I'm a diehard thrifter and garage sale addict! I love the thrill of the hunt! And I love making CASH from trash so I also resell on eBay and Etsy. I share my successes to inspire you ... and my failures so you learn from my mistakes. Please join me on this wild and crazy ride of making cash from trash!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cash for Trash: January Sales

I’ve been busy, busy, busy listing as much as I can.  Remember all those shoes from my previous post?  Well, I finally got them all listed, and thankfully, they have been steadily selling.  By the end of January, I had increased my store inventory to about 150 items – a big jump from last year’s all-time low of about 20 items.

Most of my January sales were shoes and hats, but I did sell a few other items.  Here are my best sellers:

 Hot Wheels 48 Car Storage Carry Case 2000 by Tara – Cost $0 – Sold for $34.26 – Net Margin 58%

This was either my last sale of 2015 or my first one for 2016.  The buyer bought and paid for it on 12/31, but it shows up on my sales reports for January…go figure.

Anyway, this old, I mean vintage, carry case belonged to DS#2 when he was a young boy.  These cases are hard to find and are decent sellers, especially if they still have the interior trays.  This went to a buyer in Georgia.

The North Face Recon Backpack Gray and White Laptop Outdoors – Paid $0.78 @ GWO - Sold for $45.00 – Net Margin 52%

Occasionally, I will find a backpack or two in decent condition when I go to “the bins” (GW Outlet aka GWO).  Certain brands are particularly good sellers, such as The North Face and Patagonia, but other brands like JanSport, Columbia, LL Bean, Eastpak, Eddie Bauer and Timberland are also good, if you can find them in good condition.

I found this really nice North Face backpack, which was pretty clean but had a couple of faint stains.  It still sold for $45.00, leaving me with a nice profit of over $20.  This went to a buyer in Alabama.

I will also pick up other cheap brands if they are in good condition, but not to resell.  I donate these to a local non-profit organization called “Taking It To The  Streets”.  This mother-daughter team brings donated items to the homeless and the dogs and cats living on the streets with them.  They fill the backpacks with the donated items, making it easier for them to carry these important items.  Here is a link to their FB page if you want to read more about them and their work.

WOLFORD Velvet De Luxe 50 Tights Size M Black #10687 NIP NEW – Paid $0.85 @ GWO – Sold for $28.99 – Net Margin 75%

I was not familiar with this brand, but I picked up this package of hosiery because it was new.  I figured that for a few cents, I didn’t have much to lose.  It sold for over $28, leaving me a nice profit of $20+.  This went to a buyer here in California.

Golden Gate Panama Hat White Linen Mens XL – Paid $0.60 @ GWO – Sold for $34.98 – Net Margin 68%

This is one of a lot of 17 hats I sourced at the GWO in October 2014.  I finally got them listed in January, too, and 6 sold before the end of the month.  Woo hoo!  I paid an average of 60-cents each hat and made almost $150 in sales for the 6 with a net margin of 56%.  They are not huge sellers but I am so glad to see them go!

I sold 10 pairs of shoes in January and made almost $150 in sales with a net margin of 56%.  I’ve had a few decent sales, but most of the shoes have been average sales.  I’m really anxious to get these out the door so have listed them with Best Offer.  Here are a few of my better sales:

Donald J Pliner Women's Sying Slide Shine Nappa Black 9M – Paid $2.24 @ GWO – Sold for $46.98 – Net Margin 70%

SOREL Badger Winter Snow Boot Women's Size 10 – Paid $14.40 @ Savers – Sold for $75.56 – Net Margin 53%

Grinders Black Steel Toe 10 Eyelet Boots Black Leather UK8 US9 – Paid $2.68 @ GWO – Sold for $79.75 – Net Margin 73%

Dansko Bergen Sport Clogs Black Gray Loafer Shoes Mens Size 46 EUR 12.5 US – Paid $4.10 @ GWO – Sold for $44.50 – Net Margin 43%

I was happy when these shoes sold within a week of listing them.  Unfortunately, the buyer contacted me soon after to let me know he was returning them.  Here is his message, which also included a picture of the damaged shoes:
Hello, The soles of the Dansko clogs that I purchased from you disintegrated after one day of wear. Unfortunately, this is a problem with Danskos that have been stored for a while (see this eBay page about it: https: community.ebay.com/t5/Archive-Fashion/Used-Dansko-Clog-Sellers-Buyers-Beware/td-p/3019576). So, I would like to return them for a refund. Thanks, Tim
Of course, I went to the link and was surprised to see this is a problem with certain brands of used shoes when not stored properly.  So, yes, I immediately gave him a full refund; but forgot to tell him NOT to return the shoes.  Ugh, the damaged shoes came in the mail a few days later and the return shipping was charged to my account. This lesson cost me over $27 … OUCH!  I’m providing this helpful link to hopefully help you avoid losing money.

I also had to give a full refund to a buyer who purchased a mug from me.  Admittedly, I did a sloppy (lazy) job of wrapping the mug, and it was broken upon arrival.  It was not a large amount, but I kicked myself in the behind because I knew better.  Sigh, it's been a little shaky getting back into the full swing of things.  Let's just say, it has not been smooth sailing ...

Below is a breakdown of my January sales.  Not stellar, but it's a start.  Since I lost my TRS discount, I had to pay higher shipping costs and looks like this affected my net margin.  I do not like to see this below 50%; ideally, I would like to see this at least at 60%.

# of Sales: 35

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): $58.01

Percent of Revenue: 6.3%

Average Price of COGS: $1.66

Total Revenue: $919.03 (includes shipping revenue)

Avg. Sales Price: $26.26

Net Margin: 49%

Highest Sold Item: $79.75

Lowest Sold Item: $4.50

Returns/Refunds: 2

No UPI cases

Now that’s cash for trash!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Been Hanging Around Too Long!

Maybe it"ll surprise you -- but maybe not -- that when 2014 ended, I still had close to 250 items that I had not listed.  This included the gaylord of odds and ends of electronics I bought at auction WAY back in May 2014 at the GW outlet and posted about here.  Then in October 2014, I went on a major sourcing spree, stockpiling all kinds of items from the GW outlet.  I ended up with almost 80 pairs of shoes, 20 hats, and a bunch of clothing items.

These hung around the garage for awhile; and then a few months into 2015, I brought the shoes and hats into the house thinking this would motivate me to list them.  Nope, not one bit. Occasionally, they got moved from the closet to the bathroom and back to the bedroom.  Matter of fact, I stopped “seeing” them.  You know how it is: you see something so often that you stop noticing it.

Then, 2016 arrived and I finally got tired of looking at these bags and bins.  It was time to get rid of sell them!  So I’ve been listing like crazy.  All the hats are done and I’m about halfway done with the shoes.  I’ve already made a few sales on these.  Next on the agenda is to tackle that pile of clothing. As for all those electronics, well, they're still in the garage!

The good thing is I have plenty of stock to get my eBay store going again.  And, I’m trying not to buy any more product until I’ve listed most of what I already have.  But you know how it is:  I can’t seem to stay away from the GW outlets!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2015 Year-End Review

Thank you all so much for your comments on my last post.  I wondered if anyone was still following me after my "farewell" and was hoping to hear from maybe 1 or 2 of you.  I was so happy to hear from as many of you as I did and was truly touched by your "welcome back".  It really inspires and motivates me to get this blog back on track; and I'll start by giving you a quick summary of how my sales went (or rather didn't) in 2015 ...

Wells Fargo Rose Parade Legendary Horse Black AL Stuffed Plush 2009 – Paid $0.62 @ GWO – Sold Lot of 2 for $121.96  – Net Margin 77%

I am still surprised that, with little to no effort on my part, I still had sales every month in 2015 – even if it was only 1 or 2.  I had 214 sales – which averaged about 18 a month.  However, that number is deceiving because almost half of those sales were made in January, which I posted about here.

Last January, I listed most of my remaining 2014 inventory at auction for $0.99 and had 89 sales that month – the most in a month that year.  In February, I again listed many items at clearance prices.  That month I had 37 sales.  Old stock that didn’t sell by March was donated to the thrift store, although I did keep a few items.  I still maintained just under 50 items in my store.  Eventually, many of those items were also donated when I went through another purging/decluttering frenzy in July.  By then I had just under 30 items listed.

I didn’t do much product sourcing either.  Most of my thrifting and saling adventures were for personal fun.  I did find a handful of items to resell at a couple of yard sales.  I’m just happy that both DD and DGDs love to thrift shop as much as I do. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!  Here’s DGD#3 with a chess set I got at the GW outlet.

In December, when I started getting my eBay mojo back, I picked up a few toys at the 99-Cent store.  I found a Star Wars Anakin talking figure for $4.99.  I thought this was a major score and bought a bunch thinking I would sell them on Amazon; but then I discovered that I was not approved to sell toys on Amazon so that pretty much put the final nail on the coffin on that venue.  I ended up selling the toys on eBay, but they did not sell for as much as I hoped.

Here’s the breakdown ...

Revenue:  Just under $4,000

Number of sales: 214, of these 171 were stock from 2014
  • eBay - 194
  • Amazon – 20
Highest sale: $121.96 (Wells Fargo plush pictured above)

Lowest sale: $0.99 (plus shipping) – 41 items sold at this price

Average revenue per item: $18.25

Here are a few more of my top sellers:

Harley Davidson Freedom Rider Helmet Leather Black DOT Medium – Paid $1.28 @ GWO – Sold for $49.99 – Net Margin 61%

Original Steiff Germany Junior Leo Lion #2897/30 KNOPF IM OHR – Paid $0.71 @ GWO – Sold for $40 – Net Margin 70%

Ju-Ju-Be PackaBe Diaper Bag Brown with Blue Discontinued Backpack Style – Paid $4 @ GW – Sold for $54 – Net Margin 51%

COCOMOTION by Mr. Coffee Hot Chocolate Maker Hot Cocoa Machine Model HC4 – Paid $7.19 @ GW – Sold for $48.84 – Net Margin 60%

RADKO Harley Davidson Fat Boy Aqua Motorcycle with Presents Glass Ornament – Paid $2 @ GS – Sold for $39.99 – Net Margin 70%

And, finally, here is the Star Wars Anakin figure that I bought at the 99-Cent Store.  I bought 13 of these; I gave away 3 as Christmas gifts and I sold the remaining 10.  I priced them “to sell” as I didn’t want to get stuck with them.  My net margin was low, but I still made about $54 profit on the bunch.

Star Wars Anakin to Darth Vader Talking Action Figure Color Changing Lightsaber – Paid $4.99 @ 99-Cent Store – Sold for $19.95 – Net Margin 25%

I hope 2016 has started off great for you and I am definitely looking forward to what the new year brings. 

Now that’s cash for trash!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It’s a New Year! And I Just Can’t Stay Away…

First of all, let me say, Happy New Year! I for one am happy to see 2015 end and am looking forward to a new year and new adventures. 

Last October, I said goodbye to this blog and thought I would focus on my quilting blog. I tried reviving that blog; but it has been inactive for too many years and the connection with other bloggers just wasn’t there. It became very clear that bloggers in the online selling community are much more connected. Truth is, I miss this blog and all of you. 

I was also burned out on eBay and online selling in general. It had become a chore, and I was all too happy to finally put it on the back burner. I didn’t close down my store, but I did downgrade and only sporadically worked on it. As a result, I lost my TRS discount. Although I expected this, it was still bittersweet since I had worked so hard to get it and then keep it.

As you all know, however, life is full of twists and turns and things don’t always go as expected. My DD and 2 DGDs came to live with me end of July last year, and I was thrilled to have them back home in California. Originally, this was to be a temporary arrangement; but after many family discussions, my DD decided to go to school FT to finally get her Bachelor’s degree. She is halfway there and going FT means she will accomplish this goal faster and can start her professional career (hopefully, with more money) that much sooner. 

DD had been working FT at Walgreens for a few years. When she moved back, she was able to transfer to a store not far from home. But at the end of this month, she will be working PT and will start her college courses in February. She is so looking forward to her new life!

So, here we are in the beginning of 2016, and I am once again looking to eBay to supplement our income. I think taking the year “off” from FT selling has helped me re-energize and re-focus my efforts on eBay. Towards the end of last year, I had pretty much given up on eBay. By November, I think I had only 20 items in my store and made ONE sale that month! But December came along and things started to change. 

I guess I’m not the only one who needed a break from blogging. I recently read this post from Scott Davis @ Barry’s Books. His previous post was in July last year, and he explains he just lost his passion for blogging. I certainly understand, but his recent post made me yearn to start blogging again. He has a very entertaining style of writing and I am glad he’s back! 

When I started blogging way back in 2010, I wanted to journal about my online selling adventures and hopefully in the process help others. Until last year, my eBay business was a huge part of my day-to-day life. But, for 2016, I want to have a more balanced life by spending more time with family – having fun and creating memories – but also have fun with my online business. I don’t want it to take over my life to the point that it becomes a chore and no longer fun. 

I can’t promise you a rose garden and I can’t promise I’ll post every week – although it is my intention to post regularly. And as long as I’m selling online, I will continue to post about my business adventures; but one thing I would like to change is to make this blog a little more personal. I will post not just about my thrifting adventures but also about my new adventures with my girls! 

So I hope you come back – I hope you stick around – and I am just happy to be back!

Friday, October 16, 2015

All Good Things Must Come to an End …

…and it’s time to say goodbye.  Pretty sure this is not a big surprise to the few of you who may still follow this blog (are you still out there?).

Life is full of surprises with many highs and lows.  And during the past year, my life has had many changes.  I’m still selling on eBay but my sales are almost non-existent, maybe 1 or 2 a month.  I also tried my hand selling on Amazon, but have now closed that account.


Instead I’m focusing more on my family, especially since my DD and 2 GDs have come to live with me.  This has been the biggest change in my life and I am thrilled to have them back in California.  It’s been 10 years since they moved out-of-state.  My GDs are now teenagers and we have been spending as much time as we can together and getting to know each other.

I started this blog over 6 years ago with the goal of sharing my experiences selling online.  And, hopefully, in the process help others as well as learn from other sellers.  I met many great folks in the process and learned so much.  Sadly, since my online business has become dormant, I don’t have much fodder for this blog.

As much as I will miss blogging about eBay and the trials and tribulations of online selling, I am thrilled to be able to have more time to spend with my family and get back to my quilting.  I have pretty much neglected my quilting blog  (Quiltpiecer) for the past five years and look forward to blogging about my quilting adventures.

I will continue selling on eBay – after all, it’s been a part of my life since 1999 – but nowhere near the volume of the past 6 years.  And if there is anything exciting to write about, I will post it on my quilting blog.

It’s been great fun, but it’s time to say goodbye.  I wish you all the best in your business endeavors and much success!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Returns and Loss of TRS

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NERF N-Strike Magstrike Dart Gun Blaster with Clip 2007 – Sold $85.49 – November 2014

In my previous post, I shared with you my January sales.  Well, along with those sales, I also had quite a few sales that I had to refund.  Six may not sound like a lot, but, when you average 0-1 per month, 6 in January was quite a bit.  Even though I opted in to the 90-Day Holiday Return option, none of these refunds were due to buyer’s remorse and not one left me negative FB.

It’s depressing that all these refunds were due to my own negligence.  Three items had flaws I overlooked; 1 item was damaged in shipping; and 1 item had an error in the description.  Another item was lost somewhere in my inventory so I had to refund the money and cancel the transaction.

The one that hurt the most was the refund for the NERF Magstrike (pictured above) that went to a buyer in the United Kingdom.  The mom purchased this as a Christmas gift for her son.  She contacted me right after Christmas and said the gun did not work very well.  Ugh!  I always test the guns before listing them, but I certainly am not an expert.  We exchanged a few messages and in the end I agreed to refund her money.  I imagined her son opening his gift on Christmas day only to discover it does not work right.  I’ve been in her shoes and felt bad for the boy.  Anyway, I did not ask her to return the gun as I certainly did not want to pay $50 for the shipping, especially if it didn’t work.  I just won’t be doing international shipping on NERF guns.


And then I lost my Top-Rated Status with it’s 20% discount.  Not because of any defects, but because I failed to meet the 90% TRS qualification for 1-day shipping.  Bah humbug!

Truth is, I just wasn’t focused on my eBay business and knew it was suffering so I put my store on vacation for the last 2 weeks in January.  I needed to take a step back to get myself together and refocus on where I’m going with eBay.

After getting rid of some old inventory and re-pricing my active listings, I am down to about 100 items.  I plan to do more 99-cent auctions soon to purge more old inventory. I have my store active again, but I haven’t been getting many sales. As soon as I can, I’m downgrading from Premium to the Basic Store; but not sure if I’ll go with the annual subscription or the monthly one. 

In the meantime, I’m still working on that extra bedroom and will post an update soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cash for Trash: January Sales

January was a busy month for me.  Every January I get the itch to do some “spring cleaning”.  And, I have been busy cleaning, organizing and painting. 

That also includes getting rid of old inventory that’s been hanging around too long.  I donated a bunch of stuff to the thrift store; and I also listed/relisted many more items at auction with a starting bid of 99 cents.

I had 89 sales last month, and 21 of those were 99-cent auctions.  It wasn’t a huge revenue-producing month, but I’m glad to get rid of that old stuff. 

Here are my best January sales:

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Cuisinart DLC-8S Pro Custom Food Processor Work Bowl with Handle Only – Paid $0.97 @ GWO – Sold for $28.81 – Net Margin 78%

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Cuisinart DLC-8S Pro Custom Food Processor Stainless Steel Chopping Blade – Paid $0.97 @GWO – Sold for $16.15 – Net Margin 66%

When the bin with a Cuisinart food processor rolled out, I was standing next to a young woman; and I knew she was itching to grab it as much as I was.  At the word “Go”, we both reached for it but I was just a little quicker.  I could hardly believe it when she tried to grab it from me! There ensued a small tug-of-war, but it was over as quickly as it started.  I realize how silly this was since we didn’t even know if it worked.  I really wanted it for my personal use; but I knew if it didn’t work that I could sell the parts.  Sure enough, it didn’t work so the parts were listed on eBay.  These two parts went to buyers in Nevada and Texas.

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MASTER MIND Vintage 1972 Original Mastermind Game by Invicta #3016 – Paid $0.59 @GWO – Sold for $29.95 – Net Margin 76%

Another vintage game found at the outlet!  These are really great sellers, especially if they have all the game pieces.  This one went to a buyer here in California.

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Butterick 3648 Dickens Era Scrooge Christmas Costumes Vintage Sewing Pattern – Paid $0.60 @GWO – Sold for $29.99 – Net Margin 78%

Most patterns are not big sellers, even when they are new; but there are exceptions.  I will usually pick up costume patterns, which tend to sell for a bit more – again, with some exceptions.  And I never buy patterns that are used and cut.  This pattern went to a buyer in California.

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Schoeller Skifans Stretch Black Ski Pants Women's Size 10 Long NEW – Paid $0.75 @GWO – Sold for $44.95 – Net Margin 74%

Ski pants are another item I will usually pick up.  They’re not particularly fast sellers, but they can sell for some good money.  This pair was really nice, in excellent like-new condition.  This was my very first sale of 2015 and went to a buyer in Oklahoma.

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Thomas the Train Wooden Sodor Deluxe Fire Station – Paid $1.00 @GWO – Sold for $47.80 – Net Margin 74%

Thomas and Friends train items are another of my favorites to sell.  They can be great sellers.  This fire station was in good condition, except for the water tower.  Not only did it have this flaw but there was also a recall on some of these stations.  Fortunately, this one did not fall within the recall; and both issues were noted.  It took over 9 months to sell so I was glad when it finally sold to a buyer in California.

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Wells Fargo Rose Parade Legendary Horse Black AL Stuffed Plush 2009 – Paid $0.62 each @GWO – Sold for $60.98 each – Total $121.96 – Net Margin 77%

These were two crazy sales!  I listed these Wells Fargo Rose Parade horses in 2 separate auctions with a starting bid of $0.99 and was thrilled – rather shocked – when they sold for over $50 each.  The crazy part is these had been in my store for 9 months at $24.99.  The right buyer from Louisiana finally came along and won both horses.

Wells Fargo offers these plush horses every year in commemoration of the Pasadena Rose Parade.  I found these at the outlet but I have picked up others at garage sales.  I usually sell them for $19.99-$24.99, so I’m not sure why these sold for so much.  I have 2 different ones listed that I just can’t seem to give away.  Go figure!

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TDK D90 New Blank Sealed Cassette Tapes High Output Type I Lot of 16 – Paid $3.59 @GW – Sold for $24.99 – Net Margin 63%

Does anyone really still have cassette players?  Even CDs are becoming a thing of the past.  While cassette players still exist (I still have mine from high school), the cassettes in brand new condition are not always easy to find; I found these at a regular GW store.  This was an Amazon sale and went to a buyer in Illinois.

luigis flying tire

Disney Cars Luigi's Flying Tires Souvenir Tire Hat Plush Tire – Paid $1.79 @GW – Sold for $19.44 – Net Margin 46%

I was looking for Amazon inventory when I ran across a carton of 8 of these silly hats – brand new with tags – at a GW store.  This was one of those purchases that, after awhile, makes you wonder “What was I thinking?”  There was only one other seller on Amazon, and I couldn’t decide if this was good or not. 

By the end of December – 3 months after my purchase – the box was still in my garage.  I didn’t want to ship them to Amazon because I thought they would sit in their warehouse with no buyers.  I came very close to just chucking them to the thrift store, but decided to first list them on Amazon as merchant-fulfilled. 

They sat for awhile, then suddenly, bam!  They started flying out the door.  These were the first 2 to sell and went to buyers here in California.  I guess someone was planning a trip to Disneyland!

Here is a breakdown of my January Sales:

# of Sales: 89

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): $94.76

Percent of Revenue: 7.52%

Average Price of COGS: $1.06

Total Revenue: $1,260.95 (includes shipping revenue)

Avg. Sales Price: $14.17

Net Margin: 47%

Highest Sold Item: $60.98

Lowest Sold Item: $2.74

Number and Percent of Items Sold:

  • Plush and Toys: 20 – 22%
  • Jeans: 8 – 9%
  • Sewing Pattern: 13 - 15%
  • Everything Else: 48 – 54%

Now that’s cash for trash!