Saturday, March 9, 2013

Flipping houses, planes, scarves and Apple iPad boxes...all on a Saturday morning!

Good news! Early signs of the garage sale season are starting to bloom. Last week, Mrs. Dude and I drove to a nearby street to attend the first yard sale of the season. It was a "whole house" sale, whereby you could walk through the entire home...and we did! Some items were neatly displayed on tables and countertops. Other stuff was simply dumped on bedroom floors as if the owners had moved out in the middle of the night and left all their belongings behind. Judging from the poor and neglected condition of the home, I had a feeling the place would soon be under bank ownership. The house was less then ten years old and looked very nice back when it was first built. But it was in such bad shape now that on our drive home, Mrs. Dude and I had a coffee-fueled debate on the merits of buying and flipping the house. (Not that we would-it was all speculative talk.) I insisted that with about $5000 in repairs, the house could be flipped for a nice profit. Mrs. Dude argued the opposite, declaring the place to be a complete dump! She tweaked a little further, commenting that like a typical guy, I overlooked all the holes in the walls, broken windows and deplorable kitchen and bathrooms. With our coffee buzzes wearing off, we finally agreed to disagree. (But I dunno, the place looked okay to me. And besides, I watch a lot of those house flipping shows...all of which makes me a real estate expert. Okay, well....maybe not.)

A good takeoff to the garage sale season!
Fortunately for the sake of our marriage we have no intention of flipping a house. Instead, we concentrate on things we can agree on, like garage sale picking! I found a few decent items at the "flippable" house, including a radio controlled airplane and it's related parts for $50 bucks. The seller was originally asking $100, but I talked him down from that high number. Since buying the plane and gear, I've posted some of the stuff on eBay. Currently the bids are hovering around the $60 dollar mark, so I should see some profits soon. I've always found that radio controlled planes, motors and related tools can make you some nice money. About two years ago, I blogged about a model airplane and parts that netted me a few hundred bucks on an original investment of $75 dollars. In my experience they're always worth buying when the price is right.

See it at a it at a garage sale.
Mrs. Dude scored a couple nice things too, like this  Philadelphia Phillies baseball scarf. With baseball season starting soon, it was a timely score. Ironically, a week earlier my sister-in-law was wearing the same scarf at a family party. Mrs. Dude complimented her on the scarf and learned it was a Mother's Day giveaway at the Phillies ballpark last year. Lo and behold, Mrs. Dude finds the same scarf sitting in a pile of clothes at the house sale! She paid a whole dollar for the scarf! (I looked them up on eBay-they're selling for as much as $30.) After washing the scarf through the gentle cycle, it's now part of Mrs. Dude's extensive wardrobe ensemble. Funny how those things work out sometimes. You take note of something nice...then find it a yard sale shortly thereafter! You gotta love the garage sale Ying and Yang of it all!

Mrs. Dude also found an empty Apple iPad box. You're probably asking, "Who cares about an empty iPad box?" Believe it or not, a lot of people actually do, including folks who own used computer stores and Apple fan boys and girls. Like most hotly sought after items, used Apple iPads and iPhones always sell for more money when they come in the original box. If you don't have a box-you can always buy one on eBay! To her credit, Mrs. Dude's retrieved the iPad box from a pile of junk in an upstairs bedroom. The seller charged us a quarter for it. Empty Apple boxes typically sell for ten bucks or more on eBay! Crazy, right? However, It's been pointed out by some readers that selling brand name boxes may be a violation of eBay policies. The policy doesn't appear to be strictly enforced. Checking recent listings, 22 empty iPad boxes were sold on eBay, some selling for as much as twenty dollars! If you want to sell a box, read eBay's policy and decide for yourself.  

So our trip to the dumpy house seemed like a good start to the 2013 garage sale season. Speaking of Mrs. Dude's finds, you may remember my blog piece about the lucky guy who found a vintage baseball photo inside a book purchased at a garage sale. His rare find ended up selling for $92,000 at an auction! After marveling over the story, I commented that I've never discovered a "find" hidden inside another item. But I later remembered that Mrs. Dude actually did! A few years ago, she bought an old purse at our local Saint Vincent's thrift store. She paid $5.00 for it. Once she got the purse home, Mrs. Dude began to search through the pockets. Inside one pocket she discovered something that's a huge collectible where I live....a 1977 beach tag from Ocean City NJ.

Buried treasure found inside a purse
Now in most parts of the country an old beach tag isn't worth a hill of beans. But around these parts, a vintage beach tag from Ocean City New Jersey is a highly sought after item rooted in our local "down the shore" culture. The story begins in 1976 when, for the first time ever, the shore town of Ocean City New Jersey required vacationers to buy "tags" for the privilege of sitting on the beach. Prior to that time, sitting on the beach was free. Long time-vacationers grudgingly bought the seasonal tags which, while a nuisance, only cost a few dollars. When the summer season came to an end, most people just threw the tags away. At the time, few folks thought these little tags would one day actually sell for big cash dollars.  Fast forward to today and collectors go absolutely crazy for these old tags! Most collectors buy the tags in order to assemble complete sets spanning from 1976 to today. How much does a complete set sell for today? Amazingly, $500 dollars and climbing! Now that's an expensive trip to the beach!

So given their collectible value, you can imagine how giddy Mrs. Dude was on finding a 1977 beach tag hidden inside her five dollar purse. It was like finding a stash of twenty dollar bills inside! After making this awesome discovery, it wasn't long before we posted the old beach tag on eBay. Like a Nor'easter off the Jersey shore, the bids came in fast and furious. By the close of the auction, the little 1977 beach tag sold for $64 dollars! Pretty good for something found wedged in the pocket of an old purse. As a current price update, that same tag today would sell in the neighborhood of $85 dollars on eBay. (We got to keep checking those old purses at Saint Vincent!)

Believe it or not, I do have a "Part II" to the beach tag collectibles story. It's quite a doozy and also involves Mrs. Dude. I'll share that story later. But in the mean time, how about you? Do you have a local collectible that sells like gangbusters in your area, but would get ignored elsewhere? Tell us about it in the comment section below....  


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  1. I could have sworn I remember reading that selling the empty boxes from brand name items was prohibited. I never understood how that applied because cigar boxes are sold on ebay. Very confusing.
    Hey, thanks for the tip on the beach tag! I'll be looking for those now.

    1. Lorraine-I am not up on that box policy, but there are tons of empty Apple boxes listed for sale on eBay.

      You're welcome for the tip. I'd love to hear if you come across any up there. Enjoy the Spring weather....Dude!

  2. Dude it is against Ebay policy to sell empty boxes. One member of Ebay mommy got her listing pulled for trying to sell an empty iphone box. here is the policy

    Just because there are tons of empty Apple boxes listed, doesn't mean it's ok. It just means they haven't gotten caught

    1. Yes, I do see it, thanks. I'll put out my official disclaimer: if seller's feel they maybe violating eBay's empty box policy, then don't do it. ; )

  3. I tried to sell an empty ipod box on ebay and got a call from them within a few hours of my listing it that they were going to pull the listing. Ah, well!

    1. You actually received telephone call from eBay? You should feel honored-it's hard to get them on the phone! : )

  4. I don't have a local treasure story, but I too hit a house sale this weekend. First, I scored. A 1979 Matchbox Airport set (unfortunately incomplete but still cool). They were a little high on that price, but it was carrying the other couple items that the seller seemed to notice less. One was an 80s GI Joe Sky Striker (jet fighter place) and a 1983 Superbowl program. Guess they thought the latter was just a magazine. The Matchbox set alone was $15, but combined with the other two, I got them all for $25, which was a great deal.

    That brings me to my second item. Had it not been for the fact that they were clueless on what the Jet or Superbowl program were, I probably wouldn't have bought anything. This was a "professional sale," where the home owner hired someone to run things. Is it just me or are most of the prices at these way too inflated? I won't not check things out, but it is rare that I find anything that's affordable and frankly, not overpriced at these.

    Meanwhile, I anxiously await the outdoor garage sales to return to my area. Still too cold here.

  5. Sean- Finding some vintage toys is a pretty great start to the season. Nice deals all the way around! I once lucked into about a dozen of vintage matchbox cars. They were still in their original boxes and I paid $3 per car. I made some great money selling those things!

    I am not real big on those professional sales either. The prices are always higher then what you'd normally pay. One was held this past Saturday and I didn't even bother going.

    I think the garage sale season is going to get an early start this year due to the warmer weather-hope so anyways. Thanks for writing in....Dude!