Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A baby stroller trend

Over the weekend, I finally completed my trifecta in that awesome trash pick carried out last month. If you remember the story, I liberated three perfectly good household items thrown out by my neighbor. They included a beautiful wood high chair, a nice table lamp and a fancy Maxi-Cosi stroller. My neighbor has a history of tossing high-end things to the curb, even though they're in perfectly good condition. Pretty crazy, right? But I am here to save these items from the landfills...and to make a couple bucks too!

Last month's salvage mission began when Sonny Boy grabbed the stuff for me as he walked the dog. When he came home, I knew he had found some nice stuff. The table lamp now sits on a table in our family room. I sold the high chair in no time at all, making an easy $40 dollars. The stroller took a bit longer, but I knew it would eventually sell. To paraphrase a famous Bon Jovi song...I've seen a million strollers...and I've rocked them all! Instep jogging strollers...Baby Trend double strollers, or a Graco-it doesn't matter. There's always a buyer looking for a nice baby stroller. I wrote about flipping baby strollers in my blog last year. With a string of profitable flips behind me, I posted my latest trash-picked stroller on Craigslist. Here's how it looked:

  Maxi-Cosi Perle Stroller - $50

Maxi-Cosi Perle Stroller in very good condition. Nice and clean from a smoke free home. Sells for $150 or more in many stores. Below is the catalogue description:

The Maxi-Cosi Perle Stroller provides deluxe light weight and comfortable transportation for children with style and European quality. A full featured umbrella stroller that accepts the Maxi-Cosi Mico infant car seat. From 6 months + up to 40 lbs.
Aluminum frame and compact fold.
Multi-position reclining seat with canopy and window and adjustable footrest
5 point padded harness
Weathershield and reflective trim

Despite my confidence, it wasn't easy at first. My Maxi-Cosi stroller lingered on CL for over a month. But if you live anywhere between Canada and the Southern states, you can probably figure out why..... SNOW!  Even though it was a pretty good deal, who wants to buy a stroller in the middle of a brutal winter? So the stroller sat...and sat...and sat. Until something very important happened around these parts. The sun came out!

Not coincidentally, it was our first beautiful weekend of 2014! The snow had all melted, and temperatures were a spring-like 60 degrees! Heck, I even spotted a few robins around my backyard feeder! Just like the returning robins, I received an e-mail from a buyer asking if I'd accept $40 dollars for the stroller? Since I paid absolutely nothing for the stroller in the first place, I wasn't about to turn down her offer!

The young mom showed up about an hour later. Thinking it would be a bit awkward for my neighbor to see me selling their trash-picked stroller, I tried to conduct a quick, quiet, transaction inside my garage. This did not happen. Mom threw me a curve ball, asking that I give her a demonstration on how to open the complicated stroller. Since I had no idea myself, it was bluff time! My usual tactic is to happily agree, while pointing out that my wife is really the expert on this stuff. This serves as my "cover" when I can't figure out how to open a stroller. As I dreaded, this was exactly what happened with the complicated Maxi-Cosi stroller!

Along with the high price tag of this stroller, comes a complicated unfolding scissor legs construction! The whole system was baffling me! As the young mom quietly watched in amusement, my wrestling match with the stroller ensued. I began searching for any clips that would unlock the legs and allow them to unfold. This approach calls for tugging on anything that looks like a handle. After a couple minutes of tugging and pulling, I must have finally hit the right clips. The legs unfolded! The stroller then opened up into all it's glory. With the mom now satisfied, it was time to fold the stroller back up. This meant an all new struggle...only in reverse!

While it sounds easy, I always have the worst luck trying to coax a stroller back into it's folded position. After some huffing and puffing, I was only able to get the Maxi-Cosi stroller partial closed. Hoping she'd take some pity on me, I asked the young mom if it was folded enough to fit in her car? At this point, the stroller sort of looked like the letter K, half opened and half closed. Looking at this mess, the young mom was way too polite to call me an idiot. Instead, she just sort of smiled at me. Taking her reaction as a definite NO, I began wrestling with the stroller again. I was just minutes away from calling in Mrs. Dude for back-up, when the dumb stroller finally closed it up! (Whew!) At that, the mom handed me two crisp twenty dollar bills. As she drove away, I reminded myself to practice opening and closing my next stroller...before the sale!

The wrestling match with the stroller not withstanding, I made out pretty good in my three-for-one trash pick. It took about a month, but I was able to transform curbside trash into eighty dollars. (And a nice table lamp.) You can't beat that deal!

How's your winter flips going? Has the cold weather affected your sales ? Share your story in the comment section......

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Monday, February 17, 2014

My ISS model was a blockbuster...just like the movie Gravity !

On Saturday, Sonny Boy and I were enjoying one of those lazy, lay-around-the-house winter mornings. Plopped in my favorite reading chair with the morning paper, I happened to look up as my kid channel surfed past a commercial for the movie, "Gravity" starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. While I've haven't seen the movie, Sonny Boy has, and he began to explain the movie's premise to me. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you it sounds like a pretty awesome flick. In addition to the plot, Sonny Boy went on to tell me the special effects are, excuse the pun, "out of this world!" You're probably wondering why I am carrying on about some George Clooney movie?  Not to worry, I never stray too far from the subject so near and dear to our hearts!

The International Space Station (ISS) is featured prominently in Gravity. In the flick, (spoiler alert) the ISS meets it's demise. In reality, the real ISS is still circling some 220 miles above our heads. Short of hopping on a Russian rocket however, you and I will never see the actual ISS. But last fall, not only did I see the ISS...I bought it! Ummm, okay, it was a model, but it was still the closest I'll ever get to the real one!

As seen in the movie, Gravity
I found my ISS at one of my favorite church sales. Each year, the church invites it's members to set up a table in their parking lot for a big community yard sale. Around 40 sellers usually participate, resulting in a nice variety of stuff for sale. Since the church is just minutes away from my house, I always make it my first stop on the big day. I spotted the ISS model seen here at one of the tables. The Revell model was a nice, big 1:144 scale of the original. The box was so big, in fact, that the seller didn't have a place for it on her table. Instead, she leaned the box against a table leg. As I stooped down to take a look, the seller began explaining to me that the model was a gift for her son. Like so many other models I've found at yard sales, she told me her kid never got around to tackling the huge model. The lady must have been pretty desperate to get rid of the big box. She priced the model at an unbelievable three dollars!

Even at that great price, flipping models is not always a sure bet. For example, I've never had much luck selling car models. It seems to me that most are fairly common and finding that rare collectible car is very hard to do. I've done much better with military planes, ships and spacecraft. All models can also face another problem if they've been opened or are half-assembled. Buyers can sometimes be leery of open boxes and worry about possible missing pieces. Your best bet is finding a model that's still factory sealed, or at least the parts are still in their sealed plastic bags. In the case of my ISS, the box had been opened, but all the parts were still factory sealed...a major score! Although I couldn't remember the last time I flipped a space model, I knew that for only three bucks, it was hard to go wrong with this model. I didn't even bother to look the ISS model up on my phone prior to buying it. Instead, I just forked over three George Washingtons to the nice lady. Since the box was so big, I immediately carried it back to my truck before doing some more shopping.

After arriving home, I was more then a little bit curious about the value of my Revell ISS model. Searching eBay, I learned the model was no longer made...always a major plus! Scanning completed listings further, I found identical models were selling for big cash dollars. Armed with this info, I decided the ISS was going up on eBay immediately! I was so confident the thing would sell, I didn't even mess around with an auction, setting a Buy-It-Now price of $95 dollars! I even charged $20 for shipping cost. My eBay research proved correct...the listing only lasted for a few days. An eager buyer snapped it up, paying me my "Gravity" defying BIN price. Overall, I made a profit of $92 big ones....out of this world! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

When I finally do get around to watching Gravity, I am going to have a whole different perspective when I see the International Space Station. It's going to be hard to keep from bragging to Sonny Boy, "See that space station? I made a lot of money on that thing!"

Have you sold any cool models? If so, how'd you do? Share your story below.......

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Slot cars and their boxes

There's nothing like finding a good garage sale score that can be split it into multiple sales. When done right, it can be the flip that keeps on giving! Last fall, I came up with a nice little find that did just that. A twenty dollar purchase turned into...well, check it out.

It happened on a rare Friday morning yard sale. The folks hosting the sale were having a two day event, selling both on Friday and Saturday You know what that usually means...all the good stuff sells Friday, leaving only the scraps for Saturday buyers. So to make sure I got my fair share of the goodies, I showed up on Friday morning. The weatherman was calling for rain, so the seller had everything neatly displayed inside the garage. Garage sales that are actually being held inside the garage, can
Turn that thing on!
sometimes be a problem. They're often filled with too much stuff and shoppers, packed in too little of a space. The other problem I've found with "inside the garage" sales, is there's not enough light to see anything! Have you ever noticed that? Typically, a garage only has a few light bulb sockets, or a crummy fluorescent shop lamp hanging from the ceiling. Invariably, the shop lamp has just one working bulb, while the other bulb buzzes, but never fully lights up! This makes it so dark inside that you need a miner's helmet to see your way around...it's crazy!

Fortunately, this particular sale was not as bad as all that. I could see my way around and spotted an old cardboard box for Aurora HO slot cars. Because it looked old, the box caught my eye. It originally contained a complete Aurora HO racing track set from the Sixties era. There were some neat graphics on the outside, but the actually Aurora racing set was long gone. The box was now used to store some other slot car related items. Inside the old box, I found a smaller box containing a bunch of old plastic buildings. Underneath that was an another wallet-size box. It contained a tiny electric lamp post for a platform layout. The seller was asking twenty five dollars for both boxes.

I've had some great scores with slot car related stuff in the past, so I was definitely interested. There's a huge demand for anything slot car related, mostly from baby boomers who played with the Aurora racing sets when they were young. If you find anything related to vintage slot cars, whether it's buildings, track or the cars.....buy them! Following my own advice, I negotiated with the seller, buying both boxes for a twenty dollar bill. The empty box was not part of the deal. Instead, the seller used it as a shopping bag, stuffing the two smaller two boxes back inside so I could carry them down to my truck. Feeling pretty good about my Friday purchase, I tossed the box in the back of my truck and headed home.

HO slot car  buildings
Slot car related stuff is guaranteed money, so I wanted to post my finds on eBay as soon as possible. I started with the four models. They depicted buildings you'd find around a race track, including a snack bar, gas station, racing stands and a first aid station. The picture of a race scene on the box lid was pretty cool too. After taking a few pictures showing the buildings and box lid, I posted the set on eBay. The auction quickly returned back my twenty buck investment...and then some. It sold for $53 dollars! I was off to a good start!

Slot car street light
With the buildings sold, it was time to move on to the little street light. My little lamp post auction ran during the holidays, assuring more interest since it could be used on a Christmas train or race slot car platform. Sure enough, the tiny lamp sold for a solid ten dollar bill. Adding that sale to my tally board, I now made $63 bucks on my Friday garage sale score. Not a bad score overall, right? But wait, I still had one more item.

Nothing to see here...just an empty box
Remember that empty cardboard box? The one the seller gave me for free? Yep....sold that too! As mentioned earlier, the box had great graphics and dated back to the 1960's. There are plenty of collectors who want an original box for their Aurora HO track sets. Who am I to deny them an empty box? I posted the box on eBay and it sold for...are you ready for this? Fifty one dollars! That's a lot of money for an empty box!

Subtracting my original $20 dollar investment, I made $94 big ones between the three auctions. It goes without saying that I love Friday yard sales! Not to mention slot cars, plastic buildings and most importantly, vintage boxes. Keep an eye out for all that stuff at the yard sales. They're money in the bank...or in this case...the box!

How's your sales going? Have you made any money selling an empty box? Share the story below....

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A vintage mechanical toy...just like the American Pickers find!

Dude's note: Between multiple snowstorms and some various bugs being shared this winter, this Dude's been unable to tackle a post. In the meantime, here's a great score from a few years back...enjoy and stay warm!

Tin Mechanical Bear 

A few blogs ago, I talked about finding a yard sale filled with toys from my childhood era. The sale produced a huge list of scores that I slowly sold off during the Fall months. One of the last items that I sold from this big score was a mechanical tin toy. It was a momma bear spanking her baby bear! This was a find that would have made the American Picker's proud! When I spotted it sitting on the seller's table, I thought it was just a plush doll in it's original box. Not being a doll expert, I bought it only because was still in the box. The price was ridiculous...only one dollar! How could I not buy it, right? After making the purchase, I threw the box on a shelf and basically forgot about  momma and baby bear. My plan was to post the toy during the slow winter months. It was one of my many of "I'll get around to it" items. A few weeks ago, I finally got around to pulling the toy off the shelf in preparation for it's debut on eBay. I took a good hard look at it and was pleasantly surprised! This wasn't a doll...it was a popular Japanese mechanical tin toy! After doing some research, I found it was made by the Linemar toy company.  Furthermore, it was considered to be one of their more highly sought after toys due to it's politically incorrectness....spanking a child! The toy jogged my memory too. I am almost positive it was once featured on Antiques Roadshow--a mark of approval if ever there was one! To top it off, the toy has been listed on some antique toy websites for upwards of $500!

While examining the toy  however, I found a major problem. Although it's condition was near-new, it didn't work. I figured out why. Looking inside the battery compartment, I noted the inner compartment wall was detached, making it impossible for the batteries to make contact. 
To say this was going to hurt it's value would be a major understatement! I began considering my options, including paying to have it professionally repaired. I decided on just selling the toy "as-is" with a complete description of it's non-working condition. After posting Momma Bear and baby bear on eBay for a ten day auction, I crossed my fingers!

Judging from the auction results, it seemed like collectors still wanted the toy as a great looking display piece.  At it's close, the bear had over twenty people "watching." While I didn't see $500, Momma and Baby bear sold for $91 dollars! A pretty good return on a one dollar investment! I wish every yard sale had a "Spanking Bear" waiting to be discovered! 

Have you ever come across an old mechanical toy?  If so, share the story in the comment section below.....

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