Sunday, March 3, 2013

Turning trash into cash - a family tradition.

Everyone loves a good trash picking story, so here's another one for you! In this case, it was my brother who made some nice money while I served only as an assistant during the deal. Although I am glad I helped him out, I have a sneaky feeling he'll be bragging about this flip at future family gatherings....a role normally reserved for me! 

Like me, my brother is not above picking the trash for a sweet deal. I guess it runs in the family. We had an uncle who was famous for his hard-core thriftiness, as well as his skills for trash and flea market picking. More then once when bragging to my brother about some ridiculously cheap deal I scored, I'll exclaim victoriously that Uncle (so and so) would be proud of me!

In keeping with this thrifty genetic trait, a few years ago my brother was in his work truck when he spotted an older gentleman wheel a vintage Schwinn bike out to the trash. My Bro yelled over to the guy, asking if he was actually throwing the classic bike away? The old timer confirmed that he was. Naturally my Bro grabbed the bike, tossing it into the back of his truck. That trash grab occurred well over three years ago. Since then, the bike has sat in the corner of my brother's basement. This is where my Bro and I are different. I would have sold that bike within a few weeks, while my brother is quite happy stowing the thing away for a few years! At one point he was considering selling the bike at his own garage sale for only $20 bucks! This notion drove me insane! As we all know, yard sale pickers are like vultures when looking for a deal. I envisioned my ill-equipped brother buckling under the pressure of a professional yard sale shark and selling the bike for next to nothing! Since I knew it was worth much more, I pleaded with him to sell it on Craigslist instead. My impassioned arguments worked on him....sort of. In a compromise, my Bro stuck with his plan to sell the bike at his yard sale, but tagged the bike at a more appropriate $100 dollars. When it comes to yard sale sharks, you can imagine how that worked out. There were plenty of low-ball offers, but no sale. After the yard sale fiasco, the bike ended up back down in basement for the winter.  

Hanging out at his house recently, my Bro told me he wanted to try selling his salvaged bike again-this time on Craigslist. Since my brother's computer skills are comparable to a caveman, there's no chance the bike would ever make it to the internet without my help. I went to work, whipping out my cell phone and snapping a bunch of  pictures of the bike. The only thing I required my Bro to do was set up his own Craigslist account. Despite his lack of computer skills, I hoped he could at least navigate his way through that process. While I could have posted the bike on my own account, doing so would have forced me to serve as a e-mail middleman, forwarding messages back and forth between my brother and potential buyers. Don't get me wrong, I am all about helping out family, but that's one hassle I didn't want to deal with. Fortunately, I didn't have Bro figured out how to open a CL account of his own! He then gave me his account name and password and I went to town getting his old bike sold.

A sweet trash find!
With a little research, I learned my Bro's Schwinn was from the Fifties. You didn't have to be a bike expert to see it was a girl's model-the pink color and lack of a cross bar was a dead giveaway. The bike was missing it's front tire, but considering it's age, condition was not too bad. Overall, this bike was a classic 1950's cruiser that would sell quickly. Although I might have advised to go higher, my Bro wanted $100 for the bike. He looked at it this way-he found the bike in the trash so any money he made was "found" money!  

I posted Bro's bike on CL on a Monday. Or at least I thought I did. Curiously, three days went by with no e-mails from buyers inquiring about the bike. Wondering what the problem was, I asked my Bro if he had clicked on the confirmation e-mail Craigslist sends prior to posting a listing? There was dead silence on the other end of the phone line followed by, "Whoops...I guess that's why I haven't heard from any buyers, huh?" As the old saying can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink...or click on a confirmation e-mail!

After our conversation, Bro finally clicked on that e-mail from CL. Once he did that the flood gates opened! This past Saturday morning, I received an e-mail from him excitedly announcing he'd sold the bike. The amount? Exactly what he asked hundred dollars! Adding an extra cherry on top, the buyer spotted another bike rusting away in my brother's back yard. He agreed to buy that second bike for an additional ten bucks. All in all, my brother made $110 dollars...not bad for a trash pick!

All of which proves once again, whether it's my brother, uncle or me.....trash into cash is a family tradition!

Have you helped out any family or friends on a flip? Share the story below...... 

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  1. I have a little tikes Cozy Coupe that I trashed picked when my daughter was 3.5 and son was an infant- it will be going to the ki consignemnt sale I do twice a year this spring (i think) after 4 and half years of much love and play. I am sure I will make some money on it- usually they got for $25 at the sale (i get 80%) It will be a matter of I can part with it really- I know the kiddos have outgrown them literally- neither can fit in the cars comfortably. The other I paid a whopping $4 at the local thrift shop for.
    Of course, the pictures, the memories have made them priceless but I will have no problems spending the cash!
    And yes- it runs in the family- my mom will stop at plenty also- including a nice little tikes drawing table with a light that served my daughter well- again- could no longer fit in it and sold it at the same sale. I always drive a little slower on trash day!
    Thanks Dude!

    1. Holly-I am with you. I need a bumper sticker on my truck that says, "I slow down on trash day" Ha!

      Just a thought-you may want to use Craigslist to sell that Cozy Coupe and keep the entire profits, rather then 80%. Either way, you got me thinking that I am gonna have to keep an eye out for Cozy Coupe cars this garage sale season!

      Thanks for writing in....Dude!

  2. I've flipped enough stuff for family and friends, that I'm attempting to get out of the practice. I'm all for helping people, but typically, it can get to be a lot of work and unlike you, I was stupid and didn't "teach" them but rather just did it myself for them.

    As for picking the trash, I'm all for that. I've picked a sailboard from the trash and sold for $90. I found a Macy's gift card in the trash and found it had $25 on it. There have been other trash pick successes, but those are two of the most notable.

  3. Sean- A Macy's gift card? That's great! Sailboard ain't too shabby either for $90.

    You're right-posting for family/friends can be a lot of work. The other problem is selling something for a family member and using your own eBay account. I am reluctant to do that because what if the there's a problem with the item? Next thing you know you"re getting hammered with negative feedback...and it wasn't even your stuff!

    Thanks for sharing your trash picks....Dude!

  4. My neighbor and I trash pick together. She drives and I jump out and scoop up the goods. She and I have different tastes, so we never fight over anything.
    I've sold books that were trash finds. Two that were 25.00 each, Vans shoes, vintage Christmas ornaments, etc. Hubby brought home a leather couch and matching loveseat a man had just placed at the curb. He said his wife didn't like it. I did.

    1. Hey Nina -

      Awesome trash picks! The leather couch and loveseat sound killer. Isn't it amazing what people toss to the curb? People are unbelievable!

      Thanks for checking in with your great finds....Dude!