** Buying **
If you want to get the good deals, you have to **pay attention**. The deals you get will only be as good as the time you are willing to put into it. I have a Craigslist app on my phone, and I check it a few times throughout the day. I try to attend yard and garage sales at least a few times a month. At garage sales, I ALWAYS ask if they have video games, even if I don’t see any, or it doesn’t look like *that* type of garage sale. It’s far from fool-proof, but I’ve hit home runs on things people didn’t even know they had for sale.
On Craigslist, I search for “nes” (will cover nes and snes), “nintendo”, “n64”, “wii”, “gamecube”, “game cube”, as well as a general bi-daily perusal of the video game section. Always do a keyword search in two places: at the top-level “For Sale/Wanted” section, and in the “Garage Sale” section. By searching at the top-level, you will cover any mis-categorized items.
If someone doesn’t have the games listed in the ad – don’t be afraid to ask for a listing of titles. I’ve learned that 90% of the people are willing to do it, and it can confirm a great buy, or steer you clear of a waste of time
If you’re going to do it, do it right – Set a budget, keep track of your purchases, sales, time and gas consumption. After doing this for awhile, it will be a LOT easier to quickly assess if an ad is worth your time. Consider the following: If you pay $20 for a lot worth $50, but it took you 3 gallons of gas round-trip, and an hour of your time – how good of a deal did you really get? In reality, you probably saved $10. If that’s worth your time, great! If it’s not, move on…
Only use “video game” money for purchases; don’t dig in your own pocket to supplement your bankroll. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul.
There are two ends of the offer spectrum: at the high end is Fair Market Value, and at the low end is insulting. Ask yourself the lowest dollar *you’d* be willing to take if they were your items. Start $10-$50 below that, depending on the value of the item(s).
Be resourceful, I have some weird places I regularly buy video games from. Whenever it looks like someone is going to be an endless supply of inventory, tell them to contact you whenever they come across items X, Y, or Z. If they contact you, buy the shit – no matter what. I’ll pay $40 for a $50 item if it means down the road I can pay $40 for a $100 item. The first time you decline, don’t expect a call back. I get a ton of my games from a recycling center – that’s right, a recycling center. I have a guy on the inside who legally purchases the items, then sells them to me for a profit. I know he pays pennies on the dollar, but if we both make a profit, who cares if he makes quadruples up and I only double my money. I buy his stuff, every time, no questions asked. It doesn’t mean we don’t haggle every time, because we do, but now I’ve built up a good rapport with this individual.
- Be prepared to walk away from any deal. If prices start changing, or something just doesn’t feel right, WALK AWAY.
- Always meet in a neutral public location. Let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
- Always be respectful during negotiations; you never know when that person will have a change of heart, or a have realization that they may be overvaluing their possessions.
- Be prepared to make sacrifices to acquire the items you desire. Oh, you’re going to miss Michael Phelps win his 20th Olympic medal? Too bad. This guy wants to meet right now or he’s moving on, the choice is yours.
I have bought and resold several large collections on Craigslist. Here is my advice as a buyer:
- If he has a firm price in mind, quickly scan the lot for big ticket items. Add these items up in your head in $100 increments. If you get to the purchase price, and you feel there is enough small/medium ticket items to make it worth it – make the deal. If not, renegotiate or walk away.
- If you use the parting out method, there is ZERO chance for a huge score. Sure, you will know that you’re not getting screwed, but then you might as well use eBay.
- If you haven’t agreed on a price. Add up the big ticket items in your head in $100 increments. If you are keeping the collection, I would offer up to 80% of that value. If you plan on reselling all or part of it, you need to be in the 50%-60% range. That way you have some wiggle room for reselling and recouping some of your purchase price.
- When a seller throws out a price, I sit inside my head and pretend to be in deep thought. I also sigh and shake my head (as if the math is just not adding up) a lot. I wait it out in silence to the point of being slightly awkward – this is when the bottom dollar price will come out.
- I have had much more success charming the seller and shooting the shit about video games, than if I took a cold business approach.
* For more on negotiating with sellers see Podcast #10