Friday, December 18, 2020

Garage sale picking in tough times

With Covid-19 running rampant, you might think Fall 2020 was an awful time to be in the garage sale picking business. For one thing, there was a decline in the number of garage sales being held. There’s also been the Covid protocols to deal with. Most garage sales required buyers to wear a mask when shopping their sale. It's a necessary evil, but it’s also a pain. I wear eye glasses and the resulting “fog-up” makes it difficult to closely examine stuff. Also, some sellers take their Covid precautions to extremes. At one over-the-top garage sale I attended, the seller required attendees to not only "mask up" but to "glove up” too! She even distributed latex rubber gloves to anyone who walked into her garage. I thought this was a little much, but I gloved up anyway. It turned out to be waste of a pair of gloves. I only looked around for a few minutes, then left empty (gloved) handed. As it stands now, the yard sale season has come to a cold winter's end in my part of the country. With any luck, the pandemic will soon end soon too. Until that time, let’s take a look at a few of my fall garage sale 2020 flips and finds. 

Check out this Blockbuster video popcorn bowl. What’s the big deal about a plastic bowl, right? Well thanks to Netflix and other on-line movie sources, Blockbuster has gone the way of your VCR machine. The last of the corporate owned chain stores closed in 2014. This seems to have created a bit of nostalgia for the old school rental chain that once could be found in every town and hamlet. These Tupperware-style bowls were sold at Blockbuster during the height of the video rental business, making this relic about twenty years old. I found this bowl with it’s accompanying lid at a 55 and older community yard sale. After running a quick Ebay check on my phone, I discovered these bowls are well worth flipping. The seller, a nice little old lady, was asking ten cents for the bowl. Being the big sport that I am, I gave her a quarter and told her to keep the change. After some further research, I posted the bowl on eBay with a “Buy It Now" price of $30 dollars. It sold within a few days. It’s super light weight and plastic durability made it a breeze to pack and ship. A pretty good flip for a quarter investment! 

One of the things I love about eBay are those rare, but exciting, occasions when a buyer rescues me
from being stuck with a “loser” item. Take for example this vintage Marx toys “Davey Crockett” cap pistol. This was another great bargain. I paid 25 cents for it at a local yard sale. For the price of a quarter, it initially seemed like a no-brainer. My research had found similar cap guns were selling for around twenty dollars. Feeling confident, I started my auction at $12 bucks, hoping to make about twenty dollars off the toy. My hopes were dashed when the auction completely bombed with not a single bidder for the toy gun. Worried that I had a loser on my hands, I reposted the cap gun a few weeks later, this time with a lower starting bid of $9.99. Miracle of miracles, a buyer e-mailed me asking if I would sell it to him for a “Buy It Now" price of $50 dollars? I quickly responded in the affirmative, revising the auction so he could immediatley purchase the cap gun. Within minutes he completed the transaction and just like that, my loser cap gun went from being a big loser to a very big winner! Hard to explain these things sometimes, but I love it! 

Switching over from garage sale finds to Facebook finds, check out this rare board game called, “Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge”. I picked this game up for a five dollar bill on a Facebook Yard sale group. It was brand new, never played. This is not a kid's board game. It’s actually one of those sophisticated games that World War Two history buffs love to play over several days, if not weeks. It falls loosely in the category of “bookshelf games” and can bring in some amazing money if you find the right buyer. My best advise on scoring these games would be this-when you're out at the yard sales or thrifting and find a board game that you’ve never heard of....and it looks like it’s NOT for kids...you may want to buy it. At the very least, try to look it up on your phone when deciding. That's what I did and it paid off nicely. I posted this rare game for $150 dollars on Ebay and it sold almost immediately. That was five bucks well spent!

That’s just a few of my fall yard sale season highlights. Any good scores you want to post about? Please feel free in the comment section below. 


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