Picking boosts my annual income by $20,000 and demands only 3 to 5 hours of my week. Here’s how you can do it, too … just not in my territory, okay?1. Do the basic prep work.
Before you hit your first garage sale, download the Amazon and eBay apps (both free for iOS and Android). Then visit an ATM the night before, so you don’t waste time in the morning.
Three hundred dollars usually suffices for me. Sounds like a lot, but if you spend it right, you’ll turn it into $700.
2. Rise and grind.
Target sales that start at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and be at your first one before the garage opens. Sales that start on Fridays and continue through the weekend are completely picked clean by Saturday morning.
You can scout garage sales on Craigslist, but I prefer perusing newspaper ads. Your ideal sucker—excuse me, seller—is a senior citizen who didn’t post his sale on Craigslist because he doesn’t use computers.
He’s the type of guy who will point to his head and proudly say, “This is all the computer I need right here.” When you find someone like this, stop and thank your lucky stars before fleecing him for all he’s worth.
3. Know the right stuff to buy.
Look for new boxes and packages; the shine of shrink wrap around Apple products, board games, and DVD box sets is a sure sign.
The box that a new item comes in is also where you’ll find its UPC barcode, which is very important in the picking game. The Amazon app has a function that photographs that barcode, then automatically identifies the product and displays the going price on its website.
Using the eBay app, type in the name of the item, then check the “completed listings” box to see the most recent prices people have paid for the product. Both apps will give you the best sense for how much an item is worth.
4. Search for smaller, lighter items.
These products are cheaper to ship. While a new $150 printer can seem like a bargain at $75, you could take a $30 shipping loss if your buyer lives across the country.
Factor in the commission that Amazon or eBay takes on your item—anywhere from 6 to 25 percent depending on the product and price, but usually about 10 percent—and you’ll be lucky to make a $20 profit.
5. Ask for a third off the garage-sale price.
You’ll probably get it, since it’s a freaking garage sale.
6. Steal from seniors.
Like I said, seniors are the best. They remember the price of everything they own that was purchased before 1990, and are mostly just looking to recoup.
Many of them have no idea that a Peaches ‘n Cream Barbie Doll from 1985 is worth $119, so they’ll tag it for $5.
7. Steal from the rich. (Like Robin Hood!)
After you hit the retirement communities, head for the hills. Rich people are more likely to own expensive things and leave valuable, unopened gifts lying around.
They’ll gladly take a $100 loss on something just to get it the hell out of their sight. Last May, I snagged a $400 GoPro HERO4 camcorder for $50 in a community I couldn’t even enter without a guard taking down my license plate number.
8. Avoid these red flags.
If you pull up to a house and see small children running around the driveway, don’t even bother parking. Kids signal that most of the things worth reselling have already been unwrapped, used, dropped, chewed, and vomited upon.
Also, keep driving if you see an Amazon shipping box anywhere on the property. This most likely means the seller knows what he can get for his stuff online.
9. Go home and list your new items.
This lasts 5 minutes per item on Amazon, and 15 for eBay. Laugh maniacally the whole time, since you made about $100 an hour today.
10. Don’t show any of your neighbors this article.
Any moron can do this, as I prove every year, and we don’t need the competition.