The previous night, I had received a text from a previous client of mine that was interested in purchasing some additional tools from me out of my storage locker. He wanted to meet at 10am. Well, the estate auction was at 9. I definitely didn’t want to miss a definite sale for the possibility of some purchases, so I decided to meet at 10. I only stayed at the auction for about 30 minutes. I knew in my mind, if I spend 2 or 3 hours with my client rummaging through my storage locker, I may get back to the auction in time for the box lots. This particular auction was for a gentleman who passed away who had owned a John Deere dealership for over 40 years. There were lots of unique John Deere items that brought out the collectors from all around. Well, after the first item went for more than double what I thought it should bring, I knew that missing the first part of the auction wasn’t going to be a big deal at all. I just hoped I would be back in time for the items I was interested in.
At 9:30, I left to meet my client. I was excited to meet him and make some sells. We spent over 3 hours going through everything. By noon I was getting anxious to get back, but I definitely wasn’t going to rush my customer. Luckily, at 1pm, we were done and I had an additional $400 in my pocket. That made for a good day. I was on my way back to the auction.
When I got back, I was so excited to see that they were just getting to the “side” area where the boxes lots were located. They were still going through some of the furniture. This furniture was furniture that wasn’t “worthy” enough for the main auction stage. The prices were very reasonable. That was a good sign. The auctioneer finally got to a pair of mid-century modern chairs that I was interested in. The thing is, I wasn’t interested in these for resell. You see, my wife and I just bought a house built in 1965. We’re talking about the Brady Bunch at its finest. These chairs were for us. That is VERY rare for me. I hardly ever buy anything to keep. Unfortunately someone was more interested in these particular chairs than me. I took them up to $75…and that was without any seat cushions. Unfortunately, I was the backup bidder. Next was an anvil. I was prepared to bid pretty hard on this because just weeks prior, I had done really well with an anvil this size. It was approximately 100 pounds. I had previously sold 110 pound anvil for $300. Again, I took this up to $150 before I bowed out as the backup bidder again. I would have gone higher, but I could just tell the other bidder wasn’t anywhere near their high dollar mark. They were buying to keep…not resell. So I knew it was going to go too high for me. After a short wait, they got to my first box lot of maps. It also included a record player that I was interested in and an old lamp that I had no interest in. I won this lot at $25. I was thrilled. I was prepared to bid $50 for the record player and another $50 for the maps. To win both lots for $25 was great. Then what topped it off was I had the other bidder come up to me and tell me they really wanted that lamp….would I be willing to sell it. Priceless. He gave me $5 for this lamp and I didn’t have to take it home. Even better. SCORE!!!
The next box lot came up. This is the one I wanted the most. On the surface were cross stitch and needle point magazines from the late ‘70s. Nothing exciting. However, below the surface was a lot of sheet music, in great shape, from the 1920’s and ‘30s. Also, there was an album full of old holiday and architecture postcards. I was prepared to go to $40 for this box. Luckily for me…I won it for $5!!!! I was the only bidder. Again, on the surface, it was a horrible box. But since I took the time to search, I found the treasures underneath. Since bringing that box home, I’ve found a few rare maps, and a couple of rarer books too. The first map I sold was a map of Wright Air Force Base (Dayton, Ohio) from 1943 that I sold for $30. One of the books I currently have listed for $60 and another I have listed for $40. These 3 items just scratch the surface of what was in my $5 box. If I have one piece of advice, it’s take the time to do your research. It will pay off.
Minutes later, another box came up. It was another box full of old road maps from companies like Esso, American Oil, Gulf, etc. I had talked to Jacob earlier in the day. I knew he had pretty good luck with a box lot of similar maps. He told me what to look for and the sale prices I could expect. I love having my brother as a resource. It helps me make wise decisions. I was willing to go approximately $30 on this box. Well I won it for $25. Lot of good maps that I’ll be able to sell for a profit.
That evening, after mowing the lawn, grilling steaks, and working on the house I sat down with my box lots and began sorting them. Two or three hours later, I knew what I had and the prices I could expect. It was a long, but profitable day. Just the way I like it. I spent $60 on all of my purchases (which I believe I’ll turn into $300 to $400). I sold a lamp for $5. I sold some of my stock for $400. I did get a parking ticket for $35 (that stinks). Actually, everyone at the auction parked on the streets and had tickets waiting on them when they left. This is a business expense, so really I spend $95 on the day. But I’m happy because I’ll still come out ahead. It’s just another day in the life. It’s just another day of breathing life into yesterday’s treasures.