Saturday, January 23, 2016

Thomas the Tank Engine bargains

In January things are kind of slow at MoneyintheGarage. I am not exactly setting the world on fire with eBay sales, but that's deliberate on my part. With only thrift store and Facebook finds to bolster my inventory, I dial back the volume of listings. Why be in a big hurry to burn through what's left of my stockpile? Instead, I take my sweet old time. Hey, it's nice to kick back this time of year anyway. It won't be long until spring is here and I am back out plodding through yard sale after yard sale. So until then, it's a good time to relax and take a leisurely look back at some more of my end-of-year sales.

Les Paul Guitar
In early December, I headed to one of the very last yard sales of the season. When I pulled up to the seller's house, I realized I'd actually been there before. The sellers had hosted a previous sale back in the summer. The scenario was one I've come across countless times. The older couple downsizing and moving south to retire. This is always an ideal scenario to score some awesome yard sale deals. Retirees are super motivated to sell their things cheap. After all, who wants to load all that junk on a moving truck? That was the case with these folks. For example, they sold me a beautiful Les Paul electric guitar for a five dollar bill! But before anyone gets too excited, let me point out this was not a priceless Les Paul guitar from the 1950's. I am not that lucky! This was actually a modern day Les Paul guitar produced in China. While still very nice, these mass produced Les Paul guitars usually sell for a couple hundred bucks in most music stores. But either way, it was still a pretty nice find. I am guessing it was put out at the yard sale as a late morning afterthought. Otherwise, it would have been snapped up earlier before I ever showed up. Knowing I lucked out, I quickly handed over an Abe Lincoln to the retirees and swung the guitar on my back like some Bruce Springsteen Wannabee.

Everyone loves Thomas the Tank Engine!
Walking around further, I then spotted a big box of Thomas the Tank Engine track. The big box contained 16 smaller boxes of track in their original boxes. In fact, this find was "Deja Vu" for me! I had bought an identical lot from the couple in my previous visit months before! The sellers were definitely consistent in their pricing. Both times they charged me only five bucks for the entire box of Thomas track! I handed over another five dollar bill, knowing I could easily sell the track on eBay to holidays buyers. With two good scores in my pocket and stuff marked down to fire sale prices, I tried and tried to find a few more deals. But alas, after two garage sales their stuff had been pretty much picked over. After about ten more minutes of fruitless searching, I finally gave up. I wished them luck with the move and left with what turned out to be some pretty decent year-end scores.

With the holidays fast approaching, I wasted no time posting the Thomas the Tank Engine tracks on eBay. To make it easier to ship, I listed the track in lots of four boxes each. Once a lot sold, I immediately reposted a new lot to sell. With so much track to sell, I was able to list four separate lots at $40 a piece and one remaining odd lot for $30 dollars. If you're keeping score, that's a total of $190 dollars in sales. Not bad for a ten dollar investment! The Les Paul guitar was almost as good. I listed it on Craigslist for $125 dollars. After a few weeks passed with no serious offers, I lowered it to an Even-Steven one hundred dollars. Not long after, I was meeting a millennial age kid in the parking lot of a local convenience store to sell him the guitar. The kid was taking no chances, actually bringing an amplifier with him to test out the Les Paul guitar. After a few loud strums on the strings, the future Elvis slapped a hundred dollars in my hand. Having originally shelled out only five bucks, that was a pretty nice profit! Continuing our overall tally, I invested a total of $15 dollars at the retirees' yard sale which netted me $290 dollars in sales. Well worth the visits I made to their yard sales before they headed south!

Coke: Once again...the REAL thing!
If you're a member of a local Facebook yard sale group, you know how exciting it is to be the first to lay claim to a great find. It's one of the reasons I am seriously addicted to my FB yard sale group! This vintage brass Coca-Cola "button" is an example. Most Coca-Cola buttons are the traditional white lettering with red background. While these traditional buttons sell well, the all brass buttons are much harder to find and as a result, sell for way more. Amazingly, the seller listed this vintage piece on Facebook for only $30 dollars. In a classic example of being in the right place at the right time, I happened to be looking at Facebook the moment it popped up. I immediately snagged it. I've seen enough episodes of American Pickers to know vintage Coca-Cola advertising pieces are highly valued by collectors. Worried that the seller might come to their senses and back out of the deal, I immediately drove to their house to pick up the Coke button. I was eager to see what this rare brass Coke button would bring, so I immediately posted it using a seven day auction on eBay. Turns out, Coke truly is the "real thing". The button sold on eBay for an impressive two hundred dollars. With great flips like that, it's no wonder I am always obsessively checking Facebook!

How'd your year-end sales go? Any good Facebook or garage sale finds you want to brag about? Let us know in the comment section below.

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