Monday, August 19, 2013

The Rovin’ Collector

If it’s Saturday, it must be raining in Georgia.  Yes, it rained again on Saturday, ruining most yard/garage sales in the process.  Thankfully, there was an estate sale relatively close to my house, so the three intrepid thrifters (me, Ella, and newcomer, Duc) dodged the raindrops, and paid a visit to the Rovin’ Collector.

I found his business card in one of the books

I’ve mentioned before that estate sales tend to make me sad because you are pawing through the remnants of another person’s life.  This particular sale was a “living” estate sale, which meant that the Rovin’ Collector is still alive, and since it was at his house, and the sale was in his basement and garage, I could only imagine him watching out the window as his prized collectibles were sold off piece by piece.

Obviously, the Rovin’ Collector was a dealer, and I heard snatches of conversation about how he traveled extensively buying and selling.  His collection spanned almost every conceivable category, from Coca-Cola memorabilia to railroad artifacts to boxes and boxes of vintage campaign buttons.  He had Avon bottles; Civil War uniforms and bullets; signed and framed autographed photos; Scouting stuff; cigar boxes; old tools; and baseball cards.

It was awe-inspiring, and an Ebayer’s paradise.

None of the items were yard-sale cheap, though, except for the books.  I’m not talking about his collectible books, which were numerous. I’m talking about his books about collectibles, which were priced anywhere from $2 to $5 each, and no one in this Ebayer’s land of milk and honey was paying any attention to the money that was staring them in the face.  Almost no one, that is.

After casting wistful glances at much of the inventory, I settled in front of his five-shelf bookcase.  Many of the books did not have ISBN numbers, which made my PDA scanner useless, and my scouting painfully slow as I went book by book, shelf by shelf, many times having to look up books on my smartphone.  Duc finally then joined me, guarding my nice pile of “gems,” and watching me intently, obviously trying to learn more about our “family business.”

I left with approximately 20 books, and Ella had found a collector’s western magazine, which is destined for our booth at the film festival next year.  She wanted a signed John Wayne photo, but the $75 price tag gave me pause.  Now, an original autograph from The Duke can bring close to $200, but I had no idea if it was an original, or a reprint.  Reprints only bring $10 to $20.

While in line, I learned that Sunday would be half-price day, so we decided to come back the next day.

On Sunday, the sale was even more crowded, so I headed back to the books.  I picked up about six more books that I had missed.  Ella grabbed a couple of vintage Avon aftershave bottles with a western theme.  Unfortunately, the John Wayne photo was gone.

When all was said and done, I had picked up 26 books, which I have listed for more than $1300.  Granted, they are niche books, but with Amazon, they just sit until they sell at no cost to me, unlike Ebay’s monthly per item fee.

A few books can certainly add up
The moral of this story is that even if you are surrounded by top quality, sellable merchandise, always look at the books. Oh, and don’t let a little rain scare you away.


  1. You are so correct! I have over 2100 books listed on Amazon and I do Merchant fulfill. It's been slower than I like but easy to list and easy to ship. I really like that! Great titles on your list...wish I lived where there are Estate Sales...closet city is 80 miles away...kind of far to drive!

    1. Actually, 80 miles isn't too far, at least for me. We sometimes make trips to nearby cities if they have promising sales. And, on average, we put at least 100 miles on the truck on a typical Saturday going from sale to sale.

  2. Nice scores! I definitely need to get more into books.

  3. Books definitely need to be on your BOLO list.