What’s It Worth? October 2012

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Barbie is probably one of the most recognizable toys to American children. But did you know that Barbie is actually of German descent? Inspiration for Barbie came from a similar doll by the name of Lilli, who was originally a cartoon character from a German tabloid newspaper called “Bild Zeitung” (Picture Newspaper). Lilli was considered a character of ill repute and was sold it tobacco shops and bars throughout Germany, often given as a souvenir at bachelor parties.

As the story goes, Barbie’s creator (Ruth Handler) first came across Lilli while traveling in Europe with her husband, Elliot, and their two kids, Barbara and Ken. Ruth was fascinated by Lilli and purchased several dolls to bring home. She and Elliot owned a small toy company named Mattel, and eventually Ruth persuaded Elliot and his all-male staff that little girls would love the idea of playing with an adult doll.

In 1958, Mattel bought the Lilli patent from its German owners and set about producing their own Americanized version. A year later, Barbie debuted at the International Toy Fair to mixed reviews. Many doll buyers refused to purchase the doll, while others though she was too provocative. Yet to little girls, it was love at first sight. Mattel sold over 350,00 Barbie dolls in the first year alone!

If you’re fortunate enough to come across an original Barbie doll, you might just be surprised at what they’re worth. My father came across one at a yard sale last fall and purchased her for $4. She was in good condition, but missing all of her original accessories. I didn’t think much about the doll when he first contacted me about her, but as I began to research her, my expectations began to rise.

You can buy nearly any original Barbie accessories online, so I purchased an original Barbie Box, zebra swimsuit, stilettos, earrings, and booklet on eBay. I couldn’t bring myself to pay $200 for the only original #2 Barbie stand listed at the time, but I managed to find a similar vintage stand for a fraction of the price that would suffice. I went as far as mailing Barbie off to a “Barbie Restoration Specialist”, who cleaned the doll, washed her hair, and gave Barbie a new ponytail band. I estimated the extra investment would increase the value of the doll to $2500.

Once listed for auction on eBay, Barbie immediately began to attract interest. By her second day online, she had more than twice the number of watchers than anything I had previously sold. By the morning of the last day, Barbie had reached $3000 in bids. As the last few seconds ticked down, the price jumped again. My father’s $4 garage sale Barbie sold for $3938! As a grown man, I must admit that I now like Barbie, too.

 The original article can be found in the October 2012 issue of Southern Neighbor available here: http://www.southernneighbor.com/issues.html

What’s It Worth? – September 2012

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I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a column each month about some of the more interesting items that I’ve come across in the consignment business. This will hopefully inspire a few of you out there to root around in the attic or basement for some of those long lost treasures.

The other month, I was e-mailed a picture of a china plate. I’m normally not too excited at the prospect of selling china, as it’s sold everywhere and younger generations don’t typically buy it if they can’t put it in the dishwasher. However, this plate was different. In the picture was a note stating that it had been a gift from [then] Governor Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt’s mother-in-law to one of her employees, who handed the plate down to the next generation upon her death.

eBay vs Craigslist: Pros and Cons

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Occasionally, people will ask me to sell large items such as furniture, cars, kayaks, or even tractors on eBay. While these items are sometimes appropriate for eBay, I usually recommend that the sellers use Craigslist instead. If you’re not very familiar with either, this article will explain some of the basic differences between the two.

eBay is a website that serves as a meeting place between buyers and sellers all over the world. It generates some staggering sales figures, such as having more than 100 million active users who purchased a total of $68.6 billion worth of goods in 2011 alone (that’s more than $2100 in sales per second!)

Turning Trash into Treasure

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Most people realize that at some point in their lives, they have too much stuff. There are a number of different ways to deal with this. You can have a garage sale, donate items to your local thrift shop, or simply drag it out to the curb and leave it for someone else, be it a neighbor or the garbage collector. These suggestions require the least amount of effort, but also produce the least amount of return on your original investment.

Today, hundreds of millions of people are connected by one of the most widespread communications tools that ever existed – the internet. Not only is the internet a vast information resource, it’s also great for selling almost anything. With it, I’m going to show you a few basic strategies for turning some of that stuff that you’ve accumulated over the years into money.

Enough of This Stuff: Tips from a Professional Consignor to Sell Your Possessions

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If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of stuff over the course of your life. Clothing, furniture, household goods, books, electronics, etc. The list goes on and on. Americans like stuff so much of the estimated 58,000 self storage facilities worldwide in 2010, 46,500 of them existed in the United States alone!

At some point, most people realize they either don’t have the space or the passion for what they’ve managed to accumulate. There are two basic options for what they can do – either donate the items or sell them. Donating items is oftentimes the easiest and quickest way to de-clutter. Simply give it away to friends or family members that could use the items, or make a list of the items (including condition and fair market value) and drop them off at a local donation center.

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