Flavia Montelupo Italy Bitossi Cat Sculpture eBay Flip

Make sure to check out my new “eBay Re-Selling Tools of the Trade” page that details items I use every day to help me sell old clothes online. I’ve also converted my guest post from Stapler Confessions on getting started on eBay into a page here. In the future, I plan on taking it a step further with a real How-To format structure. A lot of it is basic eBay selling information. Now back to your regular programming.

Italian sculptors. Cats. Damsel in distress. Intrigue. 30 seconds of eBay research. Profits.

This is the movie tag line of my flip of a Flavia Montelupo Italy cat sculpture! And yes, my wife is the damsel in distress… or more like a lady who’s pushing around a crying baby in the cart and is ready to get out of that thrift store!

I'm basically an art expert now that I've sold one cat sculpture on eBay.

I’m basically an art expert now that I’ve sold one cat sculpture on eBay – I just wear pants that aren’t as tight… or red…

Walking around the thrift store, I have two very general rules. First, go to every section in the store unless you are limited on time. There’s been so many times that I say to myself “oh, but let me swing by the electronics before I leave” or “let’s quick check out the coffee mugs!” only to find some awesome item to flip.  Second, if some item catches my eye, then I have to stop and take a look. And let’s just say, this cat was trying very hard.

Fancy Ugly Rainbow Painted Cat

Flavia Montelupo Cat Sculpture eBay

Is it me or is this cat on LSD?

Yikes. It’s not as bad as this picture makes it out to be. The cat is only about 7.5 inches long and 4.5 inches high. So that’s only about 100 square inches of ugly. I mean, seriously, look at that paint job. I think I could manage it. The sculpting itself is impressive, but the rainbow colors just aren’t to my taste.

Now, I wasn’t smart enough to find anything by searching for “ugly rainbow cat sculpture,” but there was a handy little marking on the bottom.

Flavia Montelupo Italy Hand Painted Cat eBay

Flavia is also a TERRIBLE coffee. It’s like the red-headed step-child of the pod coffee (Keurig is the model child if you were wondering).

Flavia is actually a company under the same group as Bitossi, both pottery companies that are in Montelupo Fiorentino, Italy. Apparently, you can find some combinations of Flavia, Bitossi, or both together on pottery. According to this Italian Pottery Forum, these items are all hand made and therefore the rough textures and imperfections are expected.

When I initially brought the cat home and started researching, I was a little bit worried because most on eBay were white only. Did someone paint over it? Did a 3 year old paint over it?

Nope, turns out that some of these animals are also hand painted, most likely after a night of heavy drinking.

Flavia Montelupo Italy Bitossi Owl Sculpture

Owls are really popular and collectible. The weirder Bitossi animals also sell for higher than the cat sculptures.

Bitossi ended up just reverting back to their original “Bitossi” marking in 2001, so this cat was at least over 10 years old.

Not mass produced.

Hand made

Italian.

Ugly

Profits.

  • Purchase price – $5
  • End Selling Price – $39.99 + 11.65 Shipping = $51.60
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $12.31

Total Profit:  $34.29

So, in the end, would I ever buy this ugly painted cat for myself? Absolutely not. Would I buy it to sell to someone with a rainbow longcat? ABSOLUTELY.

 

Image Credit: Hermann

Thanksgiving and Black Friday Deals Galore!

First, I just wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday. May you all get some good listing in if you have the free time like I do right now! We don’t have family visiting until Saturday, so we have been able to take everything at a slow pace. :)

Re-Selling Black Friday Deals

These types of sales are ideal for the Retail Arbitrage family that’s out there. They can buy a large amount of items online and have them shipped to their home. I’m not into the whole FBA scene though, but I’m not against making an easy profit!

Last year, I was able to go to Ikea and get some items to re-sell. The interesting thing about Ikea’s selection is that it’s not available online! The ones that were up for grabs were Duktig Fruit and Fish sets.

Duktig Ebay Black Friday Ebay

Makes your mouth water!

 

I bought 5 of these and 5 of their counterparts (the fish dinner set). 1 of each went to my daughter in her play kitchen for Christmas – she LOVED them!

That leaves 4 each (8 total). I sold on eBay and Amazon. The negative about Amazon is that I don’t sell enough to be allowed to sell toys during December.

  • Purchase price – $33.85
  • End Selling Price – $143.92
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $37.69

Total Profit:  $72.38

I definitely made a profit on these, but is it worth it? I doubled my money, but it almost took a year. That’s not ideal, but I’m not really in a rush to sell any of my items. Slow quarter is better!

In the end, I didn’t have to take pictures, I was able to list super quick, and they were really light and easy to ship. I’d probably do the same deal if an Ikea was closer, but it’s not worth the hour drive. If it’s close to you, these items are probably 50% off, and you can cash in!

One last friendly tip is that a lot of thrift stores have sales on black Friday! All of my local Goodwill stores are opening at 7 and have all of their inventory at 50% off!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lost my Marbles – Found on eBay!

Shout out to J. Money for planting the idea for this blog post into my head.

Marbles – or is there anything that doesn’t sell on eBay?

Yes, marbles sell on eBay – I have a feeling that very few things haven’t been sold on eBay! Marbles aren’t something that I’ve bought, and I probably wouldn’t take a shot on them unless it was from an estate sale at a deep discount. I do like to branch out, but I also like it when I’m not going to have to do a ton of research! There’s only so much time in the day… but at least it will be interesting to learn about them a little.

First, I’m going to say that if you want to become an expert, check out some resources like BuyMarbles.com or even better (or at least a blast from the past) Marble Mania. This guy will appraise marbles for you and give you $$ for them! If that’s not your thing, just peruse his website to see a lot of different brands/types that are popular/common. He has to be legit… he still uses an AOL e-mail and has a website straight from the 90’s.

Let’s take a look at some completed listings for marbles and figure out why they sold on eBay for so much money!

Lots of Marble Lots

Estate Sale Vintage Marble Lot eBay

I swear that I found these “estate lot” sold listings after writing the first few paragraphs. These sellers think like I do!

So there you go, if you find a huge lot, and you’re pretty sure they’re old, take a picture of them on a blanket and sell them for ~$400! Done and done. Probably not simple to ship, as you’ll want to make sure they’re individually wrapped, but still can be a big win if you can get them for cheap!

Brands

I’m going to steal a little from Wikipedia here, but I had no clue what I was looking at when I was reading these marble titles or descriptions.

Apparently, marbles were originally handmade in Germany during the 1800s. Then they were brought over to the US and started to be mass-produced (what wasn’t?) using glass. The main companies were Martin Frederick (M.F.) Christensen (1903-1917) and Akro Agate (1911-1951). Some others that can be out there are listed on the BuyMarbles website that I mentioned earlier.

And finally, the most important part: HOW DO I KNOW WHAT BRAND THIS IS?

I have absolutely no freaking clue, and it seems like a lot of other people aren’t sure either. Sorry for that, but I think it’s one of those situations where it’s easier to tell when the marbles are in your hand.

Basically, if you have ones that are post 1940’s, they’re not worth a lot. People want the older ones… go figure!

Condition

Like most antique toys/items, condition is very important, but if you’ve got a rare one, it can still sell for a lot

This marble looks like crap and still sold for $600!!!

Vintage Onionskin Marble eBay

I have nothing to add. Flabbergasted!

There’s a big crack in this sucker; the only saving grace is that it’s one of the bigger ones (a shooter). I’m guessing this is the reason it sold for so much.

Lesson learned?

Well, there seems to be a ton of information out there for anyone who’s interested, but in the end, I probably won’t buy any marbles. But then again, now that I say that, I’m going to buy a ton this weekend on the cheap and end up slipping on one and breaking my ankle. That’s how the marble rolls I guess…

eBay Protecting my DSR?

eBay Protect DSR

Thanks eBay! Although I’m still not sure what this means…

eBay message = Clear as mud

That sounds scary! Better complain about it! Oh wait, no whining! Let’s try to look at this logically first.

I’m HOPING that I haven’t had 38 transactions with issues this past month, but that’s definitely how this eBay read to me. After perusing eBay’s Seller Protection Policy again, I think I’ve figured this out. Let’s shed some light.

eBay doesn’t only “protect” you when you have a situation with a buyer. They also do have some automatic 5 star ratings for the following reasons:

  • Shipping and handling charges – offer free shipping and you’ll get a free 5 star rating
  • Shipping and handling time – Offer 1 day and actually ship it within that time frame (this is what I do. I just drop off my packages in the blue box unless it’s a non-GSP international sale that needs to be handed to a PO worker). Fast n Free offers some additional protection from low ratings.
  • Communication – you can get an auto 5 star if you have no pending return cases and no buyer/seller initiated communications in your eBay messages. I’m unclear as to whether that is only for this item or in general for your account. I always try to respond quickly since I hate the little notification in my dashboard that says I have an unanswered response. Buyers who respond to me after I answer with “Thanks!” are literally the worst. I have to respond to that now too!

I’m not going to go into detail on any of the other categories as they definitely haven’t occurred to me in the past few months, but they are the following:

  • money back guarantee requests
  • seller performance standards (so helpful… LOL)
  • hassle-free returns (I’ve turned this on and haven’t had one yet)
  • unpaid items (just turn it on auto and forget about it. Less to worry about),
  • Global Shipping program.

I love GSP in theory, but when I found out that eBay re-packages everything and ships it as Priority regardless of weight (International 1st class is up to 4 lbs and cheaper than Priority), it really limits your buyers on lightweight items. I’ve started to offer both GSP and calculated international shipping worldwide and have sold at least 50/50 between GSP and regular international shipping. If it’s making my buyers happy and isn’t  a ton of extra work for me I’ll try it out.

So anywho, there you go. That’s how eBay has protected me (us?).

I feel like they’re starting to look out for sellers a bit, as noted in the recent update that extended holiday returns (basically buyer can return purchases made between November 1st and December 31st for any reason until January 31st – at their own cost assuming you didn’t do anything wrong) will not be required to keep your Top Rated Status and your discount. Instead, you’ll get an additional 5% on top of the 20% you’re already saving.

I’ve already talked about why you can’t worry about eBay’s DSR rating too much, but the sense in this decision is reassuring!

Reader Q&A – Taxes and Bulk Sourcing

As previously stated last week, I’ve taken a few questions from readers. If you have anything that you’re dying to know about, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail through the contact form at the top of the page! We’re going to go over taxes and bulk sourcing from overseas here.

The first question is from reader Paul:

“I was just curious as to how your profits are factored in as far as taxes are concerned. Do you report your profits to taxes? And lastly, do you have an LLC for your business?”

 

IRS Sign

Insert Death and Taxes joke here.

Taxes – No one likes them – especially online re-sellers!

Update: I’ve started using GoDaddy Bookkeeping and it’s fantastic. Will remove the ambiguity.

Taxes are a tricky subject for a lot of online re-sellers. Amazon/eBay do not send a 1099 to the IRS until you’ve sold over 200 items AND had $20,000 in gross sales. I think this makes sense because there would be so many business deductions in the 20k that the end tax result might not be worth the IRS’s time. Right now, I’m not hitting huge numbers, but to cover my bases, I make sure to sell off items I’ve had around the house which I had purchased at full price. Since I’m selling them at a loss compared to when I bought the item, I’m sure that I can claim that difference and lower my actual taxable profits.

If I am going to get over those eBay and Amazon limits, I’d have to start tracking some more information. Before I moved, I was tracking every sale, and now I’ve started an inventory system that also tracks when an item sells. On top of that, when I buy, I try to put in a “this many items” number next to my purchase price. This lets me deduct an average cost of goods to deduct from any gross sales.

For general tax purposes, a lot of people recommend Go Daddy Bookkeeping (like the good people over at Scavenger Life who re-sell on eBay full time). I haven’t tried their services, but since so many people recommend them, it seems like the best option. They use a Mint-like interface that imports your transactions. You’re able to teach the system about which transactions are business related and which one aren’t, and then you can print out one form for tax season!

LLC – Not for me!

As to Paul’s second part of the question, I haven’t set up an LLC either. I don’t even have a tax ID for my business. A lot of re-sellers will start up a sole-proprietorship. This lets them avoid paying sales tax on lots of purchases since they plan on re-selling, but then they have to add sales tax on their sale, at least if it’s in their home state.

For me, it’s all about low risk. I have a hard time seeing a buyer suing me for some sort of issue with an item. If they did have an issue, they’d probably have to sue the manufacturer. We don’t sue Walmart if something we buy there catches on fire!

The next question is from reader Alissa

I was wondering if you ever bought anything in bulk online with the intent to sell it on eBay? Through various personal finance articles, I found a list of websites that sells things wholesale and/or in bulk directly to consumers. For example, there’s a site that’s selling 100 glass perfume bottles essentially at $1 a piece, and on eBay they’re being sold for $5-$20 each. There are obvious risks involved (buying in bulk – what if you don’t sell, takes up a lot of space, etc.). I was curious to know if you had ever tried a site like this and what your experience was, or if you avoid these for any reason. It seems like it’s one of those things that’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Bulk Sourcing – It depends on you!

OK, first, it’s not too good to be true. It’s a definite avenue for large scale profits. There are Pros and Cons with bulk overseas sourcing, and you need to decide if this avenue fits your personal business model and goals.

Alibaba_Corp._Taiwan_Grand_Opening

Alibaba is a huge company. On par with Amazon and eBay!

Pros

  • 1 listing – huge timing savings with listing on eBay or Amazon. You only need one set of pictures too.
  • streamline shipping – pre-package, buy shipping materials in bulk. Since you’re shipping multiples of the same type of item, you can buy specific packing materials in bulk, and you can also trim down your process too.
  • less time out sourcing – this is a pro for some and a con for others. I love going out to garage sales, so this would be a bummer for me, but I can understand why others find it so appealing.

Cons

  • storage and all of the associated costs of having to deal with a larger inventory
  • final cost – as sale price goes up shipping is less important. if you’re only looking at items in the $5-20 range, packaging and shipping will be a large portion of the cost.
  • test waters first – When I’m making a bulk purchase, I like to test the waters first. Instead of buying a huge bulk order from Alibaba.com, there’s also a smaller version called AliExpress. This lets you order the same items, but there’s smaller item limits on orders. The caveat is that the price is higher per unit.
  • limited market? This is a tough one. You may buy 10 perfume bottles to test the waters and sell out in 3 weeks, but who knows if that volume you sold is the top end? You may order 1000 and still only sell 3 per week. Your item may not be scalable and then you’ll be stuck with a large volume of a slow moving product.
  • large initial investment – even after testing the waters successfully, you’re going to have shell out some major dough – most likely on the 5-10k range. This is a lot of money for the hobby re-seller! I know I’m not going to be spending that type of cash on inventory! I have a big weekend dropping $200… I can’t imagine spending 5k!
  • not enjoyable – If you go down this route, you’re not very different from Walmart who buys most of their inventory overseas at really cheap prices. I’d much rather buy some cool/unique items and sell them for a big profit!
  • If you buy large amount you have tax tarrifs import fees. and US anti-dumping fees. These can add up quickly and aren’t always enforced, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. They can make a deal unprofitable really quickly!
  • You’re going to have to keep changing your model. You’ll have to keep finding the next hot item. As you make a profit, there will be others who see this and want to take advantage of the price mismatch. They’ll buy a larger order than you at a cheaper price per unit and will be able to sell at a lower cost. That’s the biggest complaint I’ve seen from FBA sellers. A lot of the popular items that are flipped are a race to the bottom. I’m not talking about unique books, but items bought at regular retail stores like Target.

So to make a long story short, you can definitely make money by buying from overseas and re-selling on eBay or Amazon, but it’s just not for me!

If you’re looking down this avenue, Skip McGrath is an invaluable resource. He seems like he’s at the forefront of bulk overseas sourcing, and he has a lot of new inventory sources in his bi-weekly newsletter! I haven’t bought any of his book products so I can’t vouch for them, but if they’re like his newsletter, they’re probably worth it.

 

Image Credit: By Joshua Doubek, Rico Shen

2014 Goal and Blog Theme Update

Hello there! I’ve changed the blog’s theme (Dynamic News Lite) to give me a wider text area; I like the extra real estate available for me to ramble. We’ll see how it goes. At some point, if I continue with the blog, I’ll probably update to a pay-for theme. Right now, I can’t justify it though!

October Profits and Goal Update

If you’ve been here since the beginning of the year, you’ll remember that I set out on a goal of completely funding my Roth IRA for the year of 2014 using only profits from eBay and Amazon re-selling. I’ve been sporadically updating this goal with a nice little graph as shown here for the month of October and on the right hand sidebar.

20Oct2014 Online Re-Selling Profit Update

~63% there. That’s almost $3,500 that I didn’t start the year out with!

Ignoring the fact that I’m most likely going to come up shy, I’ll still be able to put aside a huge chunk of cash. This is definitely a win on all fronts.

For anyone who’s sweats the small stuff though, this update is for you. I’ve had to modify my original goal.

eBay/Amazon Profits

I’m no longer going to be using a lot of this money for Roth IRA contributions. Since I wrote that original post in January, I’ve gotten a new job, moved into a new state, bought a town home, my wife got a new job, our daughter transitioned back into daycare, and we’ve have had to deal with minor renovations – new carpet upstairs, ripping up carpet downstairs and sealing some pet odors from the previous owners, and EVERY OTHER LITTLE THING THAT I NEVER HAD TO PAY WHEN I RENTED! Damn it, broke my own no whining rule!

JL Collins had it right when he said that houses aren’t a good investment. They are a very emotionally satisfying and make you feel a little more stable considering that a landlord can’t kick you out even if you are making all your payments, but wholly hell, if you want to be comfortable, there’s a lot of little things that need to get updated! Weather stripping, painting, toilet seats… am I whining again already? Crap!

We plan on living here for a while and may even rent the house out in the far off future. But that’s neither here nor there… well I guess it is there. At least it’s definitely not here!

So now that I’ve burst your financial investment bubble, this goal still works in everyone’s favor. Instead of allocating money towards my future retirement, I’m saving money for my future replacement of old, large appliances!

1907 Industrial Furnace Online Re-Selling Profits

This is an actual photo of our ancient furnace! (No it’s not)

We have old but well maintained equipment here and all will need to be replaced since they are original to the house – water heater, furnace, and HVAC. At least the blower on the furnace died two weeks before we bought the house! And yes, we did get a home warranty. But instead of paying $400 next year to extend the warranty, I’d much rather save up more than that $400 to cover the costs of the expected repairs/replacements! Additionally, being able to do this on the side lets us throw some extra money at our mortgage to pay it off early.

To cap this all off, I’m still here, I’m still blogging, and I’m still making good profits re-selling garage sale, thrift store, and flea market finds on eBay and Amazon.  I’m also squeezed into my desk which barely fits in the hallway of our downstairs since we’re planning on getting new carpet in the office/play room in the next month or so.

Since I have all of these new expenses to plan for, we’re using the extra eBay and Amazon sales to save up for future issues, and the goal name has been updated accordingly – Online Re-Selling Profits.

If you have any issues with this, please feel free to use the contact page and let me know. I’ll expect your paypal account and will invoice you any future expenses!

Seriously though, my next blog post will be a Q&A. I already have a few really good questions from readers that can probably fill one post, but please give me more in the comments or straight through my e-mail dollarflipper@gmail.com. If the list gets too long, I can either break it into a few posts or just write a novella sized post like this one…. It was supposed to be short and sweet. But remember, I love to ramble!

Photo Credit: Mohylek

Vintage Hand Painted Silk Ties

The buying hiatus is over! So is the blogging hiatus! I think I just needed a little break from everything after traveling two weekends in a row. It’s amazing how many chores accumulate when you’re not around for a few weekends. Enough of that though, let’s got on to the eBay flip!

Not your ordinary ties

Vintage Hand Painted Silk Ties eBay Flip 1

“Hand Painted” definitely jumps out at you in the days of machine made clothing!

One of the ties in this buy was an unbranded one, but the other two were both vintage Towncraft ties. While researching the ties for listing, I found out some helpful info about Towncraft; Towncraft is a JCPenney’s brand. They still make new clothing that isn’t worth a lot. This includes men’s suits, blazers, and ties.

If it's blue, then it's not for you!

If the tag’s blue, then it’s not for you!

The blue tag above is the current Towncraft label. Just because it is a current Towncraft item doesn’t necessarily mean bad quality. It’s just in line with any other normal department store quality. Not something that you’re going to buy for the long haul.

These ties on the other hand were something else all together!

Awesome Tie Designs

These ties have great detail and content.

Vintage Hand Painted Silk Ties eBay Flip 2Vintage Hand Painted Silk Ties eBay Flip 3

Flamingos, beaches, and grouses. Oh my!

These ties are borderline novelty. I’m still on the fence on whether they’re a great conversation starter because they look cool or because they look ridiculous. Maybe we can have it both ways?

In general, beach novelty items from the 50’s and 60’s are a safe bet, and the woods scenes are always popular too.

The flamingo tie did have a small mark on the back of the fatter end, but since it would be facing the person wearing it, it didn’t really matter. I still made sure to disclose it though – you never want any surprises for the buyer.

Tie Flip Details

  • Purchase price – $0.75
  • End Selling Price – $85.00
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $14.27

Total Profit:  $69.98

The best part? There’s more than one best part!

First, all three ties went to the same buyer! I did end up cutting him a really sweet deal on the 3rd tie since he already agreed on the prices for the first two. Originally, I had the ties listed at a total of $110. You might say that $25 is a steep discount, but again, getting rid of all three within a month of listing made it worth it! I shipped it through eBay’s global shipping program and got glowing reviews.

Second, check out that purchase price! $0.25 a tie!! :) Like shooting hand painted silk ties in a barrel. I wish they were all this easy.

And as a final note, this transaction wasn’t all rosey. Ignoring the buyer who haggled like a pro, I also was unsure if I’d even get paid! After negotiating a deal for him, he just disappeared off the face of the earth for about a week. I use eBay’s unpaid item assistant, and it automatically opens a case when a buyer doesn’t pay within 4 days (you can change this setting using eBay’s instructions for the Unpaid Item Assistant). Near the end of the 4 days, he sent me a message saying that his wallet had been stolen while on vacation and they had been delayed in coming back. He then asked if I could wait another week until pay day.

Looking at the situation, I had two outcomes: first, I could just say no way, get my final value fees back, re-list the ties, and wait for 3 new potential buyers. The 2nd, and the option I ended up choosing, was to say no problem. Worst-case, I’d still go through with option 1 but it would be delayed by a week.

Generally, as long as a buyer is communicating with me, I won’t open an unpaid case. Things happen and sometimes money gets tied up. I get it. In the end, he paid as promised, and both of us were happy!

Tiger Electronics Handheld Games eBay Flip

Wheel of Fortune Electronic Handheld eBay Flip

Am I the only one who ends up yelling at the TV just as loud for NFL games as contestants screwing up on Wheel of Fortune?

Tiger electronic handheld games can bring you in some nice cash. I may need to bring you on a convoluted route to prove my point, but we’ll get there! Hold on to your seats.

First little note that’s probably only interesting to me is that as I began for this post, I found out that Tiger Games is not the same as Tiger Electronics! If you notice in the picture above, the Tiger Games logo has something that looks like a claw swipe above it. The Tiger Electronics which I actually wanted to write about makes the “R” have an extra long tail…. you know, like a tiger!

Tiger_Electronics Logo Ebay Flip

Seeing this brings me back to the 90’s!

At the time, these handheld games were actually fun, and we didn’t have Game Boy, Game Gear, Nintendo DS, DSi, 3DS, smart phones, or even dumb phones with games. Now, the games look terrible, the controls are impossible to figure out, and the sound makes you grit your teeth. But the people buying these are buying for NOSTALGIA. They don’t care if the game is crappy. They want to re-create the feelings they had when they were a kid and played these games. This is good news for sellers!

Here are some rules of thumb that you can use when on the prowl (tiger pun!) for handheld electronic games at garage sales or thrift stores!

Older Electronic Games are Better

As with a lot of different video games, the older ones are more popular. This is especially true with handhelds. There seems to have been a brief period during the 80’s when the quality became decent (relative to what other games were available then) and there’s not a huge quantity that were made. This is a great thing for people like you and me who are looking for deals!

Condition

You’re going to want to look at the art work and make sure there’s no significant tears or scratches. If it’s new in the box, then this can be a gold mine! When you have one of these puppies to sell, always take a picture with a test battery in to show that the cells on the screen are working. I will usually take the battery out before I ship though (Hey, that battery can be used to test something else!). Just make sure to say “batteries not included” in the listing.

Content is King

I’m going with a gut feel here. There were a lot of handheld games that went along with actual video games. I’m not sure if handhelds were a way to have a lower barrier to entry in terms of cost (cheaper to buy a hand-held than a system, TV, and cartridge) or whether they were just another marketing gimmick. “Muh-om! I need to have the handheld version of the Double Dragon game so I can play it on the way to Jimmy’s where we’ll play the real one on his NES!”

Video games from the 90’s bring in a premium. Disney sets can bring in some money (like selling a lot of 5 from different 90’s Disney movies).

So you may be asking, “you’re telling me that content is king, then why do you have a Wheel of Fortune game? That’s pretty generic, right?” Let’s take a look at the numbers and then we can talk!

Flip details

  • Purchase price – $1
  • End Selling Price – $9.99
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $4.52

Total Profit:  $4.47

Well, crap. There goes my argument!

~$5 isn’t worth my time!

Yeah, I get it. Ignoring the fact that there aren’t a lot of other ways for you to just turn $1 into $5 if you’re a salaried employee (can’t work OT) as easily as re-selling on eBay, you’re right. This is not ideal. I personally have a lot of items that can bring in a lot more profit just waiting to be listed right now. This one is definitely below my usual threshold.

The thing is that if you are flipping consistently, you are going to buy things that aren’t that great and aren’t above your profit threshold at some time or another. But that purchase is a learning experience, and you can just pass it up next time. Or you can decide to buy it again. I mean, this Wheel of Fortune game was cheap to buy, required very little prep for listing, and was easy to ship!

I personally don’t like these types of sales and try to avoid them. The only saving grace is that I actually found the exact same handheld the next day before I even got this one listed!  So when I did the listing, I was able to use one listing and just put the quantity at 2, which was a huge time saver.

So now let’s look at selling two:

  • Purchase price – $2
  • End Selling Price – $19.98
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $9.04

Total Profit:  $8.94

OK, this isn’t as bad! Obviously not breaking bank, but just goes to show you that a $9 profit on a “mistake” is AWESOME!

But just to make sure that you all don’t think I’m crazy picking up these handheld electronics, let’s take a look at some completed listings (sorted from highest to lowest to make a point).  See, there are some big fish out there!

Tiger Electronics Handheld eBay Flip

Make sure you pounce (tiger pun 2!) on ones like these and pass up the Wheel of Fortune ones! Unless you need the $4.50…. I won’t judge though; every little bit helps!

Image Credit: Vector.me

Tarot Cards eBay Flip

Let me look into my crystal ball – I see dollar signs in your future…

Tarot Cards Balbi Bilingual eBay Flip

The King of Cups translates to “El Rey de Copa” for anyone wondering.

Balbi Tarot Cards

I’ll generally purchase any set of vintage tarot cards that I see, especially when they’re on the cheap. This set was even better than a routine purchase since it was bilingual – English and Spanish. This most likely caters towards someone who speaks both languages, and, of course, niche sells!

From my listing (borrowed from someone else’s completed listing):

The brilliant, if unconventionally colored Tarot Balbi was created by Italian artist Domenico Balbi and published by Heraclio Fournier of Spainin the mid 1970’s. It has bilingual English & Spanish titles on the Trumps (except Death) and Spanish titles on the Court cards. Balbi’s simple line drawings are generally Marseille-derived, with ornamentation in the pip cards 2-10 of each suit that goes beyond the general flowers & banners of historical Marseille decks. Typically nude characters in the Trumps include a hint of male nudity as well.

I guess Balbi was a little naughty. Maybe that helps his tarot decks sell?

But that box is in rough shape!

The box is in well worn condition, but remember, it’s from 1978! I know people who are in their 30’s who have more wrinkles and creases than this box… :)

There’s several important things to note about this set. The first is that the box is worn but still has all of it’s color and holds together well. The second is that the cards look near perfect and the set is complete – all 78. As a note, nearly all Tarot decks have 78 cards but also come with extra information inserts. Make sure that your sets have 78 of the named cards!

Tarot Cards Balbi Bilingual eBay Flip - 2

You’ll want to make sure to disclose any condition issues with the fronts or backs – creases, scuffs, scratches etc.

Antique is better!

As noted in the Wiki article on Tarot, it’s been around for a LONG time – mid-15th century. Let’s just say if you can get your hands on some really old ones, they could be worth a ton. As I was writing this post, a complete set from the late 1800’s sold for a cold $2,000!

Tarot Cards Balbi Bilingual eBay Flip - 3

No, mine weren’t worth anywhere near $2,000!

Flip details

  • Purchase price – $1
  • End Selling Price – $39.99
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $8.36

Total Profit:  $30.63

Talk about bread and butter. They were listed for about 2 weeks, cost $1, sold for a $30 profit, and shipped 1st class (under 13oz). Sales like this are what keep me going!

This was a great, easy sale, but I’m still going to keep an eye out for some older packs. I know I sure wouldn’t mind a sale of a couple grand!

2014 Roth IRA Goal August Spending Breakdown

Well, we’ve just finished up with August. That’s 2/3 of the year gone already. Holy moly, right? Too bad the goal graph is just under 1/2 filled. :-/  They say that if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Lots of room for improvement here.

31Aug2014 Roth IRA Update

Insert funny graph joke here.

What’s Eating up the Profits?

First off, I don’t think anything’s eating up my profits. I actually have a lot more money coming in than the above graph shows. The question is , where did the rest of the money go?

I’m going to ignore the shipping costs and eBay/Paypal fees for this post. I’ve talked about it before, but I try to limit what I’m buying based on how I will be able to ship it. This is why I stick to smaller items or things that can fit into a flat rate padded mailer (unless I’ll make a killing on it).

So the money has to be going somewhere else.

Business Spending Breakdown

We budget and track our family spending via YNAB (affiliate link that gives you $6 off). It’s a great product that helps you handle large spending by breaking it up monthly. It also has some really useful graphs/reports, and if anyone has any questions, feel free to post them in the comments. Here’s a visual breakdown of my business spending:

 

Part Time eBay Business Spending Profit

It would have taken me a much longer time to create the same report within Excel!

Pow! Right in the kisser. Pretty glaring  that I’ve spent almost $3,000 on purchases alone in 2014. Yikes! On top of that, the ~$500 on office supplies wasn’t only packing materials. Some of that was my new shelving (post on that in the near future), printers, labels, etc.

Now, at a quick glance, it looks like I’ve spent more than I’ve made ($3k vs $2.5k), but both of these categories are directly from my profit bucket. All fees and shipping costs have already been taken out. To really get a good handle, we have to add the spending total to my Roth IRA contributions and that gives us well over $5,500 for the year in pure profits.

I’d like to think that my spending here is investing in the future, but at some point, it can become too much.

When is enough inventory enough?

Should I stop spending on new inventory? That’s a good question. We have the winter coming up and theoretically it’ll be slim pickings since there’s no garage sales. I have a few more planned ones in the next couple weekends, but I’m honestly thinking about taking a break from buying for a bit.

On top of this, eBay sellers know that the winter months are some of the best in sales.

Goals, goals, goals

Soccer_Youth_Goal_Keeper_eBay_Profits_Roth_IRA

If I don’t try to figure out where I want to end up, my goals are going to be wide open for any type of distraction to take front and center.

This post is one of the reasons that I love writing on this blog. It makes me take a good look at myself in the mirror. I set up a goal for this year to fully fund my Roth IRA and part of the reason I’m not going to hit it (as of now) is because I’ve been focused on increasing inventory instead of listing.

I feel like I’m on a treadmill. Instead of the usual consumer driven treadmill, I’m on an inventory buying treadmill. But this post has made me realize that this treadmill isn’t even pointed in the right direction for where I want to go.

I think we need a break…

No, not you guys! I’ve decided that I will take a spending break. No more buying for the month of September. Instead of searching for the next big find, I’ll be focusing my efforts on the inventory I’ve already purchased. So just sit back and relax while I show off how this is no buying thing is going!

Photo Credit: Torsten Bolten

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