Thursday, July 24, 2014

American Pickers Danielle & Mike are a bad influence on me!

They say watching too much television can really influence a person. For me, watching too much of American Pickers on the History Channel has definitely influenced my garage sale purchases...and not always in a good way! I love watching the show and have learned a thing or two about what to buy. But prior to the show hitting the airwaves, my buying habits trended towards small-ish items to flip; shirts, toys, collectibles. Pretty much anything I could fit inside a USPS Priority mailing box. But since the arrival of American Pickers, I've noticed my buying tastes have grown much bigger! Not a bad thing, but unlike most of those sellers on American Pickers, I don't have a barn or warehouse to store my stuff in. As a result, it's getting a little crowded in my basement and garage. If this keeps up, my house will look less like the American Pickers' shop, and more like a house on the Hoarders show! Here's some of the bigger stuff I've come home with lately. Some have turned into pretty good flips, others...ehh, not so much.

STOP in the name of American Pickers
Here's an example of a American Pickers influenced purchase-a genuine STOP sign. Think about it-who among us does not need a STOP sign? Everyone should have one! It can be posted in your driveway to prevent visiting company from driving straight into the garage! Either way, at only five bucks it was a deal. (Would you believe a brand new STOP sign can sell for over $75 bucks in industry catalogues?) The American Pickers were on my mind when I scooped up this sign. The stars of the show, Mike Wolfe, Danielle Colby-Cushman and Frank Fritz, are always on the lookout for old traffic signs and related automobile paraphernalia. Although this sign wasn't nearly as old as the signs found on Pickers, I figured someone could use it in an industrial setting or hang it up in their man cave or garage. Although the sign was large, storing it wasn't a problem. Traffic signs are made to be out in the elements. For six weeks of occasional rain and hot summer sun, the STOP sign sat on the side of my house until it sold on Craigslist. After a month and a half, a young guy finally bought it, paying me $25 dollars for the sign. He told me he intended to convert the sign into a table. A creative use for a street sign and a twenty dollar profit for me!

At the very same garage sale where I bought the STOP sign, I also came across this old metal bird feeder.
Would Danielle buy this feeder?
The weathered, primitive look of the feeder caught my eye. It was another American Pickers type purchase. Like the guys always do on the show, I speculated as to who would end up buying this old piece. Since there are plenty of bird lovers and folks who like anything primitive, I concluded there would be a buyer for the big and bulky feeder. I listed it on eBay using an auction and it sold seven days later for twenty five dollars. My only concern was the shipping costs since the heavier the item, the higher the postage costs. If you're not careful, you could undercharge and get left holding the bag on some postage. I charged a reasonable shipping cost for the heavy feeder, but also caught a break when the buyer turned out to be only a few hours away from MoneyintheGarage corporate headquarters. Like the sign, I made another twenty dollar profit.

Steamer trunk-not worth the trip! 
But alas, not every one of my American Pickers influenced buys can be a winner. I bought this awesome looking steamer trunk in my local Goodwill store. When I came across it, I thought I had a definite winner. The vintage piece had all the makings of a classic steamer trunk seen in the movies. It oozed old world charm, including weathered travel stickers from a defunct cruise line, wrap-around ribs and a classic aged patina. In my mind, it was the total package and I gladly shelled out sixty big ones for the honor to take it home. I am pretty sure Danielle Colby or Mike Wolfe would have bought this trunk. But sad to say, we all would have greatly overestimated the popularity of old steamer trunks...or at least this old steamer trunk. Starting with a pie-in-the-sky price of $175, the old trunk languished on Craigslist for nearly two months. Over the weeks and months, I slowly dropped the price, finally throwing in the towel at fifty bucks. That's ten dollars less then what I paid for it! But after lowering the price to fifty, I finally received my one and only e-mail from a buyer. I met the young mom at the local CVS pharmacy and loaded the trunk into her car. Although it turned out to be a small loss, I was just happy to get rid of the monster. I will say that had the trunk been deeper, it would have sold for a much higher price. But what can you do, right? Even the American Pickers get burnt once in a while.

Overall, not a bad record with my American Pickers style buys. I have a couple of more big items currently sitting in the garage that should turn into major flips. Big money or not, I am under some pressure to get the stuff sold. Mrs. Dude wants her parking space back before the winter snow returns!

Got any American Pickers type stuff that you've sold lately? Share the story in the comment section below.....

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fisher Price & Tonka Trucks for sale

Yard sale sellers can be all over the map when pricing their stuff.  Some set their prices based on what they originally paid for an item. If they paid a lot, then they think they can sell it for a lot. Other sellers are under the delusion that certain items are highly collectible and jack up their price accordingly. A few consistent examples I've found are; Hess Trucks, Barbie "collectible" dolls, comic books and baseball cards. What sellers don't realize is this mass produced stuff can be found at many garage sales. Hess trucks and Barbie collectible dolls are a dime a dozen around my town. When it comes to modern baseball cards, the market is saturated. There are way too many cards for too few buyers. But good luck trying to explain this to some yard sale sellers.

Not every Tonka is worth big $$$!
I came across a lady with this high-priced mind set at a recent yard sale. Only in her case, it wasn't Barbie dolls or Hess trucks. Instead, it was an overpriced Tonka truck. Not every Tonka is worth big money, particularly the newer versions. It's the older Tonka toys that fetch the high dollars. How can you tell if they're old? Look for all metal parts on the toy. New Tonka trucks use more plastic, particularly in the under chassis. In the case of the lady's Tonka, I found plenty of plastic parts, so I knew it was fairly new. But even though it was newer, I was still interested at the right price. I asked the lady what she wanted for the Tonka? But before she gave me a price, she stated the obvious, informing me it was a Tonka truck.

Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate a teachable moment as much as the next guy. But I already knew it was a Tonka truck...and not just because I am a seasoned garage sale picker. No, it was actually the famous yellow paint and the large letters spelling out "Tonka" on the side of the truck that pretty much gave it away! But having now informed me of what I had in my hands, I waited for the seller to whack me with a high price. That's a consistent trait with sellers who feel the need to announce the name of the item back to you. That's exactly what this lady did, proudly stating she wanted thirty bucks for the Tonka. But since plastic Tonka trucks are barley worth half that, I just nodded and quietly put the overpriced Tonka back on the table. I continued to look around her table hoping to find something she didn't overprice. Soon enough, I found it.

Fisher Price Western Town
As I turned away from the table, I practically tripped over a brightly colored Fisher Price box sitting on the ground. I picked up the box and checked it out. It was a vintage Fisher Price "Western Town" set. I've made some nice money on Fisher Price sets, mostly flipping the more commonly found family house, the school and parking garage sets. Since the Western set is much harder to find, I had a hunch it might do well on eBay. The set contained a jail, cowboys and indians, horses, wagon and a stage coach. The box was a little damp from being outside, but other then that, it was in pretty nice condition. I decided to work the damp box to my advantage. Picking up the box, I asked the seller what she wanted for the set? I added that even though the box was wet, I was still interested in it anyway. She pondered the damp box for a moment. More importantly, unlike the Tonka, she did not announce the name of the toy back to me! Instead, she quoted me a price of only three bills...much more reasonable then her Tonka toy prices! I handed her three dollars and grabbed the (slightly damp) Fisher Price set.

The wet box turned out to be a non-issue and was practically dry by the time I arrived back at MoneyintheGarage.Com Headquarters. A few hours sitting in the back of my truck on a warm spring day will do that. After a little dusting, I set up the Cowboys and Indians for their eBay photo shoot. Having never flipped this particular set before, I was anxious to see how my three dollar investment would do. Turns out, it did great. After a seven day auction run, the set sold for $64 bucks! (Buyer paid shipping.)

That's what I mean about sellers and their prices-all over the map! In the case of my Tonka lady, she way overpriced the Tonka truck and waaaaay underpriced the slightly damp Fisher Price set. You gotta love those type of yard sale sellers...inconsistent and unpredictable!  What's some of the commonly overpriced stuff you've seen at garage sales? Share your examples in the comment section below.....

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