Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Great deals on The North Face

Around my neck of the woods, we've put away the snow shovels and gassed up the lawn mowers. Spring is here! After a slow start, the garage sales are finally starting to pick up, turning my Saturday mornings back into a spring marathon. With the cold weather now behind us, most folks would just assume forget about the brutal winter. But I'll say one positive thing about it. The winter sure was great for coat sales! This observation comes from a dude who doesn't sell many coats on eBay. But after I tell you about this flip, you'll wonder why I don't try to sell more? Check out the story....

Back in early March, I was perusing a local Goodwill and decided to take a quick looksie through the men's coat section. Not expecting to find much, I was flying through the coats when I came to a screeching halt. Hidden between a couple of ratty old raincoats that Columbo might have worn, was a beautiful North Face coat! Because the color was close to fire engine red, the coat would have been hard for me to miss. Pulling it from the rack, I looked it over and discovered it was a Youth Extra Large. In my mind, this was even better. As I discussed in a previous blog, kids love The North Face. If you need proof, just take a stroll through your local mall or movie theatre lobby during winter. You'll see The North face logo everywhere!

Needless to say, I was tickled pink that I'd found a North Face coat at the Goodwill store. To me, it's like finding an expensive diamond ring in the costume jewelry section of Sears. It's not something you're expecting! The coat was priced at five dollars. Think for a moment how crazy that is! Five dollars for a North Face parka coat? Really? I felt like I'd just hit the jackpot! But as I headed to the cashier to pay for it, I knew one thing for sure. Since it was now the beginning of March, the time to sell winter coats on eBay was quickly slipping away. I had to get this North Face parka up on eBay immediately!

The North Face sells!
Once home at the MoneyintheGarage studios, I got busy taking photos of my North Face coat. Among the many shots, I especially like to take a few close-ups of the The North Face logo on the front of the coat. When you get right down to it, the main reason people buy North Face is so they can proudly show off that famous logo on their chest. Very few people are actually scaling the "North Faceof a mountain in these coats. It's all about what's hot in fashion-not what's going to keep you warm as you reach the peak of Mount Everest. For now, it's definitely North Face. With that in mind, I enticed bidders with a close-up shot of the logo. During the photo session, I also came across an additional piece of good fortune with the coat. I discovered it had a fleece liner which could be removed and worn as a separate jacket. Whoo-hoo.....bonus points! I now had two coats in one. An important and very practical feature I bragged about in the auction description!

The North Face coat was posted less then 24 hours after I purchased it. While I would have preferred to post the coat in January, early March still brings with it plenty of cold weather. In fact, I may have over analyzed the timing of my auction because bidders didn't seem to care. My North Face coat sold for $85 dollars. No matter what time of year, that's some cold hard cash!

As great as that flip was, I am actually hoping to duplicate it. I recently found another North Face coat at Goodwill. But I am not taking any chances. The coat is going into storage until next winter. Hopefully, it will be something to blog about next year! How'd you do with cold weather sales? Sell any North Face or other coats you found in a thrift store? Share your flip in the comment section below....  

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Beyblades are a sure thing. (I hope)

One of my BeyBlade scores
Last week, I was contacted by Janet. She's a fellow thrift store picker who learned about the popularity of BeyBlades after reading about the toys on my blog. Using this knowledge, she then wisely scored a huge lot of Beyblades for only ten bucks at her local thrift store. After inventorying her mega score, Janet contacted me to ask how she should go about listing them on eBay?

If you're not familiar with them, Beyblades are basically spinning tops on steroids. They come with a launcher and ripcords which shoot the Beyblade into an arena where they do battle with a fellow Beyblades. I've blogged about Beyblades in the past, pointing out that they sell for big money on eBay. After congratulating Janet on her mega score, I advised her to check other auctions on Ebay in order to get some ideas on how to list them. I added that taking plenty of photographs was important, since it gives bidders the opportunity to look over the toys. Janet followed these steps, posting her Beyblade lot in a seven day auction with a confident starting bid of $49 dollars. She also provided me a link to the listing. This way, I could watch the bids roll in. The only problem was...there were no bids!

I have to say, I was more then a little surprised. Like a coach watching his player on the field, I nervously paced the eBay sidelines while Janet's auction sat dormant with no bids. As the days ticked by with still no bids, I wondered what was going on? Sure, I know buyers often like to watch an auction for a loooong time before bidding, but kid's toys are usually different. Kids have no patience-they bug their parents to get the bidding started! I began to wonder what the problem was? Did the bottom drop out of the BeyBlade market? Had the Beyblades craze end without anyone informing me? Whatever it was, the auction dragged on. Day five of the auction came and went with still no bids. Things were getting worrisome-the Dude's reputation was on the line here! It's sort of embarrassing when you tell folks that something is a big seller...then that something doesn't sell. Talk about getting egg on your face...I was ready to break out the washrag!

But despite the depressing lack of bids, Janet found a nice way to put a positive spin on the whole ordeal. About halfway through the auction, with no bids yet, here's what she wrote to me:

"Dude......Here is what I'm thinking. If I were to go to the movies, even on senior day, it would cost right around $7.  Add in my popcorn (that I MUST Have) and I am at more than $10 dollars. That's the same money I have into these tops! Heck, the entertainment just researching, listing and following has been worth much more than the $10 I have invested! I'm all good with them selling for just enough to cover my cost and postage ......I suspect I will have a nice profit. But if I don't, I figure that the entertainment value has me in the black before I receive single bid. I want to thank you again for all the things you have taught me!" - Janet  

I couldn't agree more with Janet's positive outlook. (Especially the part about eating popcorn in a movie-I MUST have movie popcorn too!) But fortunately, Janet didn't have to settle for just covering her costs. It took a while, but after a long wait, Janet watched three eBay bidders battle it out for her Beyblades. When the battle was over and the dust settled, Janet's Beyblades sold for an incredible $76 dollars!  After the auction ended, Janet contacted me again to say thanks. (Which was very nice of her.) She also told me something very interesting, pointing out that her auction had over 350 page views. An awesome auction for Janet and a testament to Beyblades continued popularity. Congrats to Janet on a great score and an outstanding profit of $66 dollars. That should pay for a lot of movie popcorn!

So until otherwise noted, let me just say it again...

                               When you see Beyblades...buy em!!!! 

Have you flipped any Beyblades, or similar toy? Share your story in the comment section below.    

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Is there a return policy at garage sales?

In my town, the start of the garage sale season began last week. Overall, I'd have to say it was a pretty good opening day. What started off as three sales, turned into more, as I came across a few bonus sales not listed on Craigslist. I did better then expected. In all, I bought four things, and oh yeah, I made one return. You read that right. I actually returned something to a seller only hours after I bought it. It's the first time I've ever made a garage sale return. Although I'll admit it's unusual to return something to seller, you'll see why I did it after I share the story.

It started out looking like a pretty good purchase. At one of the garage sales, a guy had two vintage
Vintage metal toy train
metal locomotives for sale. They were battery operated tin toys made in Japan and sold back in the Fifties and Sixties. I've had some decent luck flipping the old tin toys, including a Sixties era rocket ship I bought for a buck and sold for $90 smackaroos! With the memory of that great score in my head, I was definitely interested in the trains. The trains were identical, measuring a foot in length. Holding them up to the seller, I asked what he wanted for them? He took a long drag on his cigarette, then puffed out, "Gimme $50 for both." I then asked a very important follow-up question. Did they work? He assured me they did, laying out a long-winded story about how he owned the trains since he was a kid and adding he took excellent care of them. He even got into an elaborate description, promising me that the trains blew smoke when they operated. (I'd later find out who really was blowing smoke.) As I continued to look the trains over, I began the dance, asking if he'd take $40 for the pair? He countered with $45 adding, "That's a bargain, they go for a lot more then that!"

First of the season finds!
This was my first serious garage sale negotiation of the season. Typically when the yard sale season begins, I have to be extra cautious. I have a tendency to be a little more "loose" with my money and more willing to take risks on stuff. The excitement of those first few Saturdays can cause me to blow through cash like a drunken sailor on weekend leave! In the case of those toy trains, I would have been more cautious had it been later in the season. But chalk it up to cabin fever, because even though I knew buying old battery operated toys can be risky, I shelled out the $45 dollars anyway! After paying, the seller wrapped up the two trains in bubble wrap and I headed home.You can see them in the photo on the left, peeking out of the bubble wrap. (I'll save the Apple Computer score for another day.)

Once home, the moment of truth had arrived. I unwrapped the trains and retrieved some batteries to test both out. Gently slipping in the batteries, I closed the compartment door and flicked on the switch. Guess what happened next? Dead silence-I got nothing! No light, no wheels moving and definitely no smoke that the seller had bragged about! Although things were starting to look bleak, I still had one more train that could salvage the deal. I went through the same drill and turned on the switch. Once again-nothing! I stared at the trains in frustration. For the sum of $45 bucks, I was now the proud owner of two hunks of worthless tin!

As I said earlier, I've never asked a seller for my money back. After all, it's not like I bought the trains at Sears or Walmart. Everyone knows that garage sale purchases can be risky. But this garage sale purchase was different. The guy not only assured me they were working, but he went into this big elaborate story about the smoke puffing out the stack! Worst of all, his bragging that the $45 dollar price tag was, as he said, "a bargain" was now burning my biscuits! I decided I wasn't going to be stuck with this almost $50 dollar "bargain." The trains were going back.

Arriving back at the garage sale, I found the seller lounging comfortably in a soccer chair. I decided my plan of attack would be to start off friendly, raising the attitude only if he gave me some resistance. Fortunately, the guy was cooperative. He tried to feign some mild bewilderment over the fact that the trains didn't work. He even tried to get me to bite on the idea of a half price refund, suggesting I keep the trains. I didn't take the bait though. Even at twelve dollars a piece, the broken trains were no deal, much less a bargain. After returning my hard earned cash, I suggested to the guy that he look into having them repaired. He agreed, but I am sure he won't pursue that angle. My guess is he just put the trains back out on his table to sell. Hopefully, he told any potential buyers that they weren't working.

It was an interesting start to the garage sale season. But despite the train deal that almost went bad, I still scored some other awesome finds that hopefully will be blog-worthy in the near future. How's it going so far for you? Have you ever returned something you bought at a yard sale? Share your "deals gone bad" in the comment section below.

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