- I brake, sometimes suddenly, for yard sales, discount stores, and especially brightly-colored clearance signs. DO NOT TAILGATE ME UNLESS YOU WANT TO GET SUED.
- If I see that your “estate sale” is being run by a professional auction house, I’m leaving. They always price things so they cannot be resold at a profit. The hell with that.
- If you put “estate sale” on the sign and you have a car on cinder blocks on your front lawn and a bunch of crap from Walmart that you already used a thousand times for sale, I’m going to laugh, slam on the brakes, and do a 180. (Did I mention, DO NOT TAILGATE ME UNLESS YOU WANT TO GET SUED?) That’s not an estate sale, it’s a junk sale.
- International rules of salvage apply in big box stores. Okay, not in a legal sort of way, and one could argue that items for sale in a store are not in any way abandoned, but if I get my hands on something I can sell profitably, I will buy all of it. First come, first serve.
- I keep seeing these hauler videos where people find amazing, new-in-box stuff at Goodwill or the Salvation Army thrift stores for next to nothing and resell it at a profit. Maybe it’s just because I frequent stores in a low-income area, but I’ve never found ANYTHING I could resell in either of those places. My Goodwills and SA thifts are full of Walmart items that people used until they were worn out and worthless (more worthless, in some cases), then donated. All I find are stained, ripped Faded Glory shirts and jeans, shoes with holes in them, knockoff designer bags that are so bad you can tell they’re fake from a mile away, and chipped plates that wouldn’t be worth anything if they were antiques and not crap from Walmart’s clearance sale two years ago.
- Not all thrifts suck, though. Smaller ones run by local organizations are sometimes a good option. I frequent one thrift run by a local non-profit that benefits victims of domestic violence. Maybe their location contributes to a wealthier set of donors, but many of their items are good brands and new-in-box.
I once found a brand new zip drive—those old-fashioned things from the nineties that you put zip discs in—for $5. The box was open, but the silver foil packet containing the drive was still sealed, as were the cables, software, and other box contents. (It looked to me like someone bought it, opened it, realized it wasn’t what they wanted, meant to return it, then forgot about it until they were cleaning fifteen years later and decided to donate it.) It sold for $75 less than 12 hours after I listed it.
- Just because I have the “best offer” option enabled on my items does not mean I want an offer for 10% of the asking price. I am trying to make money here, not running a charity. I will accept reasonable offers but I laugh at lowballers. (You know who you are.) Remember that sellers have costs of inventory and hefty fees from sites like Amazon and eBay that take their cut out of the seller’s profits.
Recent example: If I sold you an item for $4 with free shipping, assuming it only weighed three ounces and could go first class in an envelope, I would still be out $2-2.40 for shipping, .60 in eBay fees, another .08 to PayPal, plus the cost of the item, which probably wasn’t less than $2. That’s a loss.
- When I find good deals in stores, I take a long time at the register. I highly recommend you find another line if you are in a hurry. I try to be fair and tell people that the minute they walk up to save them time.
- I am always nice to cashiers. For one thing, I used to be a cashier and know it’s an awful job dealing with awful people. For another, cashiers can be your worst enemy if you piss them off. I never complain if it takes a long time to override something—I am happy to wait for a discount. I also frequently offer to tag and bag my own merchandise if it makes the cashier’s job easier and gets me out of the store faster.
- Yard sales are hit-or-miss, and I pretty much always miss. Again, this is probably different in some areas of the country. If I lived in Beverly Hills, I’m willing to better I’d have better luck at thrifts and garage sales. But I live in the middle of fucking nowhere, and all I ever find at yard sales is Walmart crap used beyond resellability. (That’s a word if I say it’s a word.)
W. T. Fallon is the author of Fail to the Chief, a political satire in which the presidential election is carried out via reality show, which is almost as bizarre and far-fetched as our current reality.