Monday, April 29, 2013

Bits and pieces

Skype: Free.
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920: $73.98.
Watching Ella see her sister for the first time in several years: Priceless.

We made our first ever Skype call on Sunday, and Ella spent a couple of hours chit chatting with her sister in Maryland.  Even though they talk on the phone occasionally, they haven’t seen each other since their mom’s funeral, so it was nice to see them “get together,” even if it was just online.


I haven’t been in this “business” very long, compared to some, and I recognize that some of my competitors have more experience than I do.  However, I took it as a sign of respect when Harold, who thrifts full time, immediately grabbed a box of physics homeschooling VHS tapes when he saw me walk in a Saturday church sale.  Apparently, he now considers me competition.

Speaking of the church sale, it was a humdinger.  Ella and I have driven by the church many times, and I always jokingly say that they owe me a yard sale.  Well, finally, they obliged, and with Harold and me (plus Ella) as the only serious pickers, we all did some serious thrifting.  I’m not sure what Harold walked away with, aside from the VHS tapes, but I had a huge box full of books, CDs, DVDs, and assorted odds and ends.

I wanted to stay longer at the church, but time was against us since we had to head out of town for a small book sale.  After flying down the highway and arriving about 30 minutes late, I was pleased to see that no other dealers were in attendance. So, we spent about an hour combing through the books, and came away with a full rolling tote plus a few extra in a cardboard box.  It’s always fun to attend a sale without worrying about what another dealer is grabbing.

I won’t be so lucky this week, though. The local Friends of the Library is holding their annual Old Book Sale this Thursday through Saturday.  The sale promises more than 90,000 books, and probably just as many dealers on Thursday morning for their $5 preview sale.  It’s a dog-eat-dog, no holds barred, battle royal refereed by the nice, but stern, book ladies.  The husband of one of the book ladies works with me, and I asked him if they were giving out numbers on Thursday morning.  He said that he would check, but remarked that the difference between No. 1 and No. 100 getting in the door was probably only a minute or two.  That’s true, I admitted, but since sales are so slow right now, I need all the advantage that I can get.

Have a productive week everyone.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Going international ... sort of

Say what you will about Ella, once she gets an idea, she’s full steam ahead until it comes to fruition. In February, she saw an ad from CIEE USA on Craigslist looking for host families for international exchange students.  Last week, after Ella spent countless hours filling out the application, submitting us both for background checks, and cleaning, straightening, and rearranging the house for the in-home interview, we finally were approved. 

We then spent several days looking over potential students, and finally selected a 17-year old male from Vietnam to live with us for the upcoming school year.  If all goes as planned, Duc will join our family in August, and spend the next 10 months learning what it’s like to be a high school student in small town America.

We don’t have any children, so it will be a big change to have a hormonal teen-ager living under our roof.  There’s much to consider, from curfews to meals to chores, but Ella is excited, and undaunted.  I’m not quite as gung-ho, but do appreciate the prospect of having someone to help around the house.  Also, I plan to introduce Duc to the family business (thrifting, of course), and can envision teaching him to use a scanner, and having him help during our weekly scouting trips.

Speaking of scouting trips, books have been few and far between over the last two weeks, but, strangely enough, DVD boxed sets have been in abundance. We’ve picked up 10 seasons of the original Hawaii Five-O, all eight seasons of Charmed, as well as multiple seasons of Merlin, Sabrina the Teen-aged Witch, Monk, Young Justice, Merlin, Warehouse 13, and assorted others.  We’ve also found a good number of single DVDs and CDs.

As I grow in this business, I’m beginning to see value in items that I probably have overlooked in the past.  For example, I happened to see a box of metal lapel pins at a local thrift store on Saturday.  Most were for local events (real estate, open houses, etc.), but one jumped out at me:

It’s from a now-defunct Las Vegas casino, probably pressed in the early 1970s, and features a semi-famous character actor who also participated in the casino’s big poker tournament.   It’s certainly collectible, and, hopefully, just quirky enough to sell.  Best of all, it cost just $.49, and there were a few more that I could grab if it sells quickly.

Elsewhere on Saturday, I picked up a new in box Dymo LabelWriter Twin Turbo from a fellow Ebayer for a measly $8.  It seems that the seller, who deals in sterling silver, still labels everything by hand. While I wanted to espouse the benefits of using labels on packages, I squelched that impulse, and made off with my new gadget.

As usual, there is so little to do, and so much time to do it.   Wait, reverse that.  Have a great and productive week everyone.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Stll in the portable hole ...

When I was in college, back in the dark ages, my roommate, Jimps, was a fan of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).  I never had much use for the game, but he got me to play occasionally, and during our last game, I fell into a portable hole.   Unfortunately, the game was interrupted, and as far as I know, I’m still there, waiting for a roll of the dice to climb out.

Flash forward to now, and I still don’t have much use for the game, but I recognize that many people do, which is why my eyes got big when I saw the D&D books on the table this weekend at a yard sale.  There were only a few books, but each was worth decent money, and I quickly stuck them in my pile.  The owner was a 20-something year old woman who said that the few books on the table were just part of her collection.  I sweet-talked her into bringing out another box to sell, and then finally convinced her to let me in her house to look at her entire collection.

And what a collection it was.  Several large bookcases were lined with role-playing books, and she pulled a few more that she was willing to part with.  All told, I purchased 64 books, an anime boxed Blu-ray set, and several Blu-ray DVDs for $150.  I listed them on Amazon, and was pleased to see that my purchase should net me close to $1000.

Elsewhere, spring has definitely sprung, as yard and estate sales blossomed across the two-city area that Ella and I traverse.  Ella picked a local church sale clean on Friday morning, and I backed her up at lunchtime just to make sure she didn’t miss anything.  Saturday morning was spent hopping from sale to sale, putting nearly 100 miles on the car, and we still didn’t get everywhere that we wanted to go.

I had to pack my sales on Sunday, and was happy to see that my hot chocolate sold.  Sorry, I mean my “Swiss Miss Indulgent Collection - French Vanilla - Premium Cocoa.”  I bought eight boxes ($16 worth) from Big Lots back in February, and, apparently, someone has a sweet tooth because he bought all of them for $72.

With that in mind, I almost bought a box of Cadbury Creme Eggs from the clearance rack at Wal-Mart.  The chocolate eggs were 75 percent off ($.34) each, and are selling on Ebay for $1 each.  I couldn’t quite convince myself to bite on that deal, though.

Have a great week everyone.