Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Retail arbitrage - Kmart style

Most days during my lunch hour, I find myself roaming the aisles of the local Kmart, getting a little exercise, and, of course, looking for bargains on their clearance racks.  Last year, I found a mother lode of marked-down toys ($.99 and $4.99 each); earlier this year, it was thermal underwear ($.99 each) and insulated character lunch bags ($.99 each). 

Today, it was men’s Wrangler shorts.

Lately, the store has been putting racks of clearance spring and summer clothing outside the front doors, but it has been mostly Kmart brand women’s clothes at a 50 percent discount.  Yesterday, I noticed that the clothes had dropped to $.99 each, but it was still all women’s styles.  As I walked past the racks today, the name “Wrangler” jumped out at me, and upon closer examination, I noticed that they were men’s shorts, so I grabbed a couple of pairs to price inside to make sure they were actually $.99 as advertised on the sign.

I walked inside the store, set off the shoplifting alarm, and headed to the nearest price scanner.  Both pairs scanned at $.99, and after a quick, but really unnecessary check of Ebay completed listings, I grabbed a buggy (or a shopping cart for all my non-Southern readers) and headed back outside.

I "wrangled" some shorts today
Having learned my lesson about buying everything once you find a bargain, I loaded the buggy with all the shorts, losing count along the way.  I wheeled the buggy back inside, again setting off and ignoring the shoplifting alarm, and headed toward the nearest check-out line, ignoring the bemused glances from other shoppers.  The sales associate was very nice, albeit a bit chit chatty, while checking me out, but I did learn that more items were scheduled to be marked down.   I guess I’ll be spending my lunch hour at Kmart again tomorrow.

All told, I purchased 42 pairs of shorts, and spent a whopping $44.99.  According to the receipt, I saved $652.70, which I hope will be my actual profit from this spur of the moment shopping trip.
Of course, now I have to make time to list all the shorts, and find room to store them.  I keep harping on finding time to list stuff, and while it actually does stress me out to have so much inventory just sitting around, it beats the alternative of having nothing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Paddle the Bad Ish

There is a dealer in my area named Ish who specializes in video games.  I’m not sure where he gets his inventory, but apparently it is quite extensive.  He routinely advertises on Craigslist, and occasionally sets up shop at local events. Unfortunately, his prices are way too high for me to take advantage of, even though he advertises volume discounts.

On Saturday, he apparently decided to try something different during a Multi-vendor/Family Yard Sale at the local Farmer's Market.  As part of his Craigslist ad, he wrote this:

Will also be trying something new.

"Paddle the Bad Ish"

$00.50 buys ONE swat with one of our Frat Paddles.
$05.00 buys Twenty Swats with one of our Frat Paddles.
You can pay $5 and get a Chance to Administer Two Swats in an Attempt to "Make Ish Cry", if one of us Cries, you get a Free Game, if we don't, you Still get a free Movie for playing.

Weird, right?  Maybe a little perverted?  In any event, I decided to swing by the sale to see if anyone was taking Ish up on his unusual offer.  Unfortunately for Ish, he was all alone.  No customers at all.  In fact, he was the only seller at this “Multi-vendor/Family Yard Sale.” 

Needless to say, I didn’t stop the truck.

Otherwise, Saturday was a fairly slow day, with only one church to anchor our scenic tour of local yard/garage sales.  I can’t really complain, though, because I have such a backlog of stuff to list, plus it was the coldest morning of the year so far.  Sometimes I don’t know who’s sillier … the person who holds a sale when it’s freezing, or the person who attends a sale when it’s freezing.

I wanted to say that I countered the cold air with hot sales, but that would be misleading.  In fact, weekend sales were only lukewarm.  I am proud to say, though, that I finally sold the Jell-O Pudding.

After Christmas last year, I bought eight boxes of Gingerbread flavored Jell-O Pudding from Kmart for $.10 per box. It sold over the weekend for $19.99 plus shipping.

Bill Cosby would be proud.

I also continue to sell the thermal underwear that I bought at Kmart back in January.  Each piece was clearance priced at $.99, and I bought 50 of them.  I should have purchased them all.  Now, Kmart has the same underwear priced at $11.99.

Looking ahead to Saturday, we have to drop Duc off at the local college to take the SAT test, and then we are going to a small church book sale, plus any other sales that we can find before picking up a mentally exhausted teenager. 

Obviously, with the weather cooling off, fewer people are dragging their stuff outside to sale.  For the rest of November, I know of only one additional major sale, and then I think yard sale season is pretty much done for the year as people start concentrating on Thanksgiving and that other big holiday.

Have a productive week, and get that inventory listed!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

He really wants this book

I received an email from a buyer this morning:
I have just bought this book from you through Barnes & Noble. Please confirm that order. Also, you'll need to delete the listing from here on Alibris.
Such emails are common; I get them all the time.  I use theartofbooks.com to keep track of my inventory, and usually don’t have to worry about duplicate orders.  So, I deleted the email.

I then noticed another email, this time from Amazon, from the same buyer.
I have just bought this book from you through Barnes & Noble. Please confirm that order.  Also, you'll need to delete the listing from here on Amazon.
Huh? Why would he email me on Amazon for an order on Alibris?  Confused, I saw yet another email from the same buyer.
I have just bought this book from you through Barnes & Noble. Please confirm that order.  Also, you'll need to delete the listing from here on eBay.
And another …
I have just bought this book from you through Barnes & Noble. Please confirm that order. Also, you'll need to delete the listing from here on Biblio.
Buyer really likes Hawkman
I guess he really, really wanted the book, and didn’t want me to sell it to anyone else.

Bits and pieces:

Speaking of orders, I received a negative feedback recently on Amazon for a DVD set.
Bad movies, not interest on this DVD, scumbag and really sucker movie …
Thankfully, it was a product review, and not a statement about me or my customer service.  Amazon agreed, and removed it for me.   Miracles do happen.

Thermal underwear is flying off the shelf
I can tell the weather is getting cooler, because my thermal underwear is finally selling. Back in the spring, I bought 50 pairs of men’s thermal underwear from the clearance rack at Kmart for $.99 each.  Last month, I listed them for $12.99 each, with free shipping.  In the last two weeks, eight pairs have sold.

Do you have all your Christmas items listed?
I purchased several of these Fisher Price Little People Night Before Christmas Play Sets during Wal-Mart’s after Christmas sale (50 percent off) in January, and listed them right away on Amazon.  After nine months, one finally sold.  With the holiday buying season soon to begin in earnest, I hope the others find new homes real soon as well.  I need the shelf space.

I hope the buyer doesn't think these are actual games
I sold another set of backer cards that I purchased from a Blockbuster that was going out of business.  I’ve had problems in the past where buyers don’t read the description, and think they are getting actual games or movies when they purchase these mini-posters.  As usual, I sent the invoice and a note encouraging the buyer to read the description again, and to understand that these are not the actual games.  Since the buyer is new, with zero feedback, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

It’s scary, but there are only 63 days until Christmas.  I still have much work to do.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Out of tragedy comes hope

In the wee hours of last Thursday morning, someone broke into the local All About Animals no-kill animal shelter, and released 20 to 30 dogs. Police suspect dog fighting as a motive, but whatever the reason, the break-in resulted in four pit bulls or bulldogs missing (later found); three dogs (Butler, Jack, and Flapjack) dead; and more than a dozen dogs injured.

The shelter, like most private rescue organizations, runs on a shoestring budget, and had no security system or surveillance. To help make ends meet, the shelter runs monthly yard sales at their facility, and relies on donations to meet expenses. Ella and I regularly attend their sales, spending a little money, and visiting with the pups who just want a home.

Thankfully, crimes against defenseless animals tend to unite the public, and donations (money, food, medical supplies, and toys) began pouring in over the weekend for the shelter. In addition, two security companies offered free security systems, and two donors offered to pay the cost for security for one year each. A candlelight vigil also was held on Sunday evening.

While I am sure the shelter and all its volunteers are still in shock over the turn of events, at least they can look forward to a little bit brighter future for their animals.

In other news, it was an interesting weekend, thriftwise. On Friday, Ella and I visited Granny’s Attic, the annual flea market sponsored by the local Catholic church. Last year at the sale, I was verbally abused by a little old lady. This year, the same little old lady complimented me on my rolling cart.  Either she mellowed out, or her short term memory is shot.

I did find some bargains at Granny’s Attic, but, as usual, haven’t had time to sort them. On Sunday, we went back to the sale’s half-price day, and walked away with still more good stuff. I really need more time to list.

First thing Saturday morning, we were in line for Historic Macon’s annual flea market. Again, more good sellable items were found, but they are also sitting with the stuff from Granny’s. Did I mention that I need more time to list?

Just part of a large Elvis collection
At one of our last stops, I found a huge collection of Elvis merchandise, including posters, dolls, jewelry, and lots of those tacky collectible plates that everyone seems to have, but no one actually wants. The memorabilia belonged to the seller’s mother, and the seller really just wanted the stuff gone. After cherry picking the collection, buying some toys and the pictured jewelry, I asked the seller what her plans were for the rest of the collection. After some chit chat, I gave her my name and number, and she promised to call me if it didn’t sell. Since it was toward the end of the morning, I felt confident that I would hear from her.

When I got home, I promptly started researching those tacky plates, and was not really surprised that they were basically worthless ($5 to $10 each). Since the seller was asking $5 each, I hoped that I wouldn’t hear from her. Thankfully, I didn’t.

Sales were steady last week, nothing to complain about, and only a little brag about, including this Nike Air Jordan coat that sold with Best Offer for $90. I paid $15 for it at Goodwill, and had hoped to get a little more. However, it had been sitting in my closet for a while, and I was glad to get rid of it.

Perhaps a taste of cold weather prompted this sale
It sounds counterproductive, but I hope this weekend is slow because I really need some quality time to list my extensive backlog of items. Having inventory is great, but it doesn’t do me much good sitting in boxes.

Have a great week, everyone.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Never again ... A Haunted Story

Duc, our exchange student from Vietnam, told us earlier in the month that he had never been in a “haunted house,” since Vietnam doesn’t celebrate Halloween.  Of course, Ella and I, being caring host parents, took that as a challenge, and we dragged Duc to the local “Haunted Barn” on Friday night, intent on scaring the dickens out of him.

Throughout the “tour” of the ghoul-infested structure, Duc was alternately fascinated and startled, really loving the scary clowns, as well as the “acting” of the performers.  He did refuse, though, to go first into a pitch black hallway, and he even got separated from me and Ella at one point, and we had to double back to find him.  I knew though that we had succeeded in our goal of frightening the young lad when he told me “never again” after being chased out of the barn by the creepy guy with the chainsaw.

Friday’s foray into typical American scary fun was just the beginning, though, as we have several other haunted attractions lined up despite Duc’s protests.  We even plan to take Duc through the local corn maze.  Of course, we will make him watch the movie, “The Children of the Corn,” first.
Duc and Ella watch sword swallower
drive nail into his head

On Saturday, we continued our quest to introduce Duc to the quintessential American life by taking him to the Georgia National Fair.  His art teacher had entered several of his paintings and drawings into the art competition, and while he didn’t win, he was excited/proud that they were on exhibit.  He also got to see several shows, pet the smelly animals, and eat fair food.  In addition, we paid an extra $3 each to see the freak show, which, as you might expect, was totally hokey, but the sword swallower drove a spike into his head through his nose, which was kind of cool.

Before the fair, we went thrifting at a local church sale, and came away with five boxes of loot, including books, DVDs, flasks (including a new belt buckle flask), pewter belt buckles, and collectible toys.  I’m still sorting everything, but it was a nice haul.

We also stopped at an estate sale of a prominent local businessman who had passed away.  While I found a few things, Duc enjoyed wandering through the large house, admiring the architecture, and the huge selection of artwork that adorned the walls.

I had several good sales throughout the week, including this one, which makes me think some people have more money than sense:

It's a handheld game that sold for $160.  I can play for free on my computer.

This weekend promises to be busy as well, with two major thrifting events, one on Friday and one on Saturday.  Both have been lucrative for me in past years, and I hope this year is no exception.

Oh, and in case you haven’t been paying attention to the influx of Christmas decorations at your local retailer, there are only 72 days until Christmas, so you better get listing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

No slicky boyz

I saw this recently on Craigslist:

“I got a whole bunch (30-40) of those jewel-cut, ready for mounting, precious stones. You can buy them as a "lot" or in groups or individually. Bought 'em off that HSN or one of those jewelry selling TV stations for far more than they were probably worth . . . I don't really know. Anyway, If I wanna stay here in this house, I gots ta dump 'em. So I'm looking for someone who could give me a fair price exchange for these gems. I have Rubys and green ones and blue and yellow/orange, some pink and even some purple; Tanzanite I think it's called. So I'm a gonna put some good rez pics up in here and see if I can find a fair person that truly wants them and won't flenaggel me into paying him to take 'em off my hands for me. Seriously friends, please buy a beautiful gem for one of, or all of your loved ones at a premium price. Get creative with a tiara, a ring, a pin, tie clasp, belt buckle or piercing. All the proceeds will go to a noble cause. Trust me, there's something here you'll like. Pictures will be posted soon. Please no dealers or wheeler-dealers or slicky boyz.”

So funny that I had to share. 

Flenaggelers or slicky boyz need not comment.