Tuesday Happy Thought: People still read books, y’all!

When Barnes & Noble released the nook in 2009, I thought it was a hilarious joke. Who the hell would want to carry around a light digital pad and forego the satisfaction of holding an actual weighty book with a colorful cover and crispy pages and that sweet paper smell?

Clearly I was wrong. So so SO super wrong. People LOVE reading on their little digital pads. It’s minimal. It’s easy. It’s affordable. It’s eco. I get it.

But I really like books. Luckily, I’m not alone. People still buy books!

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And they’re willing to throw down a nice sum of money for the rare goodies. When I visit thrift stores, I don’t stand for too long in the book section. I do a once over and see if anything catches my eye. This puppy caught my eye not long ago:

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I peeked inside to make sure it wasn’t a dreaded book club edition as those can be tough to resell. Once I was in the clear with that, I took a gamble and bought the little guy without looking it up online. The worst case scenario is that it’s worthless and I have a new Hemingway book in my library and am out $1.25. Not a terrible situation.

….And then it sat on my bookshelf for almost a year b/c I forgot about it…funny how often that happens…

When I finally did get around to researching this gem for resale, I found that I had a first edition on my hands! Ideally with books, you’ll snag a first edition and first printing – sometimes noted as 1st/1st on eBay listings. It’s unclear whether my copy was a first printing, but I still made a buck off it.

Mine’s the one in the middle:

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An easy peezy $177 was made. Not bad at all. This photo also illustrates how much listing details matter in netting a fair profit. The first photo is a well cropped close up and boasts “True First Printing” whereas mine is a little less confident in boasting the exact printing but the photo shows off the fair condition and the front and back of the book. And then we have that last one that didn’t even try – the photo looks cluttered and it’s not even right side up!

The lesson here is to always give a once over to the books in the thrift store. If it’s older, clean and not a book club edition, you can make a nice low stress profit. No extensive measurements to record, simple photos, and so easy and cheap to ship.

It’s almost too easy…

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Psst! People still buy VHS tapes?!

It’s obvious that I enjoy little more than buying stuff for next to nothing and selling it to a broader audience for some nice pocket change.

One of my new favorite blogs that I stumbled across last week is written by a guy who sells his thrift store treasures on eBay to help fund his Roth IRA: Flipping a Dollar

While perusing his blog, it got me thinking about stuff that I usually pass on looking at when I’m in a thrift store because I assume it won’t sell and, therefore, isn’t worth my time. Like that super soaker he made $65 on?! I would have walked past that without a second look.

So last week, during a thrift store adventure, I decided to stop by the VHS tapes. Yes – VHS. There are always loads upon loads of VHS tapes at thrift stores. And for good reason! NOBODY watches VHS tapes anymore, right? RIGHT!

However…having been to film school, I know that there are tens of thousands of features which never made it to DVD distribution and can only be found on VHS. Most of these features have no business being on DVD anyway as nobody would watch them. But there are gems – insanely bad horror movies, 70s kung fu movies, low budget action movies, and quirky melodramas – that have a cult following small enough to prevent DVD distribution but large enough to return a nice eBay profit!

A quick online search leads to film geek forums and obscure media uploads that prove that a quick buck may be had for plenty of VHS tapes.

The great thing about VHS tapes is that they are dirt cheap – typically 50 cents. Also, you can typically judge the condition of the tape by looking at its cover. If the cover is all beat up and torn, the cassette probably won’t play so great.  (Just make sure you check that your VHS cassette matches its cover!)

Anyway, I decided to stop by the VHS selection – several hundred – at a local thrift store. About two dozen VHS caught my eye as being in fair condition and sounding just weird or nostalgic or rare enough that they may be profitable. So I stood there on my phone, scouring eBay for search results – turns out most of them weren’t so rare and didn’t sell for more than a few dollars. Until I saw this little nugget of peculiarity:

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That’s right – it’s a bowhunting deer video with a bit of twang. It’s marked EXPLICIT and entitled “They’re Goin’ Down”. A quick glance at the back of it revealed that it was independently produced by the guy who stars in the video, distributed by some small town in Michigan. Even better, it looks to be in great condition!

IMG_1405 Did you read that?! That is cult following GOLD, my friend! I

So I paid 89 cents for it and immediately listed it on eBay for a short auction. I kept the starting bid low – 99 cents.

Within a day, 4 people were watching it and 2 people had sent me questions about it. One guy wanted to know if I had any other hunting videos as he already owned this one….

By the final third day of auction, 8 people were watching it and there was an all out bidding war which climbed the price to $27 + $2.76 shipping/handling.

Price I paid: – $0.89

Sold on eBay: + $29.76

Fees & shipping: – $4.45 shipping; -$2.98 eBay; -$1.16 PayPal

Profit/Loss: + $20.28

Normally, that’s not a profit to hoot & holler over. But let’s remember that this was a VHS TAPE!!! Also, I’m very aware that I have stolen the other blogger’s outcome tracking idea with my little red and green profit/loss summary, but it just works so well.

So there you have it, I’ll be glancing at the VHS tapes a little more carefully the next time I’m in a thrift store.

 

 

Suddenly Motivation! Listing Goods on Craigslist

Of course after 30 days of zero motivation to list stuff on Craigslist during my last money challenge, I suddenly get a surge of energy to try to sell stuff in the house:

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To be fair, I bought this ambidextrous mouse at a cheap family thrift store at Bannister & Blue Ridge for $1. It wasn’t some mouse I had lying around the house. Even better, it’s made by Logitech which is a company known for making great computer accessories that can last years. The two minimal side buttons are programmable to allow for scroll or back & forth on the interwebs according to user preference. These usually retail around $30 – $40 but I’ve listed mine on Craigslist for $15. I figure it’s a fair enough price for the local Cerner/Google crowd who may be interested.

And then there’s this Pfaltzgraff set I listed for only $20:

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My brother in law got it for The Beard and I after he was told that we love antiques. What the poor chap didn’t know is that we already have all the antiques we could ever want. So this set is a bit useless to us. I decided to list it for $20 just b/c it’s Pfaltzgraff and might get some attention. We shall see…

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Next up is a terribly racist cream/sugar/butter dish set of some kind of Aunt Jemima character from years past. I bought the set for a few dollars in 2006 on some ancient farm property in western Kansas. I’ve tried to sell it before on ebay but I didn’t catch any buyers. I’ve decided to test my luck and list it on Craigslist KC for a whopping $50.

We shall see…

At least I’m finally listing some goods instead of letting them pile up in the storage closet…

Only time will tell….