Saturday, January 25, 2014

KidKraft Furniture at deep discounts

Around this part of the country, we're still a long way off from garage sale season. At best, I am looking at a few sporadic sales beginning in mid-March. The real action won't kick in until April. So anyway you look at it, the season for me is still a good eight weeks away. Fortunately, I have plenty of thrift store and yard sale finds keeping me in business. Occasionally, I even acquire some fresh inventory from a place very close to home...the neighbor's trash! These finds are a head shaking example of how some folks just throw away perfectly good stuff. To me, it's like throwing away money!

I have a  nice young couple with two adorable kids living on my street. From my "nosey neighbor" observations, their kids are constantly showered with expensive gifts from their well-to-do grandmother. I see the grandma most weekends, when she pulls up in her fancy BMW sedan bearing gifts for the grandkids. It's clear that she buys so much stuff for the kids that the young couple can't keep up with it all. To deal with the constant gift influx and clutter, they resort to throwing out grandma's previous gifts! For the life of me, I don't know why these folks don't just sell the stuff on Craigslist or have a yard sale? I suppose it's part of an affluent mentality, whereby they either can't be bothered, or they just don't appreciate the value of a buck. I shouldn't complain though. Due to their wastefulness, I've picked up some pretty nice things out of their trash!

About a month ago, the young couple were house cleaning again. The results of this clean-up were tossed curbside, awaiting the next trash collection. Trying to be inconspicuous, I slowly drove by to see if there was anything I could  re-sell. There at the curb sat a cornucopia of potential inventory including; a wooden high chair, a fancy stroller, a table lamp and a baby jumper. I made a mental note of the items, then went on-line to determine what had the best re-sale value. I passed on the baby jumper, knowing similar models seem to pile up at the local thrift stores. Being a guy, I completely ignored the table lamp. I decided on the stroller and the high chair, figuring I could make me a few bucks between them. I wanted my son to be part of the recovery mission plan, but with kids you have be careful. You never know how they'll react to participating in a trash run! I tried to be as casual as possible with my guy. My instructions to him were as follows,

"Hey buddy, go take the dog for a walk. Oh, and by the way...grab that high chair and stroller while you're out there too."

To my surprise, the kid didn't give me any resistance. Sometimes I think he actually enjoys our occasional trash picking misadventures. Once he got back with the neighbor's trash (and our dog),  I reviewed what we had...and it was good!

The wood high chair was a little dusty, but otherwise it was in perfect condition. I discovered it was made by "KidKraft", a company that specializes in quality wood furniture for kids. I couldn't find the exact model on the KidKraft website, but I estimated the chair sold new for around a hundred dollars. Learning this, I couldn't believe my neighbors would just throw such a nice piece of furniture out to the curb! I cleaned it up and photographed it in the backyard. This is how my trash picked treasure looked on Craigslist :

     Classic Children's High Chair Wood KidKraft Pottery Barn - $40

   Beautiful classic children's high chair in all white. Hard to find all-wood piece made by Kid    Kraft. Very clean. Similar models found in Pottery Barn or elsewhere retail for $100. Nice price here! : )

Although a great piece, I wondered if there would be much interest in a wooden high chair? After all, unlike KidKraft, most chairs are made of plastic, making them durable and easy to clean. No concern was necessary on my part. After just a few days, the trash picked high-chair sold for $40 bucks! The buyer sent her husband to meet me in the parking lot of Lowe's Home Improvement store to pick up the KidKraft chair. The guy was my favorite type of Craigslist buyer-no fuss/no muss! Telling me he was in a hurry to catch a football game on TV, he slapped two twenties in my hand, grabbed the chair and hauled out of the parking lot! Just that quick, I turned trash into cash!

The stroller is another story. It's a  high-end Maxi-Cosi stroller that retails in stores like BabiesRus and Amazon for around $150! If this were warm weather season, the stroller would have been sold by now. But understandably, very few moms are looking to take their baby for a stroll in sub-freezing temperatures. With nothing but snow and freezing temps for weeks to come, I've received little interest from buyers. But once spring arrives, I think I'll have no problem selling the Maxi-Cosi stroller for at least fifty bucks! Once again, not too shabby for curbside "trash".

From trash to table!
Since the trash pickins was so good at my neighbors, you may be thinking, "Dude-why'd you pass on that table lamp?" Not to worry, Mrs. Dude could not resist it. Using the same technique as sonny boy, she took the dog out for a walk and grabbed the lamp. (That dog sure comes in handy!) The lamp is now sitting on a table in our family room. I am not an expert on lighting, but I am guessing the thing sells for $30 bucks in the stores? An awesome trash score for sure!

So all-in-all, I found over $100 dollars of good stuff sitting out in the trash! Based on this experience and my previous trash treasures adventures, I am pretty confident I could turn trash picking into a lucrative side business! But with thrift shops, this blog and eBay, my plate is pretty full...for now at least!

Have you ever salvaged anything from the trash? Share your best trash-pickin story in the comment section below.....

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Problem Craigslist buyers

I've written a lot of blog pieces over the last few years. Of the numerous ramblings I've penned, one of the most popular pieces is, "The trouble with some Craigslist buyers." The topic was about my occasional experiences with rude, obnoxious or just plain annoying Craigslist buyers. The story seemed to really hit home with a lot of folks, resulting in one of the most read pieces on my blog. Recently, I received a reader comment from Kai. She read my earlier blog piece and wrote in to pass along a story of her own. Her comments were timely. I just experienced an encounter with a CL buyer who really pushed my buttons! I'll share that story in a minute. Below is Kai's story. I think we all can identify with it...

"I know your story is from a while back, but I just had to comment. A friend asked me and my boyfriend to help her sell a ton of golf clubs and golf shoes. (She use to own a store.) We agreed  to help and hauled all her golf stuff over to our house. To make it easier, we decided to store all the equipment store in our backyard shed. We then posted everything on Craigslist. A few days later, a guy said he was interested in looking at the equipment. We had hundreds of clubs and tons of shoes in the guy's size, so instead of meeting him someplace, we decided to have him just come to our house. Since it was all in my shed anyway, I thought it would be no issue, right? 

When the buyer showed up, my boyfriend began pulling the golf equipment out of the shed. Even though we laid out all the clubs on the table, the moment my boyfriend turned his back, the guy sneaks right into our shed! Luckily I was upstairs watching with my friend. (We had gone inside after the guy made obnoxious comments about how women aren't useful at all!)

Once I saw him go into our shed, I came back outside to keep an eye on him. (I acted like I was just bringing water out to my boyfriend.) I looked at the guy with my best, "Not to be rude but....get the H@#L out of our shed!" Just to make sure he got my message, I then told him, "There's nothing in there Sir.... it's all out here." He slinked back out and I immediately locked the shed behind him! The guy ended up trying to low ball us on some of the equipment. We sold him a few things, but after that experience it didn't matter how much I had to load in my car! I decided I'll always meet buyers at the local Starbucks or some other public place. (It took a long time to sell all the golf stuff. In fact, just to get the stuff off our hands, we ended up selling the shoes to a guy for way too cheap. Our friend told us to just keep any money we made.)

Also...on the meeting in public thing? I can't stand when people want to meet at Walmart or other crowded places. Why there?  I usually tell them to meet me at a fast food joint near the Walmart. At least there are not near as crazy and crowded as a Walmart! lol!"

Thanks for sharing the story Kai! Sounds familiar right? I have to admit, I've been known to peer into a shed on occasion. But I would never just waltz in without at least asking permission first. You wouldn't just walk into a person's house, right? The same same applies to a shed....the guy should have at least asked permission!

Which brings me to my recent obnoxious Craigslist encounter. After posting a Tonka truck for sale on CL, I received an e-mail from a buyer who asked to meet at a "mutual agreeable" location. My normal routine is to ask the buyer what direction they're coming from? Once they tell me, I give them an easy to find location for our meet-up. In this guy's case, I chose a local Dunkin Donuts on the state highway. I've used the location for numerous other CL meet-ups with no problems. Buyer always spot the bright orange colors of a Dunkin Donuts building. But just to make sure, I even e-mailed the guy the actual street address in case he wanted to do GPS or Google maps. (You know, like normal people would think to do?) I even described the large super market located directly across the street from the Dunkin Donuts as an additional landmark. Lot's of helpful information, right? Ummm, maybe not helpful enough for this buyer.

We agreed to meet at 11:00 AM on Sunday morning. Since I live only five minutes away from Dunkin, I told my Tonka buyer to call me once he got there. Finally at about 11:30, I received the call that every CL seller hates....the buyer was lost! This was now turning into a whole lot of work for a ten dollar Tonka sale!

I've been in this "Marco Polo" situation in the past with CL buyers. They're befuddled, confused and have no idea where they are! When I get this call for help I turn into On-Star, asking the driver to look out their car window and describe what's around them...a store...a gas station? Once they name a familiar landmark, I can usually get them back on track. For those truly lost sheep, I'll instruct them to pull over to the nearest parking lot and I will drive to them. While it's more time consuming for me, it's easier then repeating driving instructions over and over again!

After questioning my Tonka buyer, I learned he drove right past the Dunkin Donuts and was now four miles further up the highway! Since he managed to recall seeing the Ford car dealership (adjacent to the Dunkin Donuts), I told him to drive there and I would meet him. I arrived five minutes
A Dunkin Donuts can be VERY hard to spot!
later and handed the guy his Tonka Truck.

Now at this point, most CL buyers will thank me or comment how much they like the item. But not this guy. He had the nerve to begin complaining about my choice for our meet-up, whining that the Dunkin Donuts was a terrible place because he couldn't see it from the highway. (Yet all my other buyers always managed to find it.) He went on to take shots at my supermarket landmark, complaining he was unable to spot that as well! At first, I couldn't believe the guy was serious. Struggling to remain civil, I reminded the guy that I'd sent him the actual street address for Dunkin Donuts. He blew this off, mumbling that he didn't have GPS. The guy continued to gripe, but at that point I'd pretty much heard enough. Grabbing the ten bucks from his hand, I barked, "You know what? I gave you the street number and location...try LOOKING a little harder next time!" I then jumped in my car and drove off before it got any uglier!

It's people like my Tonka buyer and Kai's golf guy that can really frustrate you when selling on Craigslist. But I always remind myself that for every occasional dopey buyer, I have a hundred more Craigslist buyers who are terrific! If you read my blog regularly, you know my most interesting, fun stories come from my meet-ups with Craigslist buyers! Most are pretty neat folks who are a pleasure to do business with...even if it is for just a few minutes!

So never let the occasional CL turkey get ya down. There are waaay more nice people on Craigslist then there are the lost, rude and disagreeable types!

How's your Craiglist buyers been? Give us your good, bad or the ugly stories!

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Junk yards & salvage car parts

With the holidays over and winter settling in, it's a great time to literally "clean house" and make money at the same time. With that in mind, I'd like to post an occasional "MoneyintheGarage" special edition called, "Stuff from my house that I sold." Unlike thrift store or yard sale items, I am talking about personally owned clutter found in a closet, cabinet or the garage. I touched on this subject in an earlier blog, pointing out that finding good stuff to sell is just a matter of looking around the house. A great place to start is your "catch-all" cabinet. Most folks know what I mean by the "catch-all" cabinet. Inside is stuff you squirreled away, even though it clearly outlived it's usefulness. Why? Because like me, you don't know what else to do with it? Faced with this dilemma, you toss it in the "catch-all" cabinet. (Or a kitchen drawer...or hallway closet, ect.) Over time, you end up collecting a lot of interesting junk in this cabinet that can be sold on eBay. Here's one of my "catch-all" cabinet examples...

Like totally Sony...I am sure!
In a cabinet in our laundry room, I recently found this relic from the early 1990s...a Sony Walkman AM/FM headphone set. Prior to the advent of the Apple IPhone and its' ear buds, people actually walked around with these ridiculous things on their head. Don't get me wrong. Over the years I've worn my share of dorky fashions, including powder blue "Miami Vice" polo shirts and "Magnum PI" style short-shorts! (Hey, don't laugh...they were IN back then!)  But I can assure you of one thing. Even at the height of their popularity, this Dude never walked (or "jogged" as they use to say) wearing a goofy headset! I am not even sure where these "totally gnarly" headphones came from? I am guessing maybe my kids used them or they were a gift. Wherever they came from, no one in my family has be-bopped to Madonna or Duran-Duran wearing these Sony headphones in a long, long time!

Hoping the headset could be something I could sell on eBay, I untangled them from a bunch of cable wires and other forgotten junk stored in the cabinet. After liberating the headset from the tangled mess, I did some quick research on eBay. Guess what I discovered? There are buyers still paying good money for dorky headphones! With the possibility of some easy money coming my way, I photographed my Sony headphones and posted them on an eBay auction. How'd I do? After running a seven day auction, the old headphones sold get this....fifty smackaroos!!! It's amazing when you think about it. Junk long forgotten in the back of a cabinet...turned into a fifty dollar bill! Another reason I love selling on eBay!

Salvaged spare tire
Here's another example. You might remember a few months ago when my Sonny Boy crashed his Honda into a telephone pole. Thanks to his safety belt and air bag, "Speed Racer" was fine. Unfortunately, the car was totalled. Knowing the car was destined for the junk yard, I went about trying to salvage anything I could before a wrecker showed up to tow it away. Mrs. Dude thought I was nuts for going through a wrecked car that had just been wrapped around a pole. But why let the junkyard have the stuff? Working quickly, I was able to salvage the spare tire. I also grabbed the car mats which were in very good condition. Thanks to my rescue mission, the salvaged car mats are now in Sonny Boy's 2003 Honda. As for the spare tire, I recently sold it on Craigslist for a twenty dollar bill. While twenty bucks may not be a huge payday, every dollar counts when you're replacing a car! (Interestingly, the guy who bought the "donut" intended to use it as a spare tire on his Mini-Cooper.)

That's just a couple of examples of my home-grown inventory. You probably have plenty of inventory laying around your home too. Whether it's in the "catch-all" cabinet or a salvaged spare tire... stuff to sell is all around you!

Have you sold anything salvaged from your house? Share the story in the comment section below....
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