By Laura Goetz
"Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it."
Katharine Whitehorn (1928-____) English writer, essayist
Not many profitable business have a start up cost of under $10, but armed with knowledge and a bag of change you can get out there and begin your business like I did. The decision to stay home with my children brought about a change in lifestyle and attitude. In order to manage with one income, I had to become a bargain hunter extrodinaire. My adventure into the world of garage sales had begun.
After a few years of successful garage sale seasons, I was feeling pretty smug that I was able to dress my children for less than $2.00 an outfit and decorate my house for pennies. I thought I had learned all there was to know about bargain hunting. This was all about to change.
While browsing the shelves at the library one Tuesday afternoon, I came across a book called Garage Sale Annual. Garage sale? Of course, it went right into my book bag. Later that evening, after the children had been put to bed and read another chapter in Willie Wonka (the cool one were Violet turns violet), I settled in with my garage sale book. For the next hour I sat in shock. Page after page listed collectible treasures and their current values. These were the same "treasures" I passed over at every garage sale. Things I chalked up to belonging in my grandmother's house -- not mine.
Still not believing this phenomena, I signed on to Ebay and started searching for these treasures to see what they were really selling for. Surely there had been a misprint. I was in shock for the second time that evening.
"It's true!" I gasped, transfixed in front of the computer screen. My husband, perplexed, came over.
"What's true?" he asked.
"People really are paying $20 for those glass grapes from the '70's.”
He scoffed. "No way, my mom had those."
"Look for yourself." I challenged.
He peered at the auction I had found, saw the selling price, then walked away, shaking his head.
I could literally feel the wheels in my head turning. For the next few days, I was a woman on a mission. I devoured the book from the library. I surfed the Internet with a vengeance trying to commit as much to memory as possible.
By the time Friday morning arrived, I was ready. With kids, juice and doughnuts in tow, the hunt began. At the first sale, I found a funny looking clown head planter. In the past, this would have been passed over. This time I picked it up and, turning it over, immediately recognized the Napco™ label. Remembering these were highly collectible, I snagged it. The rest of the day went the same way. At each stop I would find one or two collectible things. Of course, I was still finding the usual deals for my family such as Lee Pipes for .50 a pair. Then it happened. I was pretty confident we had hit all the sales that day when I saw “Garage Sale” scribbled on a tiny brown sign. I followed the hand drawn arrows and found my way to a little cul-de sac. Inside the dimly lit garage I spied them -- The Grapes! Not the common orange grapes, these were funky retro blue grapes. For .50 cents they were mine and we were on our way home.
I spent that night comparing my treasures to their going price online and realized I had done pretty well. For an investment of a whopping $3 I would end up clearing $72. I was on my way and the rest, as they say, is history.
I can run my own business on my own hours with my children by my side. I’ve also been able to branch off into other areas such as writing a how-to book for people who want to begin selling online. I have begun a newsletter to help people learn about those sometimes-overlooked collectibles. And I’ve also started a web resource page for everyone interested in getting started in this great at-home business. Best of all, I’ve found a way to make money doing something I enjoy. Now if I can just find a way to get paid to eat chocolate!