June 13, 2022 - 8 min read
In this article, I break down how I made nearly $200 for 3 hours' worth of work buying items at garage sales and re-selling them on eBay. It's a practical way to earn extra money, learn business skills, and apply the same lessons you might have taken away from NFT trading!
The NFT market has gotten really quiet as of late, the price of Ethereum is down, and stable coins aren’t looking so stable.
Because of this, I wanted to write an article about a very practical way to earn money, spend time outside, interact with people and learn business skills very much in the same way you would with NFT trading.
This method has a much lower barrier to entry from a cost perspective and is honestly one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.
While trading NFTs, writing for this blog, and building a start-up (non-NFT related) that just hit $1 million in ARR, all throughout a recession-like past few months, garage saleing is still my go-to for weekend fun on nice days and a way to earn an extra dollar.
I hope this story inspires just one of you to take action. 3 years ago, garage saleing earned me $5,000 over the course of a summer, which turned into making over $40,000 flipping (and collecting) sports cards. Those profits became my savings base when I was forced to quit my job and had to help grow a business to earn an income.
It all worked out, and I credit that to garage saleing.
Gary V has talked about this much more than I have, but let’s break down exactly how I earned $195.96 with a few hours of garage saleing.
It’s not a big number, but when you get to be outside, interact with people, learn markets, collecting habits, marketing, arbitrage, negotiating, sales, customer service, and business operations, the earned money is just a bonus.
Let’s dive in!
Ethereum is sitting at around $1,400 at the time of this writing, so to put things in perspective, $195.96 is about 0.14 ETH. I will get into costs and profits (including gas), but this excursion took around 3 hours and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Everyone wants to know what people buy at garage sales to re-sell, so let me break it down for you.
A woman had an excess of sealed Walmart Exclusive Vinyl records for $5 each available at her garage sale. She wanted them gone, they’re hard to ship (you need special boxes at the right size) and I started digging.
It was my first garage sale in 2 years, and I gravitated toward them for a few reasons:
(1) My younger cousin (early twenties) loves vinyl records and tipped me off to the trend
(2) They were sealed — anytime you find a product at a garage sale that is sealed, it’s absolutely worth a look. Sealed items typically sell for much more than your typical used items as they can be marked a new
(3) The collection featured Stranger Things (new season was coming out on Netflix), The Mandalorian (who doesn’t love Star Wars)
(4) Bulk deals are always fun — I negotiated down to $4 per vinyl but should have gone even lower
(5) They were Walmart Exclusives - they had something unique about them, and possibly some scarcity. All NFT traders know what happens to value when scarcity is introduced.
I’ll admit, I cheated a bit. I like to do garage sales cold, which means not checking eBay for sales prices, but I checked a Darius Rucker vinyl sale, saw $15, and bought 12 records for $48.
So far, 8 of them have sold.
Stranger Things accounted for $58 of the sales.
Two items, $8 in total cost, a few minutes to list on eBay, and 625% returns in revenue:
I benefitted from the new season of Stranger Things hitting Netflix, as these vinyls sold for as high as $40 (then supply hit given the new price point, always happens and is one of those things you can learn from trading NFTs).
It’s also fascinating that an event, like the show premiering, impacted price, just like it would in NFT-land.
I currently have a vinyl at auction on eBay, with a $29.99 bid submitted (which I counted as a sale), but here are the other sales so you have the records (one recent sale happened a few minutes ago so it doesn't appear here yet and the auction is still ongoing):
I expect the remaining 4 albums to sell for $15 each, which would mean another $60 in revenue, totaling $255 for 3 hours of work.
That’s $85 per hour, before costs.
eBay takes a percentage of the final sale value, and I decided to include shipping and gas costs as well. It's all broken down below.
Cost per Vinyl Record: $4 per record
I bought in bulk and negotiated down from $5 per piece. The total cost of sold records is $32 ($4 x 8).
I used the Yard Sale Treasure Map app to pick a cluster of garage sales near me. I drove 6 miles each way and hit up 3 garage sales all within about 1.5 hours.
Let’s just call it 1 gallon of gas (my car gets 35 miles to the gallon), and price it at $5 so it includes trips to a USPS dropbox (which is walkable for me).
eBay Seller Fees: $19.59
This is a variable cost based on the final sale of your items, but for simplicity, we’ll take 10%.
Shipping Boxes: $2.11 per box
In total, it cost $16.88 for Vinyl record shipping boxes, which I had to order on Amazon after buying the items.
Printer / Tape / Paper / Ink: $5
When you sell a lot of items on eBay, it reduces your average cost to ship. If you spend $70 on a printer (like I did) to sell just one item, you can write off the $70, but the print cost was $70.
I’ve sold hundreds of items on eBay and Mercari or about $0.20 per item for the use of my printer.
Because of this, I didn’t actually spend money on any of these items and already had them, but I’m including them to help you understand the full cost.
You can count computer, internet, rent, etc. in your costs, but I write percentages of all of this off at the end of the year because I sell on eBay. I work closely with a CPA, so please make sure to do the same.
It took about 3 hours to go to the garage sales and buy the items, list everything, pack it and ship it, meaning I earned $39.16 in profit per hour.
This is the equivalent of a salary that pays $81,459 and returned 49% on my initial investment, which in today’s market, is phenomenal.
Before you say that your time isn’t worth $39.16 an hour, consider the skills you build, the sunshine you get, and how much more productive it is than sitting at home biding your time.
What’s even better is that I only went to 3 garage sales. In the summer I made $5,000 in profit, I would go to 10–15 on a weekend and buy everything up.
The woman had about 40 vinyl records — had I bought all of them, the numbers would have gotten bigger, with costs largely the same.
I made $117.49 in profit with just $44 in cash, a smartphone, a car, a printer, and some boxes in less than a day.
You don’t even need a desktop or laptop computer, I did all of this on my phone.
Now, if you're thinking that I took advantage of the person selling, consider a few things:
It takes time, skill, and patience to list on eBay — it’s a headache to deal with returns, angry customers, etc.
It can be a hassle to ship items — I had to buy boxes after the fact, and needed to have my printer working with paper and ink.
Some people just want stuff out of their house and the money is a bonus. I’ve been on the other side of it and sold items for a big loss when I had to move in a short time period.
I knew I could get more on eBay, but wanted the convenience of not having to store items, wait for them to sell, and be prepared to properly ship them.
I also can’t stress enough how many steps I get on days when I garage sale, how I enjoy the nice weather, and like meeting new people.
It’s also empowering when you make a sale — you did that. Not your company, not your sales team, you.
In a bear NFT market (if that’s what is happening), it’s nice to pull other skills to use to make money and enjoy doing it.
If my world crashed tomorrow, I know that I would have an immediate skillset to find arbitrage opportunities on different platforms and make money.
If you hit up a garage sale after reading this story, send me an e-mail at [email protected], I’d love to hear from you!
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Aug 12, 2022
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