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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