Tag: Garage Sailing

9 things I learned about garage sales by hosting one

Once upon a time I fancied myself quite the garage saler. My friend Craig and I had the garage saling thing down to an intricate and fine art. I thought it’d be relatively easy to transition from buyer to seller. I was wrong.

I thought I could parlay my experience around the garage saling traps into huge profits. I was wrong.

Here are seven things I learned from our garage sale experience last weekend.

1. Be firm about starting time (in your ad). I explicitly said 7:30am in my ad. And I meant it. Much to the chagrin of the six vultures cars that pulled up outside our house.

2. Long weekends produce “scarcity” in supply and demand. Nobody wins. The date we picked was more based on necessity than design. The first group of professional garage sale types told us we were one of the few sales advertised, but the morning rush faded quickly into the daytime trickle.

3. It’s great when your neighbours have a garage sale too – but only if you’ve advertised together. Conversely, it’s not so cool when your neighbours have an impromptu sale and don’t tell their customers that the signs on the street and the ad in the paper are for the garage sale next door.

4. Garage sale customers aren’t particularly interested in coffee. I had anticipated making more money from sales of cups of coffee than from our stuff. Despite our meagre stuff sales, they dwarfed the value of my coffee sales ($2).

5. Garage sale customers are interested in cheap, portable, and resellable, goods. We had a pretty good range of stuff (I thought) on sale. But we sold books (for cheap cheap), DVDs (for cheap), some small glass bottles, and some other assorted goods priced between $10-15. We did not sell our furniture.

6. It pays to think a little bit about pricing before hand (and about if you want to sell stuff). We sold a couple of things that we’d put out a little reluctantly for much less than they were worth, because I was sick of not selling anything. I’d say we also overpriced a few things and the fact those prices were displayed meant people wrote them off really quickly.

7. It’s a soul-destroying experience being judged by your taste in material possessions. I try very hard not to define myself by what I own, but I also work hard enough in the purchasing process to be a little attached to some of my things. When I put them out for display so that other people might buy them, I might feel a little affronted if they turn up their noses and leave almost as soon as they arrive. I’m thankful that I’m storing up treasures in heaven.

8. Selling a couple of Christian books is a good conversation starter. Also – don’t sell popular atheist books. I pulled one from sale after I noticed someone looking at it because I didn’t want to be responsible for their destruction… I had the best conversation I had all day (and sold a coffee) to the young guy who grabbed the “Five Love Languages for Singles” (OK, so it’s not really a “Christian” book).

9. Gumtree is far superior to garage sales in terms of investment of time, ease, and reward. Garage Sales take heaps of time. Are low return strategies. And aren’t much fun. I put the stuff we didn’t sell on Gumtree and I’ve shifted a fair portion of it in 36 hours.

Weekend roast

I picked up a new breadmaker today from Cash Converters – it solves all my roasting problems by spinning right from the start. I roasted my first batch. I’m very excited. No more stirring by hand or spending ages waiting for a spin cycle to kick into gear. 

I also used the new heat gun I picked up while garage sailing the other week.

I really only wrote this so that I could use that title. It would have been more appropriate had I written it tomorrow.

Garage Sailing Redux

My Star Wars Auctions on eBay finish up today – actually there’s one item that seems to have slipped through the posting cracks – two if you include the Boba Fett that I haven’t listed for Tim’s benefit.

The good news is that I’ve hit the break even point on the auctions and will actually make a profit. That’s bound to keep Robyn happy.

Feel free to jack up the prices with some last minute bidding action. You may score yourself a bargain. Darth Vader and R2-D2 are due to finish in just over two hours.

Look no Hans, Solo garage sailing and ebay news

Fresh from the successful sale of Luke Skywalker for a 150% profit on eBay I hit the garage sales this morning looking for a new breadmaker. I’ve given up fixing the old one.

This was my first solo garage sailing experience. It’s not as much fun by yourself. I did not manage to find a new breadmaker – I did however manage to find a new heatgun. It has never been used, and I got it for $20. They’re over $60 new. This one even has temperature control – a feature I would have liked on the old one.

Other than that the trip was pretty unproductive – I hit eight sales in less about an hour. One was selling miniature garden gnomes, another healing crystals and another a collection of stylised antique pencil sharpeners. Or pencil sharpeners shaped like antique furniture. They were $2 each. I didn’t buy them.

Luke Skywalker went to a lady from Glenelg – which is a palindrome. So that’s pretty cool. I listed a bunch of other Star Wars figurines last night – if they all go for anything like $5.50 Craig and I will feel pretty good about the whole thing. The Tie Fighter Pilot I listed last night is already up to $6.50. Here’s all the items I’ve got listed at the moment. 

May the force be with you

Once upon a time Nathan and Craig went garage sailing (with their wives and Chris). They even blogged about it on the road. All the other people bought boring things. Like candles. Nathan and Craig bought a very awesome set of Star Wars figurines that they’d like you to have. Or buy. 

The first one is up for sale on ebay now. It’s Luke Skywalker. And he’s awesome. He has a lightsaber. Buy it here. You have 10 days from today. Bid early and bid often. We’re testing the waters with this one. There’ll be more to come.

Garage Sailing: Liveblog

The Map
We’re about to hit the road for our garage sailing techstravaganza. So that any of you following with interest know just where we’re going, here’s a map:

The Map

The Map

If you click through to the map page you’ll see a list of the sales and their advertised descriptions (if you scroll down).

First Stop - just around the corner

First Stop - just around the corner

A Compact Bow - with no arrows - just $15. Robyn said no.

A Compact Bow - with no arrows - just $15. Robyn said no.

She sells sea shells

She sells sea shells

The pieces fall into place

The pieces fall into place

Our first stop met with success – a brand new, old chess set complete with glass pieces. They offered $5, we offered 3 and the deal was closed at $4.00 – downward negotiations faltered on the basis of  a complete set with new box.

Pictures here

Garage sailing came to a close today at about 11:50am. You can check out geotags on the images in Craig’s album linked above.

I’m calculating my total spend from today – and will get figures from Robyn, Craig, Teagen and The total so far is $84.90 – but I still need to get a figure from Chris, here’s the purchase summary:

1. Glass chess set – Nathan – $4 (asking price $5).

2. Table – Chris – $4.50 (asking price $5).

3. 3 tealight candle holders – Chris – $2 (asking price 2 for $2).

4. Set of magazines/recipes/craft books – Craig and Teagen – 4 for $1 (asking price 3 for $1).

5. Four playstation one games (to be used on a playstation bought at a previous garage sail) – Nathan – $5 (asking price – part of a $35 bundle).

5a. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego PC game – Robyn (for educational purposes) – $0.20 (by negotiation)

6. Round plate/platter/dish – Chris – $3 (I’m a bit shady on that price) (asking price around $5).

7. Set of dominos – Craig – $0.20 (asking price unspecified but original recommended retail price $1).

8. Round the Twist complete episodes DVD bundle and A-Team DVDs – Nathan -$15 (asking price $20).

9. Craig got a $0.20 platter thrown in free with my purchase.

10. The guys selling the DVDs (and the platter) had a tub full of unopened Star Wars figurines from about three years ago for sale for $5 each. 13 in total. The gentleman in question used to collect Star Wars merchandise with a friend. His partner was clearly not as enthusiastic about Star Wars as he and his friend – so we took the collection of figurines off his hands to sell on eBay. We will list them after our Summer Holiday – but if anyone wants to make an offer in the meantime leave a comment on this post. We bought the lot for $35.

At this point we were feeling pretty good about ourselves and were on the home stretch. We made one last stop. En route to our home base. Where we found the best garage sale ever. Everything was for sale. Even the house. The neighbour was piggybacking on the sale – selling books on the street.

11. Two books – Corcisan (some sort of gangster thriller) and The Douglas Adams Dirk Gently Omnibus (a book I leant somebody years ago and haven’t seen since. You know who you are. Ben.) – Nathan – $2 (asking price $2. I offered $1.50 and was refused).

We probably spent an hour at this next house. Which had been lovingly renovated in a really classy way by a former surgeon who due to a horse riding accident no longer works. It was a really nicely furnished Queenslander  – and she’s selling it herself hoping to move to Mexico. Craig became a real estate photographer – and I’ll add a link to the listing when I find it.

There was some great stuff for sale from her collection of jewellry, kitchen appliances, clothings, shoes, antiques, furniture, glassware – you name it. It was for sale. Under the house there was this wooden box with two massive grindstones in it – it was an old grinder used by farmers to grind wheat and barley for their beer. She used it for bread. I almost bought it. But instead settled for my next purchase:

12. A hand turned chrome coffee grinder – Nathan – $10 (asking price unknown – price agreed on by negotiation).

13. A bracelet – Robyn – $3 (again price agreed on by negotiation).

14. A funky tealight candle tree thing – Chris – price unknown.

15. A set of coffee cups – Nathan – free on the basis of Craig’s photographic services.

Craig’s had so many freebies off my back that I thought it only fair to get in on the action.

Here’s the photo of our swag…

Our purchases

Our purchases

Garage Sailling

With the cost of living rising I can’t understand why there aren’t more people out garage sailing on weekends. It’s fun. It’s cheap. It’s full of bargains. Or, stealing a similar sales pitch triplet from Lock Stock – “It’s a deal. It’s a steal. It’s the sale of the…” hang on, that probably violates my sense of self censorship.

Anyway, I digress. On Saturday I teamed up with my regular garage sailing companion – Mr Ferguson, and a relative newcomer to the experience Mr Mildenhall. Craig and I have established some rules for our garage sailing trips that I think are worth sharing with the masses. He’s also harnessed the powers of modern technology to make garage sailing a breeze. I make no apologies for continuing the sailing motif.  

The rules:

1. You must barter, bargain, beg or negotiate on price. If the vendor refuses to drop the price you must try to get extras thrown into the deal.
2. You must buy something – somewhere during the day you must make a purchase.
3. Someone (usually me) has to buy a particularly stupid item for under $1.
4. Car doors must be locked at each stop.
5. Team members must be prepared to convince reluctant participants to buy something they clearly don’t need (like a fishtank).
6. You must have a friend available with a Ute or 4WD to pick up your bulky purchases.

Other observations on garage sailing regarding optimum conditions are best expressed by some mathematical equation where as time increases the opportunity to bargain increases and price decreases. But at the same time – availability of goods also decreases. The optimal time is somewhere in the middle – where bargains can be found – but the premium items have been snapped up by second hand dealers. Another element is consumer mood – where if you don’t get up at 6am – ie start somewhere closer to 9am – bargains are available and optimism is high.

Craig, being the technological early adopter that he is makes the process refined and efficient. Coordinates and details of each garage sail listed in the Townsville Bulletin are plugged into Google Maps – and routes are plotted with Craig’s laptop GPS system. Craig also now has wireless broadband – which means he can take photos of an item, email it to his wife and contact her via skype for approval. This is revolutionary stuff – and will change the face of Garage Sailing for ever. 

I’ll try to put up a photo of this week’s “trophy” a porcelain cow shaped gravy boat/milk jug – but for now you’ll have to content yourself with this pic


One year on

Today is the first anniversary of my first post and obviously it has been a particularly interesting year for me. Today marks a year since my second last day in Brisbane – so as of tomorrow I’ll have been a Townsville resident for a whole year. As this is a celebratory post of some kind I’ll use it to reflect on my year and give general feedback on all the goings on… kind of like a report card. I’ll compare my expectations with the delivery – this all feels like some sort of psyhcometric analysis or something. I read a story lately about a business lecturer who is worried about the corporate trend to incorporate such testing in their recruitment strategies. He gives his students a psych test and then hands them a printed results page which 95% of students agree identifies key personality traits – then he tells them they’ve all got the same photocopied sheet.

Reflections and Forecasts
At the end of the year I put out a series of media releases for each division of our business with reflections and forecasts – basically a list of our successes from the previous year and a prediction of future successes – I haven’t gone back to see how our reflections matched my predecessor’s forecasts but I’ll do that with my forecasts from last year’s post:

“So here you have my thoughts on my impending departure: I am simultaneously
excited and nervous (I’m not sure what the adjectival form of the word
trepidation is but I would have used it there, maybe trepidated?)”

I’d say that while I was a little nervous about my relocation last year posts from the last couple of weeks probably suggest that I’m fairly settled up here. And I am. While I do miss friends, family, chuch, outdoor soccer and I’m sure there are other things – they have mostly been more than adequately replaced with new friends, indoor soccer (we’re back to back A-Grade mixed champions), work, and Robyn. Who is the obvious success story of my year.

“I’m really looking forward to starting my new job with Townsville Enterprise, who you can find here.”

Boy was I right on this count. I really enjoy my job. Townsville Enterprise is a diverse organisation representing a diverse region. Townsville is a great city – I may be paid to say that, and I am a bit of a mercenary when it comes to my loyalty in these matters – but it’s easy to sell and I truly enjoy the stuff I get to do for work (helicopter flights, sailing trips, island holidays and lots and lots of food).

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people. I just didn’t think it would be
that hard to say goodbye to old people but on the upside it’s not like I’m dying
and there’s always me in blog form if you miss me too much.”

I have met new and fun people through church, work and various networks of people. And I certainly do exist in blog form. In a year I’ve managed 149 posts – that’s one every 2.4 days and more than 82,000 words filled with ranting, ruminations, stupid theories and updates on my life. That’s about the equivalent of 2 Mills and Boons novels and probably every bit as valuable.

Here’s a bit of gratuitous bragging in list form to summarise the “year that’s been”…

1. Relocated 1465km (by road – but I flew) to Townsville
2. Met Robyn, convinced Robyn I was a nice guy, proposed to Robyn, became engaged to Robyn
3. Generated $35 million of positive media coverage for Townsville – my original target was $20 million.
4. Had a full page story printed in the Financial Review with a byline
5. Broke a story that made the front page of the Courier Mail, scored 5 minutes coverage on Hamish and Andy and went international… about “cat poo” coffee.
6. Consumed an estimated 30 steaks “on the job”
7. Won back-to-back Mixed A-Grade indoor soccer titles
8. Went deep sea fishing on the Great Barrier Reef, flying in a helicopter, sailing on a schooner, holidaying on the island the XXXX ads are screened on, ate crocodile and other fancy things at a $200 gala dinner, stared down a Japanese tourist suffering dope fuelled psychosis and drank a $50 cat poo coffee – all in the name of “work”
9. Set up Donna and Aaron (I’m actually very proud of that).
10. Kept a pet fish alive for a whole year (almost – actually I inherited the fish from Cam Bell, we killed two crayfish – indirectly – the fish actually is mostly responsible for the demise of the second cray) in a tank bought at a garage sale on an early Townsville adventure – along with the Bob Hawke head drink dispenser which now sits proudly on my desk at home. I also killed an echidna…

Forecasts will follow in tomorrow’s post.

The Golden Baaast of Bob Hawke

Here’s a picture of the highlight of my garage sale trip as promised. 

Just Ace

So… who took my Motor Ace CDs? I remember lending them to someone but I can’t remember who. I figure this is as good a forum as any for chasing down lost property. Feel free to post anything you’re missing in the comments page. Material possessions only please, not personality traits, Matt I’m afraid they won’t be able to find your charisma anywhere. That joke could have been directed at anyone. Hopefully Matt can take it… and he did suggest I should start hugging echidnas.

There’s not really much news here at the moment. It’s been quiet at work for the last couple of days, I can now catch up on my employee induction procedures and do all the background reading on our major projects.

I’m going garage sale shopping tomorrow. Last time I was up here I did a little bit of treasure hunting with Tim and Katrina (new AFES staffworkers up here). Katrina was horrified when I made snide comments about some terrible stuff that was being sold. Tomorrow she has a girl’s breakfast so it will just be Tim and me. I plan to be noisily critical of anything tacky being sold. I will try to get photos of the most offensive items with my phone. I may even buy the worst bit of glassware and offer it as a prize in some blog related contest. That’ll get the hits up. Hopefully one day my blog will be more popular than google. There are two ways I can see this happening – Google may experience a sharp downturn in popularity as a result of revelations about the sweatshop like conditions they have set up for employees in third world countries. Or I could experience a sharp upturn in popularity, achieving global fame and use the blog as my method of maintaining my connection with you ordinary, common, everyday folk. Neither of these are likely to happen. Even with the incentive of kitchy 70s crockery.