Saturday, February 23, 2013

People of Walmart should shop on Craigslist

Have you ever listed an item on Craigslist or eBay and received a snarky e-mail complaining you're asking too much? I get them occasionally. Most of the time I let the comment ride with a generic response. But sometimes my gut reaction is to respond back with a smart alecky response. On one occasion I wrote back to the complainant asking, "Really? So I guess you won't be buying it then?" Another time I responded to a snooty lady claiming to be an "expert" and accusing me of way overpricing an item. She was way off-base so I sarcastically wrote back, thanking her for taking time out of her obviously very busy life to personally share her "expertise" with me. In another classic episode, a guy ridiculed my listed price of $50 for a race car set, claiming I'd be lucky to get $20 for it. Later, when the set sold for phenomenal $103 dollars, I sought my revenge with an e-mail to him that simply read, "103". This set the guy off further with a string of cursing and f-bombs directed at me and the "idiot" buyer who bought the set. His over-the-top response only made me enjoy the victory more!

I can't say I still don't have an occasional knee-jerk reaction to snap back at snarky e-mails. But with age comes wisdom and a more mellow attitude. Nowadays, when a eBay complainer writes me, I try to look at it as a help and not harsh criticism. It's sort of like market research with consumers voicing their opinions on various products. When someone writes me to offer their opinion on an item, it's really consumer feedback. How's that for turning lemons into lemonade? Let's face it, none of us are experts on everything we try to sell on eBay. So when a bidder writes me complaining a price is too high, I really try to keep an open mind. Who knows, they may actually be right!

An example of this occurred a few weeks ago. I was selling a big ice cooler made to look like a fishing bobber. It opens up just like any ice cooler and can hold a lunch, soda, beer, ect. The bobber even floats too...pretty cool! I paid $3 dollars for it at a garage sale and thought it was a unique find. Turns out, it ain't that unique-most sporting good stores sell them. But I listed the cooler on Craigslist anyway, asking $30 dollars.  But shortly after listing the bobber, a Wiesenheimer sent me an e-mail complaining they could buy it new at Wally World for the same price.  They attached this link as proof....

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Big-Bobber-Floating-Cooler/7757565

Reading this, I began to slowly stew as I conjured up the appropriate wise-guy retort to this WalMart price check. It was bad enough big retailers like Sears and Target have to compete against Walmart, now I had to go up against the Goliath too?

After some further pondering I realized that while the guy's e-mail was annoying, he was actually trying to tell me something useful. The bobber could be purchased new for the same price I posted on CL. Thanks to this guy's accurate point I revised the CL listing, lowering the price of the bobber five bucks and adding a link of my own. Check it out:
 

THE BIG BOBBER FLOATING FISHING COOLER - $25






 
SPRING WILL BE HERE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT! BE READY WITH THE "BIG BOBBER" FLOATING COOLER.
THIS COOLER IS IN VERY GOOD CONDITION, VERY LIGHT-WEIGHT . HOLDS A DOZEN CANS OF YOUR FAVORITE BEVERAGE WITH ICE AND MEASURES 14" X 14" X 16". LID IS HINGED AND OPENS UP LIKE A GRILL. 
Check out what Dick's Sporting Goods are selling them for... http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3948436
 

Anyone reading my newly revised CL ad could clearly see that at only $25, my bobber was an amazing bargain! I even mimicked my critic by providing a convenient link. But the link  was not to the Walmart bobber.  Oh no, no, no! My link brought  the buyer to a pricey $40 dollar Dick's Sporting Goods bobber! Obviously, I couldn't take credit for the idea...my critic thought of it first! The revisions worked great. It wasn't long after inserting the link to Dick's Sporting Goods, that a fisherman eagerly paid me $25 for the bobber.   

So if it wasn't for that guy's annoying (but useful) e-mail, my bobber might still be floating on Craigslist. Not to mention the nice $25 dollars extra in my pocket! From now on when I receive those sniping e-mail critiques, I am going to look at them as someone just trying to help me. Well.....most of the time anyway.

How about you? Do you hate it when folks write in complaining about your price? Do you blast them or just take a deep, cleansing breath and go with the flow? Share your story in the comment section below....






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Sunday, February 17, 2013

LL Bean outlet store

Around my part of the country the weather can't decide if it wants to stay winter, or move on to spring. I am not hater when it comes to winter. It's not a bad time of year as long as we're not dealing with constant snowstorms and sub-freezing temperatures. Lately though it seems the weather's been giving us an early taste of spring. So before the winter season slips away, I thought it important to sing the praises of one of my most reliable winter items to sell...LL Bean shirts.

When most people think of LL Bean, they think of cold weather gear like coats, flannels, boots and those funny looking tennis racquets people wear for boots when mushing through the snow. The company has made their oats selling top quality fall and winter merchandise through their catalog and more recently, their stores. Not far from where I live there's a big LL Bean store that I've occasionally browsed. Walking around inside, you'll hear nature "Muzak" sounds piped in like a babbling brook and birds chirping in the trees. It's all designed to subconsciously plant in the shopper's mind the overwhelming desire to go on a hiking or camping trip-all activities requiring expensive LL Bean gear! But your Dude is not so easily manipulated, and although it's fun to look around, I never buy anything in that store. Why should I? Like any good thrift store shopper, I can find the same LL Bean clothes at Goodwill for a lot less!

It's true-nearly all the Goodwill stores I've frequented have brand new LL Bean clothes for sale. It seems like much of LL Bean's discontinued stock is donated to the Goodwill chain. (Much like Target stores do.) I feel confident in "guesstimating" that every single men's shirt rack in GW has at least one LL Bean shirt. Usually they're hiding somewhere between the more commonly found, "World's Best Pop-Pop" and "Viva Las Vegas" T-shirts. When combing through the racks, I've often mumbled to myself that I could open up an LL Bean outlet store using just Goodwill finds! Although I don't think I'd make much money, I do know that Goodwill could easily provide my outlet store with a steady stream of  inventory.

But just because all these shirts have the LL Bean tag on the collar, doesn't necessarily mean they'll sell on eBay. In fact, many shirts I've experimented with have either been ignored by buyers, or only sold for the starting price of ten bucks. After much trial and error I've concluded that despite the abundance of LL Bean shirts at Goodwill, I only fork out money for two very specific styles. Let me share these unscientific findings with you.

I'll start with what I'll call the runner-up for best LL Bean shirt in a Goodwill store: the canvas "sunwashed" shirt.  Sunwashed is LL Bean's way of saying, stonewashed or as us peasants might say... faded. But call it what you will, the sunwashed canvas shirt is a popular style. LL Bean describes the sunwashed canvas shirt as follows:

 

My runner up: Sunwashed
"Our popular Sunwashed canvas shirt is made of softer cloth for a relaxed,  broken-in feel right from the start, the cotton fabric is washed to weather the rich colors and to add softness without losing the rugged durable character of canvas."

Sounds nice, right? Buyers think so too. If you spot one of these shirts at the right price they're worth grabbing. During the right time of year, you shouldn't have a problem re-selling them on eBay in a range of twenty dollars or more.

But the sunwashed shirt is a sales-slacker when compared to my number one shirt of choice...the LL Bean's flannel-lined "Hurricane" shirt!  These shirts are hugely popular. A classic farm & country look, they're super comfortable and durable....the Holy Grail of winter shirts for guys who work or play outdoors.  Here's LL Bean's description for the king of winter-wear shirts:


This Hurricane is a good thing!
"The heavy-duty 6 oz. cotton fabric is also wind resistant and breathable. These qualities – coupled with exceptional warmth – make this shirt a great choice for backyard chores or cool-weather walks. Prewashed to a well-worn softness, it looks and feels like you've owned it for years. Hidden beneath the rugged exterior is a warm layer of 4.2 oz. cotton flannel. Sturdy triple-needle stitching. Button-flap pockets. Shirttail hem.

Makes you want to run out and buy one, don't it? When I find one of these shirts in the Goodwill racks, my knees begin to buckle! They are a stone-cold guaranteed eBay sale...and usually for a nice chunk of change. I often pay $5.00 dollars for a Hurricane shirt and flip them for $35 or more! Selling price depends on the usual factors-time of year you are listing the shirt, the condition, size and color. While these shirts have a lot going for them, it's the flannel lining that makes them super popular. When the weather's cold, who doesn't want to wear a nice, warm flannel lined shirt?

So those are my favorite LL Bean shirts to sell. When you're at the thrift stores, make sure you keep an eye out for them. Whether it's sunwashed or a hurricane....you'll have no problem selling flipping these shirts on eBay!

If you have any awesome LL Bean or winter themed flips, give it a shout-out in the comment section below....  









      
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

A vintage baseball card scores big!

Did you hear the one about the guy who turned a $100 yard sale find into $92,000? Nope, sad to say it wasn't me. (But my day will come!)  Check out this news story reporting an unbelievable yard sale find....

1865 baseball card found at yard sale sells for $92K in Maine auction
BIDDEFORD, Maine — A rare 148-year-old baseball card discovered at a rural Maine yard sale has been auctioned for $92,000.
The card depicting the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club was sold by Saco River Auction Co. in Biddeford Wednesday night and it drew plenty of interest.

Bidding started at $10,000 and quickly rose to the final $92,000, which included an 18-percent premium.
Winning bidder Jason LeBlanc of Newburyport, Mass., said he bought the card as an investment for his young son in the hope of selling it for a higher price when his son gets older. If the price had gone up one more time, he said he would have dropped out of the bidding.
A $92,000 yard sale find!
A Maine man who doesn’t want to be publicly identified found the card inside an old photo album he bought while antique picking in the small town of Baileyville on the Canadian border. The man bought the photo album, old Coca-Cola bottles and a couple of oak chairs together in a single purchase for less than $100, said Troy Thibodeau, manager and auctioneer at Saco River Auction.
The card isn’t the same as a modern-day baseball card, which became common in the 1880s. Rather, it’s an original photograph from 1865 mounted on a card, showing nine players and a manager.
The Library of Congress said last month it was aware of only two copies of the photo. The other is in the institution’s collection.
In its book “Baseball Americana,” the Library of Congress calls the item the first dated baseball card, handed out to supporters and opposing teams in a gesture of bravado from the brash Brooklynites, who were dominant and won their league championships in 1861, 1864 and 1865.
It was impossible to predict what kind of price the card would fetch because of its rarity, Thibodeau said, but he guessed before the auction that the winning bid would fall somewhere between $50,000 and $500,000. The priciest baseball card ever is a 1909 Honus Wagner card, which sold for $2.8 million in 2007.
Tom Bartsch, editor of Sports Collectors Digest, said $92,000 is a good price for a pre-war card without a Hall of Famer’s picture.
“There are very few artifacts around from the 1860s,” he said. “Baseball was near its infancy in that time.”
Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Heritage Auctions, said there’s also only a small pool of buyers for such an esoteric item.
Both said the story of the card’s discovery remarkable is a reminder to collectors of all kinds that a rare find can easily be missed among otherwise unremarkable items.
“It’s what keeps those treasure hunters out there going,” Ivy said.

Wow! After paying the auction house their commission, the owner probably cleared somewhere around $75k.  An incredible profit on a $100 investment! 

If that story doesn't make you go through every old book you ever bought at a yard sale, I don't know what will? While you may not have the next big auction house find, it's always worth a look. Not long ago, I was watching an episode of Storage Wars and noticed Brandy thumbing through every single book found in a storage locker. On another episode, Darrell found a bunch of cash stashed behind a picture frame. Books, picture frames.....you just never know where people hide their cash and valuables!

I've never stumbled across a hidden find like that, but you can be sure I'll keep looking! Since I don't have a good "hidden treasure" story, how about you?  Ever find something good stashed inside one of your yard sale finds? 








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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Discount Baby Gates

In my last blog, I talked about flipping an expensive pedal car for a $125 dollar profit. The story generated some great comments about people wasting their money. In particular, one reader (Susie) made some excellent points including the following:

"Great find-n-flip!  I am always amazed at people's stupidity with money - honestly. I often wonder, "do these folks spending this money have a 6 months emergency fund in the bank?" or "are they set for retirement?" or "do they hold any credit card debt?" I would be willing to bet MANY of the folks who shop at these over-priced stores would say "NO" to most of those questions! But hey, I'm OK buying their "stuff" for a fraction of what they paid for it (and are probably still paying off on their credit card!) and flipping it for a profit! ;-) More power to us, right??!!"

I couldn't agree with Susie more! When it comes to how some people spend their money, I just don't know what they're thinking? Are they too lazy to re-sell their stuff at an appropriate price? Have they convinced themselves they're "rich" and money is no problem? Or is it something in between? In the case of that airplane pedal car, the original owner sold me a $500 toy for just $25! It makes you wonder-with so much potential profit to be made, why didn't he just sell the plane on Craigslist for a lot more money ? But as Susie and I both agree, we ain't complaining...we just can't believe it!

Brand new and in the box...cha-ching!
Which brings me to  Exhibit "B" on the same topic. During a mad dash through a local neighborhood garage sale, I walked up a driveway and spotted this baby gate in the box. The young mom tagged the gate at $3 dollars. I didn't know the condition of the gate, but at such a crazy-low price, I didn't even even bother looking closely at it. Instead, I opened the lid just to confirm the gate was inside. Peering in the dark box, I could just make out the top of a gate. That was good enough for me! I handed over three dollars to the mom and tossed the box into the back of my truck. Normally I wouldn't recommend this "quick-peek" technique to readers. Obviously, you should always pull stuff out of the box to inspect it before laying out cash. But in this case, the quick-peek worked out just fine.

Arriving home on this particular fall morning, I decided to "process" some of my garage sale finds right out in the driveway. Unloading the baby gate from the back of the truck, I braced myself in anticipation of finding some kiddy damage or dirt on the gate. But when I pulled the gate from the box, I was met with a pleasant surprise. The gate was brand new, still wrapped in it's original plastic wrapper! I couldn't believe that young mom just sold me a brand new gate for a measly three dollars! Seriously...who does that? Not only was it new, but it was a high-end model. It had clear plastic glass, rather then the usual ugly fencing normally seen on baby gates. This gate was so nice, Mrs. Dude could have immediately gifted it as a baby shower gift! But with no baby showers on the horizon, I photographed the gate instead for a quick re-sale.

While eBay was certainly a selling option for the gate, I went with CL to avoid high postage costs and the usual draconian eBay selling fees. With the digital photos cropped and chopped, I listed the gate on Craigslist and waited for my money! A brand new baby item doesn't last long on Craigslist. Such was the case with my gate-it sold the very next day. A budget-minded mom paid me $40 dollars for the gate, a savings of at least $30 bucks over retail. So she saved some money, and I made a quick $37 big ones! Needless to say, we were both happy!

All of which brings us back to Susie's original point about people wasting their money. What the heck are these folks thinking?  Fortunately for us, they'll always be out there giving their stuff away at a garage sale. I ain't complaining...just happily scratching my head over it!

Do you have a "what are people thinking?" story to tell?  I'll bet you do... share your caper below:




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