Monday, February 27, 2012

Stumbling over treasure

Saturday got off to a slow start.  First, I slept a little later, 6:30 as opposed to 4:30, trying to decide if I really wanted to brave the elements to go to yard sales.  There really weren’t that many sales, and, honestly, I was just being lazy.

However, I talked myself into it, and after searching Craigslist, and making a quick plan, Ella and I were out the door for a sale that started at 9 a.m.  It sounded promising, but, alas, it was a bust.  After several other hit and miss sales, and two church-run thrift stores, we ended up at a “huge business liquidation sale” in a warehouse that promised “Computers, tools, antiques, electronics, furniture, wholesale lots, kids items, automotive items, tires, equipment, etc.”  It was around 11:30 a.m.

I wasn’t impressed when I first walked in.  Everything was dirty, and after picking up a few empty boxes, I figured everything had been picked over.  Ella settled in to look at some old record albums, and I continued to look around.   After several fruitless minutes, I literally almost stumbled over several pallets of old computer software.  Catching myself, I noticed two things on the pallets: the word “IBM,” and lots of boxes.  Taking a closer look, I realized that it was software from the 1980s on 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch diskettes, but it was NEW AND STILL IN SHRINK-WRAP.

Sensing a potential gold mine, I hurriedly found the dealer running the sale, and asked him how much for the software.  One dollar per box. Words cannot describe how I felt at that moment, as I grabbed Ella, and pulled her toward the pallets.  Pull out everything still in shrink-wrap, I told her.

We pulled about 20 software packages, several packs of new HP paper/transparency film, six boxes of unopened 5.25-inch diskettes, and one technical book, worth $49, also still in shrink-wrap. We added half a case of copy paper, and one Partridge Family record album to the pile.   We negotiated our price to $25 for everything, and drove away smiling.

I spent all day Sunday researching and listing the software.  Most had not been sold on eBay in the past year, according to Terapeak, so I listed many of the packages for $49 each + shipping.  One particular software package, though, I knew about.  It was IBM Interleaf Publishing.  If purchased new in the 1980s, it would have set you back about $2000.  I listed it for $100.

By early this morning, I not only had sold several of the $49 software packages, but also I had sold Interleaf Publishing to a computer museum in California.  I have confidence that the other items will sell as well.

The lessons of this story are that being lazy doesn’t pay the bills, the early bird doesn’t necessarily catch every worm, and it’s just as easy to stumble over treasure as it is to find it.

1 comment:

  1. Scott, I had a similar experience yesterday. Two weekends of finding nothing and wasting gas. Then yesterday we went to our usual indoor flea market and we were just about to leave with nothing when my husband spied an old wooden drawer in a corner filled with filthy plastic bags. Inside the bags was the most amazing vintage furniture hardware. My heart started pounding. I asked how much for the whole box (expecting to hear $50) and the vendor said, "Oh...a dollar a bag." There were 12-13 bags so I offered $10. He said "Give me five." I almost threw up. I got home to look at my treasure. Over 60 pieces of assorted drawer pulls, all antique/vintage. So awesome!
    PS: Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)