Monday, April 30, 2012

Thank You, Ella

I wrote last week about the approximately 50 boxes of bookstore inventory that I acquired at a church yard sale, so I thought I would provide a little update on my endeavors.

Three words express my progress so far: “Thank you, Ella.”    Ella is my wife of almost 20 years, by the way.

She took it upon herself to sort, pack (in Priority Boxes), and type in titles on at least 1200 cassettes, which allowed me to list 18 boxes on Sunday, with more waiting to be listed.   And, unbelievably, she is still not finished. She has a copier-paper box full of cassettes waiting to be processed.

After the tapes, she plans to tackle the CDs.

Also, I have to give her credit for finding a bunch of new, still in package, Friar Tuck clergy shirts at the same sale, something that I totally overlooked.  I got those listed on Sunday as well.

She’s becoming quite the “picker,” too, taking what I’ve taught her, and adding her own perspective.  She also encourages me to hit “one more sale,” when more often than not, I am ready to quit for the day.  Often, this “one more sale” results in fun and profitable finds.

As for this weekend, it was relatively quiet, with a small book sale taking up most of the morning.  We did hit a small church sale early, and a couple of small sales afterward, though, with modest finds at both, including this home-theater remote for $2.

What makes the remote so special, at least to me, was the exchange of dialogue before the sell.

Me: “How much for this remote?”

Owner: “$2”.

Owner’s Son: “$2? That’s a hundred dollar remote.”

Owner:  “I don’t care. I’m moving and have no use for it.”

Me: “I’ll take it.”

And I quickly paid before she could change her mind.

On a totally unrelated subject, I quietly passed a milestone last weekend, and thought I would share it.  Yes, I surpassed 1000 feedback on eBay. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Get me to the church on time ...

That thought runs through my mind frequently on Saturday mornings when my first stop is a church yard sale, and especially as I am trying to get Ella out the door (yes, honey, you look fine; no, honey, you don’t need a necklace with that shirt; no, honey, it’s not too cool to wear shorts; honey, will you just get your shoes on and get out the door!)

Saturday was no exception, and we finally pulled up to the sale at approximately 7 a.m., the appointed starting time; however, as par for course, eager buyers were already swarming the tables, which had been set up outside.  I groaned inwardly upon seeing this because it was a foggy morning, and I had visions of books ruined because of the moisture in the air.

Fortunately, my worries were groundless, although boxes on the ground were a little damp; apparently, the church had set up the night before.

As I peered through fog at the tables, I noticed books. Lots of books.  I also noticed boxes of CDs, including many still in shrink-wrap, hundreds of cassette tapes, both new and used, and many new VHS tapes. I immediately started scanning and scanning and scanning, all the time looking over my shoulder for any other dealers. I quickly filled up a box, and decided I had better find out how much all this was going to cost.  The first worker, a teen, said the CDs were a dollar each, which was fair. He wasn’t sure about the books.  Finally, a more seasoned (i.e., older) worker said that I could fill up a copier paper sized box for $5.

$5?  Holy {expletive deleted by author}.

I asked this worker was there a place where I could stash my, er, stash until I was ready to pay.  She took me to a place behind the cashiers, and I dropped off my first $5 box.

As I was busy filling boxes, sometimes scanning, sometimes not, I got the scoop.  Most of the items were from a closed Christian bookstore.  After about an hour or so, I had 18 boxes, and knew I was literally at the limit of what I could fit in my Honda CR-V.  I asked them what they were going to do with all the media that didn’t sell; they didn’t know, but if I wanted to leave my name and number, they’d call me at the end of the sale, and make me a great deal on the leftovers.  Obviously, I wanted to.

So, after loading 18 boxes in my car, I had to go home and unload.  After unloading the boxes into our laundry room, it was only about 10 a.m., and we still had other sales to attend, including another church sale and a school sale, and lots of sales in between. Since it was Mossy Creek (a large arts and crafts festival) weekend, more sales than usual were advertised, including multiple community sales near the festival.  We went from sale to sale, picking up great items, but my mind clearly was on the church sale leftovers.

About 12:45, they called, and said they would make me a great deal, if I wanted to come back right now.  Crap, my car was full again.  Thankfully, I was close to home, and told them that I would be there in about 45 minutes.  That was fine.

After unloading again, and making my way back to the sale, I noticed they had their teen labor boxing up the books. I made my way to the tent to see how much the leftovers were going to cost me.  How about $50, the worker asked?  I wasn’t sure about how many boxes were left, but I agreed.  I then quickly started loading my car with the media because there were still shoppers milling about. Soon, my car was full again, and there were still boxes and boxes left, including 10 to 12 full wooden cassette holders.

Oh, crap, now what?

Fortunately, one of the workers volunteered to load boxes in his truck and haul them for me.  All told, between my car and the truck, we had at least 30 more boxes (I lost count), and there were still boxes left.  Since my car was full, including the passenger seat, I left Ella at the sale to guard the remaining boxes of media.

The volunteer followed me home, and after unloading both vehicles onto the driveway, we headed back to the sale.

In my absence, Ella not only guarded the boxes, but also found a bunch of new in package Friar Tuck clergy shirts.  So, we filled the car again, only not quite as full this time.

Needless to say, after getting the third load home, then transferring the vast majority of boxes to my storage unit down the road, we were exhausted.  And it was time to feed the dogs.  Only, I couldn’t get to the food because of all the boxes. In fact, the laundry and kitchen were standing room only after unloading everything bought on Saturday.

After climbing over boxes, I finally got the dogs fed, but we decided to put off straightening the mess until Sunday, and went to feed ourselves at Zaxby's, figuring we earned it.

I was up by 7:30 on Sunday, packing what had been sold, then sorting and listing as much of the new stuff as I could.  By Sunday evening, all my new VHS tapes, new educational/religious games, and most expensive books had been listed.  Ella had started sorting the new cassettes, and filling boxes to sell as lots on eBay.

To make a long story short (I know, too late), our house is literally a disaster area, my storage unit is full of books that I need to process, and there is still much work to do.

It was fun.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mama's got a squeezebox ...

.... She wears on her chest
And when Daddy comes home
He never gets no rest

'Cause she's playing all night
And the music's all right
Mama's got a squeezebox
Daddy never sleeps at night

With apologies to The Who (for borrowing their lyrics), and to my readers, who now, like me, have ear worms (snippet of a song stuck in your head), and smiles on your faces (due to the sexual innuendo of the lyrics), my wife and I now have a squeezebox, with original packaging, thanks to a fun church rummage sale find.

This 20-key Anglo Concertina accordion, or squeezebox, was manufactured in the German Democratic Republic.  It is the instrument most people associate with sailors and sea chanteys.

I don’t know about where you live, but accordions aren’t that easy to find in middle Georgia. I asked the church ladies where it came from, and no one knew.  Everyone had a theory as to who had donated it, but no one agreed.  I’m just glad it ended up in my possession.

I’ve done some research, and while it’s not very expensive, it should bring in excess of $100.  The squeezebox, a CD of Marine marches, and a nice book made the rummage sale a worthwhile visit.

Otherwise, it was hit and miss on a Saturday full of sales.

At a Relay for Life sale, I gathered up a small pile of items, including a new in shrinkwrap Hallmark Schools Days lunchbox featuring Superman, and a Led Zeppelin poster flag. Neither have high value, but both make nice additions to my store.

We were most disappointed at a sale that had advertised 300 books (not even close), and a new thrift store that was advertising shelves and shelves of books (six actually, with only a handful of worthless books on each), and racks and racks of CDs (one actually, with only about 20 CDs).

Overall, though, I can’t complain.  Yard sale season has gotten into full swing, and sales actually picked up this weekend, both on Amazon and eBay.

I even got a sale from eBay as I was typing this sentence.

Now, if only I could get that song out of my mind.

Well the kids don't eat
And the dog can't sleep
There's no escape from the music
In the whole damn street

'Cause she's playing all night
And the music's all right
Mama's got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night

She goes in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out

Cause' she's playing all night
And the music's all right
Mama's got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shhhhh….it’s a Secret

“The Secret has been passed down through the ages... coveted, hidden, lost, stolen, bought for vast sums of money, and known by some of the most exceptional people who ever lived: Plato, Galileo, Da Vinci, Beethoven, Edison, and Einstein, to name but a few.

The Secret book reveals how you can change every aspect of your life. You can turn any weakness or suffering into strength, power, unlimited abundance, health and joy.

Everything is possible, nothing is impossible. There are no limits. Whatever you can dream of can be yours, when you use The Secret.”

Or, so the book says.

The Secret by Amanda Byrne, currently ranked No. 144 on, has been in and out of my inventory many times, and it’s current price, hovering around $1, shows that it’s a popular book with many copies in circulation. When it crossed my path this past weekend, I decided to peruse it just to see what all the fuss is about.

Simply put, the book is about the law of attraction, which dictates that “like attracts like, and so as you think a thought, you are attracting like thoughts to you.” Positive thoughts breed positive thoughts, and conversely, negative thoughts breed negative thoughts.

How does this apply to selling online, you might ask? 

While not covered in the book, you can extrapolate that if we sit and complain about slow sales, we will experience slow sales.  “Like attracts like,” remember?

To paraphrase a paragraph in the book:

To attract sales, you must focus on sales.  It is impossible to bring more sales into your life when you are noticing that that you do not have enough sales, because it means you are thinking thoughts that you do not have enough.  Focus on slow sales, and you will create slow sales. 

You must focus on an abundance of sales. 

I know, it’s very profound and cosmic. Yet, it has a very positive vibe, so to speak, and runs parallel to the tried and true adage of the power of positive thinking, something I firmly believe in. So, when I compared apples to apples and oranges to oranges, I realized that I’ve been practicing The Secret all along.

Through the week, I think positively about going to yard sales on Saturday.  Occasionally, I think about skipping the sales and sleeping late, but I quickly squash those negative thoughts in favor of positive mental imagery.  I imagine finding books, CDs, eBay items, etc.  I visualize coming home with a car full of good stuff, and unloading it into my “warehouse.”

Negative thoughts tend to creep back in when I face listing all those items, but then I visualize selling these items, and smiling and feeling happy when I see the money disbursed into my account.

The book obviously goes into a lot more detail.  It’s a feel-good and easy read, and could open your eyes to possibilities that you’ve never considered. Or, it could be total bunk.

It’s your choice, though, to believe.  Be positive or negative.  Imagine and expect great sales, or whine about slow sales. Bemoan lack of available inventory, or visualize mountains of sellable items at your disposal.

To quote another great book, you reap what you sow.

Think about it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I met an Internet celebrity on Saturday!

One the things that I like best about going thrifting on Saturday mornings is that you never know what you will find or who you’ll meet.

Such was the case on Saturday, when I bumped into an Internet celebrity. OK, so the celebrity was a nearly 100-lb. dog named Bo who snuck up behind me carrying a dirty Frisbee, and who didn’t mind me almost tripping over him as I backed away from the table.

The owners were apologetic for the almost mishap, but since I’m not one to let a Frisbee-throwing moment get away, I took the disc and gave it whirl.  Bo took off after the toy; he didn’t quite catch it, but came close.

While Bo and I were enjoying ourselves, the owner explained that Bo is one of the featured dogs in the Ducks Unlimited screen saver that is downloadable from  The screen saver celebrates the loyal canine companions that follow the hunters into the field.  Here’s Bo:

Of course, the sale yielded other treasures, too:

Earlier in the day, I found another high priced Bible at an estate sale.  I thought it was appropriate, seeing as how it was the day before Easter.  I listed this one on Amazon since it had a barcode.

The most intriguing stop for us was a huge sale that had started on Friday afternoon.  Here was the ad:

“Yard sale starts noon on Friday, 6 APR 2012 ends Saturday 7 APR 2012 3PM or later, if busy. Sale includes go-kart, children's motorcycles, exercise equipment, complete shelving sets, lots of McCoy pottery, Bentwood rocker, VHS, DVDs, Gameboy advance games, CD ROM PC interactive child entertainment, Playstation 2, Nintendo DS, computer parts, printers, plain paper fax machine, massive LEGO collections, bedding sets, toys, stuffed animals, shoes, clothes, medical scrubs, dictation equipment, books, TV, Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, Christmas tree, ornaments, bows, etc. Boys soccer cleats, shin guards, roller blades, skateboard, all kinds of stuff. Everything in decent condition, we're just downsizing and we have way too much stuff. BIG plastic doghouse, comes with free neutered, litter-trained 1 yr old tabby tomcat (beautiful, but slightly evil). Would make great cat for diehard cat person. We prefer cats that snuggle more than this one. He loves the outdoors but we live on a busy road so we can't let him out all the time. Bring a travel crate if you want the cat.”

The sale actually was about 45 minutes away from our house, but we had worked our way in that direction, and decided to see if they had any decent “leftovers” (see my previous blog on this subject). I’m glad we did.

We spent almost $100 at this sale, and purchased, among other items, a box of vintage dictation equipment, 22 Gameboy games, Left Behind audio books on CD, plus these items (not listed yet):

Working Digital Camera + Photo Prints ($3)

 Unopened film for camera ($.50)

Camera + Film (one unopened) ($1)

The whole time I was there, they were talking about selling what was left on eBay, and thinking they could make more money that way.

Later Saturday afternoon, though, they ran a curb alert in the Free section of Craigslist.  They gave away everything that was left.

Monday, April 2, 2012

These boots are made for selling …

And that’s just what they’ll do.  It was a good weekend, not sales-wise, unfortunately, but I did find three brand new pairs of $100+ steel-toed work boots for only $10 each. 

I’ve found that boots do fairly well, and whenever I see a pair, I pick them up.  One section of my inventory room looks like a boot store, so on Sunday, Ella insisted that I get all the boots listed.  That didn’t happen, but I did make a dent in them, so to speak.

Back to Saturday, though.  It was overcast, with rain threatening, but the forecast called for the wet stuff to move in a little later in the morning, and I hoped to get in a few sales before the bottom dropped out.

There were three church sales, all in different nearby cities, on our itinerary for the morning, plus a Relay for Life sale, and several individual sales.  Our first church sale was a disorganized mess, which was supposed to start at 7 a.m.  When we arrived promptly at 7, several church members were hanging around outside, grousing about who was there, who wasn’t there, lack of pricing, etc.  They did tell me I could go on in, and I promptly claimed a box of religious audio books on cassette, including the Left Behind series.  After a few minutes of rambling, Ella found a huge box of western VHS tapes, including a large collection of Roy Rogers tapes.   Unfortunately, no congregation member wanted to claim ownership of pricing.   One member finally stepped up, and we settled on $35 for both boxes.

It was about 7:20 by that time, with the rest of the sales starting at 8 a.m.  With nothing else to do, we headed to the second sale on our list, hoping they had their stuff out early.  They did, but were waiting for someone to bring the DVDs that were promised in their Craigslist advertisement. I found my new boots at this sale, and by the time I paid for my soon to be listed footwear, the man with the DVDs showed up.

I’ve learned some interesting things at yard sales, not the least of which is that our service men and women don’t have cable TV in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, what do they do?  They buy lots of DVDs and boxed sets.   Stacks and stacks of DVDs and boxed sets were put on the table, including complete series runs (all seasons) of CSI, CSI Miami, and CSI New York.  It was like Christmas.  We left happier, but $60 poorer.

After several hit and miss individual sales, we passed by an unadvertised church yard sale.  After perusing the wares, and not buying anything but a book, we decided to skip the other individual sales in favor of the “huge” Relay for Life Sale in the next city over in case it started raining.   At this sale, I found another pair of boots for the princely sum of $1, but it started to rain, so everyone started packing up. 

And it kept raining.  Thinking individual sales were going to be washed out, we headed for our next church sale, hoping it would be inside.  It was, and we found some good items, including some books, and new in box tools.

And it was still raining when we left. Knowing that everything was washed out at that point, we headed home.  Traveling on the interstate, I noticed the traffic was slowing down to a crawl thanks to an apparent accident.  Fortunately, I was at an exit, and was able to take the back road home.

As luck would have it, the back road took us to another unadvertised church sale.  The actual yard sale was small, and I only found a few odds and ends, but in another building, they were giving away clothes. They had a multitude of tables and racks set up with mostly name-brand, good condition clothes for men, women, and children sorted by size. We filled three bags. It was like Christmas again, and we enjoyed getting the clothes, both to wear personally, and to sell.

And it was still raining. 

We had one more church sale to attend in another nearby community; however, our luck ran out, and the church had closed before we got there. 

Fortunately, the church was next door to a Chinese buffet, and, after all, it was lunchtime by then, so not a total loss.