Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Preview...

So you want to be a Picker? Part 2

There are lots of ways to pick an item. It's not all about riding around in a truck, seeing a house with a lot of junk, hopping out with a flyer and asking to pick through their stuff. You can pick at yard sales, flea markets, and all sorts of auctions.

Auctions have become a personal favorite of mine because there is usually a large variety of items and a limited set of people trying to buy it. While I love a good auction, there are a few things I have learned along the way. I've learned that there are two types of buyers. Those that preview the items and those that don't.

It's a lot like movies. I have friends that go to the movies and actually get there early to watch the previews before the feature. I usually get there about 10 minutes after the stat time to avoid wasting , errrr... watching them. I am not this way with auctions.

There is typically a preview period that begins at least two hours before the auction actually begins. This is your chance to pick through the items, test things that are electronic, motorized, or may have parts missing. Most auction items are sold as-is, meaning you can't call them up and ask for a refund. They simply sell too many items to be able to test every little things.

This gives you an edge against the folks that treat auctions like I treat movies. You know which items are in good working order and which aren't. You can sit back with a a grin as you watch some unknowng folks engage in a bidding war over a toaster you know will never have the privilege to burn a single piece of bread.  

Why am I a previewer? Because I got burned a a few times. I bought a BB gun for $6 that had no compression when you pumped it. It would have been easily discovered during the preview. I also bought a gas edger for $20 that looked new, but ended up needing the float replaced in the carburetor.

While I've been burned, I've also come out on top as a result of a preview. At one auction I was checking out the tool section and found a 5 gallon bucket of random tools. I did a bit of digging and realized that it had a lot of Snap-On and Mac brand tools that are easy sales on eBay.

Just this week, I went and saw a bunch of Skateboard DVDs. I went to my #1 picking tool and started typing the name of some in the search box. Most were not worth messing with, but there was a 10 disc set that has sold between $35-$50 several times on eBay. I later bought three of those sets for $3 each. Even if the don't sell fast, I will make 10x my money on those eventually. I also checked out some electric shavers that I snagged super cheap and should 4x my money on.

This stuff is not rocket science, and I'm sure that you would have eventually figured this out on your own. But I'm hoping to save you the $80-$100 I wasted before I became a previewer. So, If you want to be a the eBay app and carve out some extra time to preview the next auction you plan to attend.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

So, You Want To Be a Picker? Part 1

So, you want to be a picker?

There are some of us that are born to pick. Maybe you grew up with a family member that drug you from yard sale, to estate sale, to auction. It was maddening as a child, but somewhere along the line you got hooked too.

Or perhaps you see the TV shows like American Pickers or Storage Wars and think, “I am way smarter than those people, anybody can do this.” Maybe you want to do it as a hobby or on the side to generate some extra income. Maybe you want to quit your job and do it full time (not recommended). Getting that deal and flipping it for 2, 3. 4 or 5 times your investment will often keep you coming back for more.

I am still a newbie but I have learned a lot in a short amount of time and thought I would share a few tips, suggestions and tools that I use on a regular basis to be profitable in my endeavors. I am going to break these posts up into several bite sized posts over a period of time, rather than serve up a 10 course meal in one post.

I will start with my number one free tool, and there is a good chance you already have it.  

My number #1 tool is the eBay App on your smart-phone.

If you don't have a smart-phone, you might as well hang it up. It is the best tool for determining the value of hundreds of thousands of items.  I can't imagine picking without an iPhone or Android.  

When negotiating with people, you will hear over and over, “ _____________ is selling for $300 on eBay.” 

My response is always, “Wow, that's awesome, let me look it up.”

AND HERE IS THE KEY.... They have typed in their item description and seen their item listed for $300.  You don't want to search the active listings.  Anyone can put ANY price on any item and it can sit there for years without being purchased. eBay gives you the option to search "sold" listings. This is an item's true value, what it is selling for.

It can be tough to crush someone's dreams right their in the front yard during their yard sale, but it must be done. If their supposed $300 items is actually selling for $40, then it is worth $40 tops.  You need to be able to get it for $20 or less in my opinion.  

My android has a “Refine” button after I have entered my search. It is located towards the top left of my screen. Scroll down and check the “sold” box. Now you will be looking at the last several items that have sold.

You can also sort between new or used just to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

Here is an example. I recently bought a watch winder. It is for high end watches that run on kinetic energy and need to be moved even when not being worn. There was only one listed on eBay and required an opening bid of $200 even though it was missing the power supply.

I honestly couldn't find any sold listing to compare with, but I new I was not looking at $200 based on MSRP. I paid $25 and decided on an opening bid of $75, with a Buy It Now option of $100 (I think those were the numbers anyway).

It sat online for a few weeks without any bids, but I was pretty sure that it was worth $75-$100 based on other research I had done. Finally the right set of eyes saw it and the Buy It Now option was used.

The other seller may eventually get $200.  He may also go to his grave owning a nice watch winder because he was never willing to sell it at its actual market value.  

For items that I will be selling online, there is no better tool than the eBay app. It has saved me from making stupid purchases dozens of times. It has also enabled me to buy things that I knew nothing about and make some quick money because I knew I was getting a steal of a deal.

So... If you wanna be a picker, make sure you have the eBay app on your phone and familiarize yourself with refining your searches before heading out to that yard sale or flea market to make your first pick.

Feel free to comment with any questions you have about buying, selling, picking, etc...