There are career people who make a good living doing NOTHING but buying at garage and estate sales,The latest is people making a living doing nothing but staying home watching Craig’s and other free classified lists buying and selling. Or buying on Craigs and selling on Ebay or Flea Market etc.
Buy at one sell on another, buy locally sell Nationally on Ebay, etc. Craig’s is mostly effective locally. You can buy on Ebay and sell something much higher price locally.
These career "buying people" are known as "pickers."
They are experts at what "knowing exactly" what things sell for.This is an expertise that is the key to many a no cost start up. The success of many an entrepreneur is based on at least one persons knowledge or SKILL in learning and memorizing the correct current market value of everything they deal with.
No body teaches this, you learn this on your own and as time goes you become an expert. A second hand store operator for example has to know what a second hand granny rocker of a certain kind will sell for.The trick is not to guess but to know what something will sell for. Not too high a figure and wont sell, or sell it out for far less then market value.
You go to a garage sale early because the person running the sale likely does not know or have a real clue of what the price should be of what he is selling is worth.
He prices an old post card he considers junk, prices it at 50 cents. Turns out the picker knows that this is a rare collectors item that will sell on Ebay for $50.00. Offers the seller a 25 cents and he takes it.
Most of the early morning arrivals are the pros. All the under priced items are gone by 9 am. From then on you are dealing with items the seller thinks are valuable, but probably are not good sellers at all.
The picker hits about 6 to 8 garage sales by nine and quits for the day. He has purchased items that he will be able to resell for at least $100 more then he paid.The second part of the pickers knowledge is knowing who will pay top dollar for what he bought. He has a buyer in mind when he bought each item himself, he knew who would pay him almost exactly how much for it.
Estate sales are different, he goes to these carefully picked by him, only with him knowing who exactly is managing the estate sale.If the estate sale is conducted by a smart pro, the items will be priced for about what they will sell for, nothing grossly under priced because the estate sales person prices everything CORRECTLY.
So he instead goes to and buys at the estate sale run by the amateur estate sale operators events who is not very help on prices.
He will go to those estate sales and will find both under price and over price and he will find enough under priced.
In contrast, the pro conducted estate sale will be priced each item on the money 90% of the time and there will be few bargains.
The pro estate operators know the CORRECT current market price of most everything they deal in. (some collectables) antiques etc may have gaps and not be knowledgeable on..
Most estate sales are 3 day events. First Day "as priced". Second day 25% off. Third day half off.The pro picker hits the amateurs sale the first day but the knowledgeable estate sale operators estate sale 9 to 10 am third day, usually Sunday.
He knows the estate sale operator is getting nervous at 10 on the third day.This item or remaining items have NOT sold in three days and all those people and he is going to be stuck with them.
His goal is to sell out to the wall. The picker knows the pro will now deal. He has few eager buyers on the third day.
Things are priced okay usually at half price on the third day. ........still has not sold....But that half price is not worth the pickers time. He needs them 1/4 price or less. He sees things he knows he has a wholesale buyer or a guaranteed sale for if the merchandise is priced right.
Therefore he now says to the estate sale agent, "I will give you X dollars for this this and all those. Sometimes 1/8 the original price. But it is a quantity and too many items to figure in your head how much that is for each one, so he usually says okay.. (any buyer at any price is better then throwing it away.)
The estate sales agent usually accepts the offered price. The picker has an antique store that buys everything he can find at the mutual known price. He knows what he can sell certain items on Ebay for, like a toy train set he paid $5 for sells for $200.00 to. collectors.
He has a friend that conducts garage and small estate sales for other people and takes along his own "stuff to sell" to jazz it up and make the sale more interesting and exciting for the customer..
This seller knows that sort of lamp will sell at a garage sale for $10 without fail He pays the picker $5 for it, the picker had paid $2. The picker only buys what you might call early morning steals.
Lets say the pro runs a garage sale for someone who has no idea what to charge for stuff.This guy charges a third of the sale commission on the sale price to run the garage sale but he more then earns it by knowing WHAT to charge for the stuff. The seller will come out ahead even paying him 1/3.
If your garage sale brings in $300, (you would likely only gotten $150 selling it yourself, since you did not know how to price.,
The pro garage sale operator makes a $100 for his 4 morning hours and sells $200 of his stuff that he bought from the pickers, last week end for $100 and brought along and made your garage sale more complete and worth the stop for buyers..
Total income for the four hours $200. Do that Friday Saturday and Sunday and he can have a $600 week and Monday thru Thursday off.The picker never sold a thing to consumers. He worked Friday Sat and Sunday mornings 6 am to 9 am, and then a couple hours unloading his purchases to his buyers and an hour or two on Ebay. If he is good, he makes a living without working the rest of the week.
We need to talk just a minute about flea markets. These are usually what started out to be a concentrated garage sale... Everybody doing a garage sale went to the same parking lot etc brought all their stuff, and the prospective buyers only had to go one place.
The main weekly flea market in Phoenix will have perhaps best guess 300 sellers. (stalls)This used to be about a third new one time garage sellers, about a third repeat garage sale pros who had pickers buying stuff at other garage sales cheap, and about a third of sellers those people selling something (week after week, sometime something different) they had bought wholesale or close out etc.
Now I would guess it is about 80% the latter. There are a huge number of these people that do nothing else, for a living, but their three days selling at the flea market.They pay for a stall or space and best guess is they do $500 to $2,000 a day, with maybe a $20 cost for the stall. 50% margin on the merchandise. These are the successful week after week know what they are doing folks. My guess is the pros, there make from $200 to $1,000 per day.
Now the modern update that many are unaware of. There are free classified and ad networks on the internet. By far the largest is Craig’s list, it is all over US and getting more and more established even in the rural areas. They now charge for employment ads but pretty much all else is free.
If you took all the free advertising on the net, 50% of the volume will be on Craigs and all the rest put together will not equal it.
My experience is the daily paper selling a car in Phoenix was $125.00 for an ad. Three days I would know did it work and sell the car or not.....a gamble.
I put it on Craig’s list instead for FREE at 6:00 pm, by 10 I had a lot of calls and had it sold for cash for full price.When looking for someone to do some particular fix at one of my tourist rental homes, we put it on Craig’s and within an hour or two we have several people want to bid on our job.
Some of those have told me they find enough work just watching Craigs list for someone needing their kind of work to make a living.
They did not even bother running ads they did certain kinds of work, they just watched for people advertising they needed someone to do their kind of work and responded.
Those dealing with merchandise watch several sections on Craig’s because they will have a lot of good stuff on "Free section."
Good refrigerators, furniture most anything anyone decides they do not want to mess with it, they just want it out of here in the next two hours...first person that gets right over and gets it out of here can have it for free.
Sure they could give it to Goodwill or some charity, but then they have to stop what they are doing and haul it down there etc.Pop it on Craig’s and consider it gone.
Mostly, buyers however, they are watching for whatever is "there thing" computers etc or area of expertise, and jump on buying some merchandise etc when it is grossly underpriced. Where you can buy it for $20 and turn around and sell it on Craig’s tomorrow for $80 cause the first guy did not know it sells regularly on Craig’s for $80. etc.
Thus again... the whole thing is KNOWING the working price. Some people will deal in Video Games and buy and sell those, others buy collectibles, and buy and sell those. Buy them locally maybe and sell them nationally on Ebay for example.
Tip: When you do not know prices are correct, a good bet is you can check on Ebay any item and see what the last ones have been selling for. We have an employee that does nothing but sell on Ebay. Therefore, when I was at an estate sale buying furniture for a furnished home and I saw something that was grossly underpriced, even if I did not want it, i would get on my cell and ask him to look up what that item was selling for on Ebay.
If it was a selling for a lot more then the offered price at this sale I would buy it and he (being in SD would list and sell it for me) and i would just ship it to the customer from AZ. So as an Ebay seller you could have "pickers" picking up stuff for you all over the country and when you sold it they shipped direct to the customer instead of sending to you first.
Want to see our Ebay customer rating? go here.... We use that as a reference in other businesses, besides EBay...you can not buy that rating you earn it, so you as a potential customer of something know we are not a bunch of dishonest folks set to rip you off.
We will be talking about how to make money on selling at Fairs, (week ends, take rest of week off) Art and Home Shows, etc. in another article. Some make as much as $10,000 on a week end. It is a learned business, NOT rocket science.