Saturday, November 22, 2014

How to buy Lego sets for less money

With the leaves off the trees and the thermometer dropping to sub-freezing temperatures, I can now make this official "Dude" Pronouncement. (Clears  throat) The garage sale season is now over! Yep, put a fork in it. Folks are now planning for the holidays, not hosting a garage sale. You won't see me shedding a tear though. For the next five months when the clock strikes O-seven-hundred, I won't be springing out of bed like a maniac. Nope, I'll be rolling over for a few more Zzzzzzs. That's one of the few things I enjoy about the weather turning colder! For me, the end of yard sale season is much like baseball or football season ending. It gives the player some much needed time off for the three R', relaxation and recovery. Otherwise, just like a highly trained athlete, a yard sale picker will burn out. If that happens, yard sale picking stops being fun and turns into drudgery. Who wants that? Not me! So for now, I am going to enjoy my time off on Saturday mornings.

Keep it? Sorry kiddo, ain't gonna happen. 
The season effectively wrapped up last week with just three sales. Two were listed on Craigslist, while the third sale seemed to be a last minute, "let's throw one together" type
deal hosted by two families. This last minute sale was a doozie and ended my season with a big bang! When I rolled up on the house, the sale didn't look like much. But as I started looking around, I came across some pretty great bargains. Things started off well right off the bat when I eyeballed a vintage NES Nintendo set in it's original box. The guy only charged me five bucks for it. I've scored a few of these Nintendo NES sets in the past and can usaully count on making some nice cash. Check out this set I flipped a few years ago for $50 bucks. Since then, prices have gone even higher. A recent Nintendo NES set sold for over hundred bills on eBay. I am guessing I'll sell my set for about the same. Not too shabby for a five dollar investment on a crisp Saturday morning in November.

After I took it home, I stashed the Nintendo set in my garage. Not surprisingly, my Sonny Boy happened to be walking through the garage when his eyes locked in on the set. I knew this was trouble! Like most 18 year old "Pepsi Generation" kids, he then suggested I keep the set so he could have some fun with it. It's a good thing I wasn't sipping coffee at the moment he made this crazy remark, because I am pretty sure some would have come out my nose! I mean, Seriously? After all these years, he should know his old man a little better then that! As I once taught him many years ago, these "things" are just visiting our house. They stay a short time...then I find them a good home. (While getting paid for it.) But even though he should know my selling philosophy by now, I wasn't taking any chances. Just to be on the safe side, I hid the Nintendo set down in the basement...out of site...out of mind!

The right sets will make you big cash money!
In addition to the awesome Nintendo NES system, I snagged a few other items that will make me a some decent bucks. But the "piece de resistance" was a large Lego set I found. I laid eyes on it as the mom was walking it out of the garage. She set it down on a blanket in the yard, and following Lady Ga-Ga's advise about keeping a poker face, I casually walked over to it. The set was untouched and complete in the box. I was really hoping it was a Star Wars or Harry Potter set. Alas, it wasn't. Instead, it was a Lego commemorative anniversary set from about ten years ago. Not to brag, but when it comes to Harry Potter Lego sets, I've knocked it out of the ballpark several times! In fact, I've gone upper deck on some, selling a few for over $200 hundred bucks! While I had no idea what a commemorative set would be worth, I did know it's pretty hard to lose when flipping any Lego set in the original box.

I asked the mom how much she wanted for the set? She hemmed and hawwed as she thought about the price. For a yard sale picker, this is the most sensitive, high drama moment in a transaction. Those tense, awkward seconds waiting for that very important make-or-break number. If you've been in this situation, you know these can be agonizing moments. Sort of like time standing still. With the Lego set, the mom struggled for what seemed like an eternity as she pondered a price. Since it seemed like she was experiencing a brain freeze, I decided to help her along by throwing out a number...five bucks. You might think that's low, but at least it broke Mom's brain freeze-she accepted my offer! I peeled off a fiver and walked the
Boom....pop...kaboom...last score of the season!
huge set back to the truckster. But the real fun began when I got home. I looked up my newly acquired Lego set on eBay and was met with a huge surprise. The special edition Lego set I scored for five, sells in the range of $350 to $500 dollars! How's that for ending the yard sale season? Sticking with my baseball analogies, it's sort of like a big, fantastic fireworks display after a long ballgame! Boom, Pop, kaboom! You gotta luv it! Even though it should turn into huge money, I haven't listed it on eBay yet. But I plan on doing so very soon, taking full advantage of the Christmas buying season. For now, it sits near my computer where I look over and admire it. Kind of like owning a winning lottery ticket that hasn't been cashed yet. When I do sell it, I'll be sure to feature it here on the blog.

How's the yard sale season going for you? Is the season over, or are you still going strong? Give us your story in the comment section below....

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Who needs Walmart when you have a sure thing?

It's time once again to discuss another example of finding the illusive "sure thing" at the garage sales. Ahhhh yes, the sure thing! You know what I mean. In fact, you're probably smiling now just thinking about it. Nothing beats it, right? If you're like me, you get a garage sale "high" you when you find the sure thing. It's that special item you confidently know will earn you big bucks on Craigslist or eBay! In past blogs, I've gushed over various sure things including; jogging strollers, Legos, Coleman camping gear, baby gates and American Girl dolls. All stuff that's a stone-cold lock to make you big money! Well, I am happy to report this Dude's "sure thing" list has now grown with a new addition.

NOT this type of bike rack.
Are you ready? (Now would be a good time for a drum roll.) It's two rack! No, not those big metal monsters you use to chain your old Schwinn to at school. No, I am actually referring to the type that attaches to the back of a car so you can take your bike on trips. Not very exciting, right? Maybe not, but I can tell you those contraptions have earned me some serious dough over the last few years! Let me explain how the lowly bike rack made it on my sure thing list.

A few years back, my brother asked me to look for a bike rack for him. After many vacation trips hauling his bikes down the Jersey shore, his old bike rack had fallen apart. I told him I'd keep an eye out and shortly thereafter found a used "Thule" bike rack for only $40 bucks. Although it may sound like a lot of money, this was actually a pretty good deal. Thule bike racks are the most popular on the market and don't come cheap! Even at Walmart, where prices are suppose to be discounted, Thule bike racks sell in the range of two to four hundred dollars. That's a lot of dough for some metal tubes!

Thule Bike rack-buy low, sell high!
The Thule bike rack I found was a "hitch" style, meaning it plugged into a trailer hitch below the bumper. Feeling all proud that I'd scored my brother a highly desired Thule bike rack, I called to tell him the good news. But it turned out that my yard sale find was a big swing and a miss! Unfortunately, my brother didn't have a trailer hitch on his car, so my rack was of no use to him. He needed the "trunk" version which rests on the car's trunk and bumper to support the bike rack. I was bummed that I bought the wrong type, but got over it pretty fast when I realized I could flip the bike rack on Craigslist. A few days later, I posted my Thule bike rack on Craigslist for an impressive $100 bucks. It quickly sold at my full asking price! That's when it dawned on me....there was money to be made flipping bike racks!

Saris bike racks sell too!
Since then, I've always had bike racks on my BOLO list. While you won't find a bike rack every Saturday, you will come across them occasionally. Make sure you stick with the name brand racks, not some cheap, no-name brand. As my little story demonstrates, you'll never lose buying a Thule bike rack. On average, I snag them for five to ten dollars and sell them for $50 to $100. There's a few other brands that will make you money too. Recently I came across this space age looking bike rack by Saris. I paid ten dollars for it and flipped it on Craigslist for $50. Had I listed it on eBay, I could have potentially made $75 or more on it. But with it's big, bulky shape, I didn't want the hassle of finding a large box and dealing with all the related shipping costs and fees. It was much easier to go with Craigslist. I made a quick forty dollar profit and moved on to the next deal. You gotta love it!

From jogging strollers to Thule and Saris bike racks, the yard sale "sure thing" list gets longer and longer! What's your list of "sure thing" yard sale finds? Share them in the comment section below....

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