So how does one become a “Garage Sale Millionaire?”
Our own Aaron LaPedis, AKA “The Garage Sale Millionaire” shares his tips:
EDUCATE YOURSELF: Reality TV is not always reality, BUT, shows like Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars can still be good teaching mechanisms in that you can learn what items are in demand and how the experts appraise them. Become an expert on a handful of items, so when you come across those items, you know how much, if anything, they’re worth on the market.
Remember, sometimes the most valuable things to collect depend on the geographic region you’re in. If you live in the South, you’re surrounded by Civil War stuff, whereas in Colorado, there’s not much of it, so it’s priced at a premium. The same goes for Western memorabilia – it’s popular in the Midwest, where there’s less of it. So when collecting, consider the place you’re doing it in: What is that state or region known for? That’s where you’ll get the best price and the best value.
NEGOTIATE – IT’S THE ART OF THE DEAL: Be it a thrift shop, consignment shop or pawn shop, when you’re talking about the money, find out who the owner is because you’ll get the best deal from that person. The owner doesn’t have to worry about paying a commission and if they’re having any kind of money crunch, they’ll want to turn inventory. Cash is often king, because a lot of places don’t take credit cards, so you’ll get a better deal if you’re willing to pay cash.
DON’T LEAD ON TO BEING THE NEXT MILLIONAIRE ON THE BLOCK: How you dress is also important when shopping for collectibles. That means dressing in inconspicuous clothing, leaving expensive jewelry and shoes at home and parking your car a block away. If you drive up in a Lexus in front of a garage sale I’m holding, I’ll probably be hard-pressed to give you a good deal. Also, build a rapport before you start negotiating. Don’t immediately rush in with, “How low can you go?” Start a conversation about the weather an find common ground somewhere… cozy up to the seller, to the point you both agree it’s a good deal for both parties.
MIND YOUR MANNERS: Don’t be that guy… If an item is $100 and you offer $15, that’s an insult. You’ll turn that person off right away and they’ll never want to do business with you. I would start just under 50% on an item, sometimes even less, depending on how badly I want that piece. Don’t ever try to crush the other person during negotiations. The deal is never a good one if it doesn’t get done.
GETTING RIPPED OFF SUCKS, SO USE COMMON SENSE: Know that 50% to 60% of all signatures on memorabilia and documents are fake. Autopens allow people to copy signatures and unless you’re a foremost expert, you’d never know the difference. When you buy an autographed collectible, you don’t want to pay cash. Use a credit card or PayPal to protect yourself, and let them know you’ll insist on a refund if it’s not real. There are third-party authenticators that will verify whether or not an autograph is real. Sometimes making a “non-refundable” deposit to show the seller you’re interested before committing to paying asking price can save your A$$.
USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: I have an online tip for buying offline – I use the website Tag Sell It and I also have their app on my smart-phone.
MOST IMPORTANT: Read My Book
FIRM BELIEF: Not only can garage sale treasure seekers make some money reselling various items, but they can make very substantial residual profits over time.
As the owner of two art galleries in Denver and former host of a local PBS show calledCollect This!, LaPedis knows how to track down hidden treasures and turn them into a profit. His recent book, The Garage Sale Millionaire (Wiley), offers advice on how to make money by digging around garage sales, storage units and everything in between. Aaron became an owner and partner with Tag Sell It Inc. in 2013.
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