Monday, July 6, 2015

Wagon Wheeeeeel

For the first time in 22 years, Ella and I attended the city’s annual Independence Day concert and fireworks extravaganza. Usually, we find a spot beside the road and just watch the fireworks, but this year, the city hosted Darius Rucker as the main performer, and I knew Ella would be mighty upset with me if I didn’t grab a couple of free tickets when they went “on sale” in June.
When it comes to concerts, I’m usually a stick in the mud, figuring why pay big money to sit in nose-bleed seats and watch the concert on the big screens.  Heck, I can watch the big screen at home, and not pay $5 for a lemonade. I didn’t figure this concert would be any different, since they were giving away 15,000 tickets, and stressing security since the concert moved from the local stadium to the parking lot of the Museum of Aviation adjacent to Robins Air Force Base.
With a starting time of 7 p.m., parking opened at 4 p.m., and the gates opened at 5 p.m.  We were standing in line in the hot sun by 4:15, and there must have been 7,000 people in front of us, and probably just as many behind us as the line started slowly moving. 
The tree line in the top of the picture was only the halfway point to our seats;
we still had to cross the street and walk across the museum parking lot.  There are probably as many people behind us in this picture as there are in front
By 6 p.m., we were through the security checkpoint, and had staked out the closest real estate for our chairs.  The stage sure looked small from our spot, but we did have a good view of the two giant TV screens.   

The stage as seen from our seats

The back of the parking lot was full and getting fuller by the minute
After the Star Spangled Banner; an awesome flyover by two military jets; and an unremarkable opening act, Mr. Rucker hit the stage while Ella and I waited in line (20 minutes) for the aforementioned $5 lemonade.  We finally made it back to our chairs, and were treated not only to the performance, but also to the constant patrols of the military police, and one sick kid who puked on the walkway right in front of us. 
To be honest, Mr. Rucker put on a good show, or at least it sounded good; I grew tired of watching the big screens.  At the end of his set, he walked off the stage, having not sung his biggest hit, obviously setting up for his obligatory encore.  People around us started yelling “Wagon Wheeeel, Wagon Wheeeeeeel,” like that wasn’t already planned.  Sure enough, Mr. Rucker made his fans happy, and sung his signature song.  Immediately after he left the stage, the fireworks began, and I’ll have to say it was one of the longest and best displays that I have seen.
Once the fireworks ended, people began grabbing their chairs, and heading the half mile back to their cars.  I was expecting it to take forever, but we actually made it out of the parking lot in just a few minutes.  Either traffic control was extraordinary, or we were just plain lucky.  Probably, it was little of both.
In hindsight, this concert experience wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected, but didn’t change my opinion that kicking back in my easy chair, watching a concert on my big screen, and not having to use a porta-potty is still better.
Have a great week, everyone.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Endless Yard Sale

I’ve decided that watching Endless Yard Sale on TV is more fun than watching Endless Yard Sale being filmed.
It was overcast, gloomy, and misting rain when we arrived at the Big Peach Antique Mall at 7:30 a.m.  The production crew was already there, and set up under canopies outside in anticipation of an 8 a.m. start time.  By 8:10 a.m., all three pairs of contestants had arrived in separate vehicles, and a few minutes later, the host of the show, Paul Brown, drove up.  Apparently, he had attended the Rolling Stones concert on Tuesday night in Atlanta, and not only got a late start, but also got caught in traffic on his way to Byron.  After a quick dash into a rented RV to change clothes, he was ready to go.
Last minute instructions
Just one of the practice runs
Everyone's in position to get the show started
Producer puts Paul Brown  on the spot
The producer was busy giving the contestants last minute instructions, and they even practiced running away from their barrels … twice.   Finally, with host in place and contestants ready, the producer slapped the clapboard, and filming began.
It was anti-climatic to say the least, at first, but when the contestants started their mad dash toward the mall at the beginning of the 15 minute challenge, dealers, including myself who had been watching outside, scattered quickly, and ran (OK, walked really fast) to their booths in hopes of selling something or at least getting on TV.
Each pair of contestants had a cameraperson, a sound engineer, and at least one producer with them at all times as they roamed the mall.  A timekeeper kept track of the time for the contestants, calling out how many minutes remained.  By the end of the 15 minutes, one pair of contestants had passed our booth, barely giving it a glance. 
Two hours later, filming of this one challenge still was ongoing.  Again, dealers gathered outside the mall door, watching the action, or lack thereof, much to the consternation of the producers, who asked that we not stare at the cameras.  The appraisers were there, evaluating each of the finds, and finally, the contestants gathered at their barrels.  Before the winner was announced, the producers had the contestants make a practice run for the mall once again, which sent the dealers scurrying.
Contestants wait for their appraisal results; the contestants on the left won the 15 minute challenge
Finally, the winning team was crowned, and the winners practiced running to their truck.  When the camera was actually rolling, the winners grabbed their item, started running, but had to stop when a piece of whatever they had fell off.  So, they had to start all over again.
Then, the winners drove away.  What?  That was it? 
After a certain period, the second place winners drove away, then the third.
Oh, well, so much for that.  However, shortly thereafter, two of the teams were back in the mall shopping again.  Again, our booths were ignored.
We stayed until the last team exited the mall.  Apparently, the teams had another destination to get to, but that information was not provided.
I’m pretty sure both Ella and I were in camera range at some point, but we’ll probably end up on the cutting room floor, so to speak.
The producers say the episode will air in August or September.  I’ll keep you informed.

Monday, June 8, 2015

My first Rolex

Real or fake?
OK, so it’s broken, and probably a fake, but my heart nearly skipped a beat when I saw it in the box of souvenir bells that I picked up for $5. A local jeweler either will confirm my suspicions, or give me some good news.
Otherwise, Saturday was hit and miss, mostly miss, with just so many sales that it was impossible to visit them all.  Ella once again made an outstanding itinerary, but time was not on our side, and we probably missed some good sales, and by early afternoon, we were just too tired to go here:
“A combination of 3 estates over 2000 items tagged, including: classic cars, car parts, modern cars and truck, boats and motors, fishing equip, sporting goods, 1000's of license plates, antiques, collectibles. Two Airstream trailers, a 40 foot bridge, washer and dryers, refrigerators, household items. Over 300 photos posted, estate Vehicles include, 1932 Ford homemade, 2001 Jaguar conv, 1974 Datsun 260 with 350 Chevy, 2005 Ford F150, 2006 Chrysler town and country, 1998 buick rivera, motorcycles, 2 shotguns, A large group of Model A car parts, heavy sheet metal tools and equipment, complete 350 with trans, complete 454 with trans, jag rear end. Many unique items and rare antiques. Please be with us. See the only 1941 Graham Hollywood roadster in the universe.”
In our defense, it had started the day before, and was slightly out of town.  I know, a hard-core thrifter would have made the effort, but our tired feet and growling bellies made such rationalization easier.  However, we did make the short drive on Sunday morning to see if anything was left.
Holy crap!  The barn was still full of collectibles, and everything was half price.  We picked up vintage signs, framed Budweiser pictures, a large stained-glass dog in an old wooden frame, and assorted small collectibles. 
Oh, did I mention the books on the second floor of the barn?  I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating.


The Georgia Coast: Waterways and Islands
The Avian Brood Parasites: Deception at the Nest
Storm over Mono: The Mono Lake Battle and the California Water Future
The Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History
Latin American Insects and Entomology
The Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History
A Flora of Southern California
Manual of Ornithology: Avian Structure and Function

This is the week that “Endless Yard Sale” films at the local antique mall, and we have to spend the next two evenings readying our booths for their Wednesday debut on the Great American Country channel, or so we hope.  We’re loading up our bigger booth with some nice pieces, and I’ve instructed Ella to be bold and daring, and to flirt if necessary, to get the contestants to buy our stuff.
I’ll try to share some pictures on Thursday or Friday.
As usual, there’s too much to do, and too little time to do it. 
Have a great week.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Saturday was awesome

It didn’t start that way, though. Ella’s well-crafted yard sale plan had netted us very little, and toward noon, I was beginning to regret ignoring the large neighborhood sale that I was sure would attract dealers like flies to honey.   
Still, we had picked up a few things here and there, including a few collectible clowns from a church sale.  We were tired, irritable and hungry, and ready to call it a day, when we pulled up to the last sale on our list.  From the road, it didn’t look like much, just five or so tables overseen by the stereotypical little old lady.
When we walked up, though, I knew our luck had changed dramatically for the better.
The four porcelain Disney dolls caught my eye first, followed quickly by the Junior Cowboy Cheerleader dolls, which led me to the three new in box Barbie vehicles, followed by all manner of Coca-Cola merchandise, and totes full of Barbie stuff, including Hallmark ornaments.
Our living room is filled with Barbie dolls and Coca-Cola stuff
New in box Barbie vehicles
The little old lady, obviously sensing a sucker, I mean buyer, quickly pointed out the Madame Alexander dolls.  Ella, being the media queen, quickly found the two boxes full of new in shrink-wrap DVDs, including Snow White and Dumbo, plus assorted other high-dollar movies.
We quickly started making a pile, with me looking over my shoulder to make sure no other dealers were going to steal our bounty.  Our total jumped to $300, and with only $50 in my wallet, I knew I had to make a quick trip to the ATM.  With the $50 as a down payment, we went home, unloaded the van, and quickly headed to the bank, then back to the sale.
We paid our bill, loaded our purchases, and then kept looking, eventually making another pile.  By that time, the sun was beating down on us, and the owner was ready to be rid of everything.  We purchased all the remaining collectibles, leaving only the mundane yard sale items behind.
All total, we spent close to $600.  Yeah, I know, ouch.
After loading our purchases, Ella and I helped the lady pack up her sale.  It was around 90 degrees with absolutely no shade.  I encouraged her to stay on her porch, and eventually we got everything out of the yard, and her rental tables in her car.
We got a good deal, and performed a good deed, all in one day.
I waited until Sunday to unload the van, after I had sorted and moved close to 200 really, really nice painting and craft books that I had purchased on Tuesday.  I had attended a sale about a month ago, and cherry picked most of the high budget books, but left my name in case the owner wanted to sell what was left.  She finally called, and we took home 11 boxes of books.  Most were penny books, which I knew, but the few that weren’t more than made up for the $100 that I paid.  The remainder of the books gradually either will be sold in our antique booths for $2 each, sold as a bulk lot, or donated to the Hospice thrift store for a tax donation.
Looking ahead, June 10th is the date that the TV show Endless Yard Sale films at the local antique mall.  Since our booth currently is lacking any bona fide antiques, and given what I know about the show, I started “Operation Get Ella on TV” and purposely have sought out and was lucky enough to purchase several antique/vintage items, including a floor-standing tube radio that actually works, a wooden ice bucket, a paddle-type butter churn, a heavy metal coffee grinder, a wooden hay rake, and a Victrola cabinet (missing the actual phonograph, though).  
All will be priced to sell in an effort to give Ella her 15 minutes of fame.
Have a great week everyone.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Up in smoke

As we all know, no matter how fast you are, there just isn’t enough time on Saturday mornings to get to every sale that sounds promising. Ella usually finalizes her yard sale list on Friday nights, making educated guesses as to which sales will be best, and giving precedence to what I call institutional sales (i.e., schools, churches, clubs, etc.).

On Saturday morning, with her sale list in hand, we started our journey at a square dance club sale, and it was like a reunion of pickers when we got there, with representatives from a local auction house, which we attend now and then, already making a pile of “good stuff,” including firefighting collectibles, which came back to haunt me later in the day.

Seeing that all hope was lost at that sale, we hightailed it to the next sale on our list, finding assorted items, including a large vintage accordion style wooden sewing box for our antique booth. The rest of the morning was a disappointing blur of high-priced estate sales; sales with quantity but very little quality; and ghost sales (i.e., advertised, but non-existent).

Around lunch time, we picked up a list from the antique mall showing what the contestants on the Endless Yard Sale possibly will be looking for when the show films in June at the mall. The color literally drained out of my face when I read firefighting collectibles. 

My goal is to get the contestants to stop at our booth, whether they buy anything or not. The firefighting collectibles that I missed because we were late to the Saturday morning party might have guaranteed us some TV time. Still, all was not lost, because we planned to go to the auction that evening, and, if the price was right, we could still acquire the items and any other collectibles on our list.

At the auction, I got a chance to look over the firefighting collectibles, which consisted mainly of different figurines. I was relieved somewhat, but the relief was short-lived when I saw the two vintage firefighting helmets, possibly from the 1950s and 1960s. When they finally came up for auction, bidding narrowed between me and another buyer, and when the other buyer upped my bid from $92 to $100 each, Ella told me to stop. 

I’d priced the helmets online before the bidding started, and such helmets usually sold for between $60 and $120. Both Ella and I knew that the meat on the bone, so to speak, was getting thinner and thinner, and I could see that the other buyer, a gentleman with a determined look in his eyes, wasn’t going to back down. So, I stopped, and watched that potential opportunity go up in smoke.

Obviously, I wasn’t in the best of moods the rest of the auction, or on the way home. On Sunday, I decided to do regular stuff, and after packing my meager sales, Ella and I worked outside; she painted, I pressure-washed. We even managed to watch a little TV, and fixed dinner, rather than eating out. I then washed the vehicles. It felt normal.

Today, though, it’s back to work.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crap, now I need a hair cut

Ella and I learned last night that Great American Country, a cable TV channel, will be filming one of their “Endless Yard Sale” shows in the local antique mall next month, and the producers of the show have asked that dealers be on site, or at least near their phones, on the day of production.
Earlier this year, we watched an episode of the show where teams raced through the World’s Longest Yard Sale “competing to get the best finds, bargains and steals. Whoever brings back the best finds will be crowned the winners of Endless Yard Sale!”
Since the producers want dealers on site, I can only assume that contestants will be searching for bargains, and want the dealers there to, well, make deals.  Unfortunately for me, filming is set for a Wednesday, and unless I want to take a day off work, Ella will have to represent our interests, and smile for the camera.  She’s prettier than me anyway.
On a not totally unrelated subject, almost three years ago, I posted about the demise of my Mazda pickup truck, and my indecision as to what vehicle to purchase to replace it.  My two choices then were the Ford Transit Connect, or a pickup truck with camper shell.  The pickup truck ultimate proved to be the better choice, and it has served Barry’s Books well.
Last year, my business model changed a bit.   In addition to media and other small items, we’ve started scouting larger pieces for our antique booths.  The truck can handle some of the load, but many taller pieces just won’t fit.  So, last fall, I started looking at other vehicles.  The Transit Connect was still an option, but seemed a little pricey.  I then found the Nissan NV200.
After reading everything I could about the two-seater cargo van, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to understand all the reviews, especially the negative ones, we decided to test drive one in late December.  I almost pulled the trigger then, but decided that I could wait until I had paid off the truck, and saved enough money for a sizable down payment.
Ella is still unsure about actually driving the van
On Saturday, after crunching the numbers, selling some stock, and begrudgingly transferring some Paypal money to my checking account, I took a 2015 NV200 home.  The truck is not quite paid off (September), but I decided that we could handle the double payment for a month or two just to get some experience with the van before our trip in early August to the World’s Longest Yard Sale.
I still need to get a rear camera installed to make backing up a little less stressful, and I want to add an in-dash navigation unit to help get us from point A to point B.
You know, most guys go for the sports car with or without the accompanying blonde during their mid-life crisis.  I got a cargo van.  Go figure.
Looking at sales, I actually sold five cans of Pringles potato crisps for $30 plus shipping.  What would possess anyone to pay $6 per can?  Chocolate, of course.  These were limited edition, milk-chocolate crisps that I found at Big Lots. 
Only chocolate could make someone pay $6 for a can of Pringles
I shop frequently at Big Lots, which stocks closed out or overstocked merchandise.  My latest find are Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts, which Big Lots has for $1.25 per box.  They are at least $7 per box on Ebay.  Obviously, you have to be careful with expiration dates, but don’t overlook food items when you sourcing items for resale.
Switching gears slightly, I saw the extended trailer for the new Supergirl series that premieres in the fall on CBS, and it looked pretty cool.  Female superheroes are a hot topic now, so if you see any related merchandise, especially Wonder Woman, grab it.
This weekend promises to be busy, with yard sales, and an auction on Saturday night.  Our booths need some street cred since they may be on TV, so we need to find additional vintage or antique items.
Have a great weekend, everyone.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Supporting the library

Yesterday was the annual Friends of the Library book sale, and I’m proud to say that I did my civic duty to support literacy in our community by buying $300 worth of books.
The day started, as usual, by getting in line around 7 a.m. to get a number that would allow us in the door at 10 a.m.  The volunteers started handing out numbers at 8:30, and by 8:35, with numbers 9 and 10 in hand, Ella and I were headed toward the local Chick-fil-A for our annual pre-book sale breakfast.
By the time we got back to the sale, volunteers had split the line in two, with numbers 1 through 46 on one side, and the rest of the dealers, I mean avid book fans, on the other.  With Ella pushing her grocery cart, and me pulling my rolling crate, we casually strolled past the volunteer directing us toward the No. 47+ line, flashed our numbers, and took our rightful place near the front.
Here's what $300 buys at a book sale
Promptly at 10 a.m., the volunteers opened the doors, and the race was on.
If you haven’t been to a book sale before, visualize Black Friday at Wal-Mart, or, better yet, a gigantic Easter egg hunt, with the parents pushing the kids out of the way to find the egg with the best prize.  Thankfully, no one was trampled that I noticed.

I made a beeline to the religion section, and Ella headed toward the media by way of the collectible books.  Typically, I started out slow, not finding much, then almost panicking, before settling in for the long haul, and eventually filling both my rolling crate, a separate box, and part of Ella’s grocery cart.
Ella was busy, too.  She found multiple DVD boxed sets, and 42 Walt Disney Super 8 color movie reels in original boxes, including Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, Black Hole, and several Bambi films, all of which are selling for $10+ each on Ebay.

I hope these Super 8 movies sell well on Ebay because I sure can't watch them
Around 12:30 p.m., we were ready to leave.  Ella, who I can always count on to be more organized than me, had the great idea to count our items before reaching the cashier.  So, we itemized our purchases on a piece of paper, and handed it to the cashier, who accepted our tally after consulting with the head book sale lady. 
As much as I love big book sales, I’m always glad when I’m done.  My Fitbit said that I walked about 6000 steps in the 2.5 hours that we were there, and by the time we were done for the day, including going to a couple of yard sales; meeting with a buyer from Facebook and selling two bikes; and working briefly in our antique booth, I had hit 12,000 steps (6.6 miles).  We were tuckered out.
Ella, being the industrious sort, is out again today, hitting several sales, while I went back to my day job to get some rest. We are both back out tomorrow to multiple church, charity, and neighborhood sales.  
I really need a warehouse.
Have a productive weekend, everyone.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Don’t fence me in

Saturday held promise. Multiple church sales, estate sales, good sounding yard sales, and a book sale dotted the mid-state landscape. However, just like the weather service predicted, the bottom dropped out around 9 a.m., washing away all our hopes and dreams for the weekend.
OK, so maybe that’s a little dramatic, but it did rain, and rain hard, putting the kibosh on most of the Saturday morning sales. Still, being the professionals that we are, Ella and I didn’t let a little monsoon stop us from our appointed rounds, which by 9:30 consisted mainly of the inside church sales and the book sale.
Of course, driving in the heavy downpour presented its own challenges, including being trapped in a gated community for a few minutes. Our GPS unit, code named Newly, sometimes has a roundabout way of getting us places, and decided to turn us around in an apartment complex. The entrance gate was open, so I pulled in, following Newly’s advice, and turned around, expecting the exit gate to open automatically. It didn’t.
Odd, I thought. Most exit gates are automatic, but there we were, stopped, with a gate that simply refused to open.  Before you ask, the entrance gate already had closed. Fortunately, the rain had subsided momentarily, so I got out of the truck to examine the control box, hoping for an override or a reset switch, and also hoping that the storm had not knocked off the power. 
I could see that Ella was fuming in the truck as I pushed every button, trying to get us out. No luck. Just when I was about to call 911, an apartment dweller pulled up behind us, and apparently used a remote to open the gate.
Free at last. Embarrassed, but free.
We made it to our second church sale (the first was a bust), but we were about 30 minutes early. Who starts their sales at 9 a.m.? The congregation took pity on poor wet me, and let us in early. We both wandered around, picking up a few items, and then Ella spied this:

I hope this wasn't the church's sacramental wine!
It’s a bar set, obviously, but the kicker was that the decanter still held wine. When you lift the decanter, the scale plays music. I couldn’t find an exact match online, but it will look good in our antique booth, minus the alcohol, of course.
We visited another church sale, found a few items, then headed toward the book sale. Rain had stopped by then, at least in that location, which was good because books and water don’t go together well. 
Our last church sale was with a charismatic congregation who invited us to share some Amens and Hallelujahs with them on Sunday morning. We walked out with a DVD, and a promise that they would pray for us. So, at least we have that going for us.
Prior to the weekend, we asked and received an invite on Thursday to preview an estate sale out in the boonies. The owner was nice enough to sell us a few items early, including a large, heavy antique coffee grinder, a small lot of Cars (the movie) vehicles, a vintage beer tray, a vintage beer can collection, and a bag of 1100 Pogs, the only thing that I’ve had time to list.
I counted every one of these Pogs
On Friday, Ella steered me to an estate sale on my lunch hour that featured hundreds of craft books. I was able to scan a few before I had to go back to work. I inquired with the owner about a bulk buy at the end of the sale, but I haven’t heard from her yet.
Late Friday afternoon, Ella and I attended two more estate sales, finding a few items at both. 
Flash forward to Sunday, which was planned to be a day of rest and relaxation, but no Amens or Hallelujahs. After spending the morning listing, I heard the siren song of the last day of an estate sale that we missed on Saturday, and Ella and I headed out. We found some good books, and I foolishly purchased a vintage Apple computer system for $30. The computer didn’t work, but I was determined to make the proverbial lemonade by stripping the system of all its cables, books, etc., and listing them on Ebay. The broken computer will go to Goodwill.
Making lemonade after buying a lemon of a computer
After a busy weekend, I get to relax for a few days before gearing up for the big book sale at the fairgrounds on Thursday. I just have to remember to dig our shopping cart out of storage on Wednesday evening.
Oh, on a final note, I learned last night that this is the final season for Auction Hunters. Ton and Allen, I’m going to miss you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

If you’re not early, you’re late

“Our competition’s here.

Ella told me this over the phone after she arrived at a local charity yard/book sale on Friday morning. She had arrived on time; they arrived early. Ella got a few DVDs; they got a tote of books.

I was perturbed, to say the least, not at Ella, but at the thought of being beaten to the punch, so to speak, and of missing a valuable sourcing opportunity.

However, once the sting wore off, I started thinking less about the disappointment, and more about the opportunities still to come, not only for Saturday, but also for the entire thrifting season. It’s like baseball.  You may have one lousy at bat, or the team may lose a game, but it’s a long way to October, with many chances to hit that home run.

Saturday proved me right. Determined not to be late again, Ella and I rolled up to a roller derby fund-raising sale about 20 minutes early.  After some wheeling and dealing, with minimal bumps and bruises, we skated away with a large box of Skylander figures and Xbox 360 games for $30.

Our next stop was a church sale in a converted multiplex movie theater.  It was supposed to start at 8 a.m., but my watch said 7:20. We noticed a sign on the door, and drove as close as we could to read it. “Sale in back,” was what it said, so we drove around to the rear of the building, and found an open door. Despite the time, we walked right in, were welcomed by the congregation, and started shopping. Thankfully, the sloped floor wasn’t sticky. We found a pair of bar stools for the booth for $7.00; a silver plated tea set for $1; a pair of new men’s work boots (all shoes were $1); and assorted other odds and ends, including a new in box Clapper (remember, clap on, clap off, the Clapper?).   

I also picked up a working Beltone hearing aid set, complete with extra batteries for $10. I have it listed for $225.

An estate sale was next on our list, and was packed by the time we got there. The sale featured hundreds of Hallmark ornaments, scattered in boxes throughout the house. It was a struggle navigating the crowded halls, but we walked away with some good stuff. Sunday was to be half price day, and we decided to return.

After a few hit and miss sales, we stopped at a sale that promised books and comic books. The three long boxes of comic books were grabbed while we were there, but the graphic novels looked untouched. I found a small stack that I really wanted, and started a negotiation with the owner. He wanted $26 for my stack, which was a bargain, or $65 for all of the books, which wasn’t quite as good of a deal. As it turns out, he was unemployed, and his wife had talked him into selling his collection.  He seemed noticeably distraught at letting the books go, and I didn’t have the heart to negotiate any further, even though I probably could have gotten them all for $50. So, I just took my $26 stack; he seemed relieved.   

At our final sale, we found a large box of DVD box sets that the owner let go for a measly $30. Amazon has gotten picky about selling DVDs, so they are bound for Ebay. It will be a struggle to pry Ella’s fingers off them, though. 

Saturday night, we drove to Thomaston for the auction, and successfully bid on a few pieces for the booth, including a Coca-Cola sign and Coca-Cola clock.

On Sunday, we were back at the estate sale, and spent a little more time looking at all the ornaments. Despite being half price day, we spent an additional $160. Knowing that there were still hundreds of ornaments left in the house, we left a bid for the remainder. Thankfully, we didn’t win. It would have taken months to get all those ornaments listed.

I also finally finished our taxes on Sunday afternoon. According to TurboTax, 2014 wasn’t a good year for us, but we’re still getting a refund. Thank goodness.

Amazon sales have been steady this week, but Ebay has been slow. I did sell another set of guitar strings, though. I purchased a large box of new strings from a church sale several years ago, and they have been a slow, but steady seller.

These guitar strings have been music to my ears
Have a great week everyone.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Getting past writer's block

The scenario became quite familiar over the past couple of months.  Fingers poised on the keyboard home keys, ideas bouncing around in my head, but no coherent thoughts being translated into bits and bytes for your reading pleasure.
Yep, I’ve had a major league case of writer’s block.
To be fair, I’ve had a few distractions, including a new task at work that sent me to Mississippi for ethics investigation training.  It’s sort of like C.S.I., except without the cool forensics tools or the messy dead bodies.  OK, so it’s nothing like C.S.I., but I do get to interrogate trembling suspects under a hot spotlight.  Well, maybe not trembling, and I was told that I couldn’t use a spotlight. 
However, I do get to ask such stress-inducing questions like “did you yell at your coworker?” or “why do you feel that your boss disrespected you” or even “did you charge time to a contract and not actually do the work?”  Unfortunately, we are not allowed to dangle suspects out the window despite YouTube videos shown during our training that illustrated that this is particularly effective.
As part of this new job, I also had to apply for a security clearance, and get fingerprinted.  I managed to remain anonymous for 23 years in my defense-contractor position, but now the Government will know who I am.  Scary.
Of course, even with everything else going on, my online sales (Amazon and Ebay) continue, and Ella is helping to keep our three antique booths stocked and semi-profitable.  In addition, Spring has now sprung, and the brief winter respite from weekend thrifting is over, with all manner of sales popping up, including a community yard sale just up the road on Saturday that promises 50+ sellers.
Sales have been steady, but mediocre, with a few bright spots, including this vintage Polaroid camera, new in packaging, with two unopened double packs of film.  I think it was a $4 investment that sold for $160 rather quickly.  Ella found the camera, but missed the film, at an estate sale, and I grabbed the film during a second sweep of the house before we left.
We've found Polaroid cameras before, but never an actual new one
I also sold three boxes of Ralston 100% Wheat Hot Cereal, which expired in 2004, for $10 each because they had a picture of cowboy star Tom Mix on the back.   The boxes were acquired in the large cowboy memorabilia lot that we bought two years ago, and had been sitting around every since.  I doubted they would sell, but listed them anyway, and was proud to be proven wrong.
I hope the buyer doesn't eat this for breakfast
I also have to credit Ella for finding this singing fish.  I had passed it up, but Ella noticed the McDonald’s logo, and bought it.  Turns out, it’s a collectible, and should be on your BOLO list.
Filet-O-Fish anyone?
Looking ahead, as always, once we get past Easter Sunday, it’s going to be non-stop weekend sales for a while.  Time to get busy (or busier) again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

50-cent corn dogs (or how I got trapped at Sonic)

Today is National Best Friends Day (NBFD), and, to celebrate, Sonic is offering 50-cent corn dogs.  Despite vowing never again to “participate” in a Sonic food promotion, I plan to buy two corn dogs for my best friend, Ella, because nothing says I love you more than $1 worth of batter-covered wieners on a stick.
Last year, the local Sonic was literally mobbed with rabid customers seeking the fried franks, with every little drive-up nook full, and the drive-through line stretched the length of the parking lot, and out onto the main roadway.   With no back-up dinner plans, I mustered up the courage to swing my truck into the line, and finally pulled into one of their ordering nooks. 
Big mistake.  I had no idea, at least on NBFD, that Sonic was like the Hotel California, you can check in, but you can never leave.  Or, at least it seemed that way after I got my bag of food, and couldn’t back the truck out due to the never-ending stream of drive-through corn dog hunters.
The longer I sat there, truck in reverse, trying to inch out, the more my buns got steamed.  Finally, my dogged efforts paid off, and I relished being able to free myself from the pack.
I hope today’s food run will be a little less dog eat dog.
By the way, in case you don’t have a local Sonic, tomorrow is Customer Appreciation Day at Dairy Queen, which means another foray into fast food hell.  After all, who can turn down a half-priced Blizzard, Peanut Buster Parfait, or chicken strip basket with gravy?

Monday, January 12, 2015

When did I buy that?

With cold and rain firmly entrenched in middle Georgia, Ella and I slept late on Saturday, ignoring the siren song of a few yard sales advertised on Craigslist.  Instead, I continued going through my backlog, and getting as much listed on Ebay and Amazon as possible.
As I opened box after box, though, all I could ask is, “when did I buy that?” or “why did I buy that?”
For example, I found a tote full of books on tape.  I don’t recall picking them up.  Maybe Ella did. 
Where did I find all those McDonald’s Happy Meal toys?
More KISS stuff? I thought I got rid of it all.
Why did I buy those stupid drum pedals? Or the compound bow that is missing pieces?
That teacher’s lot just won’t go away no matter how much I list.
Why is there a pair of cowboy boots in every corner?
Oh, that’s where those $100 books are.  Seriously, I found two $100+ books buried in the bottom of a box.
It’s nice to have stuff to list, but I really need to be more judicious with our money this year.  And I swear that once I get this mountain of inventory listed, I will NEVER let it back up so badly again.
The silver lining to all this listing, of course, is sales, and my phone cha-chinged quite a few times this weekend.
Late last year, we found a little thrift store in Macon, and Ella spied three Strat-O-Matic sports-related board games for $1 each.  I normally shy away from used games, but Ella was adamant, and it turns out her instincts were correct.  These are highly collectible games, and even with missing pieces, all three games sold for a best offer price of $80.
Ella gets all the credit for buying these games
At another sale, I picked up a box lot of Forgotten Realms books and box sets for $20.  The three box sets were worth $10 to $20, and were listed separately on Amazon.  The remaining individual books were mostly penny books, but listed as a lot sold for $90.
Combining books into a large lot can bring big bucks
I also listed a small lot of six Vampire Academy books.  On a $6 investment, the Vampire books rung up $28.
Small lots of books are worthwhile, too
In an effort to diversify beyond Amazon, Ebay, and the booths, we’ve also started selling on the local Facebook sites, as well as Craigslist and the local Bookoo.  On Sunday, I finally sold a large lot of Thomas the Train stuff to a buyer from the aforementioned Bookoo for $100.  I picked it up at a thrift store for $20.  We also sold a bicycle and a Robosapien, but no one seems to want our collection of Nerf guns.
Thomas the Train sold; our Nerf collection didn't
This week is tax week for me, with state sales taxes and my last installment of federal estimated taxes due for 2014. 
I hate paperwork, but c'est la vie.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Belated Happy New Year

As usual, I’m running behind on everything, and the new year just started. Between trying to get ahead on paperwork, keeping our booths fresh, listing, packing, and working my day job, I’m feeling a tad bit overwhelmed despite having a semi-relaxing Christmas break.
I say “semi-relaxing” because while I had 18 straight days off last month, I spent the majority of time getting ready for the holiday, as well as working our online endeavors and the aforementioned antique booths.
Because you know “it’s all about the booth, ’bout the booth, ’bout the booth, no trouble.”
Sorry, I still can’t get that song out of my head.  I even heard it on the way into work this morning.
But, I digress.  Nothing earth shattering happened last month, but I do have a few interesting stories to tell.  So, here goes.
During the run-up to Christmas, I was shopping in the local “damn it” store (as in, damn it, I forgot the milk, and now I have to drive to the high priced store near the house), and watched as a little old lady (excuse me, senior citizen), push her buggy laden with groceries out of the store.  By the time I got to my truck, she and her buggy were wandering around the parking lot.
Always the good Samaritan, I asked her if she needed any help.  She couldn’t find her truck.  I asked what it looked like, and after checking the parking lot, I couldn’t find it either.  She then casually mentioned that her husband was in the truck, and that he must have left her.  Sure enough, she fumbled through her giant purse, found her phone, and called him.  He had gone home, and left her there.  After she assured me that he was on his way, I left, hoping that he actually showed up.
On the Tuesday before New Year’s Day, Ella and I went to test drive Nissan’s NV200 cargo van. My truck gets paid off this year, and we are in the market for a vehicle that can haul a little bit more stuff, and it seemed to fit the bill.  It’s a nice little van and gets good gas mileage.  Unfortunately, I decided against purchasing the vehicle despite the dealership jumping through hoops to get one more vehicle sold before January 1. 
My goal, though, is to have enough money saved by August so Ella and I can purchase the van in time to visit her relatives in Ohio, and then follow Highway 127 back to Georgia during the World’s Longest Yard Sale, which covers 690 miles, and boasts “thousands of vendors” every year.
Sounds like fun, don’t you think?
November and Christmas sales in our antique booths were good, with $827 and $1034 worth of merchandise sold in November and December, respectively.  Rent is approximately $540 per month for all three booths, which leaves a “profit” of $781 for the holiday season.
I’m a little worried about this month, though. Since we pulled all the unsold Christmas crap .. uh … merchandise out of the booths, the shelves are looking threadbare at best, and too cartoony (leftover toys) at worst.  We need to fill all three booths, and quality yard/thrift/garage sales are hard to find right now.
Therefore, in an attempt to give our booths some street cred, we attended an auction on New Year’s Day that, according to the posted pictures, had a lot of vintage stuff, for lack of a better word.  The morning of, I looked at all the pictures, did my research, and made a list, complete with prices, of the items that I thought would be worthwhile on which to bid. 
Unfortunately, I watched with disgust as the large crowd bid up prices not only beyond a reasonable buying price, but also above what I considered a decent selling price in the booth.  After enduring the auction for as long as I could, we decided to leave early, only to find our truck blocked by several vehicles double and tripled parked.  Needless to say, Ella was not pleased that we had to wait until the auction was over to leave.
I too was irritated, but was more upset at an Amazon return that I got the next day.
I had approved a return from an Amazon customer after Christmas based on her description of a new in package $90 toy being “ripped.”  What I got in the mail was a crushed box, missing pieces, missing instructions, and the toy, which obviously had been played with on Christmas morning only to be broken. 
We are required to take returns on Amazon, so I fretted for a bit before calling Customer Support.  They said since the toy was returned in such a bad condition, I could charge a 50 percent restocking fee.  So, I refunded the buyer $45, and she actually thanked me.
Since the item only cost me $5, I still made $40 on the deal, so I am not too upset. I am waiting for the almost certain negative feedback, though.
Sales were brisk over the holidays, especially since I was able to list a bunch during my time off. In December, I sold 166 items on Amazon, Alibris, Biblio, and Half, with an average price of $16.21. 

January sales continue to be good, including this Gracie Combatives DVD set that I sold yesterday for $107.  I remember the yard sale last year at which I picked it up.  It was priced at $3, and when the owner didn’t have change for my $20 bill, she offered to give it to me.  Obviously, the point of this game is to buy low, and sell high, but I just couldn’t take advantage of her.  So, I offered her the only other bill that I had in my wallet, a lowly $1 bill, and she took it.  I felt guilty and happy at the same time as I left.
It’s cold in Georgia this week, so weekend sales are still missing in action.  It’s both a blessing and a curse because obviously I need fresh inventory, but the lull is giving me a chance to catch up on everything else.
Have a great weekend everyone.