Friday, April 25, 2014

May the 4th be with you

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I sat in a theater engrossed in the original Star Wars, a movie that would spawn five sequels and countless number of books, magazines, video games, and, of course, toys.  I was so enthralled with this soon to be cultural phenomenon that I read the book, played the soundtrack on my record player over and over and over again, and excitedly discussed the finer points of the film with my best friend, Richard.

I had no idea that the images projected on that big screen in 1977 would still resonate with me 36 years later.  I still get goose bumps when I hear John Williams’ theme and see the famous opening crawl.  My inner nerd rejoiced when Disney bought the franchise and immediately made plans to expand the universe. 

You do have your moments. Not many, but you have them.

Of course, being a dealer, I also see dollar signs attached to all things Skywalker, which is why I had an inspiration when I heard that May 4 is Star Wars Day, an unofficial holiday for geeks like me.  I always pick up Star Wars memorabilia while scouting, and had a few items in my online inventory that I thought would look good in my antique mall booth.  So, I delisted everything “Force” related, and created a display. It looked a little sparse, though, so I went hunting at the thrift stores this week for R2-D2 stuff, only to come up empty handed.

Use the force, Luke.

I was dejected, but undeterred.  I happened to look on Craigslist, though, and found this:

I have for sale 2 huge bins of Star Wars toys all excellent condition and still in packaging. If interested or have any questions feel free to TEXT or CALL me at anytime. *Serious Inquiries only*

These ARE the droids you’re looking for.

Not only was it the droids, but also Luke, Leia, Han, and Lando.  I texted the owner right away, and late Thursday, I was the proud owner of the two totes advertised, plus several other boxes of vintage toys for $200.

I’m Luke Skywalker, I’m here to rescue you.

I was like a kid on Christmas morning, going through all the toys when I got home.  I priced the larger items using my scanner, but got tired when I crossed the $500 mark.  I’m sure the remaining items, including the vintage stand-alone figures, will push the total past $600.

I’ve just made a deal that will keep the Empire out of here forever.
Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.

Now, I just have to move the items to the booth, and hope fellow Star Wars fans shop there.

Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.

Have a productive weekend everyone.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sleeping late

I got a rare opportunity on Saturday morning to sleep late, and by late I mean 7 a.m., as opposed to 4:30 a.m., which is my default wake up time Monday through Saturday.  It was Easter weekend, and with only a spattering of yard/garage/estate sales, I figured I deserved a morning off.

Of course, having a morning off is a relative thing, since I listed Ebay and Amazon items, while Ella decided she couldn’t let a Saturday morning go by without visiting at least one sale, where she spent $10 on various odds and ends, including a box of Magic the Gathering cards.

Saturday afternoon, though, we felt the pull of an auction in a nearby town, so we braved the drizzle, hoping we wouldn’t be disappointed with what was up for bids.  The auction featured local sellers in 30 minute increments, and was mostly yard sale crap.  Since it was a reserve auction, and the sellers could decide if they wanted to accept the bids or not, much of the stuff returned home with the sellers, who either had an emotional attachment to their wares, or had an overinflated since of its worth.

One seller did have some NASCAR items, which I always look at, but very rarely buy.  I think it’s the law in Georgia that every yard sale feature at least one race car collectible.  In between the Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. stuff  was a Florida State Patrol car with collectible patch.  I could only find one for sale on Ebay for $32, so I bid and paid $5 for it. I hope it sells.

These are rare on Ebay; I hope rare means good in this case, and not worthless
After the bidding ended and we paid our tab, we headed back to Byron in time for our regular local auction.  Again, more crap, except for 20 pairs of new reading glasses, power 2.25, for $5.  I have them listed for $35, which probably is a bargain. 

I hope I was seeing clearly when I bought these reading glasses
Weekend sales were lackluster, but I did manage to sell about $180 worth of media on Amazon.  I also accepted a $20 best offer for two Star Wars action figures.  They were probably worth more, but I was tired of seeing them on the shelf.

These figures had been on my shelf for too long
Speaking of Star Wars, I finally listed my 25 pounds of Star Wars Lego pieces and the matching mini-fig set on Sunday.  The mini-fig set went quickly, with an accepted best offer of $50 (again, probably a bargain).  The bulk lot sold for full price, $200, this morning.

Sell it cheap, mark it gone
Sold for full price, despite best offer option
Looking forward to the weekend, it’s back to rise and shine at 4:30 a.m.  With Easter out of the way, I expect sales to be plentiful.  If not, that extra couple of hours sleep sure felt good.

Have a productive week.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pricing reality check

On Friday afternoon, Ella, Duc, and I attended a local estate auction that promised the moon in its description, from antique books to collectibles to housewares.  While I would like to say that the ad was misleading, it wasn’t.  The sale featured everything advertised and more.  Unfortunately for the estate company, and for the family, most people were walking away empty handed.

Why?  Prices, of course.  I’m a firm believer in selling as high as you can, but when old VHS tapes are $5 each, hardback books (antique or not) are $10 each, and a framed cartoon cut badly from an old newspaper is $8, I think whoever priced the items needs a reality check.

Thankfully, Saturday was better, even though we only went to five sales, including a church sale where I had to talk Ella out of buying the full-sized Ms. Pac-Man machine priced cheap. Church members said it worked, but they couldn’t get it powered up.  So, we waka-waka-waka’d out of there.

After dropping our early morning plunder off at the house, we headed about an hour up the road to an auction that started at 11 a.m.  Set in an old store/antique mall with wood plank floors and items hanging from the ceiling, the auctioneer sold non-stop until 6 p.m.  We should have packed a lunch because we were starving by the end of the day.  A small crowd kept the bids low, but a couple of dealers who obviously have more storage space than me bought the lion’s share of the goods.   However, Ella and I bid on and won $160 worth of stuff, mostly small items for our antique booth, including some old sports memorabilia, a vintage suitcase, elephant figurines, and a box of Star Wars figures.  As usual, it’s still in boxes, waiting to be processed.  I really need more time.

Speaking of our antique booth, I have a new obsession.

During March, Ella and I would visit our booth and wonder what, if anything, had sold.  Oh, we would notice a few of the larger items missing, and we noticed that DVDs were missing.  However, we never really had any idea to what extent any of our merchandise was moving.

We received a sales report on the first of April that detailed sales for March, but I thought that there should be a better way, so I asked if the mall does mid-month reports.  The clerk said no, but dealers could look it up online.

What?  Online?  Why didn’t you say so to begin with?  The mall manager set me up, and now I constantly check to see if anything in our booth has sold.  In fact, a quick check shows that we are more than halfway to meeting our booth rent for the month.  We hope that a 20 percent off sale will spur some Easter sales this week.

Over on Ebay, sales have been slow for me.  During a podcast, Jay and Ryanne at said they believe that sales and listing somehow spur additional sales via whatever algorithm Ebay uses.  While I have no idea if this is true or not, I haven’t been able to list lately, and sales have tanked. 

I did have one semi-good sale over the weekend.  I’ve mentioned before that memorabilia from defunct sports teams sells, and my Oakland Invaders cap finally sold to a dealer in Oakland (where else?).  The Invaders were part of the short-lived United States Football League (USFL).

Even though the cap was a little dirty, it sold to a dealer
Media sales on Amazon, Half, Alibris, etc., have been steady, but not spectacular.  I’ve only had three $100+ days, my benchmark for success, in April so far.  Still, I’ve sold close to $1000 in 14 days, which isn’t too shabby.

As usual, too much work to be done, with too little time to accomplish it.  I need a vacation.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

30 cents

While researching antique booths, I came across the statement from multiple sources that small items pay the rent, and large items make your profit.  I took that advice to heart, and Ella and I filled our new booth with lots of small items, including a rack full of DVDs for $2 each.

On April Fool’s Day of all days, we visited the antique mall to get the itemized sales list for our first month.   Honestly, I was expecting the worse.  We knew some things had sold, including many DVDs, but really had no idea where we were in terms of profit or loss.  As it turns out, we actually broke even, for all practical purposes, barely exceeding our rent, but owing 30 cents due to credit card/debit fees.

I know that breaking even is not really a “win,” since the cost of the inventory was not recouped after booth rent.  However, given that the booth was a work in progress during the month, and that much of the inventory already was on hand, I’m calling the inaugural month of Barry’s Bonanza a success.

We can’t rest on our laurels, though; there is much work to be done, including adding another bookcase, and restocking the DVD rack.  The DVDs were our biggest seller during the month.

Much like my online business, media saves the day.