Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A box of highs and lows

Talk about a roller coaster ride! Recently, I found a box of toy cars at a garage sale that generated some great eBay flips for me. But a few other toys from this same box ended up biting me in the backside. Let me share the ups and down of the story.

A few months back, I walked up to a garage sale in one of the local suburban neighborhoods. There were lots of toys and household stuff all lined up along the edge of the driveway. Towards the top of the driveway, I spotted a big box filled with small die cast cars. This grabbed my attention since I am always on the lookout for original Hot Wheels cars from the Sixties. The early Hot Wheels are called "Redlines" and are sought after by baby boomers. It's no kid games when it comes to these Hot Wheels. Many can sell for huge bucks! (The Redlines refer to the red sidewall on the car's tires.) Seeing some older looking cars in the box, I asked the seller if he had any old Hot Wheels? His response hit me like a ton of bricks! Apparently there had been a few old Hot Wheels in the box, but a buyer had grabbed them an hour earlier. Despite hearing this bad news, I kept a calm demeanor and began searching through the box anyway.

Lucky for me, my diligence paid off. The previous guy had missed a few! They weren't in the greatest condition, but I know from experience collectors will still pay decent bucks for almost any Redline. I asked the seller how much he wanted for the cars? He gave me a slightly annoyed look and pointed to the word scrawled on the side of the box which read "Free." Since I am not totally mercenary, I told the guy I'd give him five bucks and take the entire box. With nothing left to negotiate, the guy took my fiver and I tossed the box in the back of my truck.

Redline Hot Wheels - banged up, but still worth $$$!
Redline Hot Wheels can be a sweet eBay flip. While it's rare that I find Redlines, when I do, it's always guaranteed money. Searching through the box back at MoneyintheGarage headquarters, I discovered a total of 14 vintage Hot Wheels. Since some cars are worth more then others, I carefully researched each car on eBay and came up with a game plan to sell them. Because of it's value, I decided to sell a Volkswagen  bus all by itself. The resulting auction earned me $26 dollars. I was off to a good start! Next, I auctioned off two VW bugs. These earned me an additional $21 dollars. Finally, I auctioned off all the remaining, slightly shabby, Hot Wheels in one lot. These guys netted me $28 dollars. Collectively, I made $75 bucks between all the auctions. Pretty good, right? I was on an emotional high! But little did I know, my next sale would soon bring me crashing down to earth!

Looking at the remaining car and trucks, I decided there were no big moneymakers left in the box. The toys all looked like common type stuff, including Matchbox cars, some larger plastic cars and a ton of smaller plastic cars. Content that I'd already made all my big money, I decided to sell the rest in one big lot on Craigslist. I posted a few pictures and listed everything for a twenty dollar bill.

Big bucks hiding in plain site!
With over a hundred cheapie cars for sale, I figured it would take some time before I unloaded this box of junk. But after only a day, a buyer reached out to me. In retrospect, maybe this should have been a sign that something was up. The guy told me he wanted to buy all the cars for his kid. But when we met in the parking lot of my favorite Dunkin Donuts, he changed his story, claiming he was really only interested in two trucks in particular. Pulling the two larger trucks from the box, he asked me if I would just sell them? Since I'd already listed the whole lot for $20, I offered the trucks to him for five bucks. Thanking me profusely, he quickly handed over five bucks. He continued to jabber on and nervously reached into his pocket and handed me another five dollar bill. Being the Honest Abe, I told him he'd already paid me. I then braced myself for some possible bad news and asked why the trucks were so special? He sheepishly admitted that the trucks were "collectible" and pointed to the lettering across the top of the windshield which read, "Stomper". I began to get a sinking feeling.

See the Silver & Camo trucks? Yeah, big bucks!
As he thanked me again for selling him the trucks, I put on a brave face. He then jumped back in his car with the Stomper trucks. I, of course, immediately jumped into my truck and feverishly typed "Stomper" into the eBay search bar on my phone. As the buyer pulled away, I got my answer. Many vintage Stomper cars and trucks can sell for over fifty bucks...Dohhh! The tables had just been turned...the hunter had just become the hunted! Realizing I may have let a hundred bucks slip through my fingers, I exited my truck and began banging my head on the hood. Well, not really...but I wanted to!

Looking back, I really can't beat myself up too much over this missed opportunity. Even if I had noticed the word "Stomper" over the window, I am pretty sure I would have concluded it was decorative and not the actual name of the toy brand. In fact, I'll never really know what those trucks could have sold for on eBay. But I know one thing for sure..they were worth more then the five bucks I got for them! Hopefully, this hard learned lesson will pay off for me in the future.

Have you ever been "schooled" like yours truly? Share your story below.....
         



  


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17 comments:

  1. Oh Dude! My heart is breaking for you! I'll bet you could have fit all those cars into a medium flat rate box, listed them on ebay at auction and done so much better, but I understand you wanting to sell them quickly to get rid of them. At least now we all learned about "Stomper" vehicles, something I'm sure you will never forget. Maybe you'll get lucky and find another one before the summer is over. I've got my fingers crossed for you.

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    1. Loraine-Thanks for the sympathy! I am not sure how I would have done with them on eBay. If most were name brand like Matchbox, Corgi or Hot Wheels, I could see me making money, but these were mostly no name cheapies (Except for the Stompers.)

      I also wanted to make a point. Occasionally I'll receive a snarky e-mail from someone (always anonymous) accusing me of taking advantage of a yard sale seller. But this story shows the knife cuts both ways. Just like someone selling his stuff at a garage sale, I could have taken the time to research the Stompers before I sold it. But I didn't do that and a guy who had more knowledge on the toy had the upper hand. If you put in the time...you make the money! I am okay with it, it's all a part of the free market system-HA!

      As always, thanks for checking in....Dude!

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    2. I have over 350 happy meal toys all still in plastic

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  2. Oh no! Sometimes our eBay lessons are expensive. My lessons usually work the other way- I think I'm buying something great, and it turns out to be crap! :) In any case, you now know to look out for the Stompers, too, and the rest of us learned about redlines and stompers. I had no idea! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Kimberly-You are welcome! Yeah, keep an eye out for both. You'll make money for sure!

      Thanks for writing in....Dude!

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  3. Oh my! It hurts to have missed a good opportunity, BUT, since lessons usually COST us, it's kind of cool that your lesson actually came along with a little cash. Next time the Stomper won't get past you! :)

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    1. Ivy- Very true, at least I made 75 bucks out of he deal. But I guess you could say I paid some big cash dollars for a lesson on Stomper toys. Hopefully I'll make my money back at the yard sales!

      Thanks for writing in...Dude!

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  4. For every missed opportunity, there is another around the corner. Since I don't have a cell phone, most of what I buy is on instinct and I can tell you 65% of my instincts are terribly wrong. I end up with a lot of crap that I can only get about $10 for but that is ok. Those smalls add up

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    1. Thanks for the very wise words. I totally agree. We can't always hit a home run every time at bat, right? My mistakes are piled in a corner waiting to be sold at my next yard sale. (Probably to be held next month)

      Yep, those smalls do add up and keep us chugging along!

      Thanks for writing in.....Dude!

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  6. Oh well, you win some, and you lose some! You have such a great way of telling a story! I enjoy reading your Ebay "escapades"!!
    http://the5cees.blogspot.com/

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    1. Alka- Thanks for enjoying the blog and your nice comments, COme back for more....Dude!

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  7. OUCH! Yeah, no doubt that was a head-banger, Dude! But like you said - you win some and lose some. And thanks for sharing it with us so others can BOLO for those Stompers!! Such is Ebay..........always learning something along the way!

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    1. Susie Q- That's exactly right. It's how we build a knowledge base in this business, right? For this point on, I'll never, ever forget that Stompers are worth $$$ Ha!

      Thanks for checking in....Dude!

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  8. Don't look down on those Matchbox cars either. Old Lesney cars can bring in quite a bit of dough.

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    1. I hear ya! Made a memorable score a few years back, buying a bunch of original "Yesteryear" cars still in their boxes. I think I paid $3 per car and sold them off over the winter for $$30 to $50 each, depending on the car. Would love to come across another score like that...one can dream...HA!

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