• Flip Weekly
  • Posts
  • Flipping Fails or: The Items I Wish I'd Never Bought and Won't Again

Flipping Fails or: The Items I Wish I'd Never Bought and Won't Again

Whatever you do, don't pick up these items or you'll lose money!

Flipping Fails or: The Items I Wish I'd Never Bought and Won't Again

I’ve been reselling for only a few months and already have a long list of items and product categories that I’ll never buy again. Moving parts, missing pieces, items that sit forever, products that people just don’t like anymore… man the list just goes on and on. I’ve wasted time and money on these products, so learn from my mistakes and steer clear. But first!

Table of Contents

What I’ve Bought

The week started strong with 4 garage sales on Saturday. I try and hit up as many as I can in the morning but lately they’ve just been too few and far between. Nevertheless, a few cool items were picked up at the 1st and 2nd but I struck out at the 3rd and 4th.

The first sale started at 7:30am and I didn’t have a chance to take photos but it was one of the bigger sales this weekend.

Side-note: how many times have you guys visited a “huge garage sale everything must go“ and you rock up and there’s like 6 boxes? How fun is that? 

Anyway, here’s what I was able to pick up for $20:

I find Cabbage Patch Kids so ugly..

Dude has drumsticks for hands.

Buried under some magazines.

Surprise, dope trading cards.

Okay so I paid $20 for 3 items. When I went to checkout the seller had no idea what to charge and was like "I don’t know, what do you think?“ and of course I pulled the whole “Haha, I have no idea… say a number" and eventually she said “would you do $20?“ and I was like sure why not. I would have preferred $10 but at this stage of my reselling I really don’t want to get into a back and forth unless it’s a ridiculous price. Some people just have their minds set on a number and wont move and I don’t want to ruin a Saturday morning.

What attracted me to these 3 items was the following.

1) Cabbage Patch Kids - I’ve sold Cabbage Patch Kids before and I know they sell fast and that they have a collectors audience. This specific doll had a copyright dating back to 2008 and also had an unopened birth certificate. If you find them in the wild, make sure they have the signature (usually located on the bum) to verify they’re authentic.

2) Sandman - I didn’t recognize this figure but I saw 2006 on his foot and took a flyer knowing that he’d only be a few dollars, if that.

3) Assorted trading cards - the trading cards I’m proud of. I wasn’t the first person at this sale, it was quite big and there were people making huge piles. Rocking up I had the same feeling Sydney-siders get when they pull up to a rental inspection: you’re greeted by hundreds of people in a line and you think what’s the point? So I bypassed those feelings and went in looking. I figure that I’m not going to beat these people by being 2 hours early so I’ll try and beat them by knowing my stuff. I did some digging and came across this box with Skylanders on the top. Skylanders does *okay* on the Nintendo Wii so I flipped the box open and lo and behold I didn’t see anything Skylanders and instead saw the TMNT box.

I’m not an expert on trading cards and you might not be either but if you see any that are old like this (these were 1999-2000) and they have the display box and are branded Topps you definitely pick them up if they’re a good price. So inside the box were TMNT trading cards from 1999 and 2000 (the 2000’s had 1 card shy of being a complete 132 card set), Godzilla trading cards, Lion King trading cards and newer Ben 10 trading cards. So far I’ve only really sorted the TMNT and have listed them on Marketplace.

Item

Price Paid

Listed Price

Profit

Cabbage Patch Kid

$6.66

$74.99

$68.33

Sandman

$6.66

$19.99

$13.33

Trading Cards

$6.66

$49.99

$43.33

Totals

$20.00

$144.97

$124.97

Moving on, here’s the 2nd sale:

Spot the M&M’s.

Not enough M&M’s.

This sale was fun! We had a family helping their mum sell all of her M&M memorabilia and there was a lot. Picture every category you regularly see at a garage sale and it was that… but as M&M’s. Plates, glasses, plush, shirts, miscellaneous knick knacks… it was pretty cool to be honest. This sale was one where the prices were all over the place and where the expensive items should be cheaper and the cheaper ones should be more expensive.

I’m not sure if you can see in the photo, but as an example there was the M&M mug with a few Cadbury Easter eggs inside of it, wrapped in cellophane for $15. There was a ~20cm M&M figure with a bag of regular M&M’s for $50. These were the first things I saw which didn’t give me much hope. To be fair, I don’t know what those figures would go for, and maybe the mug is some ultra rare vintage priceless mug, but I wasn’t interested. What I was interested in was the clothing rack where I came across this t-shirt that had some yellowing and stains:

Check out this bad boy.

Stains and some yellowing.

The shirt was $10.00, I loved the AOP (all-over-print), it was made in the US and on the back it had a copyright year of 1999 - sick! When I eventually looked up comps on eBay I could see this shirt selling for over $200!

Solid comps!

2 other items that I picked up in the sale:

$6 sticker price but I paid $5 (massive saving!)

The sealed M&M’s were Star Wars related and so I again took a flyer - if you see anything old that’s Star Wars related and still sealed you pick that up. In this case they were a Star Wars Episode 3 Mini M&M crossover from 2005 but unlike the Star Wars figures I found and talked about in Issue #2, these weren’t worth hundreds, they’re worth about $15 each. The hat on the other hand I picked up just because of the age of all of the other M&M memorabilia. The hat’s made of suede and I couldn’t find any comps, so I decided to list it for around $30.

Total spent at the M&M garage sale was $15 and once everything was listed it came to $284.97.

By the way, I think this is the 2nd issue in a row where I’ve found an expensive vintage shirt - I just want to point out that this is not a common occurrence for me. It’s almost like striking garage sale gold so please don’t be bummed out if you don’t come across anything similar out in the wild. I mean, this is what I usually stumble across when I go to garage sales:

Not a good sign.

Not a good sign x 2.

Half the time it’s people selling items that really shouldn’t be sold. You rock up, see a bunch of odds and ends, be polite and move on to the next one.

Before I move on to What I Sold, here are a few more photos of items I bought this week but without my drawn out descriptions:

Can’t pass up at $0.10 each.

Bill Nye DVD’s sell for $20+ each.

Sydney’s Sega World, 1997. For $2!

Marked $3. Listed at $50.

Cute vintage Tweety.

$10 into $50. Pokemon sells fast.

What I Sold

What I sold this week will be a lesson to all of you. I’ve said before that I can be Lazy Mat™. He comes in many shapes and sizes but the most common is listing items up as a lot or as a bundle. Don’t get me wrong, in some cases you can get rid of a lot of product quickly, but in others you’re passing up some cash in order to save some time. Here’s what I’m talking about.

Listed on November 5th, 2023. Way undervalued.

It’s a video game lot that I bundled up that had a whole bunch of games, (rare) controllers and accessories. It had sat on both eBay and Marketplace for months and despite having people watching it, it just didn’t move. I was getting annoyed with the constant lowball offers on Marketplace and decided I would end the listing and list everything individually.

Side note: I don’t do a ton of video games nor focus on the niche, however every single time I’ve had to deal with Marketplace buyers, video game buyers are the absolute worst. I’m talking about the ones that are obviously going to resell them. Like, check this out:

Talk about pushy.

This went on for a while. Anyway, after separating everything here’s what ended up selling quickly.

Playstation 2 Console for $100. Was on eBay for $150.00.

Playstation 2 Controller for $30. Was on eBay for $50.00.

PS2 controller for $30.

PS2 game for $15.

All up the Playstation 2 sales were $165.00 and we still have $380.00 in active listings. This goes to show that sometimes it pays to break up your bundles and don’t be lazy like me.

What else sold?

I couldn’t believe that this item received so much love.

As soon as I saw this jacket in the thrift I fell in love.

If you read last weeks issue of Flip Weekly you would have seen the traction the Guinness “Break In Case of Emergency“ collectible was receiving. If you didn’t, basically it was bought at a garage sale for $10 from a couple who brought it back from the Guinness Brewery in Dublin. It honestly shocked me how much interest this product received - in total there were 8 people messaging me and hundreds of views and 17 saves. In hindsight I could have asked for double.

The other item was something I found in the thrift and I immediately fell in love. A 2016 NBA Cleveland Cavaliers (American basketball) snap jacket and it only had a $25 price tag on it! To me that’s honestly insane because it still had its original price tags on from when it was bought in the NBA store in Japan and that was for over $250 (although the pricing was in Japanese Yen). It sit on eBay for just over a month and sold for $150.00 which was bittersweet: I’m a massive NBA fan (San Antonio supporter since 2012) and wouldn’t have a problem keeping it for myself but I’m glad to profit the $100+.

The last thing I want to talk about is a box I picked up from last weeks garage sales.

Around 40-50 vintage sewing patterns for $5.

This was a total flyer, I don’t know anything about dress making patterns but when I see $5 for a box of unusual things, I’ll pick it up. Worst case scenario is that I learn a thing or two about a new niche and this is something I recommend you guys do. You need to be constantly learning in this industry and having a financial interest in a category is going to force you to learn. In this case, turns out people are interested in vintage sewing patterns that were brought to Australia from the UK and they sold within a week!

$5 into $50 in about a week.

Here’s the brief takeaway I learnt from picking these patterns up:

  1. Don’t buy them individually from a thrift store. They’ll charge anywhere between $2-$5 each and individually these things usually sell for $10, there isn’t much profit.

  2. If you find an entire box for $5 like I did, buy it.

  3. You’ll get asked questions about if the patterns are cut or uncut. Most patterns are made so that you can cut it out depending on your size. For example a dress pattern that can be catered for a size 10 to size 18 will have different cut lines. You have less flexibility if its been cut.

  4. In my case, each pattern was made specifically for only 1 size. No cutting was required.

  5. Be careful taking these things out of the packet, they will not go back in easily.

  6. Foreign patterns are desirable on Marketplace, it’s not the same old stuff buyers come across every day.

Resources & Friends

We have a pretty diverse audience here at Flip Weekly. We have experienced sellers making ten times what I do, we have people that are hustling on the side making a few extra dollars to supplement their main income and we have people just starting out. The resource I want to share is primarily aimed today at those just starting out. It’s a mobile app called Google Lens and it’s going to help you identify items at garage sales and thrift stores.

Let’s say you find an item at a thrift store for $1 and you want to know what it sells for online. Here’s what you do in just 3 steps.

  1. Download Google Lens - the app is available on both iOS (Apple iPhone) and Android photos. It’s 100% free, don’t purchase any app that shows up for that search term.

  2. Open Google Lens - a camera like interface will open and your job now is to simply point and click at your item. Google will then run a image search on the product.

  3. View Results - if Google Lens is able to recognise your product, it will then show you a whole bunch of results, in most cases eBay search results or other eCommerce platforms like Amazon. These results will include prices so you’ll be able to see if the $1 item you’ve photographed is worth anything.

Don’t put this in the too hard basket and don’t ignore technology, Google Lens is an app that is basically essential to identifying products when you don’t know what they’re worth. I mean, would you rather type into Google identifying keywords like “Cabbage Patch Kid red curly hair 2008“ and waste 5 minutes of your time or snap a pic and see the results within seconds?

User Submissions & My Challenge

This week I’ve talked about using your knowledge to get the best out of garage sales. You don’t necessarily have to be first, you just need to know what you’re looking at and be prepared to dig. This weeks challenge is all about finding something buried and hidden.

Visit your thrift store or hit up your garage sales on Saturday and find an item that isn’t surface level. Dig down and see what you can find. Snap a photo, send it in (here) and have your efforts rewarded with a mention in Flip Weekly.

To those not willing to dig, you can also send in your thrift store finds or garage sale treasures. Use the same link above and tell us what you snapped up!

Flipping Fails or: The Items I Wish I'd Never Bought and Won't Again

I’ve had a lot of purchases that have turned out to be duds. Bad buys, impulse decisions and the vague promise of a huge profit blindsided me to simple things that I should not have picked up. Like what you ask? Let me start off with this:

Anything Framed. I’ve had so many problems with framed items. I’ve picked them up because they’re obviously high quality, they’re made with good materials whether it be timber framing or glass covering but they’ve never sold well for me. Granted, I start off with listing on Marketplace because shipping is a bit of an effort but even then, people seem to just scroll on by. I’ve had framed canvas prints of Sydney Harbour that had comps of $500+ sell for 1/10th of that, I’ve had hand signed sports memorabilia passsed over, it just never seems to sell. Here’s a few that I’m currently sitting on:

Hand signed Nadal collage.

NRL limited edition framed.

Lots of Pieces, Opened. Thrift stores love selling Lego, toys and storage containers completely full of product. They also love fully sealing those containers, taping shut boxes and putting stickers and signs on them saying “do not open“. They obviously know what they’re doing because which regular consumer in their right mind will buy a box that’s not 100% see through and is fully sealed with tape. They’re goading us flippers into gambling and it’s not something I want to do anymore. Here’s an example:

$15 from the thrift store.

I should have known better to not pick this up, I mean it has so many moving pieces and wasn’t fully sealed. I took a gamble based off of the weight, condition of the box and the comps that showed it selling for $130.00 on bid:

Auctions 90% of the time result in a lower sale price than a buy it now.

I took it home, opened it up and of course it’s missing pieces. Not pieces that don’t matter either, we’re talking integral pieces where it’s not even worth buying online to replace them. Thrift stores aren’t the only ones selling product that isn’t fully complete.

I had a run in with a garage sale about a month ago where the seller had 4 sets of Lego, 2 had boxes, 3 had manuals and they seemed okay. The price was $20 and complete set prices had comps over the $100 mark. I specifically asked if they were complete and the seller told me and I quote “they are 100% complete, we went through them all this morning, my son is really pedantic about these types of things“ and I was like “okay, cool“ and she followed up with something that should have sent up red flags: “if it’s not, you know where I am“. Why include that? You’ve just said it’s 100% complete but then follow up with “you know where I am“… does she seriously expect me to rock up and hunt down a piece of missing Lego? Anyway, this was the set:

Lego Friends, NOT 100% complete.

It’s tough to sell Lego sets that aren’t 100% complete so this might sit for a while and may not even sell. With that said, if you’re going to give up on your incomplete sets, keep the manuals/instructions and the minifigures. They can hold their value and sometimes sell for a premium. Just think about this hypothetical, if you have Lego set #110 and only need the manual to complete your set, but it costs $400 for the entire set brand new or $100 for just the manual, they’re going to buy the manual by itself.

Anyway, this issue is getting quite long so I’ll round out my items with a short list:

  • Sports clothing that aren’t unique - I mean a t-shirt that just has Los Angeles Lakers on the front and that’s it. It’s too generic, it doesn’t sell quickly and it will sell like any other regular t-shirt. However, if it has a unique LeBron James graphic on it, that’s a different story.

  • Media without checking the region or opening the case - if you’re buying a TV show series, it sounds like a no brainer but make sure you open up your DVD or CD cases and check to see if all of the discs are there. Also check to make sure that any DVD’s are in the region code that you listed them for sale at on eBay. I once picked up a fully sealed complete series of The Big Bang Theory at a garage sale, sold it on eBay and just before shipping realised I messed up the region code was a 1 instead of a 4. I had to cancel the order and got a strike on my account.

  • Any hat that costs more than $5. It’s just not worth it. Yes, you can pick up hats that are $10 and sell for $50 (which I’ve done before) but chances are your hat will sell for the $25 mark and there’s just not enough profit to be made.

  • Green glass that isn’t uranium - read last weeks issue of Flip Weekly to know what I’m talking about. Bring your blacklight with you everywhere!

What’s To Come

Hopefully more sales, more unique finds, more stories and more profit. More than that, I’m wanting to give back to you guys. I’m in the process of putting together some resources that I’m sure will help you out. We’re talking templates, software, online tools and more.

In the meantime, I’m on the look out for some of your more unique stories and finds when it comes to thrifting and garage sales. If you have a cool story or any fascinating finds, hit me up by clicking this link. Until next week, thanks again for reading!

Mat