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!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cash for Trash: The Best and The Worst of 2013

My last post for 2013 and I have to share this great flip with you.  It’d been pretty quiet on the online selling scene, with a small sale here and there.  So, imagine how jazzed I was to make this sale just before the end of 2013:

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Canada Goose Calgary Down Jacket Parka Coat Large Black Authentic NO HOOD NEW

This jacket had been hanging around (literally) since the previous year.  A relative of DH’s bought it at the GW but hadn’t used it so he gave it to DH because he knew DH liked to go hiking.  It was in great condition, brand new with tags.  Unfortunately, the jacket was too big, but DH wanted to hang onto it anyway.  Maybe he thought he’d grow into it … just kidding!

Eventually, the relative moved out of the country, and DH finally decided it was time to put this jacket on the selling block. 

We don’t know how much the relative paid for it at the GW (probably no more than $10-$20), but we got really excited when we discovered these jackets can sell for between $600-$700-plus! 

However, our parka did not have the hood, so DH contacted the company about buying a hood.  But after a couple of emails back and forth with no final response – and several months later – I finally decided to list the jacket without the hood.  I listed it just before Christmas and it sold 2 days before the year-end for $300, plus shipping!  Ka-ching!!!  Money in the closet!

The following round out my top 5 sales for 2013:

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Griswold #8 Skillet With Cover or Lid Cast Iron 704 – PAID $9 – SOLD $81

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TWO New York Central Railroad NYCS Vintage Pump Oil Can 28" Tall with 21" Spout – PAID $5 – SOLD $115

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Lego Sports Basketball 3433 The Ultimate NBA Arena Complete Unopened Bags UNUSED – PAID $5 – SOLD $245

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Vintage Antique Grandmother's Flower Garden Feedsack Quilt 72 x 88 Hand Quilted – PAID $6 – SOLD $267

So you don’t think everything I sell is golden, here is my worst sale – and costliest mistake – ever selling online.  I was going to keep this to myself, but – what the heck – we’re among friends, aren’t we? LOL You live and learn …

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Back in April, DH bought this stroller for $15 at a GS.  He is an amateur photographer and had been looking for some type of stroller to haul his equipment when he goes on photo shoots.  When we got it home, he discovered it didn’t quite meet his needs so we decided to sell it. 

DH contacted the company; and after a nice chat with the rep, he told me this was a special-needs stroller.  Even so, I decided to do my own research and spent quite a bit of time making sure I had the correct information.  Here is what the Kool-Stride Special Needs stroller looks like:


It looks similar, don’t you think?  So that’s how I listed it with a Buy It Now price of $345.00.  Click here to see my listing.  We were thrilled when it sold within 24 hours!  The buyer was so excited to buy it and sent me a very nice message.

As it happened, we were having lunch at a mall when I got the alert on my phone.  We immediately found a nearby bike shop that just happened to have a box we could have.  Within the hour, we were back home packing the bike. Shipping cost me $47 via FedEx.  So far so good …

Imagine my dismay when I got that much-dreaded message “Item not as described” and informing me that a case had been opened.  The buyer said the stroller was not for special-needs and that her adult daughter did not fit in it.  What?! 

So, before I contacted her (she had given me her phone number), I decided to call the company myself – which I should have done in the first place.  I gave the rep the model number and he confirmed that it was NOT the special needs stroller.  My heart sank … I felt terrible.  That was a lot of money and I would be upset if I was the buyer.

So I called the buyer and explained what happened, apologizing profusely.  She was not as upset as I thought she’d be; and in fact was rather understanding.  She said she, too, looked into before paying and also thought it was a special needs stroller.  She agreed to return the stroller for a full refund.

Okay, so here’s where things get a little stickier.  At this point, I’m out the $47 shipping cost plus the $15 cost of the stroller, plus eBay/PayPal fees of about $33 – a total of $95.  If the buyer returns the item, I am out another $50, if not more.  So now I’m looking at a loss of about $130 (less COGS).  What to do?

A search of used strollers with my model no. revealed they were selling for between $50-$65, both on eBay and CL.  I was already facing a refund of $345 and just couldn’t afford another $50+ for return shipping.  After really looking at the situation, DH and I decided it was not cost effective to pay for return shipping.  We asked the buyer to donate it to a worthy cause; and a few days later, I received a very nice email from a non-profit organization that works with women and children in need.

My mistake was not getting the model no. and calling the company myself.  The strollers all look very similar, with very slight differences; and I should not have depended upon the pictures and information from the Internet.  In the end, this cost me $85.  Ouch!  Lesson learned … and one that I won’t forget!

So that’s the best and worst of my 2013, and looking forward to a great 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Selling on Craigslist … I’m lovin’ it!

Last year, I finally took the plunge and jumped into selling on Craigslist; and it was all thanks to this Kent Coffey dresser.  Read about it here.


I sold 7 items last year on CL over a period of about 30 days (most of November).  Two items were my own personal items, and the rest were purchased for resale.  My investment was $85 and my sales total was $560!  Cash in hand, no shipping, no transporting!  No fees!!! All it took was a few minutes for each listing and a few text messages … and voila! 

Easy, peasy.  Sure, I had a few no-shows, but it was not a big problem. And, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed meeting the buyers and hearing their stories.

So, 2013 was going to be the year for CL selling!  Well, not quite … gee whiz, I guess you can’t sell it if you don’t list it.  I bought these 3 items during the summer but put them on the back burner.  Problem was these items were taking up space in my home and my garage.

Next thing I knew it was December and Christmas was just around the corner … and these items were still taking up space and I was really tired of looking at them.  With my eBay activity on a semi-vacation mode, I finally got them listed.

Toddler Oak Bed with Side Rails and Simmons Mattress

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First to go was this toddler bed that I bought at a garage sale in JANUARY. When the seller said $25, I thought I had a big score.  But a search on CL told me these don’t sell for much more than I paid.

So 11 months later, I list it with an asking price of $50, or BO.  Just come and take it, please!  Within a few days, I had a buyer who paid my full asking price. 

He was a young man on crutches who said he was buying the bed as a Christmas gift for his nephew.  When I asked what happened, he told me he had been injured in a serious car accident two years ago, while he drove home to Calif. from Texas where he had been stationed and was on Christmas leave. He’d already had multiple surgeries and needed one more to hopefully get off the crutches.

He’s telling me this story while DH and his friend are loading the bed into their van.  After they left, I thought about his story. He had served his country, was struggling with a serious injury, and was now taking care of his nephew. He is certainly an inspiration. I would have gladly given him the bed, but they were gone before I had a chance to reflect on this.

Kidkraft White Train Table & 2 Trundle Combo with Train Set

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I have to thank Dude @ Money In The Garage for this one.  If it weren’t for the great info he has on train tables, I probably would have passed this up.  DH and I found it at a garage sale on a gloomy day in July, with rain in the forecast.  Yard sales were few and we weren’t finding much.   We had only been out about an hour and were already thinking of calling it a day.  Instead, we hit just one more sale.  And there it was … the train table.  It was obvious that the husband was the negotiator and the money man.  I don’t remember what his original asking price was, but try as I might I could not get him below $25.  I’ll take it anyway!  Not only was it in good condition, it also included the train set PLUS the two drawers on casters.  DH loaded it on the truck and home we went … just in time before the rain showed up! 

At first I thought I would sell the train set separately; but after reading the posts from Dude @ Money In The Garage, I knew I’d be better off selling it all together.  I listed it for $150 with BO.  A couple of weeks went by with a couple of contacts, but no serious buyers.  FINALLY – 2 days before Christmas – I sold it for a best offer of $100  to the parents of a little girl who loved playing with the train set at the library and this was her Christmas gift.

Little Tikes Medieval Classic Castle Playhouse with Slide

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After selling the last two items and clearing them out of my garage & home, I was really anxious to get rid of sell this castle.  We bought this in MARCH for $20 at a garage sale.  The problem was that we disassembled it to bring it home.  I gave up on ever getting it put together for pictures, so I took pictures of it as it sat in my garage, plus a “sample” picture.

I was surprised to see this castle sells for $400 brand new from Little Tikes.  Similar ones on CL were selling for between $100-$200, depending on condition.  Knowing my pictures were not the best and wanting a quick sale, I listed mine for $95.

I did not post this until Christmas Day, and sold it within 2 days to a young mom.  She said her little boy’s birthday was in 2 weeks and she was so excited to get this.

When she and her friend arrived, she quickly paid me and started loading the pieces into their van.  She didn’t look it over nor ask me any questions.  Good thing I had also printed up assembling instructions from the Internet, which showed that it originally had a blue door. 

Unfortunately, because we never assembled it, I never realized that it was missing two very important pieces: the blue door and a crucial piece for the look-out tower.  I felt so bad because I knew she had driven a long way (about an hour’s drive) and this was not what she expected.

In the end, we worked it out.  She said her son wanted a “Batman” cave so she said she could make a curtain for the door and she would make a shelf out of wood for the look-out tower.  So, she paid $50 and got the castle for her son at a great price.  I ended up with cash in my pocket and more space in my garage!

These items sold within 3 weeks, and I ended up with quick cash of $200.  I think selling them during the holidays was an advantage, plus I was an anxious seller who wanted a quick sale so my items were “priced to sell”.  Still, I made an extra $130.  Not only did I clean out my garage, but folks actually paid me to do it!  All from the comfort of my own home.  Gotta love it!

I think from now on I’ll post my CL items right away – before I get tired of seeing them and then pricing them “to sell”.  I now have a clean garage so that should motivate me to keep it clutter-free!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cash for Trash: Christmas Sales

Hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Christmas with family and friends.  We had a very nice – albeit quiet – Christmas holiday.  We celebrated with our two sons and are thankful to have each other.  We are also thankful for our blessings: a roof over our heads, food on our table, and good health – but most of all the love of family and friends.

Hope your December sales have been rocking!  I decided that for this month, I would not do any product sourcing and no marathon listing sessions.  I wanted to focus on birthday and holiday celebrations and all the work activity that they bring.

Instead I concentrated on catching up on listing items I’d already bought.  My goal was to have everything listed by end of the year; and so far, so good!

I did not have any gangbuster sales, but sales did trickle in here and there.  The great thing was that I moved out some old stock. 

Lenox BUTTERFLY MEADOW Honey Pot with Lid and Wood Spoon

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I bought this at the GW in January for $4.99.  Sold it for $45 to a buyer in New Hampshire.  Glad to see it go!

Tommy Bahama Silk Shirt Mens L Black Swingers Choice Paradise Casino Embroidered

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Another Tommy Bahama shirt I picked up at a garage sale for $5.  Sold it for $49.99 to a buyer in California.  I’m thinking this was probably a Christmas gift; but with the warm weather we have in Calif, the buyer could have bought it for personal use and wear it year round.

Brooks Brothers Wool Cashmere Mens 48 Reg Navy Blue Blazer Sport Coat Jacket

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Men's Cashmere Trench Over Coat by Cricketeer Mens 52L Woven in Italy

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In 2012, I read this post from Suzanne @ The eBay Coach about selling men’s sports coats/blazers and thought I’d give it a try.  So, I promptly bought a dozen from the thrift stores, paying between $1-$5 each. Well, they’ve been hanging around (literally) for over a year, and I finally got around to  listing them earlier this month.  I quickly sold 6 of them, with this Brooks Brothers cashmere blazer and Cricketeer cashmere coat selling for the most: $59.95 and $64.98 ($124.98).  Not bad for an investment of $7.50. 

After looking at them for over a year, I’ve reached a point where I just want to move them out. So I have most listed for $22.99 to $24.99 and $44.99 (all FS) with a Best Offer option.  Even so, I’m thinking that I’ll keep men’s cashmere blazers on my BOLO list.

Polaroid Sun 600 LMS Light Management System Tested and Working Made in USA

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I knew Polaroid cameras are good sellers, but I had never run across one until I found this one at a garage sale.  I was rummaging through a pile of clothes when I heard a little boy telling his mom how much he wanted “one”.  I look over and he’s playing around with this camera.  His mom is telling him to leave it be because it probably doesn’t work, but he continues to play around with it. 

In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye on him.  Lo and behold, he figures out how to work it and takes a picture!  He is so excited as he runs over to his mom and tells her it works.  I keep stalking watching him, but get sidetracked as they go up to pay for their items.  I finally take what few things I have to the seller and there on a table next to her is THE camera – and no little boy in sight.  Apparently, his mom didn’t want to fork out the money to get it for him.  I add it to my pile and end up paying $2 for it.  It sold for $61.36 to a buyer in Texas.  Ka-ching!

I’m taking the time between Christmas and New Year’s day to do some bookkeeping and analyzing my sales for the past year.  I’ve been re-assessing my business and working on my goals for the new year.  I’m really looking forward to better sales in 2014! 

Now that’s cash for trash!

Friday, December 13, 2013

$6,300 for Christmas Lights? Really?!

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GE Mazda Christmas Tree Lamps

I couldn’t believe it when I saw these vintage Christmas lights sold for over $6,000!

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I’d never heard of Mazda Christmas lights, but it seems that vintage General Electric lights are very good sellers.  Not sure why this particular listing sold for so much.  I see that others sell in the hundreds – not too shabby either – but the listing is very plain and simple.  Click on the screen capture below to see the listing and click here to see sold listings.

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I’ve been to estate sales where the sellers can’t get rid of their vintage Christmas items.  I will usually give it a passing glance and MAY pick up an item or two.  But, believe me, I will certainly put these on my BOLO list!  Have any of you heard of these lights and do you know what makes them so special?


Speaking of Christmas lights, Sunday DH and I went to the Mission Inn in Riverside, CA for their Festival of Lights.  What a spectacular display!  The Inn is festooned from top to bottom in millions of lights.  It is absolutely beautiful!  Really puts you in the Christmas spirit.

Our neighbors have been putting up their lights since before Thanksgiving, and our neighborhood is beginning to look like Christmas.  DH has some wonderful qualities but putting up Christmas lights always requires a little nagging arm twisting cajoling and maybe some bribing … LOL  Maybe this weekend we’ll have our lights up... 

Happy holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cash for Trash: November Winners

Vintage Antique Wooden Thorens Music Box Hummel Picture Plays Edelweiss

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Award_-_Honorable_mentionWhen I first saw this music box at the GW, I thought it was just a regular trinket box.  Thinking it was not worth much, I walked by it a couple of times.  However, the little guy on the top finally got my attention so I picked it up.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a music box.  I was not at all familiar with the brand, but at $2.69 I decided to bring it home.  I did some research and was happy to see that some of these music boxes can bring in some big bucks.  This one sold for $40 to a buyer in Florida.  Net margin = 64%

PYREX Gooseberry Yellow Cinderella Mixing Bowls 442 443 444 Vintage Set of 3

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Illustration of a fourth place ribbonI picked up this set of Pyrex bowls at a garage sale.  The owners were downsizing and had already sold their home so their prices were pretty reasonable.  As much as I say I am not a big fan of shipping large breakables, I keep buying these items.  At $3 for the set, I just couldn’t pass it up.  I originally planned to sell the bowls individually; but after doing some research, I decided I’d be better off selling the set.  Sold it for $46.99 to a buyer in Arizona.  Net margin = 55%

I thought packing and shipping the set of bowls would be problem, but I wrapped each bowl with bubble wrap then taped the bowls together.  I then wrapped the stack in cardboard FOMO-style which I then put into a box and added peanuts. I know the bowls have been delivered and I haven’t heard from the buyer, so am assuming they arrived safe and sound.


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Christmas Black Sweater Holiday Editions Womens XL Santa Reindeer Beads NEW

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Illustration of a third place ribbonSo far, these are the only two Christmas sweaters I’ve sold this year.  I bought the men’s moose sweater at the SA for $3.  I didn’t even notice at the time that it had a little music box attached to it.  It sold for $49.94.

I found the black Christmas sweater with two others at the GW.  They were brand new with tags so I was surprised they were only $5.39 each.  I sold this one for $31.98.  Total paid for both sweaters was $8.59 and total sales was $81.92.  Net margin = 61%

Right now I have 3 Christmas sweaters in my store; and these 2 sales make five total I bought for the year.  Last year I bought and sold 10 times as many.  Are Ugly Christmas sweaters still good sellers for you?

Tommy Bahama Silk Shirt Men's Large Summer of 1999 Island Jazz Music Embroidered

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second_place1I was doing a happy dance when I found this Tommy Bahama shirt at a garage sale in a large pile of clothes dumped in the driveway.  I ask the seller how much and he says $3.  Then he says there are more and wanted to know if I’d seen them.  Holy moly, I went through that pile of clothes like gangbusters.  In total I found 5 embroidered and 2 plain TB shirts – all at $3 each.  Score!  I sold this one for $49.99 to a buyer in Florida.  Net margin = 67%

Vintage 1998 Laurel Burch Tall Latte Mug Cup Jungle Cat Group Lion Leopard Tiger

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first_placeBe sure to add Laurel Burch to your BOLO list.  I first wrote about Laurel Burch in 2010 in this post.  She was a popular artist and designer who passed away in 2007.  Pretty much anything made by her is a good seller but vintage items made prior to her death bring in the highest bucks.  I paid $1.79 for this mug from the GW and sold it for $74.99 to a buyer in Minnesota.  Net margin = 74%

Lego Sports Basketball 3433 The Ultimate NBA Arena Complete Unopened Bags UNUSED

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4ce2e704e99ba.imageGrand prize award goes to this Lego basketball set.  I found this at a garage sale that had already been going on for a couple of hours.  There were quite a few people looking around but no one was paying attention to this Lego set.  I saw that the pieces were brand new, still sealed.  I was thinking the seller wanted something like $20 for it, which is why it was still there, but I picked it up anyway.  I had to mask my surprise when she said $5!  I ended up selling it to a buyer in New Jersey for $245.00! Ka-ching!

There’s a little side story to this item.  It first sold to a buyer from Italy; and I noticed I had mistakenly set international shipping at $14.00 for first class shipping.  Yikes! Had he paid for the item, I would have sent it to him.  Good thing he didn’t …

He first sent me a message asking if I could give him a better price, and then asked me to fib about the price on the customs form.  Red flags!  At this point, I was anxious to have him go away so I sent a message telling him shipping was $55 and perhaps it’d be best if I cancelled the transaction – which I did.  Unfortunately, he denied the request.

So I waited for his payment … and waited …. and waited.  To make matters worse, I could not open a UPI case because my request to cancel the transaction was denied!  So I called eBay and was told to send him another message and to wait another few days.  I got tired of waiting so I relisted the item and it sold within days of relisting it.  I finally did get my FV fees after contacting eBay again, but it should have been easier. Lesson learned:  I required immediate payment when I relisted it.

Now that’s cash for trash!