Friday, December 21, 2012

Bah Humbug – Georgia Lottery Style

Ella’s brother, Jimmy, loves to play the Georgia Lottery, and was all grins late last week when he knocked on our door, and proudly displayed his $1000 winning scratch-off ticket.   You see, Jimmy doesn’t make much money, lives on food stamps, and this unexpected windfall had perked him up considerably.  I was happy for him, and, for reasons we won’t discuss, I even agreed to cash it in for him.

Needless to say, he was in a hurry for the money.   He had big plans.  He was going to send $100 to each of his kids, and get a tooth pulled.
However, since the lottery office was in Macon, about 30 minutes away, I had to wait until this past Monday to make the drive.  With ticket in hand, I stepped into the lottery office, my first time there, and handed over the ticket.  The lady behind the counter looked at the ticket, and asked me how I wanted it.

Huh?, I thought, and asked “what do you mean?”
“Do you want cash, or another ticket?” she clarified.

“But it’s $1000,” I said. 
She picked it up again, finished scratching it off, and said, “No, it’s $5,” and showed it to me.

I looked at the ticket, and sure enough, it was a $5 winning ticket.  Jimmy had not scratched off enough to realize that he had misread the numbers.
“Cash,” I said dejectedly, and she handed me over a $1 bill, and four gold dollar coins. While I was disappointed, I knew that my disappointment was going to pale in comparison to Jimmy’s.

In hindsight, I should have kept the ticket to prove its worth, or lack thereof, because I knew it would be difficult to explain how $1000 just evaporated.   So, I waited for Jimmy to drop buy, dreading to give him the news.
All things considered, he took it pretty well, alternating between disbelief, and claiming that the lottery office had cheated him, before settling down to just a numb silence before leaving.  I genuinely felt sorry for him, like he had actually lost something valuable, even though he never had it in the first place.

Last night, however, the universe proved that it was indeed a magical place, especially at Christmas time.  Jimmy called and said that he had won $100 on a scratch off ticket.  He politely refused to let me cash it in for him, though.
Meanwhile, on the ‘bay and the river, sales have been brisk this week, even though mailing deadlines for Christmas have passed.  One buyer purchased a Christmas cartoon collector’s edition DVD set on Monday morning, and I, being of good holiday cheer, bumped shipping to Priority just so they would get it before the holiday. Late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, the buyer emailed me asking me to ship it overnight, even though they had only paid the $2.98 Amazon shipping cost. I politely declined, especially since the package had hit the mail stream some eight hours or more previous to her email. Another buyer asked how much it would cost to overnight a CD.  She balked at the $30 price tag.

Hopefully, your selling season went well, and you are looking forward to another productive year.
Have a happy holiday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Musings - Someone turn the river back on, please

Last week was an amazing sales week on Amazon for me right up until Friday, when someone turned the faucet off.  From Sunday to Thursday, I averaged 12 sales daily, easily surpassing, sometimes doubling, my goal of $100 in sales per day.  On Friday, sales dropped to two, and didn’t get much better on Saturday with seven.  Sunday was also slow, with only seven sales.  Fortunately, one of the overnight sales was:

Over on Ebay, sales also trickled in, including, much to my delight, this one:

The Macon Whoopee was a semi-pro hockey team in Macon, GA, which was ridiculed once by Johnny Carson on his show.  Obviously, it had a strong following outside of Georgia because the jersey was shipped to Wisconsin.

I had picked the jersey up for $1 at a sale earlier this year after I read that memorabilia from defunct sports teams can bring big bucks.  Obviously, you can believe some things that you read.

In between my fretting about slow sales, I did manage to attend a few yard sales on Saturday.  The first sale was at a local school, and Ella and I arrived promptly at 8 a.m.   As we pulled up, another dealer got out of his car, saw us, waved to be neighborly, and then trotted inside the sale as fast as he could.  It was meant to be humorous, and I was amused, but only slightly.  Fortunately, that particular dealer looks for different stuff than me, and while we have a friendly competition, I can see that competition intensifying as I expand my Ebay store, and encroach on his inventory “territory.”

The only other sale of any consequence was one that advertised Star Wars merchandise, and it didn’t disappoint. Even at mid-morning, there were still a large assortment of NIP action figures spread out over the drive way, and the owner didn’t even question why I was scanning each one.  I toyed (pun intended) with the idea of purchasing all of them, but mentally figured the return on investment wasn’t sufficient to justify the expense.  Still, I did pick up a boxful of higher priced items, including four Star Wars lego sets ($5 each) that are selling individually for $30 to $40 online.

Sunday was spent packing, listing, and watching the Falcons get embarrassed by the Panthers.

How was your weekend?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Musings - Diamond Tester

I’m always trying to improve my business savvy, whether by talking, listening, reading, or watching TV. As the Redneck Picker on YouTube says, you need to “keep your head on a swivel” to be successful.

Case in point, last weekend, I caught an episode of Baggage Battles, a “Storage Wars” type show where the stars bid on lost luggage, attend customs auctions, etc.  It’s pretty much a rip off of the more successful auction shows, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it.  For instance, one of the cast members whipped out a small device to surreptitiously test a diamond ring before bidding on a jewelry lot.  After winning the lot, he pulled out the device again to verify that he had made the right decision, and briefly described his “diamond tester.” 

Intrigued, I immediately conducted an Internet search for the device, expecting it to be quite pricey.  Imagine my surprise when I found a diamond tester on Amazon for $18.  Granted, it wasn’t top of the line, but reviews were mostly positive. So, thanks to Amazon Prime, I had the tester in hand overnight, and after testing it on some personal jewelry, I was ready for the weekend.

Fortunately, there was an estate sale that featured jewelry, and after looking over the collection, I eyed a small ring for $5 that looked like it could hold a diamond.  Powering my new gizmo up, I touched the stone, but got no response from the machine.  Bummer, not a diamond.

While it would have been nice to find a diamond on my first try, I wasn’t dismayed.  Much like my book scanner did when I first started selling online, I have a feeling that this fancy little device will open a whole new world of potential revenue for me.  I can’t wait to try it again.

Otherwise, I spent most of the weekend listing and, thankfully, packing a wide variety of merchandise.  Sales were brisk over my three day selling period (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), with 26 items sold across multiple venues (Amazon, Half, Alibris, etc.), and seven sold on Ebay, including these two beat-up Braun shavers picked up for $1 at a church sale.

I did have an unhappy customer this weekend, though.   Back in the summer, I purchased a large lot of clearance toys from K-Mart.  All were new, but most had some shelf wear from constant handling.  A customer who purchased an $8 baby toy was upset that I had sold her a used toy that I described as new.  She was “kind” enough to mention protecting my feedback rating as she angled to return the product.  I thanked her for contacting me before leaving feedback, and refunded her money without making her return the toy.  I figured it was worth $8 to avoid a negative feedback.

How was your weekend?