Monday, September 30, 2013

Mad dash for cash

Saturday was a wall-to-wall full day, which started with a petty argument with Ella at 6 a.m. concerning our itinerary for the day, and ended with a seller at the auction refusing to put something I really wanted up for bids.

The petty argument resolved itself fairly quickly as Ella, Duc and I hit the road by 6:30 a.m., determined to visit a few sales before heading toward Milledgeville, about 45 minutes away, for the city’s annual library fair, which started promptly at 9 a.m. However, we didn’t have much luck; it seems some people actually mean 8 a.m. when they advertise 8 a.m.

So, off to Milledgeville we went, which would sound humorous if you knew the history of the city (mental institutions and state prisons). We made it to the library fair, which hosts a huge book sale in the parking lot, an inside flea market, and various other activities, with about 20 minutes to spare, and got in line. Since I had attended the sale in previous years, I knew the line actually was to buy empty boxes ($15 per box; 5 boxes for $60) in which to put the books. I also knew that book dealers were actually smart enough NOT to wait in line, since you could buy the books individually ($.50 for paperbacks, $1 for hardbacks). So, close to 9 a.m., we left the line and took up residence along the edge of the sale, with the rest of the dealers, waiting for the starting gun, so to speak.

When the word was given over the loudspeaker, chaos, as Duc would say, ensued, as dealers made their figurative mad dash for cash.

We divided and conquered, with Ella heading inside to check out the flea market, and Duc sticking with me.

I walked quickly to the first table, where I had spied this book:

Apparently, another dealer had spied it as well, and all but tried to push me out of the way to grab it.

“Mine!” I said, as I grabbed it to scan. It wasn’t worth that much, but I grinned widely after scanning, and dropped it in my tote, hoping to psych out the other dealer. Apparently, it worked, because he left quickly for another table. Too bad, because had he stuck to his guns, he might have grabbed this one:

It sold soon after I listed it on Sunday for $96.

Though Ella didn’t find anything inside to resell, she quickly grabbed some comic books/graphic novels that were worth some money, especially one worth $100.00 that, fortunately for us, had been overlooked.

After filling two rolling totes, and picking out several stacks of book, which I had Duc guard with his life, Ella tallied our haul, which came to approximately $118. Since Ella actually is the smart one in our marriage, she suggested buying the five boxes for $60. I did, and all the books fit, with some room to spare. So, we just started grabbing other books just to fill the boxes to get our money’s worth. Duc even found a couple of SAT books to study.

It was a good day at the library fair.

On the way home, we stopped at the historic Hay House in Macon for a free tour, thanks to a special Smithsonian Museum promotion.

Ella and Duc pose on the steps of the Hay House. 
Duc, who wants to be an architect, enjoyed looking at the antebellum houses
along Georgia Avenue in Macon
From the Hay House website:

“One of Georgia’s most distinguished structures, the Johnston-Felton-Hay House in Macon was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974. It was built from 1855 to 1859 in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, a marked contrast to the more restrained Greek Revival architecture of the antebellum period.”

Ever the thrifter, I found a book, Macon: An Architectural and Historical Guide, that was selling for $1 in the gift shop.  After a quick Amazon check, I bought all four since they are selling for close to $9 online.

To cap off an already busy day, Ella and I attended the local auction; Duc says it gives him a headache, so he stayed home. After surveying what was to be auctioned, I zeroed in on a small box of vintage paperwork and photos, including the creepiest photo of Santa Claus, signed no less, that I had ever seen. The seller, however, decided not to offer the collection up for bids. Bummer!

On Sunday, while listing the books from the library fair, I came across a copy of Eating Disorders for Dummies. It wasn’t worth much, but what made it interesting was that there were the remnants of tape and wrapping paper on it. I couldn’t tell if it was birthday or Christmas paper, but, either way, is there ever a special occasion where you give a book about eating disorders?

For the bulimic who has everything, I guess.

Later in the day, we went to a local scaled-down version of Comic Con, where I met 17-year-old Mackenzie Lintz, who plays Norrie on Under the Dome, the Stephen King adaptation on CBS.  She politely refused to tell me if the dome comes down next season (you’ll just have to watch, she said), but she did share how they make touching the dome look so real. Sometimes, the producers use large sheets of Plexiglass; other times, the actors just touch small pieces of glass. She also admitted that sometimes they just fake it, like a mime would do.

Mackenzie Lintz as Norrie Calvert-Hill and Colin Ford as Joe McAlister
in CBS’ Under the Dome
The next couple of weekends promise to be busy, with several large thrifting events (Granny’s Attic and Historic Macon’s annual flea market), as well as one more small book sale. Thankfully, they are not all on the same day. With the weather finally cooling off, yard sales should pick up a bit as well. Several good fall hauls are just what I need to ensure a busy Christmas season.

Have a great week everyone.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An Acme delivery

I get many compliments on my fast shipping, but sometimes I amaze even myself.

For example, I sold a pair of new in box Chevrolet Racing shoes yesterday, boxed them up last night, and had them in my truck this morning, waiting to be dropped off at the post office.

These shoes apparently raced to their buyer
Before that could happen, though, I got this positive feedback from the buyer:

Got here super fast in great condition!

I was so confused that I went out to my truck to make sure they had not been picked up and subsequently delivered by Acme, the super fast company from the Road Runner/Coyote cartoons.

The shoes were still in the truck, so obviously the buyer had me confused with another seller.  At least now, though, I don’t have to worry about negative feedback should the shoes not fit.

Another buyer made me work to understand his feedback when he left me this:

Exactamente lo que esperaba , muchas gracias.

For my non-Spanish speaking readers, that translates to:

“Exactly what I expected, thank you very much.”

Google Translate is a wonderful tool.

Elsewhere in my little online world, this past weekend pretty much was a bust.  Even Duc, who has been thrifting for only a month, has learned enough to recognize junk when he sees it, and is not afraid to tell me, discretely, after surveying a sellers’ wares.

Speaking of junk, there also was nothing but junk at the auction on Saturday night, despite having a new seller with enough stuff to fill several tables.  I was hopeful upon first glance, but upon closer examination, I noticed yellow Wal-Mart “defective/returned” stickers still attached to many of the items.    To paraphrase Dana Carvey, who impersonated President George H.W. Bush on Saturday Night Live, “not gonna buy it … wouldn’t be prudent.”

We did buy a small case (four bottles) of Softsoap, though, for $2, figuring it was a decent deal.    Wrong again. As it turns out, the Softsoap was actually the replacement base (no pump) for the upscale Ensembles line, which has a larger pump than normal Softsoap.  Did I mention that the Ensembles line has been discontinued?   Obviously, the soap won’t go to waste, since I can just pour it into another bottle.  However, it just shows that you have to be careful when buying even insignificant things at an auction.

On a totally unrelated subject, I’m proud to say that I have surpassed the 1500 positive feedback milestone on Ebay.  I know, that’s a drop in the bucket for many of you, but I’m late to the ’bay, having concentrated most of my efforts on Amazon for the majority of my selling career.  Over on the big river, though, more than 2400 customers have left me feedback (99% positive).
While gathering my feedback numbers, I decided to delve further into my selling statistics.  According to The Art of Books, my online inventory management system, I have sold close to 15,000 media items and toys since 2007, not counting sales from Amazon’s FBA program or Ebay.  To ship everything, including Ebay, I have purchased more than $51,000 worth of postage through Endicia.

Pretty amazing, at least to me, and makes me tired just thinking about it.

As for this coming weekend, nothing has caught my eye so far, sales-wise.  It might be a good day to stay home, and list, list, list.

Friday, September 6, 2013

September already?

I can’t believe it’s September already.  Of course, I’m ready for some cooler weather, and the prospect of not having to cut the grass as often.  Even Duc, our exchange student from Vietnam, is eyeing the colder months ahead when he doesn’t have to get all “itchy” from doing a little yard work.  I guess you can take the boy out of the city (Hanoi), but you can’t take the city out of the boy.

Speaking of Duc, I asked him this morning what he wanted to do on Saturday, and he said he wanted to go to yard sales.  He’s barely been here a month, and he already has the thrifting bug.  We are so proud.

A week or so ago, we went to a local mom and pop thrift store that was closing, and everything was half price.  I immediately headed toward the small book section.  I was able to pull more than $200 worth of books off their shelf for a miserly $10.

While we are on the subject, I also sold my $525 book that I picked up at a recent estate sale.  It was a niche book about duck decoys in Louisiana, and was in acceptable condition (missing dust jacket, and a few other minor flaws), yet it sold within a week.

I can’t say it enough. ALWAYS LOOK AT THE BOOKS.

Don’t skip the DVDs, either, especially if you can get a lot buy.  My $900 purchase of more than a 1000 DVDs has netted me around $1089 since July, with plenty left to sell.   Since they are sitting on Amazon, they cost me nothing while they wait for just the right buyer.

In an interesting turn of events, I sold two boxes of contact lens solution.  Normally, this would a “nothing to see here, move along” sale, because, after all, people use this stuff every day.  What piqued my curiosity, though, was the fact that I had listed both boxes on Amazon last September, and then they both sell on the same day, one year later, to customers on opposite sides of the country.


Maybe, but it does lend credence to the idea of “cycling” or intermittent surfacing of inventory on online marketplaces.  Conspiracy theorists believe that Amazon cycles your inventory online and offline, and/or makes your inventory visible to different parts of the country at different times.

It’s never been proven, and, of course, Amazon and Ebay won’t admit to it, but may sellers firmly believe it occurs.  I’ve never given it much thought, but it’s hard not to believe it when you have two items that have been listed since September 2012 that suddenly sell within hours of each other.  You might expect such a thing with textbooks, but not contact lens solution.

This weekend is shaping up to be fairly busy, with several larger sales, including two church sales, a neighborhood sale, and a warehouse sale, plus lots of little sales in between.  To jump start the weekend, I went to a VFW sale at lunch today, and happened to find this jewel.

I know, it doesn’t look like much, but I had read somewhere that vintage/retro digital flip clocks are hot right now on Ebay.  So, I splurged, and paid a whole dollar to acquire this little bit of timepiece history.  A quick search on Terapeak shows a low sell-through rate,  but when like items do sell, they go for anywhere between $18 and $39.  Not a bad return on investment if I do say so myself.

I also found this new in package uniform insignia for U.S. Special Forces.  It should bring around $10 on a six bit ($.75) expenditure.

Hopefully, the full slate of sales this weekend is a harbinger of the weeks ahead as the weather starts to cool off.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, it’s been a horrendous yard sale season, and with Christmas literally just around the corner, I need all the inventory that I can get.

Have a productive weekend everyone.

P.S. Ella and I are celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary today.   I don't know how she has put up with me all these years.