Monday, January 14, 2013

Just take it

Last week, I wrote about “Mom,” a tough negotiator who let $5 stand between her and a $50 profit on a cold Saturday morning.  This week, on an unseasonably warm Saturday morning (65 degrees), a mom didn’t care about profit as she gave away the best thing at her sale.

First off, Saturday again was a bust, with few sales, and even fewer bargains found.  It was one of those mornings when I think I could have made more money by staying home and listing some items in my stockpile. Yet, I always feel a twinge of guilt when I stay home on Saturday mornings, so I got up, dragged Ella out of bed, and then hit the thrifting trail.

I’ll spare you the heartbreaking details of the first few barren sales, but by mid-morning, we were grasping at straws, having found squat.   One sale we attended was staged inside a nightclub at a local hotel, and the whole place reeked of cigarette smoke.  I don’t say this often, but I feel fortunate that I didn’t find anything there because I’m sure it would have been unsellable.  Cigarette smoke is almost impossible to remove from most items.

Later, at what would become our last sale of the morning, I happened across a large box of Happy Meal toys, still in plastic bags.  The box was marked $.25 each, and I figured there had to be close to 100 toys.  Now, I know such toys aren’t big sellers, but I thought that if I could get the lot cheap enough, I might eke out a small profit.  So, I offered $10 for the whole box.  The gentleman half of the couple running the sale said that someone had just asked to buy the whole box, and had left to go to the bank.

“Well, I’m here with cash. How much did he offer,” I asked.

“He didn’t give a price,” the gentleman said.

“OK, so how much do you want for the box?” I asked again.

“Ask her,” he said, pointing to his wife, who apparently was the brains of the operation.

So, I did.  “They’re marked $.25 each, but how much for the entire box?” I asked for the third time.

“Oh, I’m not going to make you pay $.25 each,” she said. 

Cool, I thought, and then asked, “well, how much do you want for all of them?”  I was starting to sound like a broken record.

“Just take them,” she said.

Ella and I just looked at each other, and I asked, “Are you sure?”

She just smiled, and shook her head yes.  I thanked her, quickly grabbed the box, and headed for the car.  There was another vehicle pulling up, and I wanted to load the toys just in case it was the buyer back from the bank.

Once we got home, I counted 120 toys in the box, about half of which were Disney related.  I still need to sort the items, and break them into some logical lots for listing on Ebay.  But one thing is certain, even if only one toy sells, I’ve made money.

Speaking of Ebay, I had two big sales this past week.  My Radio Shack PRO-96 Digital Trunking Scanner, which I purchased for $5, sold for $180, which was a deal for that particular item.  However, the scanner was not in perfect condition, and was missing the programming cable.  Also, the battery compartment had some corrosion due to battery leakage.  I tested the scanner as best I could, but couldn’t hear anything on it but the weather frequency.  So, I stated all the flaws in the description, listed it at a bargain price, and kept my fingers crossed that any potential buyer knew more about it than I did, and could make it work. 

Much to my dismay, it sold to a buyer with no feedback.  I shipped it Priority the next day, and the buyer received it on Friday.  On Friday afternoon, I got this email:

“buttons 1 4 7 and 0 also pgm func man pause and mode buttons do not work... also can NOT use the cable i boufght at radioshack to program the latest firmware. I have worked with the pro 2096 mobile which programs the same way as this handheld and there are definately problems qwith this unit... i REFUSE TO PAY return shipping on an item that does not work as description says it does. trunk does nothing or att. or tune or pri looks like the battery leakage you showed in picture actually did an internal damage to the control buttons... immediate full refund requestedand you pay return shipping because you lied and said its fully functional.”

The buyer was apparently fairly peeved about his purchase, as indicated by his judicial use of ALL CAPS.  I told him to return the unit, and I would refund his money plus return shipping.  I then got this email:

“before i send it back my son is going to come and try programming it for me. hopefully its just user error will let you know tonight or tomorrow.”

OK, so now I had hope that I wouldn’t lose the big sale.  On Saturday morning, the buyer sent this:

“Hey sorry for the trouble with last message. all is working great i somehow locked the keylock function and my son came over and told me had to look online and do a hard reset... which i didnt see pinhole on the side of scanner. so he held it in for 10 seconds with a paperclip as described in the literature that comes with it, but all works great now.. THANK YOU for your Patience.”

Crisis averted, plus he left positive feedback.

My other big sale was a copy of Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 for $200, another bargain for the buyer. I sold this cheaper than normal because while it was new in shrink-wrap, you can never be sure about the software license.  Microsoft is very picky. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t get a “not as described” e-mail this week.

I wasted yesterday afternoon watching the Falcons squeak by the Seahawks, so I have to work harder over the next couple of evenings to keep Ella off my back.

Have a great thrifting/selling week.


  1. Wow..that Ella is a slave driver! LOL

    I'm so impressed with your inventory finding and listing abilities. I have another full time business and do this part time, and I never seem to have time to list as much as I'd like (and no, I don't watch TV..LOL). But I do have 3 kids too. ;)

    I would very much be interested also learning about your techniques, tips, tricks, etc.

    Thanks so much..I enjoy your blog posts tremendously!

    Margaret @ Live Like No One Else

    1. Time management is definitely a challenge when you work another job. Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, etc.