I have to be honest. When I heard that Jason lost his job in Tennessee, I was nervous for him. I knew he would land on his feet. But how long would that take? And what would he do in the mean time to pay the bills? When I heard he was going to yard sales and storage auctions, my feelings of empathy turned to feelings of hilarity! I even rubbed salt in the wound by emailing him a clip of the theme song to “Sanford and Son.” All the laughing came to an abrupt end when he told me what he bought and how much he sold it for on eBay. I told you he got all the brains!
Thing is, I’m no dummy either. Not long after I heard about his endeavors, I decided to try my hand at it. My wife and I decided to front $200. If we lost our money on true junk, then we wouldn’t be broke. However, if we made a profit, we would use that to buy more “product.” And no, I’m not talking about the product that Lamont Sanford used for his afro.
Our first purchases came from a country auction not too far from our house. Sadly, I still have the very first item that I purchased. I bought two glass plates still in the box from Pilgrim Glass, a glass maker that had just closed its doors nearby. I figured, since they were no longer in business, the plates may be worth good money. Well, I was wrong. However, I also bought a metal air tool of some sort. The auctioneer had no clue what it was and no one in the crowd knew either. He kept bringing the price down. No bites. I yelled, “$1”. He immediately said “Sold!” When I got home, I decided to do some research on vintage air tools. Come to find out, it was an old rivet gun just like Rosie the Riveter used to make airplanes for WWII. I listed it on eBay, and it immediately started getting bids. At the end of the sale, it sold for $140! I was instantly hooked!
Our second auction came a couple of weeks later at a different location. This auction had a lot of nicer antiques. I felt definitely out of my league. However, I had done some research prior to the auction and had a good idea what some of the items were worth. One item in particular was a mahjongg set. I thought this was only a game of matching tiles on the computer. Turns out, it is a very serious game with clubs and groups all through the world. The set I purchased for $65 was in a cool black box with little draws that held the tiles. I thought it may bring $120. I spent a TON of time researching the set that I had. After several hours, I found that it was a French Ivory set from the 1920’s and was imported from China. Stuff imported nowadays from China is mostly true junk in my opinion. However, this was before the plastic era and was actually a well made set. I used all of that information in my eBay listing, and the price soon doubled my initial investment. In the last few minutes of the auction, the price soared. At the final virtual hammer, it sold for $430! Yeah, I was in this thing hook, line and sinker. Lock, stock and barrel!
I guess you could say the rest is history, but we are still looking for more ways to expand. Most of all, I am still trying to learn as much as possible. I think I could buy and sell vintage and antique items for 50 years and still not know half of what I would like to know. So come back, share your stories about relics you come across, and join us in learning more about this great endeavor.