Posts Tagged ‘Hot Wheels’

Trans Am Treasures

July 31, 2014

Sunday July 27th, 2014 – Wilmot, WI

I was walking through a thrift store a couple of weeks ago and ran across a bag of toy cars that were on sale for $2. It was a generous sized bag for that price, and I noticed it was packed with a collection of Pontiac Trans Ams for whatever reason. When I was growing up that was a hot car.

Somebody had obviously been collecting them, and they were donated. I have always liked toy cars, and anytime I can cop a sizeable load of them for a low price I’ll do it if for no other reason than I like to give them away to kids. The look in their eyes when they get a big bag is priceless.

This seemed like an especially good find, so I gambled the two bucks knowing I wouldn’t lose. I opened them in the car, and was impressed with the quality of the load. There were Hot Wheels and Matchbox and Corgi which are all brand names. They were in top notch condition and there was a nice variety. There were also a couple of slot cars – both Trans Ams – and a Batmobile.

When I got home I immediately emptied the bag for a count, and it was 27. Not shabby. That’s far less than a dime a car. I looked up some of them on Ebay, and saw they had asking prices of up to $15 a car. There was a Hot Wheels special edition that was a mail in offer exclusively, and there were four of those. The Batmobile had asking prices between $10-$15, so I knew I’d be ok.

Even the no name Trans Ams had to be worth at least a buck each, and there were also a couple of higher end Matchbox models of older cars that were in excellent shape. There were also a few cheapo cars in the bag that would probably sell for a quarter or less, but as a whole it was a haul.

Today I took my weekly run through the flea market in Wilmot, WI and decided to bring along the bag of cars to see if I could sell them as a whole. I would much rather turn a quick profit and let some vendor make out than set up and sweat my Sunday away trying to sell them all myself.

My cousin Jef Parker used to own Collector’s Edge Comics in Milwaukee, and I would watch him wheel and deal comic book collections. He said there were always two strategies, and buyers had to decide if they wanted to flip it for a quick profit or piece it out in detail and squeeze every cent out. The latter would entail much more time, effort and expense so he preferred the former.

I also watched master sports card dealer Ray Gunderson of Gunderson’s Sports Cards in West Allis, WI pull off deal after deal and that was his strategy too. He was always about a quick flip – even if he lost out in the long run. He didn’t care if the buyer got an extra good deal, and in fact he wanted that so they’d come back and buy from him again. “This ain’t no museum,” he’d say.

Whatever he paid for anything, he’d move it out the door for 2-3 times what he paid for it. He kept his doors open for 20 years doing that, and everyone thought he was crazy for having such low prices. But his success was being able to buy low, and he did it regularly. He was a master.

That’s exactly what I did with this bag of cars. I stumbled upon it by chance, and it was able to be had for the right price. I suppose I could have farted around on Ebay and maybe made $100 or more, but I settled for a quick $20 from a dealer who was sweating in the sun. Maybe I could’ve tried for $40 or $60, but I kept it fair. I made a nice profit for doing nothing. I’ll take it and run.

I copped a load of toy cars at a thrift store for $2. Not a bad haul.

I copped a load of toy cars at a thrift store for $2. Not a bad haul.

This isn't even all of them. I feel like a miniature used car dealer.

This isn’t even all of them. I feel like a miniature used car dealer.


Betting On Elvis

February 12, 2013

Monday February 11th, 2013 – Crystal Lake, IL

   There’s a thrift store in my area that has a Monday special of 25% off for those who sign up for one of their discount cards. Last week I was walking through scouring for baubles and/or trinkets to resell and ran across an issue of TV Guide from1956 that had Elvis on the cover. It turns out it was his first national magazine cover, and is apparently a higher end collectible. I was interested.

The marked price was $29.99, and that seemed low to me for an item of that ilk. It appeared to be in excellent although not pristine condition. There were minor signs of wear, but who’d keep an issue of TV Guide around that long? They were meant to be thrown out at the end of a week.

I don’t particularly have $29.99 to gamble on the chance of something being real, so I did my due diligence and went to do some research on the magazine. Ebay sales average about $100 per magazine, and there was one that was independently graded like a coin or stamp and that one had an asking price of $1300. I asked the store manager about the history of it and he said it was real.

Here’s where the poker game of all this comes in. The store manager was maybe 30ish and not a fan of Elvis at all. I could tell by the indifference in his tone as he talked about all the interest it had been getting. He wasn’t sucked in, and sounded like he just wanted to get it out of the store.

I tried not to act interested, but also get as much information as possible. That’s when I learned of the 25% discount on Mondays I hadn’t known about. He wouldn’t budge and sell it to me any sooner for the discounted price, but said I had a good chance to nab it if I would show up at 9am sharp Monday morning which I did today. My gut told me this was something worth going after.

In the back of my mind I half expected to see people in sleeping bags lined up at the front door camping out waiting for the store to open up at 9 but when I got there it wasn’t so. There was one guy ahead of me, and I was prepared to fight to the death for the right to claim my Elvis item but he went in the opposite direction and was obviously interested in something completely different.

I did indeed score my prize, and got my 25% discount to boot. I also found a few other trinkets like a wooden and metal toy gun that looked to be pretty old and a View Master that came with a pile of discs for three bucks. I also found another small bag of older Hot Wheels cars that were in fair shape, and at fifty cents a car I think I’ll do ok with them. If not, I’ll give them to some kids.

This is all a gamble, and there’s no guarantee that I’ll make one cent in profit but I am already enjoying the adventure of the hunt. Driving to the store so early in the morning made me feel like Indiana Jones searching for the Ark of the Covenant. I didn’t know if I’d get it, and when I did it gave me a feeling of accomplishment and victory. At the very worst, all I’ll be out is under $40.

I don’t think I’m going to lose money on the Elvis piece though. I already showed it to some of my friends and they gawked at it like monkeys looking at a bright red ball. If nothing else, it will serve as an eye catcher if and when I do set up at a flea market or antique mall. If I have to bet on a collectible that will fetch me a nice profit, I feel safe betting on The King. Thankyouverymuch.

 Is The King collectible.