Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ertl farm toys for less

Everyone knows that being an "early bird' at a garage sale or thrift store can mean scooping up a great item. But you can't always be the first one on the scene at every garage sale or thrift store. In fact, it's impossible! But whether it's a yard sale or a thrift shop, you don't always have to be there first to score a great deal. On a few occasions, you might be able to make some dough on an item that's overlooked or ignored by other buyers. It's happened to me. Not long ago, I made some great money on an item that had been passed over for weeks by thrift store shoppers.

This particular treasure was found at one of my favorite local thrift shops. I've scored some of incredible finds at this shop, including the previously touted $40 dollar embroidery machine that I flipped for a mind blowing three hundred dollars. Through some strange, magical thrift store karma, this small shop is often the source of my very best finds! I may start referring to the place as "The little shop that could." In this particular case, I spotted a big box containing an Ertl Farm House set. Ertl specializes in rural and farm related toys, including diecast farm equipment and farm scene sets. The set I found included a barn, windmills, farm house, barn animals and other odds and ends. 

For the record, I've never listed an Ertl toy on eBay that didn't sell! If you find Ertl stuff at a reasonable price, you'd be wise to buy it. Notice however, I said reasonable price? The main problem with this farm set is that it wasn't reasonably priced. The shop was asking  a whopping forty dollars for the set! The problem is really with Dana, who's the manager of the shop. She has a tendency to research many donated items on eBay before pricing them for sale. More then once, Dana has run into her back office to check eBay after I asked her the price of an item. While I understand she doesn't want to just give stuff away, using eBay as a price comparison can sometimes be a little off-base. Basically there are thrift store prices...then there are eBay prices. Thrift shops are local...eBay is international! Do you expect to pay the same price for an item at a flea market as you do in the mall? Not hardly! Such was the case with the Ertl farm set. Dana probably found a similar set listed on eBay for $40 big ones and priced her set accordingly. So thanks to Dana's eBay comparison shopping, I had to take a pass on the overpriced Ertl set.

Despite the high price, I figured that someone would quickly snap up the set for their kid or grandkid. But I was wrong. After a few days passed, I stopped by the shop and to my surprise the set was still there! It was clear the high price tag was scaring off buyers. Then another week went by with no sale...then another! After several weeks of being ignored by shoppers, Dana finally dropped the price of the set to twenty dollars. But still no sale! Finally I decided to make a move. After walking by the set for over three weeks, I went to Dana with an offer she couldn't refuse. Knowing that thrift shops have to make room for new donations coming in everyday, I appealed to Dana's business sense. I pointed out the set had been in the shop for a long time. I then generously offered ten dollars for the set, adding this would free up some much needed space on her shelves. Apparently this hit home with Dana...she took my ten dollar bill and I took the set home!

You can't lose with Ertl toys!
When I arrived home, I asked my son to re-assemble the set on his Ikea desk. If you have teenagers you might be able to guess how that turned out! He got about half way through the job then quickly lost interest. Old Dad had to finish the job, fixing those pieces he haphazardly slapped together and adding more parts to each building he conveniently ignored.! But on a positive note, Sonny Boy's big Ikea desk was perfect for spreading out all the buildings and farm figures. Once assembled, I took some photos and posted the set on eBay. The auction proved once again that you can never go wrong selling Ertl. The farm set that went unloved and ignored in the thrift shop, sold for an impressive $44 dollars on eBay! I am still amazed by that. Literally hundreds of people walked by that set for weeks at the thrift store and yet no one bought it. I took it home and flipped it for over forty dollars. I guess the magic continues at my favorite thrift shop!     

Have you flipped any "unloved" items and made money on the deal? We wanna hear about it! Tell us your story in the comment section....   


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  1. Dude,
    Thanks so much for this timely post. Just went to a GW today and saw an Ertl set. Never heard of the brand before but remembered just reading about it on your blog. Which is good, because I wasn't getting Internet connection to check eBay. I picked up the Barn & Silo set for $2.99. I haven't checked the pieces yet but it should be a nice profit.

  2. Amanda- Nice score! I looked up prices, it varies with some selling for as low as $10 while others are going for $30. Good luck with it and thanks for writing in....Dude!