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Many people know that yard sales and garage sales can be a great source of inventory for the eBay seller, especially one who specializes in clothing. For the most part though, Amazon sellers overlook this sourcing opportunity. The reason why is understandable. Amazon sellers are used to offering high-quality, brand new items sourced via retail arbitrage or similar sourcing technique. It usually doesn’t even cross their minds to frequent yard sales.
What they don’t realize, though is that yard sales can be a great source of not only used books and board games, but also of brand new items that are quite valuable. Much of this inventory can be had for a song since the owner is simply trying to clean out their house and just wants rid of what they see as “junk”. If you know what to look for, you can turn this into a golden sourcing opportunity.
What to Source
Yard sales can be a great source of books. In the picture above, you can see several books I sourced at a yard sale. Many of the books in the picture are still factory sealed and will be sold in New condition.
Board games are in abundance at yard sales. You’ll find that people are basically wanting to give them away. Most people don’t know the value a used board game can hold. In the picture, you can see a Firefly game I picked up at a yard sale for $2. As of this writing, the current lowest used price is $49.99 with a rank of 6,765 in toys. You will have to make sure all the pieces are there when you get home, but they are usually worth the gamble.
Miscellaneous used items will be found on a good day of yard sale sourcing. In the above picture, you can see an air pump, guitar effects pedal, portable baby bottle warmer, cupcake stand, some DVDs, and some books that are all brand new, never used items. If you add up all the brand new in box items I bought in that picture, the total comes to under $20. These items will sell for close to $300. The guitar pedal alone is $129.
Where to Source
If you’ve ever spent a day going around to yard sales, you know that you’ll find a lot of junk. The trick to Amazon sourcing at yard sales is to minimize the amount of junk you find and maximize the amount of good inventory. I find the best way to do that is community yard sales. There are several reasons for this.
- Many yard sales will be in a small area. This will make it easy to quickly hit as many sales as possible.
- Community yard sales happen in communities with rules against yard sales. These communities are usually higher scale housing and the residents tend to be wealthier than what you may find riding around randomly looking for yard sales. This usually means higher quality goods available.
- The rules usually dictate that yard sales can only happen once a year. This means these people have been saving stuff all year long and they make sure they are prepared in advance to have all their items out waiting for you when you get there so they can get rid of as much stuff as possible.
- I have found that in more upscale neighborhoods, the types of books you will find is completely different. In seemingly lower income areas, you’ll see a lot of romance and mystery books. In the nicer neighborhood, you will find a ton more non-fiction. These are the books that sell well on Amazon.
How to Find Them
Living a mobile RV lifestyle makes it fairly convenient to hit as many of these sales as possible. You can find an area with several happening the same weekend, then find a nearby place to camp.
Use sites like Craigslist.org or YardSales.net to search an area. The type of communities you are looking for are more easily found in large suburban areas. Pick an area you would like to search, look it up on one of these sites and search for the keyword “community”. The results should net you quite a few nice sales.
There are smartphone apps that will make it even easier. Apps such as Yard Sale Treasure Map search Craigslist for you and draw out the best possible route from one sale to another if you happen to find multiple. This will maximize your efficiency by reducing travel time.
If you think you can find treasures at a yard sale, you should see the profits you can make from full-on book sourcing. I call it meth margins!
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