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.