Sunday, December 29, 2013

After Christmas sales and deals

With Christmas over and the New Year just ahead, it's not exactly the greatest time of year to sell on eBay. After all, most people are way busy taking down decorations, driving to the mall to make after Christmas returns and planning their New Year's Eve parties. Shoppers are burned out! The last thing they want to do is spend any more time or money on eBay. As a result, items that were red hot just a few weeks ago, will barely get a look-see now. For example, you might have the greatest toy in the world to sell on eBay, but with Christmas over, how many people are interested in bidding on it? Pretty much nobody! So what's a seller to do? My answer is to list only stuff that appeals to a specific type of buyer. The type of person who will actually seek out and bid no matter what time of year it is. Who's this person? Hard-core collectors and hobbyist!

People who are really into their hobby generally don't lose interest just because it's the holiday season. If they're passionate about their hobby and know they can't take a "time-out" during the holidays. The hard-core collector also knows an item they want could pop up on eBay or Craigslist at any moment. So they stay ever vigilant, scouring Ebay and Craigslist for that special something, no matter what the season. Since there's not a whole lot of other buyer's trolling eBay right now, you have to give the collectors and hobbyist what they want!

After Christmas sale
Here's something I just sold yesterday that meets that criteria-a Ham radio antenna. The guy who bought the antenna was a very enthusiastic Ham radio hobbyist. For those not familiar with the hobby, Ham radio is like a CB radio. But instead of transmitting to people across town, a Ham radio can transmit across the country and even the world. Ham radio operators are very passionate about their hobby and will look for "gear" any time of the year! This particular antenna looked like something "Doc" invented in the movie, "Back to the Future", but it's actually used to transmit on a very specific frequency in Amateur radio. New antennas of this type can sell for more then $100 dollars. I bought this one for ten bucks at yard sale. I know, I know, pretty boring right? But believe me, Ham radio guys live for this stuff! In this case, the buyer drove 35 miles out of his way and paid me $40 dollars for this contraption! The guy was a real character! He then spent another twenty minutes using his very loud "outside" voice explaining to me what he intended to do with the antenna! See what I mean? Collectors and hobbyist don't care that's what time of year it is; Christmas, New Years, whatever....they're serious buyers all year around!

Another after Christmas deal
Another example is this NHL All-Star game hockey jersey. I recently snagged the jersey at Goodwill for six dollars. It was brand new with all tags attached. In keeping with my theory that hard core collectors want what they want-when they want it...a hockey nut bought the jersey on the day after Christmas. He gladly paid me my Buy-it-Now price of $35 dollars. I am not gonna  lie. I was actually a little annoyed the buyer was making me work the day after Christmas. I was really hoping to kick back in my jammies all day and recover from a long day of Christmas entertaining! Instead, I was forced to package the jersey and drive it down to the local post office! But what could I do? The guy was obviously a hockey nut and wanted the jersey now!

There's plenty of stuff that will sell during the lull of the post-holiday season. Some items I've done well with include, HO trains, HO slot cars, unique team jerseys, collectible vintage toys and tools as well as the above mentioned Ham and CB radios With the holiday season ending and a new year beginning, take a hard look at your inventory. Use your imagination and list those items you think people will be the most passionate about collecting.

What are some of the items you have no problem selling, no matter the time of year ? Give us your list in the comment section below.  

Wishing you a healthy, happy and profitable 2014....HAPPY  NEW YEAR....Dude!


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Saturday, December 21, 2013

O Christmas Tree !

With Christmas just a few days away, there's much holiday things to do around the house. But feeling neglectful after reading Lorraine's WeareClamco, as well as several other fine blogs, I decided to get off my duff and crank out a piece to wrap up the Christmas selling season. Although time is slipping away this weekend, I'll get to wrapping Mr's Dude's gifts just as soon as I finish this post! (Hopefully)

The famous "pie cover" edition
With most buyers also down to wrapping gifts, there's little selling activity for me on eBay. The few items I do have listed are effectively on auto-pilot using Buy-It-Now. The hot and heavy selling all took place a few weeks ago, generating some nice Christmas jingle for me! One slam dunk was this Classic Betty Crocker "Pie Cover" cookbook. This particular copy was a version sold exclusively by Sears. It features a special insert with several pages of Christmas party meals that would have made Alice from the Brady Bunch proud! It's funny to page through the cookbook and see some of the popular dishes from back in the day. One color photo displayed a full plate of boiled brussels gross! It's no wonder I never ate my vegetables as a kid! Gross veggies notwithstanding, I bought the Betty Crocker cookbook at the local thrift shop for eight dollars. While I thought the price was a tad high for a thrift shop, I knew I could still make some money out of the deal. My instincts proved correct, as the cookbook was quickly snapped up for the BIN price of $30 dollars! That was a quick profit of $22 bucks. 

But my absolute home run this season would have to be the ceramic Christmas tree seen below. I bought this piece last summer from a senior citizen who was in the process of moving to Florida. His little yard sale was a funny sight. He had carried a handful of items to the bottom of his driveway, probably thinking if he didn't sell the stuff, he'd just leave them out for the trash. Included in his treasures were a dated stereo system, a vacuum cleaner, an old bowling ball and fortunately for me, a 20 inch tall ceramic Christmas tree. 

The Christmas tree was the only thing grabbing my attention, so I decided to jump out of my truck to take a look. The old-timer was asking ten bucks for the tree. I nearly passed on it however, obsessing over the prospect of shipping such a large, fragile item in the mail. But after much agonizing, I decided to buy it, reasoning I could just sell it on Craigslist and avoid any shipping problems. Some haggling ensued, resulting in the future Florida resident agreeing to part with the tree for eight dollars. I packed the tree in the truck then talked with my new buddy about his pending move south. After a few minutes, our conversation was cut short when a neighbor came by to chat. This gave me an excuse to get on my way, so I wished the old-timer good luck on his move and drove off with the ceramic tree safely tucked behind my seat.
Oh Christmas tree!

When I arrived home I had the foresight to clean the dusty tree before bringing it inside. But due to all the little light bulbs and birds, dusting off the tree would be a challenge. My solution? I pulled out the garden hose and blasted the tree with with water! (I like to work smart, not hard.) This rinse and repeat process did the job and after drying the tree in the warm summer sun, I carefully placed the tree on my "Hold for Christmas" shelf.

Fast forward to earlier this month, when I decided it was time to sell the tree. Still dreading the idea of shipping the ceramic tree and risk it being damaged, I decided to try Craigslist first. After some research on eBay, I posted the tree for a reasonable fifty bucks. While it seemed that some ceramic trees sold for as much as a hundred dollars on eBay, I was at peace with making fifty if it meant avoiding a potential shipping disaster! But even at this fair price, there were no takers. Facing the dilemma of being stuck with the tree for another year, I decided to take my chances on shipping and listed the tree on eBay. This turned out to be a very fortuitous decision! 

I am not sure what eBay bidders saw in this tree? Maybe it was the fact that the tree had both colorful light bulbs, as well as little birds? Whatever it was, bidders went absolutely NUTSO for my eight dollar yard sale find! All week long, the bids kept climbing higher and higher, until it finally sold for... are you ready for this? .....Two hundred and fifty dollars! Crazy, right? This was the same tree I almost passed on, not to mention almost gave away for fifty bucks on Craigslist! Needless to say, I was full of Christmas cheer after that sale!

Once the buyer paid via PayPal, I gently wrapped the tree in excessive amounts of bubble wrap and peanuts. Sealing the box, I then placed it inside another box to insure additional protection. Even though the box was bulky, shipping only cost me $30 dollars-just $15 more then I charged in the listing! After mailing the box, I nervously tracked the package as it headed down to the Carolinas. To my relief, it arrived at it's new home safe and sound. (Whew!) The nice lady who bought my Christmas tree posted the following positive feedback:

                          Excellent condition yay! Thanks so much!

With all the eBay intricacies now complete, I knew the $250 dollars was now officially mine to keep! Merry Christmas to me! The sale taught me a new garage sale rule to follow. Whenever I find a ceramic Christmas tree for sale...just buy it!  

So that's a few highlights of the Christmas selling season. Hope you had some great ones too! What's been your best Christmas sale? Share them in the comment section below. 

Lastly, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas to you and your family. Here's hoping we all have a terrific and profitable 2014 to come!

                          Merry Christmas.......Dude!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

HO Trains and Holiday Sales...a little bad, but mostly good!

Holiday sales continue to chug along here at MoneyintheGarage. Using eBay and some Craigslist, I've been able to clear out nearly all my Christmas inventory. I am a one-man version of Amazon...shipping packages all over the country! I even broke down and began selling stuff I'd been saving for winter auctions like hockey and basketball jerseys. You have to strike when the iron's hot, so why wait?

The Post Office said it was delivered!
But even with the awesome number of sales, there's always a small downside. I've noticed that increased holiday sales always brings a corresponding increase in buyer complaints! It's just the way the numbers work. This past week, I've attempted to de-fuse three separate complaints. One buyer wrote me claiming she never received her item...even though USPS tracking showed it was delivered! This is an all too familiar story for seasoned sellers. Many know that despite having proof of USPS delivery, Ebay will still give buyers a refund when they claim non-receipt! Seriously, what's the point of tracking and proof of delivery if eBay chooses to ignore it?

In another test of my patience, a buyer balked at the condition of a HO scale model train building purchased in one of my auctions. The building in question was a small plastic farmhouse in the original box. Similar models have been selling on eBay in the neighborhood of $60 dollars. While my set wasn't perfect, I knew it would sell for decent money. Vintage HO railroad pieces are always popular with train hobbyist. I listed the model in "As-Is" condition. I also attached a bunch of close-up photographs. I believe in giving buyers the opportunity to really look the item over. This "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" approach helps to avoid complaints regarding an item's condition. The train model ended up selling for $44 dollars! A nice sale...until I received an e-mail from eBay's Resolution Center. This is Ebay's version of getting called down to the Principal's office! The buyer whined about the model's condition, complaining it had some drips of paint on it. He even went so far as to claim the paint drips made the model unusable! This despite the fact the small paint drips were clearly visible in the original auction photos! Gimme a break!

I tried to compromise with the buyer, offering him a $25 refund and reducing Mr. Picky's out-of-pocket costs to $19 dollars. But this magnanimous gesture on my part was rebuffed! It was obvious the guy knew eBay always takes the buyer's side in most disputes. Facing this no-win situation and possible negative feedback, I waved the white flag and gave the guy his full refund. I didn't even ask him to return the model back. Why bother? With the buyer insisting I pay the return shipping costs, it would have been just another expense in a losing proposition. So the guy kept the model and got his money back. I'd be willing to bet my model is sitting on his HO train platform right now...paint drips and all! But I am over it. Besides, it's Christmas time and for every deal gone wrong, I have a hundred happy Christmas sales that went right!

I had a great experience a few days ago when I sold a nice little HO train set on Craigslist. I purchased the train set at a yard sale last summer for ten dollars and waited until the holidays to sell it. I posted it for $75. A young dad e-mailed me, asking if I would go any lower on the
The little guy loved his HO Train set!
price? Heck, I am no Scrooge, so I agreed on $65 dollars. Before I knew it, Dad and his adorable four year old son were standing in my garage eager to pick up the trains! I am not sure who was more excited about buying the train set...the dad or his kid? Dad was definitely in the Christmas spirit, constantly referring to me as "Mr. Train Conductor" in front of his son. I played along and this delighted the little guy, who actually thought I worked on the railroad! After I explained how to assemble the set, Dad handed me $65 dollars. Some more small talk ensued, while the happy little kid looked over his new trains with wide-eye wonder. I then handed Dad the large box containing the HO train set. I gave his son the much easier job of carrying the roll of green platform paper. As they headed back to their car, Dad promised his little guy he would set up the trains that night. Watching this cute scene between father and son would have made even the Grinch bust out with Christmas spirit!

So around here, Christmas sales are going pretty great. How's your sales going?

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