Category Archives: Garage Sales

Garage Sale Tip #4 – Take The Experts With You (I’ll show you how!)

Everyone loves a home run. No, I’m not talking about when the ball goes over the outfield fence and the batter can trot around the bases… I’m talking about the reseller’s home run! When you buy something for super cheap, and then flip it for huge profits. I love finding a book for a quarter, and then selling it for $50 just a few weeks later. I’ll never forget the rush of buying 5 brand new vintage video games for $25 each, and then selling them for $350 each! Home runs can be the fuel that keeps a reseller in the game.

Home-Run-GuideScratchyI want to let you in on a tool that I use to help me find home runs. It’s called The Home Run Guide and it’s absolutely the best book for finding those hidden (and not so hidden) home runs. This book is a collection of articles written by many different reselling experts. I have referenced the Home Run Guide countless times when I’ve been at garage sales, thrift stores, and estate sales. I have the mobile version on my Kindle AND iBooks app (just in case one of those apps crashes) so I can easily bring up the information I need to make sure what I have in front of me is indeed a home run.

The Home Run Guide is broken up into Volume One, Two, and Three. All three volumes are excellent, and I highly recommend them. Volume One is 490 pages full of useful information to help you find home runs. That’s not a typo… 490 pages. Volume Two is equally impressive at 369 pages. The newest addition, Volume Three is loaded with amazing home runs, as well as a “Success Knowledge” section. This section will help you with ‘Setting up your Sales Tax on Amazon,’ ‘Attending Trade Shows,’ ‘Organizing your Online Business,’ and more. It’s truly an amazing guide. 

The authors who write each section of The Home Run Guide go into great detail so that you can get the most information and make the best buying decisions. They include pictures, as well as what to definitely buy and what to never buy.

In The Home Run Guide, you’ll learn so many new things to be on the lookout for. It’s great for both eBay and Amazon resellers alike. Here is just a small sample of what is in The Home Run Guide:

Details About What to Buy – Books, Children’s Books, Toys, Plush, Kitchen Items, Home Items, Puzzles, Board Games, Electronic Toys, Craft Supplies, Toy Trains, Harley Davidson Memorabilia, Coke Memorabilia, Collectibles, Jewelry, and tons more.

Tips and Tricks – Negotiation Skills, Clearance Sale Tips, Garage and Estate Sales Tricks, Rummage Sales, Thrift Stores, a guide to shopping at Target, an intro to Sales and Use Tax, Organization tips, Trade Shows, IFTTT (If This Then That) Video Training, and so much more.

v3You can buy each volume individually, or you can buy them all together and get a discounted rate.

If you purchase this guide through my link, I will get an affiliate commission, which helps pay to keep this blog up and running. However, I want to assure you that I only promote products that I use myself and completely believe in. This guide will pay for itself over and over again. Click on this link to see more details about The Home Run Guide.

 

Now Available: The Reseller’s Guide to Board Games – How to Turn Play Money Into Real Money

BoardGameBook MiniA few years ago I was looking for a new niche to add to my online selling business. I needed something that was both profitable and abundant. The niche I discovered ended up being even better than I expected. What niche had I discovered? Board games.

For the past 2 years I have found hundreds and hundreds of board games, both new and used, to sell online. I’ll run out of money before I run out of board games to flip. It is the abundance of such a profitable niche that has lead me to share my secrets.

Today, I’m excited to tell you that my first eBook, The Reseller’s Guide to Board Games: How to Turn Play Money into Real Money, is now available for purchase. The book contains 12 chapters, is over 60 pages, and includes 3 bonuses. It’s packed with all the information you need to find, buy, prepare, and sell board games for maximum profits.

IMG_8909bTo learn more or purchase this eBook, click here. This book comes with a 60-day, no questions asked, money back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose.

Garage Sale Tip #3

Today’s tip is the third in an ongoing series called Garage Sale Tips.

Almost every time I go out to source at garage sales, I see a certain item that I can buy for next to nothing and easily use to turn a few quarters into $20.00. What am I talking about? Expired printer ink cartridges.

17802_gr960If you have a Staples office store nearby, then you can take advantage of an easy program that lets you trade in ink cartridges for store credit. Currently, Staples will give you $2.00 per ink cartridge (up to 10 cartridges per month). To see the details of this program, just click here.

When I see ink cartridges at garage sales, I always look at the expiration date, and almost 100% of the time, the ink cartridges are expired. What makes me laugh is that the ink cartridges usually expired around 2005. Why people keep them that long is anyone’s guess. The good news is that you can use the fact that these are expired ink cartridges as a way to get them for next to nothing. Here is the usual conversation I have at a garage sale when I see expired ink cartridges:

Stephen – “I see you have a few ink cartridges that expired back in 2007. Would you take a quarter for them?”
Seller – “Oh, I didn’t realize they were expired. Sure, you can take ‘em for a quarter.”  

Sometimes the conversations even go like this:

Stephen – “I see you have 5 ink cartridges that expired back in 2007. Would you take a dollar for them all?”
Seller – “Oh, I didn’t realize they were expired. You can just have ‘em.”  

See, sometimes I even get these money makers for free. As a rule, I never pay over a quarter for the expired ink cartridges. Even if they expired in 2012, I’ll still just offer a quarter. 95% of the time, the seller will accept the quarter for the expired ink.

IMG_8639The next step is to take the ink cartridges to a local Staples store. Be sure you are a Staples Rewards member (it’s fast and free to sign up). Tell the cashier that you want to recycle the ink and drop off the cartridges. If you drop off 10 cartridges (the maximum you can per month) then you’ll get a Staples store credit certificate for $20.00. You just turned $2.50 into $20.00! If you do this every month, you’ll turn a $30 investment into $240 in a year. Thats a profit of $210!

The only catch is that you have to spend $30 on ink at Staples every 180 days to keep yourself eligible for this reward. With all your FBA-related printing, this is easy to do, and you still come out making a great profit for all the quarters you spend on each ink cartridge.

If you don’t have a Staples store near you, you can still profit off of ink cartridges. The site inkrecycling.org offers up cash for your ink. They want you to ship the cartridges to them (shipping is free), and then they’ll pay you depending on what cartridge you send them.

Anybody else tried the Staples ink recycling program? Do you know other ways to make money off of expired ink cartridges from garage sales?

Finding Joy in FBA

This post is from Rebecca, Stephen’s wife and business partner.

Everybody is born with gifts, talents, preferences, and passions. Sometimes these talents and passions are obvious from childhood. Other talents become clear later in life. Stephen and I truly believe that utilizing those gifts and passions on a regular basis is key to a successful business, including a successful FBA business. If you’re working every day at something you love, you are more motivated to work hard and you’re in a better position to excel at that work.

I’m saying all this about “do what you love and love what you do” as an English major and professional writer. I have ZERO business background or experience prior to working with Stephen on FBA. And yet, I can truly say that I love my part of doing FBA as a couple. If I only thought of it as a way to pay our bills, not as an enjoyable and meaningful job as well, I wouldn’t be doing it. But we’ve found a way to use my unique non-business-background gifts to help our business grow — and we think you can do the same thing.

Here are a few ways to make your talents, your strengths, and your passions prosper your business:

1. Shop where it most suits you.

I love thrift stores. Always have. I’m drawn to the quirkiness of so many thrift store owners, and I love that each thrift store encounter feels like a treasure hunt. I don’t always enjoy garage sales. I give up too easily when there’s a list of 20 sales to cover, and the first 7 or 8 are duds — or closed. So, I have a regular thrift store route that I cover each week, and Stephen (who loves driving around town and talking to all the strangers he meets along the way) does the bulk of our garage saling. This system works for us, so we stick with it for the most part.

DSC039962. Shop for what most suits you.

If Stephen and I go to a thrift store together, we can walk in the door and without a word know what the other one wants to do first: I make a beeline for the books, and he heads to the toys and games. It truly is a delight to me to stand for an hour or more scanning books — seriously, it’s a dream come true that I get to buy and sell books for a living! In the same way that I sometimes give up on a long list of garage sales, Stephen becomes weary of shelf after shelf of books needing to be scanned. He, on the other hand, never complains about digging through bins of toys or shelves of video games. It makes sense that we each focus on the area we’re drawn to — we each do a better job that way.

3. Be willing to try new things and new places.

Sometimes we don’t know what we enjoy until we try it. In the past, I thought the idea of scanning shelves of clearance items at a retail store sounded like an awful way to spend an afternoon — tedious and dusty. But after a couple of times of going out to stores with Stephen and seeing what it’s like (and learning that there’s more thought process involved than just blindly picking up each and every item to scan it), I started to get into it. Again, it’s like a treasure hunt. Now I have a couple of stores where I regularly scan clearance items — and I enjoy it! This willingness is especially important if you’re doing FBA on your own. You can’t always rely on someone else to do the jobs you don’t like.

4. Don’t compare yourself to others — even your partner. 

183983_488455967854185_352660876_nIt’s easy to get caught up in reading forums, blogs, and e-books and start to think, “I’m just not good at [fill in the blank] like other people are. I can’t seem to find [insert product name here] or have any luck at [name of store here].” One thought can lead to another, and soon you’re in a downward spiral of negativity. But you have to remember, the great thing about FBA is there’s room for all kinds of products, all kinds of categories, and all levels of sellers. If someone else’s niche doesn’t work for you, keep looking — your own niche is out there. I have to tell myself this every time Stephen finds a great video game deal — I’m not a loser because I never seem to find video games that are worth anything. Video games are an area of expertise for him, not me, and I can celebrate his victories without feeling defeated myself.

5. Don’t give up working on your weaknesses or the areas you don’t enjoy.

Now, while it’s true that you should try to focus overall on doing work that you enjoy, it’s also true that there are always aspects to any job that are genuinely work (who really enjoys and is “gifted” at sticker removal?). These mundane tasks must be done, and we can’t just slough them off for the sake of only doing tasks we find pleasant. If you need to, hire an assistant (or your teenage kid) to help you with these areas that are less enjoyable to you — or find ways to make them more appealing. For example, sticker removal days are also movie days at our house. And there are days when it works better for me to do the garage saling and Stephen to be busy at something else (see #1 above) — garage sales aren’t my favorite, but if needed, I get out there and do it.

If you want to read more about how Stephen and I make our Amazon FBA business work as a married couple, check out our book, Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with Your Online Business. 

Please let us hear from you now. Have you found what makes you joyful in FBA? How did you find it? If not, what are you doing to actively seek the areas of FBA that you enjoy and excel at?

The Home Run Guide: Take the Experts with You

Everyone loves a home run. No, I’m not talking about when the ball goes over the outfield fence and the batter can trot around the bases… I’m talking about the reseller’s home run! When you buy something for super cheap, and then flip it for huge profits. I love finding a book for a quarter, and then selling it for $50 just a few weeks later. I’ll never forget the rush of buying 5 brand new vintage video games for $25 each, and then selling them for $350 each! Home runs can be the fuel that keeps a reseller in the game.

Home-Run-GuideScratchyI want to let you in on a secret tool that I use to help me find home runs. It’s called The Home Run Guide and it’s absolutely the best book for finding those hidden (and not so hidden) home runs. This book is a collection of articles written by many different reselling experts. I have referenced the Home Run Guide countless times when I’ve been at garage sales, thrift stores, and estate sales. I have the mobile version on my Kindle AND iBooks app (just in case one of those apps crashes). I can easily bring up the information I need to make sure what I have in front of me is indeed a home run.

The Home Run Guide is broken up into Volume One, Two and Three. All three are excellent and I highly recommend them. Volume One is 490 pages full of useful information to help you find home runs. That’s not a typo… 490 pages. Volume Two is equally impressive at 369 pages. The authors who write each section of The Home Run Guide go into great detail so that you can get the most information and make the best buying decision. They include pictures, as well as what to definitely buy and what to never buy.

In The Home Run Guide, you’ll learn so many new things to be on the lookout for. It’s mostly focused around eBay sales, but many of what you learn can be applied to Amazon as well. Here is just a small sample of what is in the Home Run Guide:

Details About What to Buy – Books, Children’s Books, Toys, Plush, Kitchen Items, Home Items, Puzzles, Board Games, Electronic Toys, Craft Supplies, Toy Trains, Harley Davidson Memorabilia, Coke Memorabilia, and tons more!

Tips and Tricks – Negotiation Skills, Clearance Sale Tips, Garage and Estate Sales Tricks, Rummage Sales, Thrift Stores, IFTTT, a guide to shopping at Target, an intro to Sales and Use Tax, and so much more!

You can buy each volume individually, or you can buy them both together and get a discounted rate. I promise you that The Home Run Guide will pay for itself over and over again.

 

Garage Sale Tip #2

Recently we launched a new ongoing series of blog posts dedicated to bringing you tips and tricks for making the most of your garage sale visits. Today’s tip is absolutely essential in making the most money for the time you invest in sourcing at garage sales. garage-sale-sign-with-shoppers

Garage sale tip #2 is basic: how to find ‘em. Some of the methods I use to find garage sales are pretty obvious, but others, not as much.

1. Craigslist

Go to craigslist.org and find your city (or nearest city listed). In the “For Sale” section of your city’s page you will find a link for garage sales. From here you can enter in your zip code in the search bar. If you live just outside a major city, you can also search for your city’s name to find the sales closest to you. Be sure you look at the dates in the listings. You don’t want to go to a garage sale that was advertised for last week or is advertising for next month.

 2. City Websites

Many cities require garage sale permits before someone can host a garage sale. Most of these cities use the permit information to advertise those garage sales. If your city doesn’t offer up a list of sales, then take a look at cities that surround yours. Chances are, you’ll find a few of them have plenty of garage sales for you to visit.

3. Garage Sale Websites

Most of these sites just pull from craigslist, but sometimes, people add their garage sale directly to the site and skip posting on craigslist altogether. Some quality websites include:

yardsalesearch.com
yardsales.net
gsalr.com
garagesaletracker.com
garagesalefinder.com
 

4. Garage Sale Smart Phone Apps

Again, most of these pull from craigslist, but often, you’ll find sales only posted on these apps. Some of the apps are the mobile versions of the websites listed above. Many of these apps will show you maps with directions to the sale. Here are my favorites:

Yard Sale Treasure Map 
Garage Sales by Map

The above links go to iTunes, but if you have an Android phone, there are garage sale apps for you too.

5. Newspapers

Some people still advertise their garage sales in the newspaper. I don’t suggest you subscribe to a newspaper solely for the purpose of finding garage sales, but if you already are a subscriber, be sure to look at the ads. Some newspapers include garage sale ads for free on their websites, so be sure you look at your city’s newspaper’s website.

6. Drive Around

The garage sales are out there... Go find 'em!

The garage sales are out there… Go find ’em!

Last year, one of the towns I garage sale shop in posted its list of garage sales on Thursday nights. By the time I got the list, I would see that 9-10 of those sales started earlier that day. When I showed up on Friday to a garage sale that started on Thursday, I wasn’t getting first pick. So what did I do? I decided to drive around town, on the main roads, looking for garage sale signs. On average, I’d find just over half of the sales that would be on the list later that day. This was worth it to me to get there first. I found some great items to resell on Thursdays that I knew would not be there on Friday. So, if you don’t have any garage sale leads, go out and find ‘em yourself!

7. Craigslist (again!)

Yes, we’re back at craigslist.org to find more garage sales, but we’re going to search a little differently. This time, type these words into the search bar: “neighborhood sale” or “church sale” or “rummage sale.” The search results will give you another option for your garage sale trek. Searching for a “neighborhood sale” will give you ads for neighborhoods that are having multiple garage sales in close vicinity to one another. It might not be worth your time to travel 25 minutes to visit one garage sale, but if you knew that there would be a whole neighborhood filled with garage sales, then the trip would be worth it.

So what about you? Where do you find your garage sales? Got any tricks you’d like to share? I’d love to hear how you find those “hidden” garage sales that nobody else seems to find.

 

Selling Seasonal Items on FBA

Valentine's Day Barbie

Valentine’s Day Barbie

It’s August, and you just found some Valentine’s Day themed toys at a garage sale that should bring a nice profit come February. Do you wait until January to send them in to FBA? At another garage sale, you find a profitable Halloween themed children’s movie. Do you send it in now or wait until October? Don’t you need to worry about FBA storage fees if you send these items in “too early”?

The bottom line is this: products that are stored in your home are not making you any money. Get these items to an FBA warehouse as soon as possible! Don’t make the assumption that these items will not sell until their season. The truth is seasonal items sell year round.

Some FBA sellers see multiple sales of Christmas items in the summer because of “Christmas in July” parties. Just because it’s 100 degrees where you are doesn’t mean that someone else in the world isn’t looking for a snowblower. And even though you’d never buy a Thomas the Train Inflatable Lawn Decoration in May, someone else probably will.

Do you want proof? Below are examples of items I have sold very recently.

The 365 Kittens-A-Year 2013 Wall Calendar
Bought at a thrift store on February 26 and sold on August 7 (with only 4 1/2 months of 2013 left).
 
Victoria’s Secret Limited Edition Valentine’s Day Glam Wristlet
Bought at a thrift store on February 27 and sold on May 3.
 
Nickelodeon Jimmy Neutron Holiday Christmas Ornament
Bought at a garage sale on May 10 and sold on August 9.
 
Barney’s Halloween Party (VHS Tape)
Bought at a garage sale on May 22 and sold on June 10.

Christmas Sales before Christmas 2012

 

I could easily keep going with examples of items that are sold outside of their season. In fact, I’ve captured a few screen shots of my sales reports of selling only Christmas themed items. The first image shows Christmas items sold in 2012 that were sold well before “Christmas time.”  The image below shows many of the Christmas themed items I have sold in 2013. I’m not showing you the report of Christmas items sold in December because that page would go on and on. As you can see, I sell Christmas items almost every month!

Christmas Sales since January 2013

Christmas Sales since January 2013

The only drawback to sending items to FBA as soon as possible are the storage fees. Yes, you might have to pay for 6 months of storage fees if your Super Mario Ornament doesn’t sell until December, but it’s just pennies a month per item. If one or two cents per month are cutting into your profit margins, then you really need to find items with a higher return on investment.

So if you’re wondering if you should send something in to Amazon now or sit on it until the “proper” season comes, then I hope by now you are convinced to send it in. Remember: products that are sitting at home are not making you any money!

Now, I’d love to hear from you.  What items have you sold that were “out of season” that surprised you? Be sure to leave a comment with your story.

NEXT blog post in the Selling Seasonal Series: FBA Pricing Tips on “Out of Season” Products.

Garage Sale Tip #1

Garage sales are one of the best ways to find items to sell on Amazon that have a really high ROI (Return On Investment). Today, I’m going to start an ongoing series of garage sale tips and tricks that I’ve learned from years of garage sale shopping. During this ongoing series, I’ll be offering you general strategies, specific tips, items to be on the lookout for, and mistakes not to make. We’ll talk about how to get the most bang out of your time and money.

Today’s tip is one that has made me a lot of money: Don’t judge a garage sale by its driveway.

Photo by UncleBobbyJr from flickr

Photo by UncleBobbyJr from flickr

How many times have you driven up to a garage sale, looked at what is presented on the driveway, and totally dismissed that sale? I’ve done it many times. I think to myself, “This one’s a dud — I’m not going to waste my time even getting out of the car.”

BUT NOT ANYMORE! One of the things that really stood out to me in Chris Green’s book, Arbitrage, is to not be the lazy competition. Lazy equals less money. So now I always get myself out of the car and spend a few minutes exploring the whole garage sale. Sure, there have been many times that I judged a garage sale by its driveway and have been proven correct, BUT there have also been many times when I assumed the place was a dud and have walked away with hundreds of dollars of potential profit.

One time I drove up to a garage sale, and it looked like all they were selling were clothes. I saw baby clothes, kid clothes, and adult clothes. I saw boxes under the tables overflowing with even more clothes. I saw nothing else. I really just wanted to move on to my next stop. But I didn’t. I decided to take a 2 minute gamble, got out of my car, and inspected the garage sale. I was overjoyed to find that in a few of those boxes under the table were 100+ teacher and education books. I ended up buying 36 books at $0.50 each with a potential profit of $300! I almost drove past hundreds of dollars!

Another time, I drove past a garage sale that wasn’t even on my route (we’ll talk about how to make a great garage sale route in future blog posts). When I drove past this garage sale, all I saw was big furniture out in the driveway. If it weren’t for the garage sale sign in their front yard, I would have assumed they were moving. Again, the thought entered my mind to just move on, but I didn’t entertain that thought for long. I turned around and stopped and was so glad I did. In the garage, stacked over to the side, were some brand new (still sealed) board games. I was able to pick them up for $2 each and sell them for $150 profit.

I have more stories, but I think you get the idea. Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll judge a garage sale by it’s driveway again.

So what about you? Have you ever made an assumption about a garage sale simply by your view from the driver’s seat? Did any of you find some amazing things when you took that 2 minute gamble to get out and take a look? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

More Garage Sale Tips