Posts Tagged ‘Goodwill’

Fred Sanford Revisited

February 12, 2013

Sunday February 10th, 2013 – Lake County, IL

   I’ve been dipping my toe in the water with the antiques picking game, and I think I’m going to do pretty well for several reasons. I’ve been looking for another source of income that’s flexible, and I think this is it. It won’t be easy, but if I play my cards right I’ll be able to turn a fair profit.

Right now I’m mainly practicing my ability to pick items out of thrift stores. That’s not a huge source of guaranteed income, as all those items have to pass in front of a lot of eyes before even making it to the store shelves. Still, there are often trinkets that do and that’s what I want to find.

It becomes a poker game of deciding what I can get at a lower price and spin for more than my initial investment. There will be expenses of time and money if I choose to sell on Ebay or set up at a flea market, so I have to decide what I can do well enough with to make it worth purchasing.

I’ve scored quite a few smaller items already, and that gives me hope there’s a lot more to pick – especially when rummage sales start in the spring. I’m learning what to look for, and it’s a total switch from what I’ve been buying for the past twenty five years when scouring the thrift stores.

It used to be all I’d look for would be books, CDs, DVDs and maybe cassettes depending upon if I had a cassette player in the particular car I happened to be driving at the time. I’d often score great stuff for a very low price, but I discovered the turnover market wasn’t there. I never bought to turn it over, but after moving several times and having to drag it all with me I’ve restructured.

I have enough books to read for the next forty years, should I be lucky enough to live that long. I am now focusing on baubles and trinkets that can be spun for a profit, and that can include a lot of things from jewelry to glassware to furniture to vinyl records just to name a few. There are all kinds of possibilities, and I have a whole lot to learn about all of them. Right now I’m guessing.

For example, I stopped in Goodwill on my way to a gig a few weeks ago and they had a sale on vinyl records. Albums were a quarter and 45s were three for a quarter. It’d been years since I had any records and I don’t own a turntable on which to play them, but I gambled five bucks on some older stuff from the early ‘60s that was in very nice shape. It was a calculated but affordable risk.

One of the albums was a ‘Bat Masterson’ TV show piece that was dated 1960. It’s in excellent shape, and I saw on Ebay that one had sold for $100. Bingo! I’m not saying I’ll get $100, but if it brings even $40-$50 I’ll be ecstatic. Now I have to find someone who is willing to pay me for it.

There were some other albums in the stack that were listed between $25 and $60, but again that in no way means I’ll get that. Still, I think I made a fantastic buy for my $5 and now I’m going to experiment with ways to turn it all for a profit. It’s all a risk, but I’m into the whole pile for a fin.

This kind of stuff is everywhere and always has been, but I wasn’t looking for it until now. It’s certainly not my goal to become a modern day Fred Sanford, and the last thing I want is to waste my time thinking I’m going to get rich quick. I’m not delusional going into this. It’s a transition.

Hopefully it can help me make a few bucks to keep me off the lower end gigs on the road, and when I am on the road it’s something I can do to productively use my time to make contacts that hopefully I can use to move some of the inventory I do get. I’m learning quickly that winning in this game is about knowing where to sell things BEFORE they’re bought. That takes a network.

I’ve got a few comedy contacts that do this kind of thing either for side income or to earn their actual living. Greg Willet is in Appleton, WI and he’s a full time dealer. Greg has been generous with his time in helping me get started, and he informed me of a pick where an old baseball card that was found in a scrap book brought $92,000 at auction. Big ticket scores are still out there.

Someone wins the lottery every week as well, and I’m totally aware this is a long shot. I don’t expect to make a million dollars tomorrow, but with a little effort and smarts applied to what I’m already doing I think I can use it to make a few extra bucks. I’m not looking to cheat anyone and I am going to report every penny of profit to the IRS – but I will take all my legal deductions too.

Today I ventured out to test the waters at a couple of small flea markets that happen to be near where I live. I just wanted to get a feel for what’s out there these days and see if setting up at one might be in my near future. I wasn’t impressed with either one as a whole, but there were dealers at each one that stood out so I’m glad I went. I ended up learning from them all – good and bad.

One ingredient that was painfully missing from the mix was showmanship. Way more than not, most of those who set up just threw everything in a pile and let it sit. A few of the dealers would say hello as I walked into their domain, but most did not. They sat there knitting or reading their book or whatever they were doing, and it was interesting to monitor how each person behaved.

Signage was another thing that caught my eye. A few of the sellers had eye catching signs that let me know how much their merchandise was, but most others had sloppy hand written stuff that was very unappealing to the eye. If I would set up at a show like this I would handle it differently and I bet I’d do well. My entertainment background would set me light years ahead of the pack.

I could see myself dressed up as The King of Uranus at some big flea market, and attract a long line of people to my booth to buy things. I could do some kind of humorous presentation and sell funny items like joke books or farting dolls or something I can pick up cheap and spin for profit.

All of this is all about the show, and I know it going in. It’s not my goal to spend the rest of my life looking for rare Edsel hubcaps or ‘I Like Ike’ buttons. I want to use those things to help turn a buck, but that’s about it. I enjoy the treasure hunt aspect, but the real buzz comes from a show.

I want it all to tie in together, and I think it can. If comedy fans know I wheel and deal antiques they might sell to me before approaching a stranger – especially if I develop an honest reputation as I intend to. If antique customers know I do comedy, they might become fans. It ties together. I am not taking this lightly, and I know there is work involved in addition to a need to get educated in a lot of areas of expertise so I can make smart choices when buying things. I have work to do.


The Magic Of Believing

October 2, 2012

Monday October 1st, 2012 – Niles, IL/Fox Lake, IL

   Today kicks off the 4th quarter of 2012, and I’m ready to dig in and give it all I have. Victory is often a matter of just staying the course until time runs out, and I intend to do exactly that. I have accomplished some positive things so far, but nowhere near what I feel I can. There’s a lot to do.

I don’t think there are any secret formulas other than getting up every single day and giving my all in everything I do. I also need to continuously work on keeping myself organized and focused on one thing at a time. That’s always been difficult, but it needs to be done and I am improving.

There are so many areas to work on. Daily exercise and eating healthy is never easy, and I have had even more of a challenge since I’ve been on the road of late. That lifestyle just isn’t designed for one to maintain a healthy diet or exercise properly. I need to get back in the groove and stay.

Another thing is making both big and small picture goals and trying to mesh the two. It’s great to dream of conquering the world, but if my little corner of it is constantly on fire or having a big storm it can be next to impossible to think about anything else. I need to keep going back to that.

It’s much easier to break down lifetime goals into years, months, weeks and days, and I haven’t done that very well. I tend to get lost or hung up on tangents, and that backs everything else up to a standstill and clogs the toilet. What I need to do for the rest of this year is snake out that drain.

It’s totally time for a major housecleaning. A purge of anything and everything I’m not using is in order, and that includes possessions, people and pursuits. If I haven’t used it in a year, it needs to be gone to help remove some clutter. It’s time to reshuffle the deck and freshen everything up.

I had to take my rental car back today and it was near Marc Schultz’s house. Marc is one of my favorite people, and also a booker of corporate entertainment. I told him I was in need of a purge, and asked for his help in shooting for that elusive ‘next level’. Times aren’t the greatest now, but these are the times we’re all in and everyone is in the same boat. I can only do the best I can do.

I absolutely believe I’m headed in the right direction, and I’m going to keep working and make adjustments as I go. Cleaning out a large percentage of what I’m not going to be using will really help simplify everything, and I started today by filling a big box with clothes I won’t need again.

I’ll donate them to Goodwill or The Salvation Army and keep going with CDs, DVDs and then work on shrinking the mega-mountain of books I’ll never get to. I did stop today to purchase one I’ve been meaning to read for years, and that’s ‘The Magic Of Believing’ by Claude M. Bristol.

That’s the book Phyllis Diller swore by and credited for her success, and I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read it. It cost me $6.99 plus tax at a Barnes & Noble, but I look at it as an investment in myself. If I pay full price for it, I’ll be more likely to read it and that’s my intention. I’ll pass it on to others as well. The saying ‘use it or lose it’ is 1000% true. I may have a giant collection of quality books, but if I don’t make time to read them what good are they? I’m starting with ONE.