One man's trash is another man's treasure

One man's trash is another man's treasure

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There it was. Sitting in a booth of an antique mall on the outskirts of Davenport. While I am no more interested in amateur radio than the next guy, the vintage Heathkit shortwave radio complete with its $10 price tag was calling to me.

My friend, who was scouring the mall with me looking for the correct items to test whether money could be made by reselling on EBay, is the ultimate amateur radio enthusiast. He is also the one who taught me the importance of knowing what you are looking at as far as being able to make a profitable purchase or sale. The radio got his seal of approval with his gruff, “that radio is worth three times that.” Sold.

For weeks I had been studying the art of selling on EBay. I had always thought that EBay sales was something that was reserved for actual businesses and people with lots of money to throw at the sales in order for it to even begin to be profitable. That changed one weekend when I was in Iowa City and found, for $3 I might add, a pamphlet from an EBay power seller on making money online. In hindsight, it was the best $3 I ever spent.

Back at my friend’s apartment we sat down with the first two items I would try to put online — the Heathkit and a knife (one actually favored by elite U.S. Navy SEAL teams) I had bought at a military surplus store years earlier. A quick word here — most people actually have well over $1,000 worth of stuff they don’t use anymore that is just cluttering their living space. Most resellers get their start selling things they already own.

We photographed the items and began to post them on EBay. Since I was new, I had a limit to the number and dollar amount of items I could sell in a month. Still, an extra $500 a month was very appealing to me. Also, since I was new, the items had to go in a five-day auction.

Of course, every spare minute I was checking to see if there were any bids on the items. When the bids closed on the fifth day the end results were there. I had gotten $45 for the $10 radio and $55 for the $17 knife. I was hooked.

That was about seven years ago. Since then I have expanded into many other areas. I have had three resale booths in local vintage malls. I have sold on EBay, Amazon, Craigslist, Etsy, and quite a bit lately on Facebook Marketplace. I’m also considering getting a vintage booth here in Muscatine. (A shout out to Meg at The Wild Thing in downtown Muscatine, right across the street from the Pearl Button Museum. She has a lot of really cool stuff in her three-story vintage mall)

Since I was very young, I have always loved going to flea markets and second hand stores and seeing what I could find. At this point. I consider going to these places to be more like a treasure hunt. Of course when I am out sourcing (a term used by resellers for buying things for the purpose of selling them) we can’t forget the all-important garage sales. I can’t wait for spring to see the kinds of sales there are here in Muscatine.

I’m sure my friends in Washington got tired of hearing me going on and on about how I bought and sold the latest item. Sorry, it’s just that I find it to be exciting. If you think of people who are going on for days about their favorite sports team making an impressive score, it’s the same principle. It’s also great seeing people happy when I buy an item they don’t want anymore, then seeing someone else happy when I sell them that same item, which they really want. Win-win-win.

Oh, by the way, has anyone ever seen a TV show called “Storage Wars?” I’ve done it in real life. Don’t get me started on how unrealistic that show is. I could go on and on about things that have happened while I was cleaning out storage units (including a few stories from storage units here in Muscatine).

Since starting this journey, I have been through two cars, three cell phones, about five laptop computers, and I’m still going strong. I plan to continue on the path I’m heading with the eternal resellers mantra – “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure.”

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