Happy (Scary Looking) Accidents

by Lindy on May 18, 2011

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Batman Legacy

If I had my choice of dream jobs (other than these ones), I would choose to be a professional yard-saler.

If you’ve ever hosted a yard sale, chances are you’ve encountered one of these.  They’re the shoppers who pull up in big vans, brusquely hop out, and position themselves in the middle of your driveway as they start scanning. Like those scary spider robots in Minority Report, they slowly, yet efficiently, pan over your piles of junk with their laser eyes, searching for that one specific match.

While scanning, they may become vaguely aware of your presence and say hello, though their eyes don’t stray from their mission.  And in a flash, they’re gone, off to the next house in hopes for a find.

Sometimes these professionals don’t even get out of the car.  They just poke their heads out the car window in a drive-by scan.

Other times they come disguised as old ladies.  Old ladies who rifle through your pile of 25¢ video games.  They buy four games for $1 and you assume they must have grandsons.  Then they go off and sell them for $20 a piece on Half.com.

Technically, I could do this now.  I don’t work on weekends, so my Saturdays would be free for rummaging.  Except it would mean waking up and leaving the house at 6 a.m. on my day off.  That’s a big road block right there.

And according to this article on GRS, I would need to have a specialty if I wanted maximum returns on my yard sale efforts. In short, I would need to be scanning for something specific that I knew would re-sell at a rockin’ price.

I would have no idea where to begin for this.  And though my husband’s interest in music pedals has yielded some good returns, I’m 150% sure that he wouldn’t be getting up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday either.

So, until I have more time and incentive to drag my arse out of bed, it’s looking like professional yard sale rummaging will have to wait.

Fortunately though, we recently stumbled upon one of these “specialty” items by pure luck.  It came in the form of a graphic novel (that scary-looking one pictured above) that A-Rob purchased at the comic book store for the regular ol’ $18 cover price.  He read it, said it was “eh,” looked it up on Half.com to see what we could get for it, and was pleased to see that it was going for $40, over TWICE the amount he’d paid.  We promptly posted it, and within a few days we had a buyer, and over 100% profit margin.

Armed with this knowledge, A-Rob made a point of searching out this same graphic novel every time he entered the comic book store.  A few weeks ago, he found another one.  Still at cover price, he snatched it up.

When we went to post this second book for sale, we saw that prices had risen even more.  The lowest listed price was $120!  We originally posted ours at $115, but after no movement (and total disbelief that anyone would buy an “eh” comic book for that price), we dropped it down to $96.99. Within a few days, BINGO, we had a buyer.

Our net after Half.com fees was $86.63.

It’s not huge, but also not bad for something that required very minimal effort.

I love happy accidents, especially ones that make money!

Do you know any professional yard salers?  Are you one!?  Do you think this sounds like a fun job too?

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  • I have been having a little bit of luck like this with some household items and selling them on Etsy. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by antique shops that don’t seem to have the internet, because they could be getting two times or triple their prices.

    I have thought of approaching these shops with the idea of selling items on Etsy for them, complete with listing, photos and promoting, but then it becomes a job and I am afraid it wouldn’t be fun anymore. But it could be a good plan.

    • Lindy

      Funny how fun stuff becomes less fun when it becomes “a job.” It sounds like you have a good thing going with those antique shops. I’m jealous!

  • Nice!! I’ve played around with this idea here and there. Nothing major to report though. I agree that you really have to become a specialist in one area to make it work.

    • Lindy

      It’s like anything, I suppose. If it’s your passion, you won’t mind putting in the time and effort.

  • YES!! I’d love to do that but I’ll have to wait until I retire:) and then I’ll need to find out what sells well as I don’t have a clue. But that sounds like fun to me!

  • I work with a fellow who is a professional “picker” as a sideline. He’s been doing it for years, and has picked up quite a bit of specialized knowledge.

    We’ll be hosting a yard sale this weekend (regrettably, but not my idea), so we expect that a few “pickers” will show up as early birds.

    • Lindy

      So that’s what they call them.
      More than likely, you’ll see some pickers. They can bring some entertainment, if anything.

    • Predictably, two pickers did show up today and did their picking thing… but they were very sociable and bought some things at a decent price.

    • Lindy

      Well, I suppose sociable pickers are okay. :)
      I hope the rest of your sale went well!

  • Babci and I love yardsaling. At my last hosted yardsale, I had a guy with a smart phone scanning the bar codes on the books and seeing what they were selling on at amazon. He told me all about it. I think if I were to do this, I’d need a smart phone as it seemed pretty handy.

    I priced my stuff super low. Lots of things were bought at a yard sale, so I didn’t feel any problem selling for what I bought things for. A dealer went out with tons and tons of random stuff, from a crash dummy costume to an army duffle bag.

    That indeed would be a fun side gig.

  • wow, so impressed! you and A-Rob make a great team!

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