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Worlds Longest Garage Sale = Hundreds of Miles of Overpriced Crap

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Worlds Longest Garage Sale = Hundreds of Miles of Overpriced Crap

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Old 08-05-12, 11:52 AM
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wrk101
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Worlds Longest Garage Sale = Hundreds of Miles of Overpriced Crap

This was the 25th year of the "world's longest yard sale" and hey, yard sales have been a good source of finds for me. So it appeared to be a no brainer. Finally got around to doing it, drove from Frankfort, KY to Chattanooga, TN, basically the southern half of the route.

What a total waste of time! It turned out to NOT be the world's longest yard sale, it turned out the be the "world's longest flea market". The difference? In my experience, yard sales are where sellers just want to get rid of stuff that has been around too long. Flea markets are where pickers want to resell stuff, for market prices, maybe higher. And the savvy sellers separate out their product. The nicest stuff goes straight to ebay or wherever for top dollar, leaving just the bottom of the pile to sell.

Here's a typical picture: 50 plus bikes in a field, mostly Xmart, some name brand MTBs, all needing work, all for full market price or above. I saw AT LEAST 500 bikes, these were the nicest ones.



Field after field were filled with out of area/out of state sellers moving mainly crap, broken and rusty tools, cheap furniture, whatever, at full retail pricing.

Meanwhile, I missed some juicy yard sales back home. Go figure.

I did not pick up a single bike, I saw three decent bikes (all needing a lot of work, and all priced at full rehabbed or above). I made a couple of offers, sellers were looking for a fish or two to overpay.

I only saw about a half dozen "real" yard sales on the route. Real to me means a person was selling their own stuff, in their own yard. Even in that case, I guess they got gold rush fever, as I had never seen yard sale prices this high, 5X to 10X higher than what I have seen at yard sales all over the US. I did go to two decent church sales along the route, where they were moving stuff, at typical prices, to fund mission trips or whatever.


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Old 08-05-12, 11:59 AM
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Hey, Bill, next time in Chattanooga give me a call. I'll feed you a fancy sandwich and show you around. And you can look at my bikes, no charge.

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Old 08-05-12, 12:09 PM
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Too bad you came up empty, but I'm not surprised. Kinda like Craig's List "live". Probably a good for scores maybe 20 yrs ago, but now just a hoopla generator.

A buddy of mine from KY went a few years ago and had a similar experince.

+1 on church sales.
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Old 08-05-12, 12:09 PM
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Over the last few years, there have been a couple copycats of the World's Longest Yard Sale that have popped up near me. One is this weekend along US12 from New Buffalo to Detroit. Another is earlier in the year north of Grand Rapids.

So far I have been successful in suppressing the urge to go.
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Old 08-06-12, 11:51 AM
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Sorry to hear, it sounds like a traveling circus, no doubt accompanied by slick advertising to draw the masses.

In a way this reminds me of the jewelry and gold buyers who come to town every so often. They circulate the country looking for suckers.
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Old 08-06-12, 11:58 AM
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Nah, it will be hard to find any good stuff in those over publicised flea market events. It also dones not help that the "picker" hobby had gone out of control with all the picker shows on cable TV, and many who had dreams of flipping houses had scaled down to flipping smaller stuff that unfortunately includes C&V bicycles....yes, it's that Mike Wolf's fault!

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Old 08-06-12, 11:59 AM
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Yard sales in Southern California are almost of no value to review. Lots of clothes though.
The bikes that get donated to Goodwill go somewhere, but I have never figured it out. A few go on their own auction site.
Local Salvation Army store has bikes from time to time at prices that meet and exceed retail prices. Way overpriced when one figures the cost of repair, even if only parts.
So it is.
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Old 08-06-12, 12:20 PM
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the most i see around here are baby toys and clothes. i almost never see any bikes
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Old 08-06-12, 12:22 PM
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Maybe it is time to ride more and let the suckers go to the yard sales?
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Old 08-06-12, 01:05 PM
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There's a similar "World's Longest Garage Sale" that our resale and collectibles shop sits in the path of. We get a huge turnout every year. I always set up tables outside, reduce prices and barter with folks all weekend long. Most of my inventory comes from townwide garge sales and thrift stores.

Everyday we see people researching items of interest with their smartphones. Something I've considered, but still don't do. I buy things that are unusual, interesting or a good bargain and when reselling for a profit I have to consider how long I want to sit on the item. Most of the common venues.......garage sales, thrift stores, auctions, flea markets........should be taking into consideration their window of opportunity or risk sitting on it, donating it or throwing it out.


If you go to townwide garage sales, you will find a handful of sales where sellers have good items at good prices that they just want to get rid of. Setting up a garage sale or at a flea market can be a lot of work. People want to sell and will. If they won't.........walk away. I've been chased down plenty of times by sellers who changed their mind because they needed to move their stuff.
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Old 08-07-12, 06:34 AM
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I though you were talking about the brimfield antique show for a minute. It a chore to dig up a deal there... I did pull a campy belt buckle out of a box for $10. Last year a found a gitane tandem with Phil Wood brakes and a Lotos Pro, the lotus I'll call a score. But this year I suckered up to pay a Grand for a badly broken, incomplete antique bike. And somehow I still can't talk myself into regretting it.
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Old 08-07-12, 07:09 AM
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Bill - I have the exact same response to flea markets/yard sales. Flea markets are almost always a complete waste of time and that guy selling the used Gibson knows more about than I do. Yard sales are worthwhile...and estate sales.
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Old 08-07-12, 07:32 AM
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+1 yard sales are still good, although there is tremendous competition out there anymore, as pickers branch out to just about everything.

Always helpful to look for items other than bikes, as bikes are relatively rare at garage sales. In our case, we are feeding my wife's eBay clothing and misc business.

+1 To below, as much as I like garage sales, and have picked up some smokin hot deals at garage sales, they are a bust if the only thing I was looking for were bikes. I go to a lot of garage sales where I do not find decent bikes, probably 99% + of them (I do find Xmart crap more often). I would have given up long ago if it were not for other stuff I pick up, stuff that is a lot more common. Its been about two months since I found a decent bike at a garage sale (I have found a few donor bikes), and I go to a lot of garage sales.
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Old 08-07-12, 07:41 AM
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That's the thing - if you want to start hitting yard sales, estate sales, storage lockers..etc...you have to know more than one thing to make money at it and succeed consistently. You have to be like the flea market guys - with a working jack of all trades knowledge of many areas. I only know bikes and I don't have the desire or passion to learn other areas.

Heck - even my knowledge of bikes is very limited - I have NO idea what the BMX market is like...the balloon tire market...the true antiques, etc.
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Old 08-07-12, 11:32 AM
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Sounds like a long drive...........especially the drive home.
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Old 08-07-12, 12:24 PM
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The whole picker "lifestyle" has been glamorized by the latest glut of reality shows. I can think of 1000 easier ways to make a living. In the shows I've seen, the "characters" seem to grossly overpay for everything and the supposed values seem really hyped up. After expenses, I don't see how anyone would even clear $30K per year.

I like records, so I look for them. Anything else I run across is icing on the cake.
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Old 08-07-12, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
The whole picker "lifestyle" has been glamorized by the latest glut of reality shows. I can think of 1000 easier ways to make a living. In the shows I've seen, the "characters" seem to grossly overpay for everything and the supposed values seem really hyped up. After expenses, I don't see how anyone would even clear $30K per year.

I like records, so I look for them. Anything else I run across is icing on the cake.
As long as you're doing your picking on your own TV reality show, it would be easy enough to clear $30K.
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Old 08-09-12, 01:50 PM
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I think I qualify as an expert on this subject? And yes that Route 127 is waste of time. Been there and done that. And yes my posts are too dang long.

For many years, my wife and I were semi-pro yard sale people. We did it heavily throughout the 1990s into the mid-2000s. Even though it was a "hobby" that we both enjoyed together as a team combining our knowledge and doing something we both liked it was also a side-business of sorts. I have been an ebayer since January 1999 and we made a ton of money flipping stuff on ebay, then I switched more to CL but also this has died down as well.

I think we were riding a wave and we were a little ahead of the trend of flipping second-hand stuff on the net. By being able to take Friday off from my job as well as Saturdays, we were big players driving around in a cargo van. We understood the demographics of neighborhoods and how they related to the quality of merchandise, I navigated and plotted-out routes. We also had a laptop with wi-fi before anyone else was into this technology. Even though the connection was cell-phone modem/antennae and somewhat costly I was able to check ebay completed auctions for value before we bought big ticket items. And we were prepared to pay for big ticket stuff by being able to be Johnny on the spot with the cash. (One time I bought an almost perfect 1972 Honda Trial70 for $200.00 and had it listed on ebay and sold (and paid for) for $1000.00 with a buy-it-now in less than 24 hours. This is how I got my pristine 1973 P10-9 Paramount for $350.00, it was a yard sale find and I had the cash on me!)

We furnished our rental homes, amassed a huge Schwinn collection as well as vintage toys, art, vintage autos etc.

About five years ago we slacked-off quite a bit. The smokin' deals simply dried-up.
We believe that the yard sale deals started drying up when everyone began to realize that ebay was "the collectable value guide" and the merchandise was no longer for sale but listed on the net or the asking prices went up to the retail level. At the same time when we asked if the price was negotiable, we got the; "No! I can sell it one ebay for this much" - And now the reality picker and storage-wars shows are the nails in the coffin for making a profit as a yard sale flipper. My wife and I still go out sometimes on Fridays but we buy almost nothing, pat a few dogs on the head, buy a few chocolate chip cookies from the little kids, have a nice lunch together, but yard sales nowadays... It's mostly baby clothes and baby toys and broken-down China bikes.

As a buyer, I still get the occasional CL score but of late my best C&V bike finds are trade-ins at the LBS. And mostly as keepers, the flipping, I almost never do anymore.

I refer to my collectors items purchase prices as "post-ebay and pre-ebay" - So for yard sale people like us, I suppose we will refer to the garage and yard sale genre as "pre-pickers TV" and "post-pickers TV" - We never did the storage auctions, from what I have seen over the years, that thing is just a waste of a days time as it is a pig-in-a-poke mostly.

And finally, there are people on this forum that have expressed to me that I am evil because I profit from other people's stuff. Everyone has the right to an opinion. The fact is, businesses survive and people have jobs because of profit. My business is in a building I own and I bought it in 1987 from the bank on a repo-sale because the guy who built it in 1979 lost the place simply because he was an alcoholic who lost everything because he chose a life of booze. I was the high bidder. duhh - We have a much higher quality of life today and a very nice building full of cool stuff simply because other people sold their stuff to us for a price we were willing to pay. I am sitting here typing this whilst wearing a pair of Old Navy cargo pants that cost me fifty cents, and a NIKE golf shirt that was a dollar and wearing a Seiko watch I bought at the pawn shop my buddy owns for thirty bucks. - that is all -
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Old 08-09-12, 03:00 PM
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You overpaid for the Seiko, but other than that, I enjoyed your lengthy post. Thanks.
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Old 08-09-12, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Hoss Cartright View Post
...........there are people on this forum that have expressed to me that I am evil because I profit from other people's stuff. Everyone has the right to an opinion. The fact is, businesses survive and people have jobs because of profit........-
We live in a capitalist society. Funny how people who idolize Donald Trump complain about someone buying something at their garage sale and making a profit. I buy or acquire bikes and fix them for resale. Some of my friends rag on my for ripping people off. These are the same folk who spend an hour or more at work on Facebook or reading the latest celeb gossip.

Hoss, it would be interesting to keep track of all the hours you've spent and calculate your earnings. For every killer score, there's 10 mediocre & 1 loss.
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Old 08-09-12, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
Bill - I have the exact same response to flea markets/yard sales. Flea markets are almost always a complete waste of time and that guy selling the used Gibson knows more about than I do. Yard sales are worthwhile...and estate sales.
Real flea markets aren't like that, at least they weren't in Houston. I pulled about 20-30 decent bikes a year out of the one near me, and cheap. The "flea markets" with buildings and food courts are just overblown and worthless. The one I went to in Houston was wood frames with a galvanized steel roof, and otherwise completely open air. The rest of it was limestone and mud puddles. People pulled up in beaten down pickup trucks full of junk, furniture, all KINDS of stuff. The organized flea markets with nothing but leather goods, tasteless custom T-shirts, and cheesy overseas no name electronics bore the hell out of me. Give me a good, junky, bottom of the barrel real flea market any day.,,,,BD
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Old 08-09-12, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
The whole picker "lifestyle" has been glamorized by the latest glut of reality shows. I can think of 1000 easier ways to make a living. In the shows I've seen, the "characters" seem to grossly overpay for everything and the supposed values seem really hyped up. After expenses, I don't see how anyone would even clear $30K per year.

I like records, so I look for them. Anything else I run across is icing on the cake.
The characters on one of the storage unit shows get $10k/episode. I think it goes up from there. Mikey & Frank get more than that. The Pawn guys even more. They all make more than $30k, a lot more.

A picker that doesn't have a show? No idea, but when I was flipping, I made enough to get any bike I really wanted. Luckily I have no desire for a Confente, Herse or Gloria, so I was able to get more than I need of stuff I like. I sure didn't make a living or buy a home in La Jolla.
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Old 08-09-12, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by teetime View Post
The characters on one of the storage unit shows get $10k/episode. I think it goes up from there. Mikey & Frank get more than that. The Pawn guys even more. They all make more than $30k, a lot more.
I think you misunderstood. I was referring to an average person following the methods depicted on these shows clearing $30K.
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Old 08-09-12, 06:25 PM
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The newer show where the guys trade everything left and right was hard to watch, and ridiculous. I don't even know the name of it, but I sat through one episode. I regretted doing so once it was over.,,,,BD
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Old 08-09-12, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
I think you misunderstood. I was referring to an average person following the methods depicted on these shows clearing $30K.
Nope, I addressed that in the last paragraph of my response.

You need money to make money. Invest $200k to make 30k, after expenses? Maybe, but there's a lot of sweat equity involved, at that point.
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