Last week I had someone come into my art gallery to offer me a Disney animation cel. For those of you who aren’t familiar, animation cels are prints that come from the production of an animated show, ie. Disney, Warner Brothers, etc. These cels can range in value anywhere between a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the rarity and condition of the piece.
The cel this man was looking to sell is titled “The Mighty Duck” and depicts a scene from Disney’s The Hockey Champ (1939). It was already framed and both the piece itself and the frame were in excellent condition. The man also had the original certificate of authenticity to go with the cel – a major plus.
So I asked the man what he was looking to sell the piece for and he replied with a flat “$200.” I was familiar with the piece and new he was offering a great price, so I bought it. After paying the man, I asked where he had acquired the piece, and it turns out he bought it at a garage sale that was selling a large collection of cels. I asked him if he would mind sharing how much he paid for it. The man was afraid to answer me, fearing I would be upset at how much I had paid, so he simply said he got the piece at a “dirt cheap garage sale price.” The true retail value of this piece is over $1,000, so no matter what he made off of my purchase, I still got a great deal.
This story leads me to two main points:
1. The question I get asked most often: Are there still good deals at garage sales? Absolutely. It doesn’t matter what state, city or county you’re in, there will always be good deals if you’re looking in the right places.
2. Almost as important as #1, the people who originally sold this cel and others for dirt cheap were most likely given or inherited these cels from a family member. Odds are pretty good that they were simply downsizing and had no idea what this particular cel, or any others, were truly worth. So my advice goes as follows:
When you have valuable items in your home that aren’t commonly known for their value, you should keep an active list of your inventory. Be sure to include their appraised value, the appraisal itself and even a record of what you paid for them. This will help you ensure you are properly insuring your items in case of a theft of tragedy. An inventory list will also come in handy for any future owners of your possessions (think family inheritance or gifts). The last thing you would want is for a friend or family member to stick your items in the cheap section of their garage sale because they didn’t know how much they were truly worth.
With that, I’ll leave you with just one final thought:
A true garage sale millionaire always understands what his/her items are worth before they sell them.
The person that doesn’t know what they’re selling is the one that creates wealth for other garage sale millionaires.
Which person are you?
Good luck, and happy hunting!