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!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Thrifty Treasures

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I enjoy collecting cookie jars, especially at bargain prices.  This past weekend, I made my required daily weekly trek to my local GW and was thrilled to find a shelf full of cookie jars!  Someone must have done some serious cleaning and donated their collection.  I paid $5.50 for each of these four.

Side Note: Check out my previous post about overflowing thrift stores during January!

My favorite cookie jar is the mother and baby bunny with the glass eyes (pictured above).  It’s just beautiful!  My research found the exact jar at Ruby Lane collectibles for $85!  Apparently, it was sold at Mervyns in the 1980s; it is very rare and hard to find.

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This next one (pictured above) is a Castle Cookie Jar by Treasure Craft.  I found an online site that sold one like it for $53!  Although that one was new with original box, mine is in great condition sans box.

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This is the third Oreo Cooke Jar that I have found at a thrift store.  I sold the first one but kept the second one.  This is a vintage cookie jar made in Japan.  I’ve seen them listed for between $30-$40.  I currently have this one listed in my eBay store for much less.

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This last one is an old-time western building – perhaps a general store – in a town called Cookieville!  It’s also made by Treasure Craft.  Treasure Craft started in Gardena CA in 1945 and went through several changes of ownership.  In 1999, it was sold to Zak Designs, which seems to have phased out the Treasure Craft name.  I suspect that with time Treasure Craft jars will become highly collectible.


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This is a picture of some of the clothes that I also bought at the GW this past weekend.  For the past week and a half, I’ve been buying shorts, skirts, swimsuits and dresses – all on sale – to resell on eBay.  “Huh?” you say.

Well, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a blog by two very savvy SAHMs called My Dear Trash.  I was in awe at how successful they have been at reselling on eBay the clothes they pick up at thrift stores and garage sales.  Granted, this is not a get-rich scheme, but one mom was able to finance a trip to Disney World for her family of 7 in just 4 months.  The other mom supplements her family’s income so she can stay home to care for her 5 young children. 

Part of their success is Dollar Days at their GW store.  Yes, it sucks not having Dollar Days, but I thought I’d test the waters anyway.  Stay tuned for Cash for Trash Thursday to see what happened!

Linking up to Thrift Share Monday @ Apron Thrift Girl.  Be sure to visit for many more thrifty treasures!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Thrift Stores Are Overflowing!

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If garage and yard sales are slow or non-existent in your area during January, then be sure to check out your local thrift store.  People love to declutter their homes for the new year, and thrift stores receive tons of donations in December.  Why?  Because folks are looking for a tax write off for the new year and need to get their donations in by December 31. 

Check out the picture above of my local GW’s donation center.  It was so jam-packed with donations that you couldn’t even walk in the door.  This is just a small section … the rest of the space is filled to the ceilings with wall-to-wall boxes and bags.

This picture was taken a couple weeks ago, and it’s all been cleared out by now.  But the store racks and shelves are filled with great thrifty treasures just waiting for you.  So hurry on over … run, don’t walk … to you local thrift store for some great thrifty buys!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cash for Trash Thursday

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In last week’s Cash for Trash post, I mentioned the great flip I had with the Reed Barton dinner forks that sold for $50.  Here’s another great dinnerware flip I had this week.  I sold three of these discontinued Sango Quadrille Black Lilies dinner plate (pictured above) for $10 each; my cost for each plate was about $0.45!  I purchased a box of this dinnerware at an estate sale for about $8.00.  My total sales on this box?  $82.00 … more than 10 times what I paid!  I would not have been able to make this amount had I tried to sell it as a lot.

I am definitely not an expert on dinnerware, but I have found a few pieces that I’ve taken a chance.  I’ve sold some of the pieces pictured above for $9.00-$13.00 each, and each cost between $0.40-$0.60.  That’s a great return on my money!

I found a box of this brand new Fiestaware by Homer Laughlin at my fave GW store for $7.00.  This is not vintage but a newer pattern released in 2003.  I listed the plates individually, but sold the cups & saucers as a set.  So far all have sold except for three items.  Once these are sold, total sales on this $7 purchase will be over $150!

Thrifty Tip:  For the most part, cups and saucers do not sell well as most folks today prefer mugs.  I usually donate the cups & saucers as I make more than enough to cover the cost with the plates and bowls. 

I think this is one topic to seriously research and become more informed as it can be a real money maker!

What’s your “cash for trash” story?

Linking up again to the following.  Be sure to check them out for more great thrifty treasures!

Thrifty Thursday @ Bloggervitaville

Junkin’ Finds Friday @ A La Carte

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Best Things I’ve Sold on eBay ~ #16 Empty Cigar Boxes

Starting Bid: N/A Winning Bids: $5.99-$7.50
Paid: $0 From: Cigar Shop
Ended: 7/27/08 – 8/31/08 Winners: Italy, TX, FL

These cigar boxes were literally trash before DH rescued them.  An acquaintance owned a couple of tobacco shops; and after DH found out the shop owner was tossing the boxes away, DH asked him if he could have them.  So one day DH came home with a big box of all kinds of cigar boxes. 

We kept some and gave some away, but I decided to check on eBay to see if anyone was willing to buy cigar boxes.  Well, duh! Of course, the answer was yes!  These are just a few of the boxes I sold on eBay; and I’m sure we easily made over $100. 

Unfortunately, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and this product source ended when the owner sold his business.  But it does prove that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cash for Trash Thursday

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They say that one man’s trash is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.  It’s a win-win situation for everyone.  Not only am I helping the economy but also the environment by keeping this “trash” out of our landfills.  I love it cuz I’m converting that “trash” into cash! 

Check out this Disney Big Bad Wolf from the Three Little Pigs (pictured above) that I listed on eBay on Monday.  He sold within hours for $40.  I bought him at my fave GW store for $1.99.

I’ve been fairly successful selling plush stuffed toys, which  I usually pick up at garage/yard sales for a quarter or fifty cents.  I may even pay up to $2.00 if I think it’ll be a good seller.  Here are a few more great flips I’ve had with plush toys:

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18” Mummford Penguin by Debbie Mumm

Paid $2 – Sold for $50

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The Inn Thing Target Store White Plush Dog w/ Bullseye

Paid $1.00 – Sold for $20

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DAEKOR POT BELLIES RACCOON W/ TAG VINTAGE 1980

Paid $2.00 – Sold for $20

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CHARIZARD Pokemon Dragon 22-In Plush w/ Tag

Paid $1.00 – Sold for $25

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PLUSH CHILLY WILLY 1982 BY WALTER LANTZ INC W/ TAG

Paid $0.25 – Sold for $15

When looking for plush stuffed toys to re-sell, look for items that are in good clean condition.  It helps if they still have their original hang tag, but it could still be good seller even without the tag.  The more unusual the better, just make sure it’s in good shape.

Here are a few more great flips I had this week:

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Disney Figural Pluto Character Mug by Treasure Craft

Paid $1.50 – Sold within 2 days for $12.00

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Until the Twelfth of Never Bella Stumbo HC 1st Ed 1993

Already Owned – Sold for $35

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Reed Barton PIAZZA NAVONNA Stainless 2 Dinner Forks

Paid $0.20 – Sold for $10 – Buyer purchased all 5 sets, for a total of $50.  My cost? $1.00

Some folks are very successful selling dinner- and tableware.  If you know what you’re doing, you can make a nice profit.  For instance, I purchased the Reed Barton Dinner Forks (pictured above) from a garage sale.  The box had about 50 pieces of this Piazza Navonna design and I paid $5.00 for it.  I’d never heard of Reed Barton, but I could tell they were quality items so I took a chance.  I’ve already made 10 times what I paid just with the sale of the forks. 

When looking to re-sell dinner- and tableware, it’s best to break out the set and sell individual items.  They sell quicker and you make a better profit, because folks are usually looking to replace individual items that have been lost or damaged rather than whole sets.

What’s your “trash to cash” story?

Linking up again to the following.  Be sure to check them out for more great thrifty treasures!

Thrifty Thursday @ Bloggervitaville

Junkin’ Finds Friday @ A La Carte

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Best Things I’ve Sold on eBay ~ #15 Handmade Slingshot

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Item #15: Handmade Slingshot from Riley’s Living History Farm

Paid:  N/A From: Riley’s Farm
Sold For: $9.99 Ended: 07/24/08
Winner:  California

This may not be the most profitable item I’ve sold, but it proves two things: (1) you can sell almost anything on eBay; and (2) NEVER throw anything away without first listing it on eBay!

One day a few years ago, DS#1 decided to clean out his room (yahoo!) and had a box of stuff to get rid of.  One of the items in this box was a sling shot we’d bought him years ago when he was little. 

I’d recently read a story by The Queen of Auctions about an old wood slingshot she sold for $10.  Looking at the picture, all I saw was a piece of wood or branch that you find in the street.  It didn’t even have the rubber sling.  I couldn’t believe that someone would actually pay $10 for it! 

So I immediately grabbed my son’s old slingshot and listed it in my eBay store for $9.99.  I was totally surprised – and thrilled – when it sold three weeks later!  And to think I was going to throw it away!

From that day on, I started looking at things with a different eye … and learned a valuable lesson: never give or throw anything away until you’ve listed it on eBay! 


For anyone looking to start selling on eBay, I recommend that you take small steps and learn as much as you can.  There are plenty of resources, and many are free online.  Even though I’ve been on eBay for over 10 years, I’m always learning something new; and that’s because eBay (and the world) is constantly changing.

One of my favorite resources is Lynn Dralle of The Queen of Auctions.  Lynn is an eBay Certified Provider; and I’ve read her books and every single one of her (free) newsletters!  It’s because of her advice that I’m still selling on eBay and making money!

I’ve also just recently stumbled across the eBay Selling Coach blog.  She offers loads of tips and strategies; and I’ve recently started using couple of her strategies.  She has her own website where she sells e-books, but you can download a few for FREE.

And, of course, there are all of you wonderful eBay sellers in blogland who are so generous with your advice and success stories … love reading those.  Thanks for the great tips!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Re-Selling Year-End Review

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A few days ago, Selena @ Apron Thrift Girl wrote an excellent post about closing the books on your 2010 online sales.  Although it’s not something I’ve ever done, this post certainly gave me something to think about.  So, I did some number crunching and the results were very interesting. 

Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of my year-end review:

  • I sold a total of 700 items with gross sales of $6,426.
  • The average was $9.18 per item; the median was $10.25; and the mode was $10.00
  • The largest percentage of items (18% or 126) sold for $10.00.  The next largest percentage was 9% (62) sold at $0.99.
  • 56% (395) of my items sold for less than $10.00
  • 37% (256) sold between $10 and $20
  • 4% (31) sold between $20 and $30
  • 1% (10) sold between $30 and $50
  • 1% (8) sold for more than $50
  • My gross receipts (including shipping) were $9,577, and my expenses (i.e., fees, inventory, postage and shipping supplies) were $5,653 (does not include printer ink, paper, and labels).
  • In 2009, my gross receipts were $15,261 (average/item $11.24) and expenses were $9,182, for a net income of $6,079 (or $507 /month).
  • 423 items (56.5%) were from my home, mostly fabric from my stash; old books and magazines; sewing patterns; knickknacks; etc. … my own virtual garage sale! This also includes a couple quilt tops I sold on Etsy.  Total sales = $3,200!
  • My cost of goods sold is averaging about 20%.
  • Bottom Line:  my net annual income for 2010 was $3,924 … or an average of $327 per month.

So, what’s the real story and what does this all mean?

  • First, I didn’t list as many items in 2010 as I did in 2009.  There were a few months in 2009 that I listed between 25-50 items/week.
  • In 2010 eBay increased their fees, which were 24% of my sales, compared to 19% for 2009. However, percentage of total expenses was actually less in 2010 (58% v 60%).
  • In 2010 there were more items that sold for $0.99 at auction; and I also started selling fabric pieces for $2.99 each.  This was something new for 2010, and items that sold under $10 represented 60% of my sales.  Not so good as this affected my bottom line.
  • I supplement my income selling items between $10 and $20.  The magic number seems to be $9.99.

Many folks do make a decent living re-selling online – whether on eBay, Etsy, Bonanza, Amazon, etc. – but let’s be honest, it is labor intensive and time consuming.  So if I want to be successful in 2011, I have to make some changes.  Here are my eBay business New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Goal #1: List, list and list more!  List at least 20-25 items per week. Selling on eBay is a numbers game: the more you list, the more you sell.
  • Goal #2:  Increase the number of items in my store.  I currently have 540 items in store; and I need to increase it to 1,000 to justify the monthly fee of my eBay store.
  • Goal #3: Eliminate $0.99 auction listings.  If an item is worth only $0.99, then donate it to charity and get the tax write-off.  Unlike the old days, $0.99 auctions do not create bidding wars.  Too many items sold at the $0.99 starting price – not worth the time and effort.
  • Goal #4: Increase average price per item to $15.  Eliminate – or at least decrease – the number of listings under $10.  In 2010 I sold almost 300 items for $10-plus: average price = $14.84.  If all my items had sold at this average price, I would have sold over $11,000 in 2010 … wow!
  • Goal #5:  Decrease average cost of goods sold to 15%.  This is a little tricky because, if I make a goof in a purchase, I will list it and hope I break even.  Nothing gained, but nothing lost.  So I need to be more selective about items I purchase for resale.  New rule of thumb: if an item costs under $10, it has to sell for at least $10 more.  If it’s priced over $10, then I need to double it.
  • Goal #6: Go saling every week!  This seems like a no-brainer; but honestly, there are just some weeks I don’t feel like getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday, especially if I’m going by myself. No more excuses for missing garage sales!

I will also follow-up on Selena’s recommendations about closing shop for 2010; and start fresh for 2011 by taking stock of my inventory and clearing out slow selling merchandise. 

And while this information may not be of much interest to many of you, it certainly has helped me to write it down and focus on my business goals for 2011.  Let’s hope this works … otherwise, I’ll be seeing you at the employment office looking for a part-time job! 

I wish all the best for you and your online resale business.  Let’s make this the best year ever both on- and off-line.  Here’s to a very successful 2011!

UPDATED 1-16-11