Saturday, January 26, 2013

People are high on Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn !

Back in the waning days of the fall garage sale season, I scored one of my more awesome finds of the year. It was at a yard sale at a typical suburban house in your average suburban neighborhood. The guy running the garage sale however, was anything but the typical suburban dad. Wearing a tie-die shirt and a long pony tail, he looked like he just got off the road with the Grateful Dead! Smiling broadly, he greeted me with a super friendly hello and seemed unusually happy for the hour of the morning. It was almost as if he'd just left the "smokey" confines of a Dead concert. But then again, I don't want to judge-maybe he was just a happy-go-lucky guy!

After greeting him in return, I began to looked around. He had a strange dichotomy of household items for sale. The garage was filled with artsy decorative stuff and ugly wood furniture, combined with the common suburban clutter of kid's toys and clothes. But looking past the clutter, my eye caught site of something you just don't see everyday-a beautiful airplane pedal car! Measuring over four feet long with a nice wingspan and big propeller, it screamed high-end toy! The metal plane only needed a little cleaning up and a minor repair to the steering wheel. Although I couldn't place it at the moment, I vaguely recalled seeing the exact model in either the Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware store. Wherever it was purchased, I knew the thing cost big money!

Ready for takeoff!
The asking price was scribbled on a small sticker slapped on the wing...$50 dollars. Not a bad starting price, but betting on a hunch that "Grateful Dead Dad" was in a pretty good mood, I offered him half that amount for the plane. Surprisingly, he didn't even flinch and agreed to take my twenty five dollars. I was kind of shocked, given the fact the plane probably set him back at least a few hundred bucks! Not wasting any time, I handed over the cash and grabbed the plane before his buzz, I mean, happy mood wore off!

The beautiful little airplane looked magnificent in the back of my truck! Pointing backwards as if ready for takeoff, she reminded me of a World War II fighter plane ready to be launched from a ship's flight deck! The silver prop and steering wheel sparkled in the morning sun, attracting the attention of fellow yard salers. One older gentleman even approached me at my next stop and although I don't normally waste time kibitzing, I couldn't help but take time to proudly show off the plane. In fact, the little plane turned so many heads, I thought it best to drive home and offload her before continuing to more garage sales.

Not in any particular hurry to sell it, the plane sat in my garage for a few weeks. Finally, I did some detective work and uncovered the plane's origins. I discovered that Restoration Hardware sells this model, calling it the "Silver Pursuit." This made total sense because about five miles from where Grateful Dead Dad lived, once stood a Restoration Hardware store. Although the store is gone, Restoration Hardware still sells the exact plane on their website for, get this..... $500 dollars! Amazing isn't it? How could someone pay that much money for a cool, unique toy, then sell it for a little more then a twenty dollar bill? But I thank the garage sale gods for those folks...without them I couldn't do what I do!

Bottle cap? Nope, steering wheel cover!
Now that I knew it's value, it was time to prep the Silver Pursuit for Craigslist. Although it was in very good condition, there were some minor cleaning and repairs to do. The repair consisted of finding a nut to anchor the steering wheel to the center column, then covering it with some sort of plastic cap. Finding the nut was easy, the tricky part was searching for the right color cap to match the red seat. A trip to Mrs. Dude's kitchen solved that. I found a red bottle cap to match the seat and hot glued it over the nut...a perfect fit! With the repairs made, the Silver Pursuit could now take off on Craigslist!

I posted the plane on Craigslist in early December hoping to capitalize on the Christmas buying season. Beginning with a way-high price, I slowly dropped it after a few weeks with no interest. But about a week before Christmas I finally parted with my beautiful toy plane, selling it to a grandfather for $150 dollars! He bought the plane for his grandson-a better Christmas gift I could not imagine for the lucky grandson!

Everyone was happy with this deal...the seller, me, the grandfather and of course, the grandson. For me, not only was this a profitable flip, but it was just a blast preparing the "Silver Pursuit" for resale! As they say after every successful military flight....mission accomplished! 

Ever score a pedal car or similar kid's toy? How about Renovation Hardware or Pottery Barn stuff ? Share your story below.....

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  1. I sold my 10-year old Restoration Hardware couch and chair on craigslist. It went in one hour! (I did price it right, though.)

    1. Nice! It's a name brand people type into the search bar on CL. (I do it all the time.) Not surprised they were snapped up so fast.

      Thanks for writing in....Dude! : )

  2. Oh yeah!! Great find-n-flip, Dude!! Restoration Hardware & Pottery Barn - over priced "stuff!" I am always amazed at people's stupidity with money - honestly. I often wonder, "do these folks spending this money have a 6 mos. emergency fund in the bank?" or "are they set for retirement?" or "do they hold any credit card debt?" I would be willing to bet MANY of the folks who shop at these over-priced stores would say "NO" to most of those questions! But hey, I'm ok buying their "stuff" for a fraction of what they paid for it (and are probably still paying off on their credit card!) and flipping it for a profit! ;-) More power to us, right??!!

    1. Susie-I couldn't agree with you more! When it comes too personal finances some folks just don't "get it!" It's unbelievable how much money some people waste. For example, I have a friend who's a middle class guy, not rich by any means but he orders a pair of sneakers from Zappos every 3 months, (whether he needs them or not) pays a cleaning lady to come to the house every week and has season tickets for the local NHL hockey tea. He even complained to me that his wife ran up a huge credit card bill that he paid off by borrowing against his 401-k! (A retirement planning no-no.) I cringe when I think of all the money he's thrown away. And so many people are like him.

      Then there's the folks who blow money by buying high-end stuff and when it comes to getting rid of it, they won't even consider holding a garage sale. They think it's beneath them! They end up throwing away the stuff they paid way too much for in the first place. (Like that table and pedestal I blogged about last year.) Or they donate the stuff to GW. So they refuse to try to make a little money out of their stuff, even though they are in debt up to their eyeballs. Like I said, they don't get it!

      I guess they just can't help themselves, so yep, more power to us!

      Thanks for your great comments....Dude!

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