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.