I decided to take the vase and figure out what to do with it later.  My conscience wouldn't let me take such a nice freebie for nothing though, so I reached into my pocket and pulled out a dollar. Holding out the sawbuck, I walked over the elderly gentleman running the sale and told him I wanted to pay him something for the vase. As I handed him a dollar, the old fella peered over his glasses and gave me a strange look. This odd reaction had me scratching my head, but I chalked it up to the fact that some folks just ain't as friendly as yours truly. Later on however, I figured out why the old timer gave me the look!

Arriving home from my garage sale rounds, I unloaded my finds for the day. The Phillies vase really had me curious, so I set it on the back of the truck's tailgate and gave it a thorough going over. The vase was topped off with a heavy metal lid that unscrewed. The lid contained an actual baseball inside a plastic dome. On the front of the vase was a small plaque area that looked like a place to engrave a person's name. Sitting on the tailgate with the vase now in my lap, I pondered this weird configuration. As I put together the various clues, it slowly began to dawn on me what this thing was...and it freaked me out! It wasn't a flower vase at all. It was a cremation urn used to intern the ashes of the dearly departed!  In this case, it was intended for a "die hard" Phillies fan! I've bought some weird yard sale stuff in my life, but this was down-right spooky! No wonder the seller gave me a funny look. He must have thought I was nuts!

It's a vase?!?
With this spooky realization, I was now panicking! What if there were ashes inside the urn? How do you dispose of someone's ghostly remains? I nervously shook the urn and listened closely. I couldn't hear a thing...but does someone's ashes make a sound anyway? Still unsure if someone was inside, I decided there was only one way to find out...I had to open the urn up and take a look. Pretty creepy, but I knew it had to be done. With my head turned slightly away, and one eye closed to minimize the shock of what I could discover, I slowly unscrewed the heavy lid. I was dreading what I might find. Who wants to come face-to-face with someone's ashes? Making the process even weirder, the steel lid made a very appropriate, but creepy, metal scratching sound. It was as if I were opening a crypt! After a few more turns, the lid finally came off. The moment of truth had arrived. As I peered inside the thermos-like container,  I let out a huge sigh of was clean as a whistle!

With this ghostly problem now passed, my next dilemma was to figure out what to do with a baseball cremation urn? Would anyone buy something so weird? Jumping on my computer to do some research, I was shocked at what I found. Apparently there's actually a demand for some hard-core baseball fans to be forever united with their favorite team. In fact, there's an urn for every major league baseball team...who knew, right? The urns are sold on various funeral supply websites, with some listed for as much as $700 dollars! I couldn't believe it! That's a lot of money to store your ashes in what's basically a fancy thermos! 

My next dilemma was selling the urn. While I have to admit it felt a little creepy, I wasn't about to keep the thing! But at the same time, I also didn't want to take advantage of anyone who wanted the urn for their dearly departed...that's just bad karma! So I listed the urn on Craigslist for an extremely reasonable price of fifty bucks. Even at this low price, I wasn't very hopeful the urn would sell. Realistically, how many folks are looking for something as strange as a baseball themed cremation urn? But surprise...I actually found someone! A guy contacted me saying he was looking for a Phillies cremation urn...and he needed it quick! His father-in-law had just passed away and the funeral was being held in a few days. The departed was a huge Phillies fan, so his son-in- law thought a Phillies themed urn would be a fitting tribute. Adding an additional heart warming touch, the son-in-law planned to have all the grandchildren sign the baseball that sat atop their Pop-Pop's urn. Having shopped for an urn on-line, the son-in-law realized what a great price I was giving him. He was so appreciative, he decided to pay me an extra $25-bumping the price of the urn up to 75 dollars! Pretty good, considering I originally thought the thing was a flower vase! After we made the deal, I drove home chuckling to myself. I actually made a very nice profit and helped someone out by flipping a cremation urn! You can't get much weirder then that!

I won't even bother to ask if you have ever flipped a cremation urn...what's the chances? So I'll leave you with that creepy garage sale story and wish you and yours, a safe and Happy Halloween!   

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Geico Insurance, Nissan Versa and yard sales..perfect together!

In a sort of good news/bad news story, last week my son totaled his beautiful little 97 Honda Civic. Unable to negotiate a sharp turn on a wet street, the Honda slid across the slick road and crashed straight into a telephone pole. Airbags were deployed and pieces of the front end flew everywhere! Luckily, Sonny Boy was securely buckled in, and other then being shook up and a little sore, he was uninjured. As I later told him, that little Honda Civic took the brunt of the hit, saving Sonny Boy from serious injury!

So you're probably wondering what possible good news could come out of this? Well at the risk of sounding like a television commercial, I have accident coverage through Geico Insurance, including collision coverage on the 97 Honda. It's lucky that I did. In a few days I'll be receiving a check in the mail from Geico for way more then I thought the car was worth! The sting of the accident was further reduced when I learned Geico Insurance will cover the cost of a rental car until we buy a replacement vehicle. In fact, after Mrs. Dude got off the phone with the folks at Geico Insurance, our phone was Enterprise Rent-A-Car inviting us to come down to pick out a rental car. It was pretty amazing! Those constant Geico lizard commercials can be annoying, but right now I am liking that little green guy! (At least until I see what they do to my future rates.)

Nissan Versa Note - great for yard sales!
After learning about Geico's rental car policy, Sonny Boy and I headed down to Enterprise Rent-A-Car. We picked up a 2014 Nissan Versa Note. I warned Sonny Boy that this could be sending him the wrong message....crash a car and get a fun little 2014 Nissan to drive around in! He told me that he didn't look at it quite like that, but the kid has taken a liking to the Nissan Versa. He even hinted that we should buy it! I have to agree with him, it's a great little car to tool around town in. Naturally, I took it out yard sailing on Saturday and had a blast driving it! After spending the morning darting from sale to sale, I've learned there are huge benefits to yard sailing in a small car. Maneuverability is the foremost advantage. Garage sales are synonymous with heavy traffic and tight parking spots. With the little Nissan Versa, I was zipping in and out of tight spots with ease! While I love my truck, it's a lot easier maneuvering a small car like a Nissan through busy suburban streets. Don't get me wrong, once I return the Versa to Enterprise Rent-A-Car, I'll go back to my good, old truck. But I can definitely see the benefits of owning a small, fun car like a Nissan Versa!

A big IKEA table fits! 
You would think that one possible setback to a small car would be limited cargo space. But this wasn't an issue in the Nissan. As an example, I finally bought that table I've been looking to wrap packages on. I've been on the look-out for one since my table story from back in the summer. At long last, I finally found a nice IKEA table at a garage sale on Saturday! The seller charged me ten bucks for it. At first, I thought I would need my truck to haul the six foot table. But instead, I just dropped the Versa's back seats and the table easily slid into the back of the car! It was awesome! With the back seats folded down, I had almost as much cargo space as in my truck. Continuing my crush on the little car, I piled in the entire family to head to nice restaurant over the weekend. We had Mrs. Dude and two young twenty somethings sitting comfortable in the back seat with no problem. It was a blast for all!

The Versa also brought me some good luck. I found plenty of good garage sales and bought a lot of stuff! Part of my motivation is the realization that the garage sale season is winding down. As we approach Halloween and Thanksgiving, the sales will become fewer and fewer. Now is the time to buy, buy, buy to build up enough inventory to get through the winter! So that's what I did-packing the Versa with various garage sale treasures. Since I had so much fun in it, I am hoping Geico doesn't pull the plug on me, and I'll get to keep the car for at least one more Saturday. Either way, both Sonny Boy and I are gonna miss that little car when it's time to return it to Enterprise Rent-A-Car!

Vintage Shortwave radio
In addition to the IKEA table, another solid gold find was the shortwave radio seen here. This was found at a garage sale advertised on Craigslist that specifically listed shortwave radios for sale. This grabbed my attention immediately. I love to flip old radios and usually make nice money doing it. Because of this, I made it my first stop of the morning and scooped up this vintage Realistic Shortwave radio for ten dollars. I should have no problem flipping it for around $60 on eBay. I also bought a few other items from the guy, including a five gallon plastic gas tank. Other bloggers have pointed out an active eBay market for these old gas tanks, so I am going to test the waters. Naturally, I'll report my findings here on the site.

So the Fall is turning out to be quite eventful around here....good news and bad news.  Hope your Fall garage sale season is going well and is accident free. Most importantly....don't forget to wear your seat belt! And if you are in the market for a great little car-definitely consider the new Nissan Versa!

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pier One Imports Outlet Store deals

Over the last few years I've shared some great stories regarding my favorite little thrift store. I've made some incredible scores at this shop, including expensive sewing equipment, a genuine railroad crossing sign and other awesome stuff. Lately tough, finding good deals at the store has become harder. Part of the problem is Dana, the store manager. She continues to price items based on comparisons with eBay listings. The women is killing me! Stuff that use to be priced at no more then five bucks, now is priced at over $20! For example, Dana recently priced a vintage Fisher Price school house and toy airplane at twenty dollars each. In the past, each would have been reasonable priced at five bucks. But because Dana got a little crazy with the eBay comparisons, the overpriced toys  sat on the shelf for nearly a month. When they finally disappeared, it was only because Dana grudgingly cut their prices.

But despite the higher prices, the little thrift shop is still one of my favorite stops. Not long ago the shop produced yet another outstanding treasure...a beautiful dining room table with six chairs. For me, the timing could not have been more perfect. Mrs. Dude has been bugging, I mean, suggesting that we buy a new table and chairs for the kitchen. We even went to a few furniture stores to do some comparison shopping. But being a thrifty dude, I was not loving the hefty
Pier One furniture in the thrift store...incredible!
price tags on many of the sets. Most ranged in the area of $1500 dollars. That's a lot of dough!

So after seeing the high price of dining room sets in the stores, imagine how my heart skipped a beat when I discovered a beautiful dining room set at my favorite thrift store! The set was like the one seen in the photo on the right. The dark wood table and six heavy chairs were in great condition and exactly what we were looking for. There was only one little problem...the set was sold! Oh the agony!

Mourning my loss, I ran my hand over the table's dark wood grain. As I did, Dana gave me the back story on the set. It had been donated by a women who'd recently been divorced and decided to clean house. She and her ex-hubby had purchased the set from Pier One Imports. Torturing me further, Dana told me the set had been out on the sales floor for two whole days before some lucky lady finally bought it! Hearing this, I was crestfallen and wondered why I hadn't stopped by the shop sooner? But the final crushing blow was the selling price.....only $200 dollars!!! Based on my window shopping with Mrs. Dude, I would estimate this set sold for around $1200 at Pier One Imports. It was unbelievable! Finding such a great deal was better then having a Pier One discount coupon in your pocket!

In this business, nothing is more painful then missing out on an incredible find. Pier One furniture is quality stuff, on par with Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel. Haunting me further was the fact that even though it was sold, the table was still on the sales floor. A small paper "sold" sign was taped to the table top. A sold sign on a beautiful piece of furniture is really a cruel taunt to fellow thrift store shoppers. Why can't they move the sold stuff in the back of the store where it can't torment us? In this case, I ignored the sold sign, asking Dana if she was absolutely sure the buyer was coming back to pick up the set? Unfortunately, Dana assured me the lady was coming in just as soon as she could arrange transportation. I took the news with a big sigh, accepting the fact that this was one awesome deal that got away!

Although the grand prize had already been claimed, I was able to come up with a decent runner-up prize. Regaining my composure, I noticed Dana was carrying a large collection of BeyBlade toys onto the sales floor.
BeyBlades..$8 into $80!
If you are not familiar with them, BeyBlades are glorified spinning tops that do battle with each other as they spin in a plastic stadium. They consistently sell well on Ebay, and the more BeyBlades you have in a lot, the more money you'll make. I'd be a lousy poker player, because when Dana walked by me holding the Bey Blades, I could barley contain my enthusiasm. Pointing to the BeyBlades, I blurted out, "How much for those?" My outburst may have worked in my favor though. Dana didn't get a chance to research the sets on eBay. Instead she shrugged her shoulders and quoted me a price of eight bucks. Knowing the popularity of BeyBlades, I didn't quibble over her price. 

Although the BeyBlades could hardly make up for missing out on the Pier One dining room set, the plastic toys did ease my pain a little bit. My eight dollar purchase turned into an $80 dollar sale on eBay. Ironically, my BeyBlades sale would have covered nearly half the cost of that beautiful dining room set! All of which goes to just never know what awesome deals you'll find in the thrift store. That's why I keep going back!

Have you ever scored some nice furniture at a thrift store or garage sale? Feel free to brag in the comment section below.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Baby Blue Coleman Cooler

Back in June, I bragged about a vintage 70's era Coleman cooler I snapped up for only eight bucks. You might remember the story. The cooler was in pristine condition and even came with it's original three piece inserts-a tray and two freezing containers. Old Coleman coolers can sell for a lot of money on eBay, so I knew I had a nice score. But after a little cleaning up, I sort of got attached to my baby blue cooler. I even put the cooler to work, using it for a Memorial Day picnic at my house. Once the picnic was over however, I was conflicted over whether to keep the cooler or sell it.

Initially there was some definite waffling on my part. On the one hand, you just don't find these coolers everyday. My baby blue Coleman was super clean and in near perfect condition. And when it comes to beverages and food, the cooler can keep it all ice cold for several days. On the other hand, this Coleman could make me a lot of money if I sold it. I even asked readers what they thought I should do? A few folks suggested I keep it, while others advised me to take the money and run! It was a nice problem to have, but still a dilemma! It took about a month to decide, but something happened at that picnic that help me make up my mind.

As I mentioned previously, I used the Coleman cooler at my Memorial Day picnic. During the festivities, I saw a glimpse of the cooler's possible future...and it wasn't good! My nephew, who's twelve years old
My Baby Blue Coleman Cooler-gone but not forgotten!
and loves baseball, decided it was time to warm up his pitching arm during the picnic. Only instead of using baseballs, he conveniently found something else to cubes from my Coleman cooler! Fortunately, he didn't throw any at the cooler. But I watched in agony as he kept opening and closing the cooler's lid to retrieve ice cubes. You're probably thinking that Uncle Dude was just being  a curmudgeon, but it was driving me crazy! Like most twelve year olds who do things that make no sense, my nephew didn't just grab a bunch of ice cubes all at once. Nope... the rascal would grab a single ice cube from the cooler and hurl it like Nolan Ryan into my back yard. Then he would begin the process again...and again...and again...and...well, you get the picture! This went on forever and I cringed with each squeaky opening of the cooler's lid. Maybe I am paranoid, but every time my nephew threw the lid back, I envisioned some doomed fate for my beautiful cooler. It also didn't help that I had the cooler sitting on Coleman camping stove legs bought at the same garage sale. The legs were sturdy, but with a kid going in and out of the cooler, you just never know. My nephew didn't realize it, but he helped Uncle Dude make up his mind. The cooler was getting sold!

Because the cooler had come with the original insert pieces, I had two opportunities to make money. The cooler would be one sale, while the three piece set would be sold separately. The cooler was way too big to be shipped, so I decided to sell it on Craigslist. While I may have been able to make a few more bucks using eBay, I knew the high shipping cost would be too prohibitive. It was a decision I
An original Coleman three piece set = $$$
didn't regret. After listing the cooler on Craigslist, I found a twenty something kid who paid me $75 dollars for the cooler. With that out of the way, I listed the cooler's three piece inserts on eBay. The pieces would be easy to mail, and by using eBay I could get more eyeballs on the auction. In my listing description, I played up the opportunity for a Coleman collector to buy all three original inserts in one auction. This seemed to appeal to folks. The three piece set sold for $56 dollars! Not bad for three hunks of old plastic!

Combined I made $131 dollars on my original eight dollar investment. Even better, I no longer had to worry about a nephew, niece or even a drunk uncle breaking the cooler!

Hopefully someone in your family hasn't broken your Coleman gear...or any of your other finds! Share your story in the comment section below.....

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Don't take shortcuts on Star Wars Legos and Masks!

In my town, it's easy to get lost! 
If you follow my Twitter feed, you may have noticed my complaining about the over abundance of garage and community yard sales held last week. It seemed like every church, suburban development and community group decided that September 21st was thee day to have their sale. For professional pickers like me, it turned into a long, tiring slog through area neighborhoods. After endless jumps in and out of my truck, I started to become disoriented and occasionally lost track of where I was in town! You might think I was exhibiting the first warning signs of senility, but most of my local streets are lined with countless curbside mailboxes, big shady trees and driveways leading up to a garage. After countless hours of relentless sales, it all begins to look the same! So having too many yard sales is not always a good thing.

But despite my whining, people will host their sales when they want to. As for me, I like dealing with a nice manageable number of around 15 to 20 sales on a Saturday. That's just the right amount for me to hit between the prime hours of 8 to 10 AM. More then twenty just gets too crazy! To deal with an excess of sales, I begin cutting corners by skipping the yard sale "repeaters", or doing a "drive-by" without getting out of the truck. Although these little tricks can save time, there's always the danger of missing something good! That almost happened this past week.

Faced with way too many sales on Saturday, I found myself rushing from one house to the next. Methodically working through my list, I rolled up to a brick rancher that I've been to many times before. This lady was a border-line professional yard sale seller. The hard-core type who hosts several sales each season. When pressed for time, I'll sometimes write off garage sale repeaters, reasoning that they can't possibly have good stuff to sell at every sale. As I approached this lady's driveway, I could see cheap Halloween decorations, some fabrics and other average household items for sale. I was ready to pop the truck into gear and head to the next sale. At the last second however, I changed my mind. I decided that since I was right there, I might as well take a look. It's a good thing I did!

Almost as good as Star Wars Legos
Looking into a box of  Halloween costumes, I discovered a Star Wars Darth Vader talking helmet. I already knew Star Wars stuff is hot. The Star Wars Lego sets always sell for big bucks on eBay. But I also learned from a fellow blogger that Star Wars Darth Vader masks are a big deal too! These masks get snapped up on Ebay for as much as $40 dollars or more. Next to Star Wars Legos, this mask could be the next best thing to find at a garage sale! In this case, the seller obviously thought Darth Vader was just another Halloween mask! I fished the mask from the Halloween box and pressed the voice buttons to make sure it worked. Sure enough, I heard the infamous heavy breathing of old Darth Vader! I asked the lady what she wanted for it? She started at five, but agreed to take my counteroffer of three dollars. (Now all I just needed was a Star Wars Lego set to make my day complete!)

Now that I have it, I am in no hurry to sell the mask. I may even put Darth Vader in winter inventory and wait to sell him when things slow down. The main point of my story is can't always write off a garage sale just because they hold multiple sales each season. You can never tell what you'll find on your next visit!

How's the Fall garage sale season going for you? You have any time-saving ideas when faced with too many sales? Pass along your tips in the comment section below....

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cheaper then the Coach Factory Outlet Store

How often do you think I find Coach products at a garage sale? Since I yard sale pick in some high-end neighborhoods, you may think I find it all the time. I am sure many of these folks shop at Coach stores for their handbags and purses. In reality, I rarely come across any Coach. That was, until this summer, when my Coach drought ended with a great find. Although the story had a happy ending for me, Mrs. Dude felt differently.

My first Coach find happened earlier this summer. Amazingly, it was at a garage sale that I didn't get to until after 9:00 AM. The yard sale had been running for at least an hour, so there were plenty of buyers who missed this great find. At first glance, the sale looked so-so. But walking around the driveway, I spotted a colorful pair of shoes. The multi-color pattern really got my attention. But more importantly, it was what was on the shoe's insole-the famous Coach logo. This may come as a complete shock, but the Dude is no expert when it comes to high-end fashion. But having bought Mrs. Dude a Coach purse at the Coach factory outlet store a few year ago, I knew one thing for sure...Coach stuff is expensive!

Coach flats: Cheaper then Coach Factory Outlet Store
Picking up the pair, I asked the women running the sale if the shoes were the real deal? Although I think she was a little insulted, it was a fair question. Just go to any flea market and you'll find plenty of counterfeit Coach bags and shoes for sale. Despite my skepticism, the lady assured me these flats were no knock-offs, they were genuine Coach. She had the shoes priced at five dollars, a very un-Coach like number to say the least. As I checked the soles for wear, I asked if she'd take three dollars for them? I am surprised she didn't throw something at me! I'd already insulted the women by asking if the shoes were real. Now I was following up with a low-ball offer on an expensive pair of shoes. Judging from her exasperated look, I was quickly wearing out my welcome with the lady! Despite the sharp look on her face, she actually accepted my ridiculous offer. I handed over three bills and grabbed the shoes.

The fun really started when I arrived home. Since Mrs. Dude was familiar with Coach, I wanted to get her opinion on the flats. I instantly regretted my decision. Waving Coach shoes in front of Mrs. Dude, is similar to opening a can of Bumble Bee tuna in front of our cat! Both go nuts! Snatching the shoes from my hands, Mrs. Dude demanded to know the size? Shoe size was not particularly important to me when I bought them, so I really had no idea. However, this little bit of information became very important to the crazy lady standing in front of me! Mrs. Dude was nearly hyperventilating! Her eyes widened as she peered inside each shoe, searching desperately for the shoe size. Unable to see any print inside, she threw caution to the wind and thrust her feet into the shoes! To her disappointment (and my relief) they were a half size too small. But like any women who loves her Coach, this didn't stop Mrs. Dude. She tried to force the shoes into fitting! Like the stepsisters in Cinderella, she jammed her feet into the shoes over and over again. Although struggling with the flats, she continued to gush on, describing how the multi-color pattern was perfect for the summer and would go with most of her clothes. (I later incorporated her effusive comments into my auction description.) As the foot jamming continued, I tried to keep from smirking. Mrs. Dude tossed out a few "damns" in frustration, as she slowly came to the realization that no matter how hard she tried, the Coach shoes were not going to fit her! Like a good husband I feigned sympathy, but I knew that Mrs. Dude needed another pair of shoes like I need a second pickup truck. (Actually...not  bad idea.)

The wrestling match now over, Mrs. Dude handed me back the shoes in defeat. I immediately went about posting the flats on eBay. (I worried that if I didn't post them quickly, she might cut holes in the toes and turn them into sandals!) Due to Mrs. Dude's enthusiastic reaction to the shoes, I knew I had a winner. It also helped that I was selling the shoes during the summer. As Mrs. Dude pointed out, they were a great pair of flats for summer wear.  And imagine what they would cost at the Coach factory outlet store? Bidders agreed. My three dollar purchase ended up selling for $44 dollars on eBay! For my first Coach find, I was pretty happy with the outcome. I can't say that Mrs. Dude felt the same way though.

Have you been lucky enough to find Coach at the garage sales? Share your story below....
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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Breaking Bad .....Mickey Mouse style!

Ever go to the thrift store and see a kid tear up the toy department? If you have spent any amount of time in your local thrift store, I am sure you've witnessed this common phenomenon. The unsupervised critter plops down on the floor and methodically rips through the toy shelves, making a mess of some toys while breaking others. While the destruction is going on, mom and/or dad are oblivious, yapping on their cell phone as they wander around the store. (Who are they talking to anyway? Can't it wait?) While a kid busting up toys is bad enough, it's even worse when they're destroying the toy you wanted to buy! Not long ago, I witnessed one little  brat, oops, I mean adorable child, almost ruin one of my finds before I even paid for it. It's one of those, "It could only happen to me" capers.

I was strolling through the toy section of my local Goodwill when I spotted a Mickey Mouse ride-on airplane. I learned from a fellow blogger that the Mickey Mouse ride-on toys are popular to flip on eBay. Recently a Mickey ride-on plane sold on eBay for almost $40 dollars-not too shabby! Remembering this, I gave the toy a quick once over. Although it was missing the play blocks, everything else worked fine including the spinning prop and blinking lights. Priced at only three bucks, I decided the Mickey plane would be coming home with me. But with more shopping to do, I didn't want to carry the bulky plane around the store with me. So instead, I  left the plane in the pile of toys where I'd found it and continued browsing. I figured since the plane had probably been sitting there for the last few days-what's the chances someone would grab the toy while I was browsing? You can probably guess what happened next.

Saved from almost certain destruction! 
Just a few minutes later, I was in the back of the store when I noticed a little kid riding around the sales floor on something. At first, I wasn't too concerned. Goodwill literally has these toys tossed in a big pile, so it's not unusual too see kids grabbing one for a test drive. At first, I could only see the top of his head. I noticed he was having a grand old time zipping back and forth on the floor! I tried to reassure myself that there was no way he was cruising around on my Mickey plane. Heck, I'd just put the plane down only a few minutes before! What were the chances, right? But as I peeked over the sales shelves to see, I couldn't believe my eyes. Of all the countless riding toys in the Goodwill store, the youngster had found my Mickey Mouse plane and was now off to the races!

Peering over the shelves, I did a slow burn. These things always seem to happen to me! And as my bad luck would have it, this kid was not some well behaved little angel. Nope....he was a terror on wheels, running amuck on the floor as shoppers jumped out of his way. After breaking the indoor Goodwill land speed record, he then decided to kick it up a notch. The youngster thought it would be a great idea to smash my Mickey plane into the walls! And he didn't do it just once. For reasons only known to a ten year old, the kid made multiple runs at the wall, reeling back a few feet, then charging at the wall again and again. I was aghast! To make matters worse, the boy had the prop spinning as he continued to crash into the wall. It seemed like he was trying to bust through the wall! I knew with a few more smashes, the kid would break the propeller and there would go much of the value in the plane! Further frustrating me was the fact that Mom probably had no intention of buying the Mickey plane for her sonny boy. He was wrecking the toy out of sheer boredom. I had to think fast!

As the carnage continued, I pondered what to do. For a moment, I thought about tracking his mother down to ask if she intended to buy the Mickey plane? However I wasn't entirely sure who the kid actually belonged to. What if I asked the wrong lady? Secondly, even if I did find the right mom, asking if she was buying the plane was a little forward and could possibly invite a punch in the nose! Tracking down mom could also annoy her, causing her to buy the plane just to spite me. I was in a quandary!

Fortunately fate interceded. The young dare devil had grown bored with his demolition and he abandoned the Mickey plane in the middle of a store aisle. As he disappeared into the clothes racks looking for his mom, I made my break towards the toy plane. My quick actions were something to behold. Like out of spy movie when the hero discreetly switches briefcases, or lifts the wallet of the unsuspecting bad guy, I calmly walked up to the plane and without even stopping, grabbed the rear handle and headed to the cash register. All those years watching spy movies had paid off!

Despite my daring rescue of the Mickey plane, I knew time was of the essence. As was common at this particular Goodwill store, I was stymied by shoppers backed up at the cash register. Nervously looking to the back of the store, I spotted little "Evel Knieval" wandering around in search of the plane. Apparently he was ready to finish his destruction of Mickey!  I began to sweat a bit more, worried that like in the wilderness, baby bear would cry to momma bear. If that happened, I might have an angry "Momma Grizzly" on my hands!
Hey, where'd it go?

I continued to nervously shoot looks towards the back of the store as the plane wrecker wandered aimlessly searching for Mickey. It was a little embarrassing actually. Here I was a grown man, worried about a ten year old kid tracking me down! After several more stressful minutes, I finally made it to the register. To save precious moments, I passed on the offer of a big bag and slipped out of the store. I breathed a sigh of relief. Operation "Rescue Mickey" had been achieved!

Don't feel bad for the kid. I am certain he found another riding toy to smash into the wall. As for my rescued Mickey plane, I sold him to a happy mom for $20 bucks. She loved the plane and couldn't wait to take it home to her (hopefully) less destructive child. I made a small profit of $17 bucks and learned a valuable lesson. When you find something good-pick it up before some kid does!

Ever observe a toy destroyer at your local thrift store? Share your story below....

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Instep with baby jogging strollers

Jogging strollers are a beautiful thing. I've blogged about these unique strollers in the past and they continue to be a dependable money maker for me! People who sell them at garage sales have a complete disconnect when it comes to understanding their value and popularity. Many practically give them away at their garage sales! Maybe it's because they incorrectly assume only "joggers" will buy them? I am also surprised more garage sale pickers don't scoop them up for resale. While I often have to outhustle my fellow pickers to snag popular stuff like vintage trains, old radios or toys, I have almost no competition when it comes to buying strollers. Maybe it's because strollers have become part of the scenery at most garage sales and buyers overlook them? Whatever it is...I ain't complaining! I've always made great money on every jogging stroller I've flipped. This past Saturday was no exception.

The stroller I found this time was the "Expedition" model by Baby Trend. I came across it at a very busy, multi-house garage sale. Arriving at the sale at the late hour of 9:30 AM, the stroller was sitting out in the driveway for anyone to see! I made note of the stroller to myself, then looked around some more. Passing on the various toys and household items tossed around on blankets, I doubled back for a second look at the stroller. Leaning down to take a look, I immediately noticed the stroller was in near-new condition. Given it's pristine shape, I figured it was a well meaning gift to a mom or dad who didn't like to go jogging. This was further evidenced by some cobwebs scattered in the spokes of the wheels.

The seller was a young dad who was hustling around his driveway. He seemed to be somewhat distracted, moving junk from here to there with no apparent plan. As he consolidated some toys. I asked what he wanted for the stroller? Still distracted with other things, he managed to focus long enough to quote me a price $20 dollars. Right then and there, I could have easily peeled off a twenty dollar bill and scored a great deal. But what fun would that have been? Squeezing the tires, I pointed out to Young Dad that all three were flat. This got his attention. Walking over, he explained that the tires were flat because the stroller had been stored unused in his garage for a long time. Grabbing a bicycle pump from his garage, he offered to pump up the tires. While he pumped away, I ran across the street to check out a neighbor's yard sale. By the time I returned, Young Dad had all three tires inflated. Conducting my squeeze test, I agreed that the tires now seemed nice and firm. Inflated or not, I still had to toss out a lower offer. After a few more tire squeezes, I asked Young Dad if he'd take $15 dollars for the stroller? Although I thought my low ball offer might irritate him,Young Dad actually agreed to the price without batting an eye. He even folded the stroller up for me, making it a lot easier to stow in my truck.

While I love to sell jogging strollers, they can be a real pain to store. Because of this, I am always looking to flip my strollers fast! I pulled my latest score out of the truck and lugged it directly to the back yard for it's photo shoot. Starting with it folded up, I covered all the angles from high to low. Since it was practically brand new, the stroller looked awesome from any angle! After taking lots of shots, I rolled the stroller to the side of the house to await it's new owner. Thirty minutes latest acquisition was up for sale on Craigslist. Check it out.....

Baby Trend Expedition Jogging Stroller... Like New - $75 

Gorgeous Baby Trend Expedition Jogging Stroller packed full of handy features. This stroller is like-new. Saw almost zero use by previous owner and it shows! The upholstery is in nice, clean condition, no spots, stains, rips or tears.

# Lightweight steel frame - Lightweight for storage and easy to push
# 5-point safety harness - Extra security and comfort for baby
# Retractable canopy for extra sun protection. Features clear plastic peek-a-boo window to check on baby
# 16" Quick release wheels - For a smooth ride and compact storage
# Bicycle style hand brake - Easy and smooth braking
# Recline seat - Additional comfort for baby
#Jogger tether/safety strap to attach to your wrist.
#Fixed front wheel.
# High top canopy - Increases internal head room.
# Under-seat storage basket - Additional storage space.
# Parent console/dashboard...great for beverages and other items.

Hurry before it's gone!

It might look like I put a lot of work and time in creating this listing. But in reality, it took all of five minutes to whip up! Having been in the jogging stroller re-sale business for some time, I have plenty of deleted CL listings to draw from. Once I access my CL account, I just edit a previous listing. Normally this consists of  changing the name of the stroller model and swapping out new pictures. I also make a point to state whether the stroller has a fixed or pivot front wheel. I've found that some nit-picky buyers prefer a pivoting front wheel over the fixed wheel. A pivot wheel is a little easier to jog with, but with an easy tip of the handlebar, a fixed wheel strollers turn just as easy. But no matter what wheel was on the front, I knew this stroller was going to sell fast!

Fast came the very next day. A young police officer e-mailed me to say he'd like to buy the stroller. I called him to back to give him my address. After our nice chat, I concluded he was a rookie who hadn't learned the art of negotiation yet. During our conversation, he volunteered he'd bring the exact dollar amount so that I wouldn't have to make any change. This told me he intended to pay full asking price for the stroller. Later that day, the young fella showed up on my doorstep. He gave me a few business like "Yes Sirs", then forked over $75 big ones for the stroller!

Before the weekend had ended, I flipped another jogging stroller. The $60 dollar profit I made proved once again that jogging strollers are an easy, big bucks sale!

Have you tried your luck with baby strollers? If so, tell us how you did in the comment section below....

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