3 R’s Get a Face Lift with Online Re-Selling!

Reduce, re-use, recycle.

Recycle Reduce Re-Use eBay Re-Sell

This always makes me think of that Rocko’s Modern Life song

The 3 R’s help ease the burden that we’re putting on the environment. I’m all for helping the environment, but I think that these 3 R’s aren’t enough. eBay has given us another option!

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Re-Sell

I think that adding re-selling as the 4th R helps in two ways

  1. Removing an item from the waste stream. It gives it a chance to be re-located to someone who really wants it. That’s why I have no qualms about re-selling something that I bought for $1 for $30+. This was an item that would have been donated (if it was lucky) or just thrown out in the trash. I’m giving it a chance to be appreciated and cared for again. It’s one less thing that’s just disposable in a worl
  2. It pads your bank account. Of course we have to think of this as a positive, but we also have to remember that the money alone isn’t the end game. Obviously money can’t buy happiness, but it definitely helps you if you’re using it well. With my financial goals, any little bit helps. Additionally, we’re able to keep saving money while also preparing for house projects.

eBay has added this 4th venue for us to reduce our environmental footprint, but we still incorporate the other 3 R’s into our daily lifestyle.

Reduce

I’m always trying to get things out of our house. Now, the hardest part for me is the eBay piles! When I got started re-selling on eBay (and Amazon), it was mostly things from around my house. Dishes, textbooks, and video games that were just collection dust.

These things not only added to the clutter in our home, but they also added a lot of negative emotions. I felt some sort of resentment that we didn’t have enough time to use these things but still had to store/manage them. Joshua Becker’s description of his epiphany about minimalism really hit home.

So what do we do to reduce?

  • We try to remove toys that aren’t being played with.
  • We purged last month with a big garage sale. Then at the end, we either donated or threw out everything else.
  • We’re also working on the garage space and getting rid of some of the clutter to give it more of an open feel
  • I’ve re-organized my eBay storage space and Beeminder has really kept me on target for moving the piles. I swear that in a few months, I won’t have anything to list if I keep up this pace! When I get there, we’ll have to re-evaluate our plans for this hobby. Maybe I could have a store with 500 items and I can just try to replenish at that point. Who knows!

Re-Use

Even though we may not only be re-using things that are ours, we are always looking for a deal. We are big on buying things used on craigslist or at garage sales, and not just the things that I can re-sell!

Just this weekend we bought a huge amount of diapers and 3 tubs of kids clothes all for $55.

Toddler Clothes Craigslist Buy

The Game Stop bag was full of diapers! I also had the lady throw in a vintage LL Bean windbreaker! And no, the beer was not from a garage sale. :)

Side note: I made an offer of $40 for the clothes, and she accepted quickly. That’s 1 tub of 3T (126 pieces) and two of 4T (haven’t counted these yet but at least the same amount as the 3T), all seasons! ~300 items for $40 = $0.13 per piece of clothing.

On top of that, we also bought some used weight equipment, and I plan on getting rid of my YMCA membership. With my wife being pregnant, we just don’t make it to the gym as much as we’d like. I’m building a home gym using mostly used equipment, and it will pay for itself by the end of the year.

The hard part is doing the gym on a tight budget and a tight space. Since I’m buying used (but high quality), I know that I can recoup some money in the future if I ever needed to unload the gym equipment.

My daughter’s bed was a Craigslist buy that was sanded and repainted by my wonderful wife. We just threw on some small adjustable handles (they fit the odd sized holes that were in these drawers) and the set looks brand new. I can really appreciate the people who routine re-purpose/restore antiques or solid furniture.

A lot of time and sweat equity went into the bed, but every time my wife and I see it, we get a great sense of accomplishment. We took this thing which could have easily been thrown out and gave it new life!

Recycle

We are avid recyclers. Not as crazy as we could be, but I like to think we have a nice happy medium.

The previous owner did have a composter that we aren’t using. I’ll need to clean it out and figure out how to get rid of any extra compost once it’s all ready (we don’t have a large lot and have a very small garden area).

So there you have it. I’ve added re-selling as the 4th R but also realize that we can’t forget about the other 3.

Side Note 2: I know this post didn’t come out at 6AM Monday, but the Memorial Day weekend was full of family and fun. Need a break sometimes!

Memorial Day sale – After listening to Amazing*Taste’s interview with the people over at Scavenger Life, I decided to try my hands on an eBay sale. In next week’s monthly re-cap, we’ll see if it helped pad my May numbers!

Image Credit: Kevin Dooley

eBay Flops – Crap I shouldn’t have bought

I don’t want this site to turn into a Facebook account that’s missing that authentic vibe so we’re going to bare all today.

Belly Flop eBay

I cannot wait for our community pool to open!

Flop!

Warning: This post is going to be all over the place, but that’s because I have a lot of material that I screw up on! There’s plenty of items that I think will sell for a lot of $$ but end up just being a big fat flop. These mini experiments are great lessons for me, and hopefully I’ll be able to help you avoid my mistakes.

I guess that’s the hard part of this hobby. I want to find the things that are worth a lot of money, but I also want to be safe about it. The key here is to buy low.

I don’t have to like doing it, but it doesn’t kill my profits if I have to re-donate one or two $2 items.

Luckily, we had our community garage sale last weekend and were able to recoup some of the costs but we wary: some of this is leftover crap that people at a garage sale wouldn’t even take for free!

Longaberger

One thing I don’t have a picture of is a butt-load of Longaberger items. For anyone who’s not in the know, these are baskets and little fabric liners and charms that people collect.

They are a multi-level marketing company, and a lot of people have the leftovers in their houses since they don’t sell the stuff anymore.

I have bought a few lots over the years and have done well. The thing is, they don’t sell for much, and they take a good amount of work to identify. They’re super easy to ship but I’ve found that I just don’t enjoy them.

I unloaded about 3 or 4 for $2 a piece at the garage sale and then sold the rest to one guy for $40. This was after picking through and listing the best though, so I’m pretty happy with that money.

Some sell for ~$20 but most them only go for $6-10. This is way below my price threshold, so I’ve moved away from them.

And yes, I could have lotted them together on eBay too but again, I just can’t stand them!

Side note: These are not for me but part of that is one of the town homes we looked at had a Longaberger themed room. We had put in an offer and were having nightmares about trying to remove the basket themed wallpaper. Yeah, you read the right! Let’s just say that Longaberger is leaving a bad taste in my mouth…

Princess Vera Wang
Princess Vera Wang Cardigan eBay

The leaves/hair on it are from being out at the garage sale all day! Or maybe I used it to wipe the floor of our dining room after our daughter eats.

Apparently this is a girls clothing brand, not women’s (hence the princess – give me a break, this is all new to me!). And the women’s doesn’t sell for that much either!

I bought this cardigan a week prior to our garage sale for $1, realized it wasn’t a good purchase, and then tried to re-sell it back for the same price. No dice.

Ended up just donating it. Let’s just say I will NEVER forget that Princess Vera Wang is not a brand that I want to keep selling.

Fabric Lot
Fabric Lot eBay

I saw this box and thought it was my retirement!

I had really high hopes for this fabric. Then I realized that I had a huge moving box full of tons of different types when I had no clue what I was doing. I definitely had my pair of thrifting goggles on when I was at this garage sale.

I had listened to a Scavenger Life episode about identifying fabric and lo’ and behold, listening isn’t the best way to learn about fabric. I think I need to go to Michaels and start feeling all of the different types.

Regardless, there were a lot of moth holes in the fabric (I realized it when I got home after purchasing them), so it really wasn’t worth a ton anyways. A lady had closed up her Etsy store and was liquidating. In the end, it’s OK because I sold a Filson vest for $100 and have a messenger bag up for $150 from this yard sale, so I’ve already made my money back and will make a nice profit in the end.

On top of this, a nice lady was rummaging through the box when we had given up and put a “free” sign out. She was really stoked but would not take the whole box no matter how hard we pushed it.

Vintage Maternity Compression Stockings
Vintage Maternity Compression Stockings

Who wouldn’t want maternity compression stockings from the 90s that require a garter? Pregnant women love wearing garters!!!

These actually do sell on eBay, but not for the $30 tag price. The issue for me is that there were 2 stickers on each one, and I hate peeling off stickers. This is another reason that I’m not into FBA. It’s a pain in the ass, and the goo gone just stinks.

A nice old lady inquired about them, and my wife told her that she could take as many as she wanted for $1. She only took one! They were $2 a piece from the thrift store so this one hurt more than most.

Weight Lifting Belt

This belt was bought a few weeks before for $2. I sold it again at my garage sale for the same price! I’ll take it.

Weight Lifting Belt eBay

This had no brand name. You want to get the vintage Made in USA ones if you’re going to re-sell it!

Lessons Learned

With all of these flops, I think Mrs. 1500 sums it up best with this comment on my Maniac Monday re-cap

Is there any way you can slow down while shopping and really check out the product before you buy?

 

Of course there is. I can sit here and make a ton of excuses why I try to do this but the reality is taking chances is what makes this hobby fun. I’m going to refine the process as I go, just like any other business.

For example, out shopping for a tie yesterday at Goodwill for an upcoming wedding and I actually I stopped at the space where you put clothes back on the rack after trying them on to look through my entire cart!

Pro Tip: You can find some really good clothes on the rack outside of the changing booths!

I actually put a jacket back (man it was hard) because of some issues with it. I went through each item to really decide if I wanted to spend the money on it. The jacket was a vintage Mani by Giorgio Armani Wool/Cashmere blend trench coat, but it had tons of moth holes and I couldn’t imagine someone wanting to wear one. This was a hard one because the brand is just so rare and high-end.

Would you have bought the jacket for $6?

Feel free to share any of your flops in the comments!

 

 

Woman’s World Magazine – Interview

Well, it’s official. I’ve hit the big time.

documWoman's World Magazine Garage Sale eBay Flipping A Dollar

No, I’m not the garage sale millionaire. That’s Aaron LaPedis.

Maria from Woman’s World Magazine reached out for an interview about buying and re-selling garage sale items on eBay, and of course I said “YES!”

I was really nervous about the whole thing. I’d heard of famous people having their words twisted by reports. Well, it turns out that this is overblown – probably trying to add more drama to their lives. We all know that famous people need more drama.

I don’t know why I was worried. The interview went really smooth, and Maria got some great tips for beginner eBay re-sellers.

She combined some of my tips and some from Aaron LaPedis – author of The Garage Sale Millionaire to have pretty helpful article.

If you have $1.79 to spare, check out the Woman’s World Magazine that’s out now (cover date 18May2015), or at least read it while you’re in the checkout lane.

Don’t worry. I won’t let all this fame and fortune go to my head!

Happy Mother’s Day

We’ll take a break today to thank all of the the mothers out there. They have a job that doesn’t come with a lot of thanks and have to take the brunt of the pain in life.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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That one day in May where you hope that someone makes sure to remind you that it’s coming!

On top of Mother’s day, we’re also announcin that my wife and I are expecting a 2nd daughter!

Another little flipper. We’re really excited and are happy that we don’t have to buy (or store) a second set of clothes!

To My Wife

My rock, my best friend, and someone I couldn’t (and wouldn’t ever want to) imagine living without. You keep me grounded when I need it, encourage me even if I’m out in left field, listen when I need to vent, and love me even when you’re not having a good day.

I’ve never met someone who makes it so easy to say “I’m sorry” to when I’ve been a jerk.

You put up with me and all of my quirks (like my eBay hobby and this blog!).

You seem to have a well of never ending love for our daughter even when she’s being a jerk.

The amazing thing about this woman is that she’s done the above while completing graduate school over a 7 year period (she’s going to be a Doctor Flippette Esquire). For anyone taking notes, that’s a marriage, one birth, and another one on the way all while completing grad school!

And then there’s me who complains when I have to list a few eBay items or throw some words on a website. It’s pretty ridiculous when you look at her accomplishments.

I love you with all of my heart and know that meeting you on the first day of high school was the best possible thing to happen to me. You are just fantastic.

To My Mom

The other important woman in my life is my mom.

She put up with me during my teenage years. I can only hope that I have 1/10th of the understanding that she had. Teenagers can be kind of annoying (putting it lightly).

Thank you for dealing with my picky eating. For anyone wondering, I didn’t eat vegetables until I was early 20’s. How the hell did she deal with that?

You’ve shown me what it’s like to be kind to people even when it’s not easy and that I need to have fun and enjoy life!

You’ve been there during my ups and downs and I couldn’t have gotten where I am today without you!

I love you!

About Me

With all of this personal stuff, I also wanted to let my readers know that I’ve finally put in place my About Me page.

As a quick overview, I’m a Millenial who’s debt free minus the mortgage and have plans of “early” retirement – the goal is 40.

I have 10 years to hit this goal, but I’m not in a big rush.

In the end though, I realize that I wouldn’t be where I am today without both of these wonderful women, and really, early retirement is a goal but family is what makes the world go round.

So please make sure to wish your mother/wife/grandmother/partner/important family friend a Happy Mother’s day!

Image Credit: Pixabay

April 2015 Profits – Love Re-Stocking Fees


Another month in the books! Spring has been a little weird around here in Maryland.

It’s gone from winter, to spring for 2 days, then right to summer. Then back to winter (it actually snowed on Saturday last weekend), a week of spring, and now we’re going to have a high of 86 today.

Basically, I’ve gone from wearing my winter jacket to shorts within a span of a week!

But hey, all of this means that it’s garage sale season, and I’m already enjoying the deals out there! I just need to keep my purchases to a minimum and really be buying with purpose.

April Profits by the Numbers

Yard_Sale_Northern_CA_April_2005

Anyone see something they’d like to buy from here? Those snow boards look pretty fantastic (this picture is circa 2005).

Mar-15  Apr-15 Total YTD
Income
Blog Referral 33.71  12.00  51.71
Sales 836.42  903.64*  3,631.94
Shipping Income 92.59  61.36  216.80
Returns -84.99  -35.99**  -206.97
Expense
eBay Fees 92.93 93.22  391.68
PayPal Fees 30.92 28.82  128.78
Shipping Costs 147.36 122.63  542.24
Cost of Goods Sold 70.69 80.48  335.79
Mileage 35.08 8.22  66.52
Travel Expenses 0.00 1.00  1.00
Utilities 25.35 25.35  101.40
Amazon Fees 13.69 35.77  73.30
Office Supplies 58.37 0.00  79.02
Office Expense 0.00 0.00  374.94
Advertising 10.00 0.00  47.00
Other Expenses 0.00 27.00  50.75
Profit / Loss 387.34 518.52  1,501.06

Things to note:

* I seem to be right around that $900 in sales per month. This proves to me that eBay growth definitely isn’t linear. I’ve gone from ~200 items up to 300 and have only increased my income incrementally.

To illustrate, the people over at Scavenger Life like to net $1500+ per week, so that’s ~6k a month. This is on ~4,000 items in their store though! They have 6x as much sales as me but have 13x as many items in their store.

**I’ve put in a 20% re-stocking fee for all of my items. This helps recoup some of my costs from offering Free Shipping.

I sold a Pendleton shirt that I shipped to NY for $5.35 (padded flat rate mailer). It was returned due to not fitting. So here’s the math on it (ignoring original purchase price and eBay/Paypal fees since I either got them back or it will come out again the next sale)

  • Sale Price – $44.99
  • Shipping – $5.35
  • Return (minus 20% re-stocking fee of $9.00) – $35.99

Total Profit – $3.65

As a seller, I’m a huge fan of re-stocking fees! I had the shirt listed for a few months, so that’s probably ~$0.60 in re-listing fees. Then there’s the costs of bags, stickers, and labels I use. All of this ignores the time I spent packing, shipping, and re-listing the item.

In the end, I feel zero guilt making a buyer pay for this. I had the size in the listing, and I had the measurements.

This also taught me a nice lesson on buying on eBay – check the measurements against something that you own and fits you well and be comfortable with a seller’s return policy. You can’t leave negative feedback for a return policy that you agreed to prior to purchase.

Most sellers give you some return window and re-stocking fees are slowly becoming more popular.

All in all, April was a solid month. I still haven’t had a good enough month to make up for the lousy January and March, but I’m also just sticking with my Beeminder goal of listing 15 items per week.

I understand that this won’t get me to my goal of 10,000 in profits for the year, but it is something that fits into my life schedule while still remaining a hobby. I’m not doing this full time (yet?) even though working from home may be a long term option.

Stay tuned for next week where I’m not going to do one of my usual flip posts. It’s going to be all about “flops!”

This co-insides with our community garage sale so I have everything nicely organized into depressing piles of sub-par profits. If I sell it for $1 at a garage sale, it’s better than me donating it back to a thrift store.

Hopefully I’ll be able to help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made while also making a little cash back!

Image: ICMA

Vintage 90s Nickelodeon Merchandise – Rugrats Hat

Since I only post once a week on Monday mornings, I can’t really do a throw back Thursday. So here we are with a mini #TBT on a Monday. And regardless of the day, vintage stuff sells well on eBay!

Vintage is where I got my start. My inaugural flipping post was some vintage Hungry Hungry Hippos.

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I’ve flipped vintage Marlboro gear, mugs, the Mille Borne card game, and even Christmas ornaments and sewing kits!

The thing about the word “vintage” is that its definition is a moving target. Vintage to me isn’t the same as someone who’s twice my age. That whole generation who was born in the 80s is in the work force now and ready to spend on their nostalgia!

Rugrats Youth Hat

Rugrats eBay Youth Hat

If only my head wasn’t the size of a watermelon… I’m totally jealous of whoever gets this hat!

  • Purchase price – $1.06
  • End Selling Price – $15.00
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $4.83

Total Profit:  $9.11

My flip is nothing earth shattering in the profits area (I took an offer, there was a small tear along a seam which lowered the value by ~half, and I’d had it listed for a while). It’s even below my profit target.

This sale still gets me excited though! It’s a great hat and would have been a real score if it didn’t have the flaw.

Rugrats was a show that was on Nickelodeon starting in 1991. It had 9 seasons, a couple Passover specials, a few movies (they weren’t that good), and we won’t ever talk about when there was the remake and the kids were older. It was a fun show and was very popular hitting on some very heavy subjects. There were others too like Doug, Ren and Stimpy, and Rocko’s Modern Life just to name a very small number of the popular 90s Nick TV shows.

There’s a lot of possibilities on items you can flip since the 90s toys and merchandise are oozing with potential!

Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ooze eBay Completed Listings

Yeah, this movie wasn’t that good. But the ooze sells well one eBay!

It ain’t just Rugrats!

I focused on the Rugrats and Nickelodeon items because that’s what I had, but there’s a whole category (similar to the Disneyana eBay category) that can fit in here. I’m talking 90’s video games, clothing, and toys.

Now that I think about it, I’ve already sold another great 90s toy and talked about it here!

Vintage 90s Toys eBay Completed Listings

Sealed Lego boxes are gold, Lisa Frank is silver, but there’s a ton of other 90s toys and merchandise that are really profitable!

Even though it wouldn’t work on me (I’m too cheap and am on a “slow your home” kick), there are a lot of kids who want to re-live some of their 90s memories. And I’m OK re-locating an item and taking a finders fee. :)

Life is so hard, Tommy. Sometimes I think it’s the hardest thing there is. -Chuckie Finster (Rugrats Character)

eBay Java Drama – Pitney Bowes PDF Woes

I know I got a winner of a blog post title when I get a smirk, sigh, and eye roll from my wife! The trifecta!

But to the point, eBay missed a memo or I’m just really dumb.

For years now, eBay has had the most AWESOME Java Applet ever!

eBay Java Applet Error

The eBay gods laugh and Ode to Joy plays every time this damn warning comes up!

You’d have to hit OK about 7 times, ignore any errors, click some check boxes that allow some apparent security risks because Pitney Bowes (the label creation software company) wasn’t up to snuff, and then uninstall Java, reinstall Java, curse a few times, do a dance, and then magically your labels would print.

Even though I’m complaining a bit (borderline violation of the no whining policy!), the system did mostly work.

When I was starting out re-selling on eBay, I’d print labels on regular paper (would drive to Staples since we didn’t even own a printer!). I then upgraded to the Dymo printer featured in my Tools of the Trade.

Ignore the Java – Appreciate the positives

For any new eBay sellers, you should really buy your labels through their system. There are 3 really good reasons for this.

1. Links right with PayPal account

You click “buy shipping” and it buys it using PayPal dollars. When I started out, I was adamant about not putting any of my personal money into the business side. When I sold something and the person paid, I would buy a box and the shipping all using PayPal money (transferred out some cash to cover the packaging costs).

2. All addresses stored within the system

You don’t have to fill in any information at all. Just press “pay for shipping” and eBay has both your and the buyer’s addresses stored. No chance for you to make a mistake.

This streamlines your seller protection through eBay and PayPal. Tracking is uploaded automatically so there’s no chance that you’ll forget!

3. It’s cheaper!

Probably the most important, eBay gives you an awesome discount for purchasing the labels through their system. 9+% (depends on the type of shipping) for regular users and 13.8%+ for power sellers. This is just another awesome feature of the fantastic USPS. It’s one government entity that you can’t complain about (with any merit at least).

OK, karma is back to neutral. It was a flawed system that had some really good benefits.

Well, something last weekend changed. I tried to print my labels as usual. No java applet opened. It just opened a PDF. I had a lot of trouble trying to print labels throughout the week too. I ended up using the snipping tool and pasting the picture into the Dymo Software. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Finally, I figured out what I was doing wrong yesterday!

eBay used to automatically use one size label for each printer (It’s 4″x6″ for Zebra and 7.5″ x 2-5/16″ for Dymo). The bug was that when I went to print, it would shrink the label to the top left and only be about 2″ long by 1″ wide!

After a lot of fiddling and confirmation from the dreaded eBay forums that this was not a Java issue, I realized that I had an incorrect setting for the printer. I was having Firefox select the wrong sized label. Once I selected the correct size (99019 for Dymo), it printed perfectly.

I only had to press 1 button instead of the 7 I was used to.

In the end, this is a great change from eBay. The Java/eBay/Paypal love-triangle was riddled with bugs and this is a lot easier.

I just wish I had realized my issue a little sooner or that eBay had given me some notice! I even went back to check the spring seller update and couldn’t find a word about this.

Has anyone else seen similar issues and had to fiddle with them to get the printers working?

White and gold? Blue and black?

Even though I live under a rock when it comes to news, I still heard about that damn dress.

I first saw the dress, and it was obviously blue and black! I thought anyone else was a moron if they thought otherwise!

Later in the day, a teacher-Facebook friend posted a picture of a test for his students where he had a bonus question that asked “what color is this dress?”

I SWORE he put up a different picture (it wasn’t)! It was a white and gold dress. Then a co-worker made fun of me, and the more I looked at the picture, the dress changed before my eyes back to its original black and blue that I was used to.

Woah.

What does this have to do with eBay at all?

It’s a great lesson on how poor photographs can alter the color of an item

I learned a few lessons through screw ups and realized that you must include the colors of the fabric in your listings

My favorite way to do this is to include something like “it’s green like a pickle” or “red like salsa” or “tan like oak.” These really help people visualize the color and stop second guessing their purchases. Plus, we all know how “blue” can mean about 800 different colors.

As an example, I had a “situation” with a recent buyer. I bought an awesome Polo Ralph Lauren button front vest (Gotta love Polo Ralph Lauren). It was a nice dark black. Or so I thought.

I get a message from the buyer saying that the vest isn’t black, it’s actually a really dark navy. I couldn’t believe it!

Polo Ralph Lauren Black Button Front Vest eBay

See how the tag is a light navy and the vest is completely black?

First, the flip details:

  • Purchase price – $3.99
  • End Selling Price – $60.00
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $11.70

Total Profit: $44.31

Great flip! But the message deflated me.

So, how have I handled it?

I said, “I’m sorry that you think the vest is blue instead of black! I checked to make sure it was black when I listed it by comparing it to a black shirt of mine. If you’re not happy with the purchase, I’ll gladly accept a return.”

I’m offering the buyer an out. eBay loves this kind of customer service.

The message back? “The navy blue isn’t as versatile as the black vest would have been. Because of this, I wouldn’t have wanted to pay as much as I did.”

Ah, the old fisherman fishing for a partial refund.

My latest response?

Radio Silence (this is patent pending by the crew over at Scavenger Life)

As a seller, I’ve done my due diligence, and let the buyer know that I accept returns. If they pushed the issue, I’d probably even pay for the return even though I’m sure I was right. You want to keep your buyers happy, but you also want to be reasonable.

The thing is, dark navy really does look like black sometimes! Esquire even has an article about telling the difference between navy and black suits.

My method is to compare to a black t-shirt or a little garbage can I have at my desk, both of which I know are black.

But then there’s that feeling in the back of my head… what if the vest is like that stupid dress.

Please tell me what you think!

Is this vest blue or black?

Also check out  Nandry over at The Teen Thrifter who had a similar issue recently. It’s not just me! At least she’s asking for advice before posting though. Smart girl.

March 2015 Profits – Still not Great.

Well, we’ve finished out the 1st quarter.

Let’s just say that the shareholders aren’t too happy. Last month’s profits weren’t stellar, and those shareholders don’t want to just see profits. They need growth! At this rate, I might even get fired!

March Profits by the Numbers

Feb-15  Mar-15 Total
Income
Blog Referral 0.00  27.71 27.71
Sales 928.27  836.42 2,740.30
Shipping Income 38.12  92.59 155.44
Returns -85.99 -84.99 -170.98
Expense
eBay Fees 98.33 92.93 298.46
PayPal Fees 30.14 30.92 99.96
Shipping Costs 121.96 147.36 419.61
Cost of Goods Sold 14.12 70.69 255.31
Mileage 4.02 35.08 58.30
Utilities 25.35 25.35 76.05
Amazon Fees 15.43 13.69 37.53
Office Supplies 0.00 58.37 79.02
Office Expense 0.00 0.00 374.94
Advertising 0.00 10.00 47.00
Other Expenses 23.75 0.00 23.75
Profit / Loss 572.65 387.34 982.54

So, less money than last month. Ruh-roh.

Now, let’s put this all in perspective.

I’ve made almost a grand in 3 months selling part time in eBay. This is on top of any regular 9-5 work (where I don’t get any overtime). So, that’s 1k that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. With this money, we’re able to throw some extra dough at the mortgage while still saving towards replacing our ancient appliances. It gives me a lot of satisfaction that we’re able to save the extra dough.

But then there’s the lingering “you could do better” feeling. It’s annoying, and it will pass. I guess there’s a fine line between Debbie Downer and shoot for the moon.

Let’s look at the major expenses from last month to see where I went wrong:

Returns

This one sucks. $85 down the drain. The first was a full refund (Fashion Bug Jeans that had a broken zipper – the first out of 50 with an issue) and the other was a Brooks Brothers blazer due to fit (buyer paid return shipping). I don’t have a lot of returns, but it’s still part of the game. I’ve also learned that it’s not worth it to fight a buyer on a return. For example, with the Brooks Brother blazer, it was hassle free, and I got it back. It’s re-listed and has watchers!

Mileage and Cost of Goods Sold

So if you haven’t heard, it’s getting warm again! Garage sales are some of my favorite spots to score great deals. I’ve started deducting my mileage (tracking with Go Daddy Bookkeeping), and it really adds up. I bought some good stuff at garage sales, and we also hit up a Goodwill for clothing shopping for myself. I bought two t-shirts and about 6 other shirts (limited to the half off items).

To minimize this expense, I’m going to try to limit what sales I go to. I’m going to be looking for community yard sales (there’s a ton of town homes around here). That way, I’ll get the most bang for my buck!

Office Supplies

I was all out of my favorite clear poly bags. Ordered a big set of them and am back in business! Still sucks to see $50 of profit fly out the window, but at least I’ll be able to deduct it. :-/

Beeminding Towards Results

Beeminder bee hive profits ebay honeycomb

I’m that bee in the back that’s getting trampled by all the other bees who are selling a lot more.

I mentioned Beeminder a few times. It’s the tool I’m using to make sure that I’m listing consistently and is meant to keep me on track even when my profits aren’t hitting my goal.

When I started tracking using Beeminder, I was really ahead of the game. I listed some 30-50+ items very quickly so I had a really nice buffer.

Now that I’ve eaten away through that, I’m starting to feel the stings. Even though I had my Maniac Monday, I didn’t actually list a lot of the prepped items that day. I’ve been slogging through those items now, taking photos of them, and getting ready to list.

This coming weekend will be a true test because we’ll be traveling so I need to do one of two things:

1. List a ton to get ahead.

2. Photograph a ton so I can list over the weekend even though we’re traveling.

Option 2 is the lazier one, and honestly, I’m more worried about the next week! I love to use my daughter’s nap times during the weekends to get a bunch of items moving, but that all gets thrown into flux when we’re not at home.

I’m gonna be riding by the seat of my pants until I get a big chunk listed!

In the end, I’m not worried about this. As I mentioned earlier, I’m still enjoying this hobby and making money.

On top of that, I just got a ton of free stuff from work! We’re all downsizing from cubicles to an open work space. What that means is that I get to pick through everyone’s extra stuff! I already got one book and sold it on Amazon within 1 day for a $60+ profit!

Make sure to be on the lookout for the free stuff. You can make a lot of money!

Hopefully next month will be a little fatter in the profit section (like I feel after all the ham and kielbasa…), and I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend! Enjoy the weather and feel free to share any garage sale finds or tips!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Marlboro and Other Tobacco Promotional Items

At first, I was going to say that tobacco promo material should fit right into my clothing category, but then I found that there’s a lot of other types of material out there. There’s an entire eBay category called Tobacciana.

Vintage eBay Tobacciana Completed Sold

Who would want to smoke a used pipe?

Marlboro Country Store

Within this category, I’ve sold t-shirts, jean shirts, fleece jackets, travel bags, and jean jackets. Throughout my research for this post though, I’ve found things like lighters, cowboy hats, blankets, leathermans, dart boards, and watches too.

A lot of these items were promotional. You could save up points to get gear. This started out with the Marlboro Country Store catalog where you could redeem Marlboro Miles (Camel had a similar program with Camel Cash). These “points” were collected by cutting out the UPCs of packs of cigarettes.

Marlboro Ultra Lights Miles Program

Blows my mind that I basically did the same thing with Kool-Aid packets to get a Kool-Aid man Beach Towel.

Most of the items in the Marlboro catalog were outdoors-y: stuff like camping , western themed, climbing, or rafting. Sure, people want them to advertise that they were smokers (kind of a “you can’t tell me what to do” albeit in a pretty dumb way), but they also want to wear/use the gear. The thing is, they were actually really well made and are pretty durable.

Marlboro Western Jean Shirt eBay

Don’t make fun of this shirt! I sold this one for $44 F/S. Mantra: Ugly Sells!

Why are cigarette promo items re-sellable?

They were “sold” from a limited quantity and could only be ordered during a certain time frame.

For dating the material, there was a switch from the Marlboro Country Store to the Marlboro Gear store, and now, there isn’t a promotional program at all. These programs were disbanded by the government in 2006 – tobacco companies were forced to stop giving away promotional material at this time. These are just about 10 years old at the youngest, and the Marlboro Country Store items are even older.

So in sum, they’re not widely available, and there’s still a demand. These are perfect items for collectors!

Final Caveat

To finish off, we all know smoking is terrible. These items aren’t ideal, but at least the company isn’t making any money on the sales anymore. I don’t really  have any moral issue selling these, but you’re free to make your own decisions.

For anyone interested, John Oliver has a really funny/dirty/punch in the gut piece about tobacco and how it’s actually a really big problem in some developing nations around the world.

NSFW!

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