Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taking a Break!

Once in while you just have to take a break. Eatin lunch at the Magic Kingdom!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Check Your Change! Indian Head Penny

This afternoon we stopped by Giant Eagle (grocery store) to pick up a couple of last second Thanksgiving items. In my change much to my surprise was a 1905 Indian Head Penny. Indian Heads were last produced in 1909 so finding one still in circulation is pretty unusual. Thanks to the generosity of Giant Eagle and the person who spent it there I am now $4.00 ahead of where I would have been with a regular old Lincoln penny.

It may sound silly but always look at your change before you spend it. This time it was a reasonably good penny. The next time it might be a silver coin. Don't forget that silver coins are currently selling for around 25 to one. For those of you mathematically challenged a silver dime is worth $2.50, a quarter is worth $6.25 and a silver half is $12.50.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is here!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is one of my favorites because I really don't have to do anything but eat and watch football. I'm really not sure about how it could be any better until I start thinking of Thanksgiving past. So today I take a trip down memory lane.

When I was a kid (way back in the 60's) Thanksgivings were always spent at my Grandparents house. It was an interesting place because my Aunt, Uncle and cousins lived with them so you always knew that it was going to a full house. A typical Thanksgiving included the following family members:

My Mother
Sister, Linda
Aunt Glady's
Uncle Bill

Along with this set group we would also have between 4-10 others that would show up, announced or unannounced. It never really mattered though because it always ended up being a good time.

Back in 1965 we had three TV stations, no video games and blue laws. So nothing was open on holidays and Sundays. After dinner your choices were watching the Lions loose or play cards. I would choose the card games. What I wouldn't do today to play a game of Pokeno with this now mostly gone group of people.

This story however isn't really about Thanksgiving day, its about Thanksgiving stuffing. The Thanksgiving stuffing that I am sure that I'm the only person (and possibly Skip) who really knew what was in it.

Preparation for the dinner always began the week before. There was the planning on how many would be there (with an allowance for the freeloaders who came unexpectedly). Then a major trip to Kroger's was in store. I remember so well because of how much they bought. It seemed as though the bags of food coming into the house was endless. They would look at the sales slip and comment on how the cost of food was getting so high. I can remember them complaining about how a bag of groceries cost almost $10! Considering that the bags were five times the size of today's bags, which ironically hold about $50 worth of food.

They would spend what seemed like hours emptying out the buys. First, the canned goods, then the snacks, dairy into the refrigerator, an enormous turkey of 20+ pounds, bag after bag of bread and of course nine $2.00 cartons of cigarettes. Nana smoked LM's, Glady's smoked Pall Malls and Bill Lucky's. For those of you trying to figure it out they each smoked 3 packs a day. I spent the majority of my youth in a silver / blue fog that floated around the house 24 hours a day. Second hand smoke? You betcha.

The actual preparation of the stuffing was handled by Nana. She was a short, skinny temperamental Irish women who smoked incessantly. She would hit you with a broom, throw a can at you and tell you that she loved you all at the same time. The turkey would be defrosting in the kitchen sink as she chopped and cut the onions, celery and seasonings. She would then go into the living room to begin tearing apart the bread.

I can clearly remember her sitting in her green chair with the blond cigarette burned end table sitting next to it. The table was used as a staging area for the bread tearing. She would sit with four loaves of bread and a gigantic yellow Pyrex bowl. The bread would be ripped and put into the bowl, as the bowl became filled it would go back into the kitchen to be put into one of the large paper grocery bags. Over and over the process would be repeated until it was all complete. Nana throughout the whole process would be talking to me and Skip (my younger cousin), it was a continuous stream of whatever came into her mind. As she spoke she also smoked, and as she smoked she tore that loaf of bread into smaller and smaller pieces.

We were always mesmerized by the fact that Nana could keep an ash as long as a dogs tail on her still burning cigarette. It just never seemed to fall off. But she never seemed to try to knock it off either. As long as it would get she never reached for the ashtray.

Since the process of tearing the bread lasted about an hour, and she smoked about 10 cigarettes an hour, and she never took the time to knock off those ashes...get the picture. The secrete ingredient...LM ashes.

So, this Thanksgiving as your sitting around the table, with all of your relatives present, and you know that Grandma made the stuffing, and it appears to be seasoned with just the right amount of "pepper", hope and prey that she really did stop smoking.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Locker #4

Locker #4, the final one of the group. Would it be the winner? Would it have the rare circus banners that Barry gets on the Storage Wars show? Would it have Brandi's horse head, Darrel's coin collection or Dave's skeleton? Or would I have the same dumb luck that always seems to help out the downtrodden Jarred?

No. No. No. No. No and No!

It was another bunch of crap! The only way that this locker could have had any less in it would be for me to have found a dead body inside of it. What appeared to be good on the outside ended up being stained, dirty and mostly clothes. The funny thing is I'm really not complaining. The fact is that this is the reality of buying storage lockers.

No second guessing. No "I'm never going to do this again!". Buying storage lockers is just plain fun. Win, lose or draw they are gambling in its purest form. You throw several hundred dollars out on the table with the hope that this is the one. This weeks purchases ended up with me making a small amount overall. I expect to get about $900 back for the $750 that I spent.

It could be worse. I could have ended up with the same locker that I had earlier this year. See you at the auctions on Monday!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

UHaul Storage Locker Sale, Clean out day.

So, I went out yesterday and purchased 4 storage lockers. I haven't been buying too many lockers this year because Storage Wars has changed the landscape. In the old days (last year) a typical locker would sell for $250. A really good locker $500. Junk lockers would sell for a few dollars. Typically I was purchasing about 5 a month. The lockers provided a little extra money. Rarely great, sometimes bad, but most of the time you could double your money prior to expenses.

Not anymore. The average junk locker starts at $100 and often ends in the $5-600 dollar range. The typical locker brings around $1,000 and a good locker astronomical. Really though, there is no way to tell how good a locker is going to be. I've bought them for $35 and made hundreds, I've also bought them for $800 and sold them for nothing. It really is calculated gambling.

So, I was feeling particularly crazy on Wednesday and I gambled $700 on 4 lockers. I could go to Vegas but I prefer the friendly confines of the local U-Haul storage buildings. Below is my so far analysis.

Locker #1

Paid $100

No other bids. I opened up the bidding at $100 and to my surprise no one else bid. My first thought? Did I miss a giant tird laying on the ground just inside the locker door. It is in fact highly unusual these days for no one else to bid on a locker. This time it worked out ok for me. The locker yielded a decent matress set and frame, a sofa, and some decent household items. My estimated net, about $225

Locker #2

Paid $45

I opened this one up at $25 and there was one other bid. It looked like a bunch of junk and it was. The locker was a 5' x 8' and out of it came 10 small things, a paper mache santa ($75), a box with some Lenox china ($50) and a couple of small stands. The remainder was a pile of nothing. That nothing is going to be donated to the local shelter. For those of you thinking to yourselves "Gee that Dave is such a swell guy, giving garbage to the poor." you should be aware that the stuff isn't unusable. Its just not practical to try to sell it. It turns into a simple math equation where the cost to store it is greater that the value I can get for it, so I donate it.

Locker #3

Paid $150

I opened this one at $100 and had one bid against me. Sometimes being a bully and opening the lockers up at a high price works. In this case I thought that I had hit a solid triple. I could see two brand new looking appliances and a brand new looking micro fiber sofa and loveseat. I was pretty sure that I could get $4-500 out of the locker.

Wrong. The appliances (a washer and dryer) were good enough. I should get $2-250 for the pair. The sofa's were a different story. They were in perfect condition. No spots, stains, smells, dog hairs or cigarette burns. I really don't think that they were ever used, there were no mm's under the cusions nor were there any potato chip crumbs. They were in unused condtion.

So, why did they take the cover off of the middle cushion on the couch? Did they need it for matching paint chips? Did they use it to clean up a spill on the kitchen floor? It doesn't matter what they did with it, it just simply was not there. It wasn't under the sofa, it wasn't in the washer and it wasn't hanging on the wall. So, short and simple I have a nice micro fiber loveseat. The sofa I currently have no clue as to what I'm going to do with it. By any chance do any of you want a sofa without the middle cushion? If you do give me a call.

Total value of locker #3, about $350...and one micro fiber sofa for my permanent collection

Locker #4 is still waiting for me. Stay tuned for to see how it turns out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Storage Locker Day!

Dave Hester would be proud of me! I managed to buy 4 lockers today. Hopefully they will turn out better than the last bunch. I will hopefully be telling you about the millions that I made in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

French Provincial Living Room Sofa and Chair

I recently went into a local home to give some estimates on what their furniture was worth. I normally love doing these types of appraisals. It gives me a chance to show off my superior intellect on antiques and to bring joy to people by telling them how fantastic their antiques are. Then there is the flip side, it is when my normally great sense of value gets conflicted with reality.

This particular set was in perfect condition. It was if it had been in Marie Baron's (Everybody Loves Raymond) living room covered with plastic. Not a rip, tear or wrinkle. No stains, dog hair or cat scratches. No smoke, no smells and no fading. They had never been sat on. She paid over $2,000 for the pair. In the heat of the moment I blurted out; " They should bring at least $500 at auction.".

Wrong. I should have known better. Sometimes, what seems to be reasonable is not. Although these were perfect in every conceivable way they just weren't what the auction crowd wanted that night. They brought a whopping $140.

No matter how hard you try, no matter how much experience you have and no matter what seems reasonable, auction crowds tend to make up their own rules. I still believe that the set should have brought $500. Oops!

Monday, November 7, 2011

WWII Forget-Me-Not Bracelet

Not all Sterling Silver items need to be scrapped. During WWII forget-me-not bracelets were made and given as remembrance tokens for those going off to war. The simple connecting links each contained the name of a person to be remembered. Some went off to war, while others were worn by those left at home.

Scrap sterling value of this item is about $12.00. Collectible value of a bracelet like this, around $160. Expect the typical bracelet to be worth $20-25 per link. Look for them in old jewelry boxes and veterans collections.

Great time to sell on the internet, but the shipping is for the dogs!

So you have all discovered how good selling is on the Internet this time of year, there's only one problem......shipping.

The selling part is fun! You watch the final minutes of your online auction tic away, and then, hooray! Your item sells for 10 times more than you expected. You are excited beyond belief until you find out that your winning bidder is (insert drum roll):

Hakeem Obongolotsasuttamonga
ak45wx Conanamachalingo
Marakesh, Congo, East Nevagonafindit

That's right, Hakeem did not read your listing that you ship to the U.S. only, in addition he thinks that your free shipping label, includes him in Nevagonafindit. Put this together with the fact that you had 78 other items close at the same time and the problems really start to mount. And, if all of that wasn't enough, the postal office is behind in getting you those "free" shipping boxes. So what do you do?

You get help, any help that you can. At our house we came up with a simple solution, we gave the shipping job to "Gus". He is pictured here getting ready for this weeks shipping. On the bad side the lack of an opposable thumb makes it difficult for him to use the tape dispenser. On the positive side he works for biscuits.

As it turns out, Hakeem did not want to pay the additional $168 in shipping to Nevagonafidit. So the item will be relisted and will probably sell for next to nothing...ahhh, the joys of Internet selling.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Postcards

Postcard's originally sold for a penny and cost one penny to send. Once received people often kept the cards in albums as keepsakes and as colorful collectibles. Today, a hundred years later they are no longer sent for a mere two cents, they are still collected as keepsakes and colorful collectibles.

This particular card was recently sold on eBay for $910. Yes, you read that correctly, nine hundred and ten dollars. Condition, along with being embossed (the raised printing) were major contributor's to this price. Halloween cards have always been favorites to card collectors. Add all of this to selling the item at the right time of year and you end up with what seems like an absurd price.

Cards can be found just about anywhere. I've seen them in albums, used as bookmarks and in bundles with rubber bands holding them together. They can often be purchased inexpensively at garage sales and auctions. To be successful at buying cards you need to do one important thing, look. That's right, look. It is a very simple process, when you see a group of cards being offered for sale, look at them. Don't be lazy and offer a blanket excuse that they are just a bunch of postcards that aren't worth anything. You may be passing up a golden opportunity to make a lot of money.