Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thrift Store(ies) 8/27

Our local Salvation Armies feature 50% off on 4 of the 5 color price tags every Wednesday. Needless to say, we go to as many as we can! Today was no different, and here is what we found.
Upon arriving at the closest (and one of the largest), I was quite surprised to see quite a few racks less than full. Usually this SA has a HUGE supply of stuff to go through. They were also in the process of changing things around for the fall.
I began going through the racks in my usual order, and after about 10-15 minutes had found nothing. Finally I found 3 silk Tommy Bahama shirts.


Okay, motivation has returned! Next I find a cool LL Bean Wool/Alpaca/Polyester pullover. Finally I hit the Blazers section and scored a Hugo Boss and Canali jacket.
Total cost: $22.94 or $3.82 per item. I should be able to break even by selling any one of these items.
Have a good one and happy thrifting!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Saphire





Goodbye old friend. Rest In Peace.

Saphire was my girlfriend Autumn's dog since she was a puppy back in 2000. Since then she has been a faithful and loyal friend, guardian, companion, and all around wonderful girl. When she came into my life she was about 10 or so, and still had plenty of get up and go. She loved to swim and we have a dog park with a river, so we took her there when we could. Eventually, her back legs began to fail and she could not get around as she once did. I carried her upstairs to our bed every night.
One day we decided to get her a wheelchair so she could be mobile again. We went to Eddie's Wheels in Shelburne Falls and purchased a cart for her. Well, being the stubborn girl she could be at times, she did not really take to it. But with some perseverance (and a lot of hot dogs), she eventually got the hang of it and was walking again. So we would go on walks again. She would stop every 5 feet to smell everything there was, and it would take us an hour to go a block, and I miss that very much.
She eventually lost the use of her back legs completely and the cart was no help anymore. We would help her go to the bathroom and do what we could to make her comfortable. Last week we had to make the most difficult decision a pet owner can make, that putting her to sleep was the best thing for her. Today we did that.
When I walk through the living room where she spent most of her time, not seeing her there is very saddening. I will miss you very much my old friend, I hope you can run and swim anytime you want now. I love you.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Dog Ate My Blog Post. Repeatedly.

Well a lot has happened since my last post of 5 short months ago ;)  Pioneer Valley Fashion (eBay) is going well, I have surpassed 300 listings and aim to keep increasing that. I have switched from 30 day BINs to Good Til Cancelled. 2 reasons: First, when you do 30 day (or however many days) BINs, after that time the listing ends and any linking with Google, or elsewhere is broken. With GTC, the link is good until you end it. I will probably evaluate after 3 months or so and end and refresh any non selling listings. Second, I don't have things ending and needing listing every day, so that is one less thing to deal with.
My other eBay store, which is devoted to Lego and building toys, Pioneer Valley Bricks, is doing well also. I just received Top Rated status on the 20th. I have been selling minifigures like there's no tomorrow. I have probably 50 pounds (or more) of Lego parts that I need to list. I am (still!) trying to figure out the best way to sell parts. I have about 15,000 parts listed in my BrickLink store, also called Pioneer Valley Bricks.
I began selling on Amazon FBA a few months ago. It is very good for certain things, not so great for others. The fees are on the high side, but the benefit is that I just send stuff to them and they do the rest. It is very simple.
Yesterday I imported my eBay listings to Bonanza. I am going to give it a shot for a while. I figure another avenue can't hurt.
In the past month I purchased a new camera (Nikon Coolpix L610). My last camera was gotten at a yard sale and served me well for some time. Lately it began crapping out, so I decided it was time for a new one. It works great and I am very happy with it. I bought it at Buydig for $87.00 with free shipping, got it the next day and got a free 8GB Sony memory card and a free Vivitar camera bag.
I also purchased a Brother QL-700 label printer. Let me just say this: I LOVE it! No more toner, drums, any of that stuff. All I need to buy are labels, which I found on eBay at $5.00 per roll. A roll is 100 feet long which equals about 150 labels. Shipping has gone from something I dreaded to something I look forward to.
That, in a nutshell is the past few months, and now that things are becoming more efficient around here, I should have more time to post here. Keep checking back, and happy reading.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Legoriffic!



This past couple weeks there have been some great sales on Lego sets as retailers make room for the 2014 sets. Here are some of my highlights.


First, Amazon had a week of sales up to 40% off certain sets.  I scored 3 Lego City High Speed Chase (60007) at 0.06 per piece,  and 3 Super Heroes Spider-Cycle Chase (76004) at 0.05 per piece.  I sell Lego both on Ebay and BrickLink. On BrickLink, I like to part out sets. The part out value for High Speed Chase is 2.78x cost, which is quite good, and the Spider-Man sets part out at 3.08x, which is great.  I listed the minifigures on Ebay and have sold 1 Spider-Man already.





Next, Target had a Buy One Get One 40% Off Sale. I got 2 more High Speed Chase sets at a killer 3.66x part out, and 2 Chima Worriz Combat Lair (70009) - 664 pieces each! - at an astounding 4.30 part out, or 0.04 per piece, which is great for a set of this size.




Finally, Toys R Us has a Buy One Get One 50% Off Sale. In 2 orders I scored 8 Friends Mia's Lemonade Stands (41027) and 4 Friends Emma's Lifeguard Post (41028). I got these not because of a great part out, but because the Lemonade Stand set has the awesome Aqua Colored Scooter. These sell for more than half the price of the whole set. I got the Lifeguard Post sets to get the orders over $49 for free shipping and because it has a cool Light Blue Dolphin. I have sold 1 scooter on BrickLink so far.

I was at Walmart the other day and saw these 2 Galaxy Squad sets in the clearance section for $20 each. That is 0.03 per piece and a definite buy! They are listed on Ebay now.
The sales are coming to an end now, but yard sale season is right around the corner. My hunt for Lego begins anew! Adios!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Go Global Or Go Home!






A while ago I posted about shipping internationally. Since then Ebay has developed the Global Shipping Program. While I can see the allure of this, let me be the first to tell you it's completely unnecessary. I did actually sign up for it to see what it was all about. The main problem is the cost. It is more expensive to your buyer than doing it yourself. Another problem is they only offer shipping to 42 countries. Last time I checked there were almost 200 countries on Earth. Why limit yourself to 25% of your customers?
Let me be the first to say when I started Pioneer Valley Fashion over 3 years ago, international shipping was a complete mystery. For starters you had these confusing customs forms and special envelopes:


So I decided to not bother with it and just sold domestically. Eventually I changed my mind and tried it. By this time you could print international labels from Ebay. Boy did this simplify things. All you do is:

  • Offer calculated International Shipping in your listing. Ship To "Choose Custom Location". Select all 9 check boxes. Add $1.00 handling charge.
  • Go to the Applications tab in Ebay and find an app called ShipSaver. Sign up. More on this later.
When you do have an international sale:
  • Go to the "Print Shipping" screen.
  • Edit the description of the item. By default it is filled in with the auction title. Change this to a vague description. We don't want everyone knowing exactly what we're shipping, do we? For example when I sell Lego, I change it to "Plastic Toy Bricks". Ralph Lauren Shirt becomes Mens Shirt, etc.
  • Print your label. I recommend using plain paper and not a shipping label in case the package needs to be opened for inspection. This way the label can be easily removed if need be.
  • Tape label to the package, do not tape over the bar codes. (Taping over the bar codes is not bad if the tape is totally flat, but if you have bumps and bubbles it may not scan properly so I don't take the chance).
  • If your label has EDelCon (Electronic Deliver Confirmation) service printed on it, you do not need to buy insurance as it has tracking. There are several countries that USPS offers this to, Canada being one.
  • If your package is not trackable, go to your ShipSaver app and buy insurance for the it. The $1.00 handling fee you charged earlier pays for this. ;)
  • Mail it! 
There are a few countries that I don't ship to. They are: Afghanistan, Russian Federation, Iraq, Italy, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Liberia, Nigeria, Somalia, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay. These countries are not insured by ShipSaver so I don't take the chance.

I know you're thinking "but Lou, what if my package gets lost, if I used the Global Shipping Program I wouldn't have to worry about it, but because I listened to you, I'm responsible"!  Fret not! This is where that ShipSaver thingy comes in! I Your package needs to be lost for 45 days before you can file a claim. Do not issue a refund to your buyer until you are refunded from ShipSaver.
I have had several hundred international sales and have lost exactly....1 package. ShipSaver took care of it, I was happy, and more importantly my buyer was happy because she got her money back.
So give it a go for yourself and see what happens. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I Almost Forgot.....

We also got a new....

Cat! Just kidding, he's a dog. He's my new walking buddy, although slogging through 2 foot high snowdrifts and puddles of water and ice and you get the picture, is hardly either of our idea of fun. But just wait till it gets warmer!

Mr. Clean (Lego Division)



When and wherever I buy bulk Lego, one thing is certain....they are usually fairly gross. Dirty, dusty, hairy, sticky, not to mention the icky stuff you can't see. When I sell Lego at my store Pioneer Valley Bricks, I like them to be nice and clean and shiny, and I'm pretty sure my buyers do also. The last thing anyone wants is for themselves or their children to get some creeping crud from the Lego they bought from me. So, what do we do about this?
The answer is simple: Wash Them! But how, you ask. Well there are several ways. When I first started, I would dump them in a suitable container with hot water, some soap, and some bleach. Swish around a while, rinse and strain in a colander. This fell out of favor quickly, mainly because I could only do small amounts at a time. Then I found a great article on the web at TheBrickBlogger.com. He describes how to clean Lego in.....the washing machine! Hallelujah! Several things to keep in mind before you go dumping 10 pounds of Lego in the washer:
  • Buy some bags for washing delicates (lingerie) like this:
I get mine for 0.97 at WalMart and I can fit a few pounds in each one. Zip them up, toss them into the washer. (do NOT put electronic parts, or things like whip antennas and bars that can get caught in, or fall out of the bag).
  • Use the Gentle Cycle!!! Unless you want your Lego to get scratched to heck. 
  • Warm water, laundry soap, 1/4 cup bleach.
  • Run the cycle, kick back, and wait for clean Lego goodness.
When the machine finishes, DO NOT put them in the dryer. The heat from the dryer, not to mention the banging around will damage your Lego. My preferred method is to spread them out on a blanket, sheet, towel, whatever, and aim a fairly powerful fan at them. They will be dry soon enough.
Stare lovingly at your beautiful, good-as-new Lego!