04/03/2018 at 10:33 pm #37050
I have not been very active on the forums but wanted to ask a quick question
I have about 750 items in my store and do this as a side hobby. I spend 15-25 hrs a month on it and enjoy it a lot. I make very good money at my real job so not ready to quit it as of yet but getting closer.
I recently purchased around 4000 hats from around the late 70s to early 90s. They were at an estate auction of a guy who just collected hats. I spent around $600 on them and they are easily worth upwards of 40k (some woman at the auction told me I was crazy for buying that crap). The vintage NASCAR stuff alone has been selling for unbelievable prices. My store is mprw77 if you want to take a look. I sold a hat today that I listed for $200 in ten minutes. I have been going up and up on pricing bc not sure where to list some of this stuff.
My question is at what point do I hire someone to help out? The accounting and the mess of it all seems like a lot but this is a bit overwhelming. I won’t be able to buy another item for the rest of the year and still won’t finish all the listings.
Second question is I have had a few buyers that appear to be shippers to foreign countries buy a lot of my hats. They buy them literally as soon as they are listed and with multiple accounts. However, I have noticed that some of the addresses are the same – different accounts with low feedback numbers and same addresses. Should I worry about this?
Thanks for the community. It is great to know that there are other scavengers out there who love to resell.
04/04/2018 at 12:06 pm #37074
04/04/2018 at 12:56 pm #37077EvanParticipant
- Location: Montreal
Have you thought about lotting hats together to save you listing time? Like throwing all the 7up hats together or Pepsi hats together? You mentioned buyers at the same address buying multiple hats anyways, so maybe lots aren’t a bad option? Still, I don’t envy you having to photograph 4k hats. Yikes.
04/04/2018 at 1:20 pm #37078So Cal JoeParticipant
My Advice is raise your prices and take more pictures.
Hats are easy to photograph, but you should have at least eight pictures.
Everyone who makes their first big haul gets overwhelmed. Unless storage is an urgent concern, I wouldn’t get too excited about it.
If you think it was a mistake and this isn’t for you, you can always list the cream of the crop and unload the rest..
The answer to your questions have more to do with your business model, than anything else. You made what looks like a great score..
Great Find.. Good Luck.
04/04/2018 at 4:45 pm #37094
thanks for the responses. I thought about some lots but there is more money in the listings. Maybe Ill get there but not quite yet.
I disagree a bit on 8 pictures for vintage hats. that’s a lot and think it actually turns some buyers off when every speck can be closely inspected.
i’ve been raising some prices today and have sold a few already. good stuff.
04/04/2018 at 4:55 pm #37096EvanParticipant
- Location: Montreal
There’s definitely more money in individual listings, but if you’re considering hiring someone to help you list, you need to think about profit gained in individual listing (as opposed to lots) vs cost of paying an employee. May still be worth it to hire, but definitely do the math! Good luck!
04/04/2018 at 5:07 pm #37097Steven SParticipant
- Location: South Dakota
What’s the hurry?
Sell them individually, list them when you can, it’s a pipeline that will keep pumping out cash.
It sounds like those hats will retain if not increase their value over time so even if it took 2 years to list them you’re going to make a ton of money from that purchase.
I’m with you on hiring help and the extra accounting work that nobody likes to do.
04/04/2018 at 5:17 pm #37098
I am likely going to just list them over the next few years and take my time. it is a bit overwhelming though and feel bad about buying anything new when I have so much to list.
my 13 year old daughter convinced me to hire her at $8/hr to photo the hats which is a great way to teach her business and spend time with her. Seems that is the best option.
it also appears that you can pay your child up to $6k a year without having to file taxes on them.
anybody aware of that rule?
04/04/2018 at 5:46 pm #37099
I agree with Steve that it’s no hurry at all. Take your time.
–Do a first culling and pull out hats you know are good sellers.
–Do another culling and pull out any damaged hats. Either donate or pull off the patches to sell.
–Do another culling where you group up similar hats that could be sold in small lots.
My OCD is excited for you!
I wouldn’t worry too much about paying your 13-year-old daughter and taxes. Just my opinion. Its like an earned allowance.
04/04/2018 at 6:31 pm #37103SigiliniParticipant
Amazing! My only 2 cents is pay her by the hat, not the hour. That way she is learning to work for herself and keep herself motivated.
04/04/2018 at 7:34 pm #37109AdventureEParticipant
I would agree to pay her by hat and not by hour and then put it into a savings/allowance account for her which can be used when she asks to buy something. I do not know how and if such monies are taxed. Putting money aside for her to use on things she wants to buy (beyond the basics of being a teenager) would be a good way for her to practice working for money, budgeting, spending only what she has the cash for, identifying whether it is a need or want before buying something, completing a project, and following directions. In my opinion, the earlier we teach kids about the importance of only paying for something if you can afford it (because you actually have the cash for it), the earlier we can instill a strong understanding of money, saving, thinking ahead, working within a budget etc. which can help them avoid the cycle of debt so many adults deal with on a daily basis.
04/04/2018 at 9:17 pm #37115SharynParticipant
- Location: Central NJ
I did my taxes a few weeks ago. There is a rule that if your child makes less than $x amount in employment and has less than $y in interest and dividends, then their earnings do not have to be reported. The $x in employment was in the $5k to $6k range, but I don’t remember the exact amount.
04/04/2018 at 9:39 pm #37117
I like the idea of by the hat. I’ll crowds source the rate. What do you guys think is fair for a 13 year old? I do have to edit some of them and have her take some additional ones but overall, she’s not bad at it. Some of them she has to clean off so that does take a little time.
They are in long flower type boxes. Each box has between 50-60 hats and there are 83 boxes. I estimate that around 2/3 have value and are listable. The rest will likely go to Goodwill.
Jay, just going through them to find the valuable ones is a task. They are generally grouped by theme but still takes forever. I was just planning to go by the box and just plow ahead. The OCD in me makes me want to do this all this week but will take awhile I know.
Sharyn, thanks for the input.
04/04/2018 at 11:08 pm #37120AdventureEParticipant
I would offer that the goal is to set your daughter up for success so she learns what SHE CAN DO as well as what it means to perform at a level of quality. Future bosses are not only going to want quantity at what ever she does but the abiility to do quality work, pay attention to details, follow through on tasks and instrutions, and even the ability to put in the time needed to get a job done.These are all skiills she can learn from you but in an environment in which it is safe to make mistakes, ask for help, and even say, “I don’t know”.
I would offer that you identify 3 to 4 things that she can do for every hat in order to earn 5 dollars a hat. Maybe she has to help group and organize, inspect them with you for any flaws, clean them, and maybe even take some pictures. I would offer that you let her know that feedback will be a part of the process and then show her each one she did right and identify how to improve on other ones. I would offer that after she has shown her ability to complete the 3 or 4 things consistantly that she be given more responsibility such as writing descriptions for you on a sheet of paper that include any flaws that each hat may have.
I think this will be a very memorable experience for her and when she is at her future job and is getting commodations, she will find herself saying “My dad taught me……”
04/05/2018 at 9:42 am #37144TemudginParticipant
- Location: Jacksonville FL
Congratulations on the haul! Those are some awesome hats. It’s a good lesson supporting J&R’s mantra to go all in when it feels right. Also good on you for getting to 750 listings as a side hobby. I’ve been eBaying as a hobby for over 20 years and don’t think I’ve ever gotten to more than 150. I probably don’t go high enough on my prices so my stuff sells faster than I can add listings. To your second question, I sell to low and zero feedback buyers and those remailers frequently and have never had a problem.
As to your pricing quandary, you could try auctions for some of those hats to prevent the feeling that you’re leaving too much money on the table. There is obviously so much immediate activity on them that you could do 3 day or even 1 day auctions which helps keep the attention of your immediate gratification buyers. I did that once with a cache of ungraded early silver dollars I was going through one by one and I was very happy with the resulting prices.
04/05/2018 at 10:18 am #37145LAwomanParticipant
Great thread, congratulations. This is the kind of thing I pray for but mostly find ‘one-offs’
Are you experienced, in general, at auctions?
Did you view the auction items before bidding?
Was a little bit of everything in different categories being auctioned? (furniture, hat collection, knick knacks, books etc) I mean, did you expect the ‘hat’ lot? Did you know anything about hats (what sells etc) prior to bidding or were you taking a chance?
Was this an auction near where you live?
I pray for something like this to happen while scavenging. I have lost my shirt more than once taking a chance of large lots etc, so I’m gun shy these days. You post gives me a little hope.
04/05/2018 at 10:20 am #37146antarestarParticipant
- Location: Maine
If it was me, I would pay her $1 per hat to photograph. They probably don’t need much cleaning and are quick and easy to photograph. I also wouldn’t pay her to redo any pictures – point out the problem and explain why you want it fixed. Probably a little harsh but she’ll learn very quickly to take good pictures. Within a week the pictures will be perfect and she’ll learn a long term lesson about doing good work.
You could probably even have her do the listings after a while. Maybe she could put her name in the Custom Label field and she could earn a percent of those sales with the profits going toward buying her a car or helping to pay for college.
Make sure not to bundle together purchases from shippers with the same address. Other folks have gotten into a mess doing that.
04/05/2018 at 12:00 pm #37152indomatt239Participant
- Location: Pittsburgh
Wow, what a find. Looking through some of your sold hats, you have made some nice sales. I think that you could have made a LOT more on the CAT denim hat though, especially in an auction (or way BIN w/ Best Offer). If you find any old John Deere hats, definitely consider an auction and make sure that you are set up to ship internationally, especially to Asia. Some of these old farmer hats go for $400-$800. I once sold a beat up Deere hat with absolutely disintegrated foam for $400. I don’t know, maybe there are old hat re-foamers out there.
04/05/2018 at 1:03 pm #37155
Thanks for the responses.
Indomatt- I have a whole box of 50 or so John Deere hats from the 70s and 80s I am researching them now. I hope to list them really high and just see what happens. I agree on the CAT hat, that was way too low.
LAwoman- I bought these at my local auction that they have once a week. The lot was so big that I don’t think anyone was really interested. The most I paid for a box was $37 which was the best one I found. I bought probably 75% of the collection. I have sold a lot of hats over the years but this is by far the craziest lot.
I put one hat up for auction this week. It is a three striped Pepsi hat that some of the solds have been insane. It has a bunch of watchers but no bids yet at 200. check it out to see what happens.
I like the idea of $1 per hat but she is responsible for storing, cleaning, pictures, etc. I may teach her how to list and just give her the prices so she can double her money.
04/05/2018 at 3:12 pm #37165SharynParticipant
- Location: Central NJ
I’ll throw in one thing here, but I’ve read elsewhere on the forum that John Deere can sometimes bring a VERO (a copyright infringement issue that a company can dispute through eBay). I should mention that I don’t have experience with John Deere. I’m only repeating what I’ve heard here on the forum.
Here’s a link to a discussion earlier this year:
04/05/2018 at 4:29 pm #37172MDC Galleries & Fine ArtParticipant
- Location: Atlanta
Yep.. John Deere pays people / has a team who do nothing but scourer the internet for products and the word John Deere associated with it. We know. We got two VERO’s from Ebay and a Notice from Etsy and Bonanza [had some cross listed] and got notices from all of them. There are a lot of hats, toys, patches, jackets, vests, that are fakes and knock offs.
I actually reached someone at John Deere and asked how can you tell and the first thing they said is anything silver is not there’s or original. Our hats had a silver embroidered back ground. So, down they came and to make sure they did not get back into the market place we didn’t donate or re-sell them. We gave them to a few friends who were farmers and handymen. They loved them and we told them about the John Deere story and they said they would just dump them in the trash once they were done with them.
for what it’s worth.
Mike at MDC Galleries in Atlanta
04/06/2018 at 6:21 pm #37242
thanks good to know that information. ill try and make sure that is not the case.
04/07/2018 at 7:13 pm #37281ChristineKParticipant
Hats are my jam! They are the majority of what I sell. I’d be happy to take a look if there are ones you need help pricing. My gut would be to price high since it sounds like you have some rare ones. Hats are FAST to list once you get your process down, so I wouldn’t hire anyone personally. Accounting wouldn’t worry me either…just use outright.
04/08/2018 at 11:52 am #37347
christinek- check out my store at mprw77 and let me know what you think. would love some feedback!
04/09/2018 at 8:22 pm #37460Retiredfireguy21Participant
- Location: Canada
Great score!I love me some hats.
Easy peasy to ship First Class goodbye.
Great to get your kids involved i did the same with both of mine and it probably taught them more then a business degree!
Great advise here so far and i do agree take more pics it isn’t that hard as part of the process.
I would set a goal to list X amount a week and do your best to stick to it.
The biggest one time score i’ve processed was 110 vintage tshirts and after photographing them all flat lay in one day i could hardly move the next day.Ebay injury!
Don’t do that!
Question? How do you ship them?
At one time i would put some cardboard under the brim a square of large bubble in the folded back and poly bag it.
I now box them up my old process made me nervous but it never resulted in a damaged hat.
04/10/2018 at 2:19 am #37473Marjean28Participant
- Location: Minneapolis, MN
I also sell hats, but just pick them up at the goodwill bins. Here’s my (current) process. I wash them all. I used to hand wash them, but now I just throw them in the gentle cycle, with a very very low spin in a front loading machine. I’ve never had damage doing that and they come out great. I air dry them and if necessary I will block steam them on a sewing ham (look it up if you’re unfamiliar with what that is). I research each one. I list as high as I can and nothing is listed for less than 20, even if that’s where the market is. Then I sit and wait on those. If they don’t sell in a year, I pull and either relist with new photos or re-donate.
04/10/2018 at 9:29 pm #37514
that seems really a lot of work for the number of hats we are talking about. I have been using a shop vac and simple soap and water to get off some of the shelf wear. It takes less than a minute per hat. I have listed around 300 and feels like I have made zero progress.
I agree with jay that this is going to be a looong process and just not worry about it. I just have to convince my wife that it is normal to have 4000 hats in the storage room.
04/10/2018 at 9:30 pm #37515
even if you got 410 per hat, that’s $40k. Tell her it’s your mortgage payments for the next five years.
04/10/2018 at 9:55 pm #37517indomatt239Participant
- Location: Pittsburgh
Unless you are super into old hats, make sure that you work some other neat finds into the mix so you don’t experience old-hat burnout. I once bought a collection of (an estimate, nobody bothered to count) 10,000 old advertising pencils from the 1930’s-1960’s at an auction for $30. I was pretty stoked, I sold one with an old New York Yankees schedule on it for over $100. I went all in listing pencils. At one point I probably had 400-500 listings for pencil lots and individual pencils. But the bin I was picking from was not getting any emptier. Like the sorcerer from Fantasia had cursed me somehow and they were multiplying. I had old-pencil burnout. Luckily, some lady started buying everything I had posted for sale in a short period of time. I contacted her through PayPal and told her that I had about 8,500 pencils left. We negotiated a fair price that was far less than the dream that I had of making $25K on old pencils, but still a heck of a profit on my original investment. Would I do it again? Yes!
04/10/2018 at 9:37 pm #37516
she’s on board , just thinks Im a little weird.
I turned down a best offer of $150 on a camo stihl hat today and she thought I was totally insane though.
04/11/2018 at 10:53 am #37529LAwomanParticipant
Too much of anything, is too much. ;-).
My best hat sales (pre-owned) were when they were higher-end (D2squared, for example or Gucci). I also don’t buy anything ‘made in china’, especially baseball caps, the market is over-saturated. (now a lot of insane clown posse hats, that was a brilliant find.)
I have done well with old office supplies (thank you Jay and Ryanne’s podcast). I still have hundreds of pencils left over, I wait for the mood to strike (when I’m sick of listing clothe) and I’ll list a couple of rare ones, but the big $ was in the earlier sales (pens etc) from the same lot.
07/12/2020 at 5:12 pm #79495
The last hat was listed today. It has been 28 months since the purchase and currently have 1136 hats for sale.
It has been a rather long road but listed each hat individually and have sold around 2500 or so. A number of the hats turned out to be in pretty bad condition and either donated or took the patches off to sell.
I would estimate that we have sold around $40k of hats and figure it will continue to be a pipeline for a few years. Thanks to everyone who gave some advice.
07/12/2020 at 5:23 pm #79496
Nice update two years later. $40k sales on a $600 investment is a haul of a lifetime. Good job putting in the work. I doubt it was easy photographing and listing 3600 hats.
07/12/2020 at 5:58 pm #79499
I definitely went through stretches of lack of motivation. Cleaning, photographing, and listing became an assembly line with my daughter and we got to where we could do 20 per hour. If I was on my own, it was like 12 or so. I am glad they are finished and plan on having income from them for quite awhile (sold a $75 one today).
Thanks for the blog. great inspiration to get the store to higher and higher levels.
07/12/2020 at 6:10 pm #79503
07/12/2020 at 6:17 pm #79505
definitely listing other items. would have gone insane just listing hats. I have tried to learn about other categories and sell a huge variety of items. Right now store is 20 percent or so books, 50 percent hats, 10 percent art and rest misc.
07/13/2020 at 8:31 am #79522Retro Treasures WVParticipant
Such an awesome story. Thanks for the update!
There has been times I’ve really debated with myself when considering a large haul.
Every time I’ve done went all in I have not regretted it once it came time to count the cash. Lol!
07/16/2020 at 8:29 am #79643ChristineKParticipant
You are living my fantasy lol. Hats are my jam. A haul like this is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Good job going all in!
07/16/2020 at 10:35 am #79646Old DadParticipant
- Location: Missouri
“Second question is I have had a few buyers that appear to be shippers to foreign countries buy a lot of my hats”
There are freight forwarders who consolidate orders for a particular International geographic area to save the buyer on shipping costs. For South American these companies are usually in Doral or Miami Florida, for Europe either New York or New Jersey. A few of them might request you write the eBay item ID on the outside of the package, some want no packing slip or anything with the price. I think the different user IDs used might be some kind of sorting system they use, such as the destination country, but I’ve not paid that much attention to even notice the same address.
I have never had a problem but some sellers report they have problems with freight forwarders, such as claiming the item was not received, was damaged, etc. I haven’t seen that at all so I feel like that it must be the minority. Anything valuable I would include signature confirmation, to close the door on INR. The level on that value is whatever you feel comfortable with, but since you have such a low per-item cost you can probably afford a little shrinkage. Think of it like shoplifting if you had a retail store, it sucks but not something to fret over if you can’t control it.
If I were in your situation I would just keep listing the hats singly. If you can group similar style hats prior to listing it might help your efficiency a bit on the description, or maybe even enable your daughter to help with that if you point out the few differences that will need to be made to the description and check here work before posting. You can check with a tax preparer or accountant to find out what the limit is on pay for minors, but I doubt she will reach that while still keeping up her schoolwork and normal childhood activities. It can be a wonderful experience for both of you (patience required).
One thing to think about on new listings is to at least list as many new items each week as what you sold, plus a few if you can. This will keep the task a priority for you instead of slowly becoming inactive, and will keep you whittling down your backlog without seeming like a chore. If you get to the place where you’re sure you want to continue doing this long term, and you see another great deal, buy it if you have the storage space.
One last thing, do not let this take away from family time. If you are married or in a relationship make sure your partner is on board so it doesn’t create and conflict, and the children are not resentful of any lack of attention. Just friendly advice from an old guy who has seen a lot and done some relationship things wrong a few times.
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