I've always loved to snoop around in musty garages and old attics looking for neat trinkets. But it wasn't until about six years ago that I took the next step and made it into a hobby by purchasing "old stuff" at auctions and flipping them for a profit on eBay.
As a general rule, I tend to make a little money - and occasionally a very nice profit - when items sell that I list on the auction site.
But I also tend to buy far more at auctions than I can possible sell on eBay. After all, holding up a bid card for an auctioneer to see is easy. Taking the time to clean up an item, taking photos of it and uploading the photos along with an appealing description can quickly turn into an incredible time drain.
Add to that time drain the confiscatory fees eBay charges its users to sell items, plus PayPal transaction fees, plus the costs of boxing up an item and driving it to the Post Office, and the actual net profit can be a fraction of the time invested.
Such is my situation. I have accumulated hundreds of old bottles, old paper (which we snobs in the antiques world refer to as "ephemera"!), stock certificates, photos, printer's blocks - you name it, and I probably have at least one of it!
The growing collection of "stuff" has become so out of control that I have actually convinced a co-worker of mine, Phillip Hickman, to transport my hoard of "treasures" down to Ravenswood where his street is having a series of yard sales. I don't want to risk having one myself in Parkersburg for fear of violating yard sales laws and ending up on Mid-Ohio Valley's Most Wanted!
I admit there was some deception involved in convincing Phillip to take on my junk. I needed to grossly underestimate exactly how much I was going to be cramming into his van. I think he still believes that I may have only a "couple" of boxes.
Second, exactly how should I compensate Phillip for putting my junk up for sale? Should I pay him an upfront flat fee? A final flat fee? Or some sort of commission on every piece of my junk he and his wife Carrie are able to hock?
Speaking of Carrie, she called the newsroom this morning and seemed surprised that Phillip had agreed to my idea of letting them sell my junk at their yard sale. Once she got over the shock, she said there was "a little bit of room under their tent" (hopefully she's referring to a CIRCUS tent) for my junk. But she indicated it would be fine and suggested I put a price tag on each of the items.
I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'd have to take a day of vacation to individually price each of several hundred items.
So in lieu of pricing each individual item, I'm going to allow Phillip and Carrie to "consider" taking the first offer. By keeping this pricing structure really nebulous, I can later reserve the right to be mad if they sell a 1910-era typewriter for two dollars! Then, I'll let them keep a cut of the profit on every piece of junk of mine they sell. What that percentage is will be is the next thing I need to bring up in a casual conversation with Phillip this afternoon.
Hopefully, Phillip will take some pictures of the owners of my new junk! I'll post some if he does.