florida keys estate sales & auction services, personal property appraisals, liquidations

fortune with other people’s junk

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2011 at 1:52 am

We recently reviewed GG Carbone’s “How to Make a Fortune with Other People’s Junk“.  An interesting read, Carbone keeps you moving through informative and varied chapters and no wonder.  As an eBay Power Seller, Carbone is no stranger to the world of second selling.  I’ve been keeping a list of the various naming conventions people use in referring to sales for some time, and my list has grown to over 42 names now.  Carbone walks you through the differences in a rummage sale, white elephant sale, estate sale or church bazaar (to list a few).  Did you know porch sales originated in Maine?

The sections on growing your resale business could have used a bit of amping up, but we especially liked and appreciated tips for making the most of your Saturday or Sunday hunt, how to size up the sale by body language, and how to navigate savvy dealers such as ourselves.  I attended a yard sale (it was actually a moving sale) this morning where I quickly assessed that the owner/occupants were of an age where the sale had taken its toll on them.  Items were wrapped in old newspaper in cardboard boxes and not ready at the 9am start time even though the sale had been advertised days before.  It was also obvious from the attitudes of the second-generation helpers that they were none to pleased to be having to manage everything.  This is information that is invaluable to a dealer, because we know that a person’s lifelong belongings (especially in a moving sale) are often valued at sentimental value rather than fair market or resale value.

In this particular example, which is outlined in the book as well, the moving owners had listed moderately current hardcover books at the used value prices available on eBay.  Books are wonderful and I love them, but they’re an albatross when you’re trying to ditch them quickly and so this is why standard yard sale prices are $1 – $2 for a hard cover book and .50 to $1 for a paperback (in good condition).  Dealers will take several of these off your hands if they’re marked accordingly.  But when I see a hardcover Betty Crocker cooking book for $8, I know the person researched on Amazon but isn’t using the variety of selling vehicles available through Amazon and this tells me that they’re trying to liquidate not only as quickly as possible, but for as much as possible.  Also, I’m not trying to be mean here, but if you insist on having part or all of your sale indoors, you ought to be sure that it’s relatively free of STRONG odors (cooking, pets, or other).  Where I normally would have taken a leisurely time in assessing book titles, I found myself moving VERY QUICKLY past the display.

If there’s a rule to estate sales, moving sales, or major life-changing sales, it has to be that it takes time, planning, strategy and forethought and that’s why you should seriously consider bringing in a professional rather than risking your own physical and mental health trying to lift boxes at 70+ years of age.  The point is, and I think Carbone would agree, if you’re going to get rid of your junk, that’s one thing.  If you’re trying to sell out for a move, that’s another entirely.  My heart went out to this family, and had the second-generation not been so plainly irritated at the whole endeavor, I would have taken the time to show and explain to them where they had gone wrong.  Or, they could have read Carbone’s book and figured it out for themselves, too.

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