Friday, March 30, 2012

I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a Bible today

Over the last several weeks, I’ve had a run of bad luck regarding my online endeavors.  On top of slow sales, I had several returns for various reasons, with the potential for bad feedback hanging over my head.

This perfect storm of negativity reached its height on Monday when I received my latest return in the mail from a buyer who claimed that the Bible did not match the Amazon product description, and wasn’t what she wanted.  As per my policy, I refunded her purchase price, and to forestall any bad feedback, I even refunded her return shipping.

Since Amazon had disbursed my funds on Sunday, there was no money in my account.  So, I went into the hold to the tune of $113.  Yes, it was an expensive Bible.

To be fair to my buyer, after examining the Bible again, I found that it actually didn’t match Amazon’s description perfectly; there were several subtle, but apparently important to my buyer, differences.  Unfortunately, there was no exact match on Amazon, and no ISBN number with which to create a product page to sell the book.

So, I thought about eBay,  a route that I should have taken first.  Amazon is just so much easier for books, though.

After researching the Bible via Terapeak, I discovered a fairly good sell-through rate at a price that was significantly more than I received/refunded on Amazon.  Have I mentioned that I love Terapeak?

Anyway, I listed it Monday night.

To my amazement, it sold Wednesday morning, and I sent an invoice. After a follow-up email yesterday prodding payment, I got a message late last night saying that he would pay me on Tuesday, almost a full week after purchase.

Perhaps it’s just me, but when I buy something, I’m ready to pay, and the seller usually has his/her money before they can even send an invoice.  Not so with many of my buyers lately, including this customer, obviously.  

March 2012 has really tested my patience. I’m glad April is upon us.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Musings – Leftovers aren't so bad

I hate it when big churches have big yard sales that start on Friday.  Since I’m blessed with a day job, and can’t be in two places at once, no matter how hard I try, I’m usually chained to my desk daydreaming of the mountains of books and other treasures being sold to other “pickers,” who obviously don’t deserve/need it as much as I do.

Sometimes, though, the fickle hand of fate keeps all other would be buyers away, and leaves the door open for you to feast upon the goodies within.   OK, that’s a little melodramatic, but more or less accurate.  A simpler way to express it would be that at some sales, leftovers aren't so bad.

Such was the case on Saturday, the second day of a big church sale.  My wife and I walked into the sale shortly before 7 a.m., and while I was not overwhelmed, I was impressed that they still had a good bit of merchandise available.  I immediately headed to the books, and proceeded to scan, not expecting to find anything of value. I got excited, though, when my machine beeped, indicating a “good money” book, as I call them.  After a few minutes, it was obviously that no book scanners had passed this way, and I amassed a boxful of books.  I took the box to the holding area, and then turned my attention to the rest of the room.

At first glance, the room looked picked clean of high value items. Determined, though, I slowed down, felt the Yard Sale Force flow through me, and began finding stuff.  I soon had to get another box.

The first item I found was this:

Thanks to my smart phone, in my box it went.

I passed by the sporting goods table several times, before noticing what was there.  First, I saw these:

I wasn’t real sure what they were, but I had a feeling that they had to be worth more than the $3 price tag. It took some research, but I finally determined what they are.  They are wakeboard fittings, and definitely worth more than I paid.  My only conundrum at the moment is size.  There is no size listed.  I’ll have to word my listing carefully.

I also saw two pairs of black gloves.  Again, not much to look at, but upon further smart phone review, I grabbed them.

Speaking of gloves, I also found these.  I didn’t know it but a golf glove pack only contains one glove.  I found five packs at $.25 each.

Our next stop after the church was a sale to benefit animal rescue, one of our favorite causes.  It was the second weekend of the sale, and, again, I wasn’t expecting much. 

I didn’t snag any books, but I did manage to find other items to sell, including a new pair of ladies boots for $2, and a new pair of ladies shoes, featuring an elephant decoration, also for $2.  Both will bring much more than that. 

I also found a sound activated, realistic looking plush cat that will give our dogs fits.

The rest of the morning was fairly uneventful, with hit and miss scores at various other sales. 

At one sale, though, where I actually did find a few books, the sellers made good use of signage to draw buyers into their subdivision.  Bright green signs dotted corners, pointing the way. I’m always impressed with good signage.  On the way out, following the signs, but in reverse, I noticed they had written a message on the back of the very first sign (which would be the last sign that you see on the way out).

It simply said, “Thank You!”

Too cool.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I can’t even give my books away now

Are books obsolete?

It’s a question that I’m sure you have heard asked many times. Being a bookseller, I would like to think that books will be around for a long time. But more and more, I’m beginning to see the end for my beloved tomes and, more importantly, my current cash cow.

Case in point, at a family reunion this weekend, an older lady, sleeping on the couch, had a Kindle clutched to her chest.  Obviously, she had drifted off to sleep while reading, much like people used to do with books.

A perhaps more telling incident occurred this morning at the engineering firm where I work.  On occasion, I bring in a box of books to give away.  Admittedly, these books aren’t bestsellers, or even fiction, for that matter.  However, they aren’t boring books, either, and run the gamut from pregnancy books to southern history, and everything in between.  A simple company-wide email (Books…you know where…first come, first served), in the past, had been enough to cause a line to form in my office as people pawed over the books, taking home most, if not all, of what I  brought in.

Not today.  My standard email brought in exactly three people for the free books. 

And I wonder why sales are down.  If I can’t give books away, what makes me think that I can sell them?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Musings - March 19, 2012

It’s been an uninspiring two weeks, with only a few bright spots to illuminate an otherwise poor showing at my online box office, so to speak.

Two weeks ago, I went to a couple of book sales and did pretty well. My crown jewels of the sale were five vintage boat-building books.  They didn’t have ISBNs to check, but I had a gut feeling that they were worth something.  Two I think were worth in the $40 range, but the others weren’t worth that much.  Bundled together, however, they brought a pretty penny.

In fact, that one sale almost paid for all the books from both sales.

I also picked up a bunch of vintage amateur radio books at one of the sales.  Unfortunately, they’re still waiting for a new home.

Over the weekend, I sold the last of my vintage Power Rangers toys.  The buyer has no feedback, and hasn’t paid yet.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

And in the “thank goodness that they’re gone” category, the Friends of the Library finally picked up my books from my storage unit.   They were my cast offs, and had accumulated to about 30 boxes worth.  It took their pickup truck and my SUV to move them to the FOL warehouse. So, not only do I have my storage space back, but also I also have a hefty tax deduction next year, provided I don’t lose the paperwork.

As usual, I have a bunch of stuff to list, both on Amazon and on eBay.  Plus, I really need to get my taxes in order this week.  My grass really needs cutting, and the weeds have taken over my flowerbeds. 

It’s going to be a busy week.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Peaches to Beaches

This past weekend was the annual Peaches to Beaches yard sale in middle Georgia.  This annual two-day yard sale covers more than 200 miles along Highway 341 from Barnesville and Culloden to Brunswick and the Golden Isles in Georgia.  For those who are geographically impaired, or just don’t give a good darn, that’s basically middle Georgia to the Atlantic ocean.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, at least for me, it didn’t live up to its hype. 

Since I live sort of right in the middle of the route, I had the opportunity to either go north or south on Saturday morning.  I chose south, since it actually was the longer leg of the amazing race for yard sale crap … uh … goods.

Of course, you don’t actually get 200 miles of yard sales.  Most of the sales are centered in the small towns through which Highway 341 runs.  Oh, sure, there were scattered sales along the side of the road, but it got extremely tedious stopping every so often for little more than a table with old clothes and puzzles with probable missing pieces. 

In the cities, though, there were more tables and more stuff. There were semi-good pickings at a few churches and civic organizations, but most of the bigger sales just didn’t separate me from my money.  Contemplating this as I walked around, it finally hit me what was wrong.

Dealers.  They were all dealers who brought trailers full of stuff, put up tents, and had display cases.  They were dealers who brought dollar store crap.  They were dealers who brought neat collectibles, and charged not so neat prices. 

Since it costs money to move that much merchandise from wherever it is from which they came, they were charging prices that exceeded what I call yard sale normal.  In short, Peaches to Beaches was essentially a 200-mile over-priced flea market.  It probably was good for the casual buyer, but terrible for me.

Of course, it didn’t help that I went on the second day of the sale, but it was the best I could do, given my day job.  I did hear one dealer say that Friday had the buyers, and Saturday had the browsers.

I didn’t make it to the ocean; I turned around about halfway, since I wasn’t “earning” enough to pay for the gas,  and worked the other side of the highway on the return trip.  More clothes and puzzles with missing pieces.

Oh, well, there’s always next year, but probably not for me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings - The garage sale that wasn't

Saturday was pretty much a washout around here.  We got to a school sale, and a couple of individual sales before the bottom fell out of the sky.  It was nice to go home early for a change on Saturday, though, even if it did rain all day.

Saturday evening, Ella mentioned a Sunday electronics yard sale, featuring a flat screen TV and video games, that was advertised on Craigslist.  Now, I usually like to sleep later on Sunday, but the siren song of potential inventory was just too strong.  So, I set my alarm clock for 6 a.m., determined to be at the sale early.  We left the house shortly after 7 a.m., and were sitting in front of the sale location at approximately 7:30 a.m.  Unfortunately, the house was dark, and the garage was shut.   I double-checked my address, and decided that they probably would open the garage door closer to 8 a.m.

About 7:45 a.m., the front door opened, and an older gentleman carrying a newspaper wandered down the stairs, oblivious to the strange car (ours) sitting in front of his house.  I lowered my window, and said, “excuse me.”

Bewildered, he looked up, and shuffled over to the car. I asked him when the sale was going to start.  The look of bewilderment returned, and he said that he didn’t know anything about a yard sale.  I showed him the print-out from Craigslist.  He studied it for a moment, and mentioned that the contact person listed on the ad wasn’t there.  Confused, but ever polite, I thank him, and apologized for sitting out in front of his house.  He then got in his car, and pulled out of his driveway.  Before leaving, he pulled beside our car, and lowered his window, and said, “His wife wasn’t going to let him sell the TV anyway.”

So, we left. I was irritated not only because we wasted the $3.75 per gallon gas to go, but also, and more importantly, because I got up early for no reason on a Sunday morning.

On the bright side, though, getting up early let me get a lot work done, including packing all my items sold, and listing quite a few books and goodies on eBay.  In addition, items kept selling across multiple venues, which always improves my mood.

But now it's Monday, and back to my 8 to 5.  My weekends just go by too fast.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Help, my wife won’t let me sell these DVDs

Last year, Ella and and I were visiting multiple Saturday morning yard sales, as usual, and late in the morning, we stumbled across a box of DVDs, marked $1 each. Another customer was perusing the box, so I patiently waited my turn. After the customer walked away empty handed, I walked up to the box, and the contents literally took my breath away for a moment.

IMAX DVDs, and boxed sets of TV programs, including the original Land of the Lost, Emergency, and T.J. Hooker.  All told, there were 40 DVDs and box sets.

Trying to contain my excitement, I began checking the ISBN numbers to make sure they were indeed worth something. The box of DVDs was, quite frankly, money in the bank.

Guarding the box with my life, I got my Ella's attention to make sure she had the money to pay for them. Yes, she controls the money. After all, she’s a former bank teller.  Taking the money from her, I paid for my box, and took them to the car.

Upon returning home, she decided to see how I spent the $40.  Her eyes got real big, and she uttered the nine words that I dreaded to hear.

“I want to watch these before you sell them.” She also decided that she would keep the Land of the Lost DVDs.

Negotiations then opened.

I conceded the Land of the Lost DVDs (I wanted to keep them to, but didn’t tell her that), in return for her not watching every IMAX DVD (she decided to watch only a couple).  She stood fast on watching the other TV box sets.

So, she gathered up the Land of the Lost DVDs, a few of the IMAX DVDs, and the TV box sets, and put them in her “to watch” corner of the room.

And there they’ve stayed.  Untouched, and gathering dust, for about six months.  I knew that I could sell them, but face her wrath later.  Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, right?

Finally, though, she broke down, and gave me permission to list them. I was almost giddy with excitement.

Soon after they sold, I was watching a video blog from Glendon Cameron over at  Among his many nuggets of wisdom, he advised to never, ever take your girlfriend, wife, or significant other with you to storage auctions (or, in this case, yard sales).

Why, you ask?

Because, they'll want to keep all the "cool sh*t" for themselves.

I hear ya, brother.