Something From Nothing Log

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego »

New refinish project. It has been in his family for generations. His grandmother bought it new. We'll be using it as a sideboard. Resale value in a few years should be good. Refinished they typically run somewhere in the $6-800 range on Craigslist

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego »

Last year before leaving I had a friend who was bringing shelf-pull cosmetics to the swap meet. Basically it was the stuff that retail stores decided to no longer carry, had removed from their shelves and sold at auction. Every so often I would wander over to his space and scan barcodes to check the selling-prices and sell-through rates on ebay and buy some if it was priced so that I could make money.

Just before we left I had a few shelves full of cosmetics that had not sold. I drastically lowered the price and unloaded most of it. I was torn between selling it for $1 a box at the swap meet or holding onto it in our storage unit. In the end, we had room in the storage so I kept it.

I've been re-listing it over the last few weeks and found that the prices for some of the stuff has skyrocketed. One item, a facial mask that I paid $3 a box for two years ago is now selling for $55 each. :shock: The price I can get for it more than tripled in one year.

I guess people get accustomed to their beauty routine and are willing to pay almost anything for discontinued products. I am now watching for discontinued products that I can leave on the shelf for a year to ripen.

rube
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by rube »

Hi Ego, no best before date on those cosmetics?

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego »

Hey Rube, Surprisingly, no expiration dates on these. You Euros are much more particular about what you'll smear on your bodies. Here in the US of A we'll spread radioactive toxic waste on our faces if it makes us look three years younger.

I wish eBay was more forthcoming with historical sales info. It would be interesting to calculate the number of days after discontinuing a product that reaps the highest price.

rube
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by rube »

:lol: Well good for you.
I enjoy your journal and updates!

classical_Liberal
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by classical_Liberal »

Ego wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:30 pm
I am now watching for discontinued products that I can leave on the shelf for a year to ripen.
A couple of years ago I noticed my favorite brand of deodorant was gone from the shelves. I hopped online and discovered it had been discontinued... Too bad, I'd never found such a good product with my physiology. A month or so later I saw them on overstock for only a couple bucks each with a minimum $50 order. I bought 100, figuring the stuff probably doesn't really go bad and figured I'd be good for a decade or more. Thanks to your comments, I just looked it up on ebay. It's going for between $8-10 a stick! Now I have to decide if I wanna sell my remaining stock for 7-800 or keep it as planned. :lol: first world problems.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego »

Well, I guess being a little smelly is better than....

https://youtu.be/kUkZdWnBTt0

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Laura Ingalls »

@classical Liberia’s
You could sell part of it and diversify into another item such as toothpaste.

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C40
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by C40 »

You could first test some other deodorants. Perhaps there is some other brand that is even better than this one. Then you get better deodorant and you get all the money. You can also make your own deodorant and then be healthier, make it smell how you want, and feel really cool and self-reliant every time you put it on. (making deodorant is easy)

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego »

The refinish project turned out well.

Image

Mrs. Ego and I have been discussing the classical_Liberal deodorant issue. This is something I struggle with often.

Let's say someone really wanted to buy this dresser/sideboard. What price would I be willing to sell it to them after factoring in the hassle and everything involved with selling? Let's call this price the classical_Liberal deoderant price or CLDP for short.

When I look at the same item from a different perspective and ask myself how much I'd be willing to pay to keep it, the amount is different.

Why?

We paid $40 for it. I spent about 3 hours refinishing it. I am going to list it for a CLDP of $795 to see if I can get any takers.

While discussing the CLDP we decided that we are going to have a living-show-room where everything we own that has a resale value that makes it worth the effort to sell and is not personal (underwear, phones, computers) will be listed on craigslist and OfferUp for the CLDP.

Good idea? Bad idea?

BTW, Mrs. Ego bought the chair at Goodwill for $13.50 and we bought the rug, along with two others for $100 from a woman selling her dead mother's stuff.

jacob
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by jacob »

That's just the difference between the price and value. Price is public(*). Value is private. If price>value, you sell. If price<value, you buy. Obviously, the value of the second dresser < value of the first dresser. You can also insert a transaction cost---call it a hassle factor. In that case if price-hassle>value, you sell and if price+hassle<value, you buy.

(*) It's essentially what the marginal seller and the marginal buyer agree to transact on. If the bid/ask is gapped, it's somewhere in between. Personally, I prefer to think of prices as the "last transaction". Prices in the supermarket are really just "asks". They don't become a price until the trade happens. Thinking that way also solves the problem of illiquidity aka things that don't sell/nobody wants to buy.

horsewoman
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by horsewoman »

jacob wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 7:15 pm
Thinking that way also solves the problem of illiquidity aka things that don't sell/nobody wants to buy.
Can you please explain that further? I don't get it.
When I started to read here I came across a post (I think it was you how posted it @jacob) in which people were divided into groups according to the stuff they own. I'm in the "old and broken" party. A lot of my stuff is held together haphazardly with tape and I'm no good at maintaining things. So I have a lot of stuff that would not sell but I'm still attached to it -> it has value to me.
I'd like to toss or give away some of it but I cling to things (and have lots of space to store it).

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego »

jacob wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 7:15 pm
If price>value, you sell. If price<value, you buy.
@jacob, but if I were a rational being then after factoring in a hassle premium there should be a break even point where the maximum price I would pay to keep the dresser is equal to the minimum price I would accept to sell it. That would be the price=value point.

But that's not the case. I would demand many times more if someone just happened to see it and said, "I must have that dresser! How much?", versus being in a situation where suddenly by some strange twist of fate someone else owned the dresser and I had to pay to keep it.

Maybe it is the loss-aversion factor. Maybe I am just irrational.

jacob
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by jacob »

@Ego - You're talking about the "hold" range. Your hassle factor essentially expands the ask-bid to ask-bid+2*hassle. This is the range of your hold. It's centered at (ask+bid)/2. If you had loss-aversion, the center would be shifted. The reason would be that your selling hassle and your buying hassle would not be identical.

Add: Buy and sell hassle can also be innately different. For example, in consumer-land, it's much easier to buy stuff than to sell it. This is one reason why people end up with so much "inventory".

You're also playing/transacting at a higher level, so to speak, in that the value to you is not just the innate value to you but apparently also the value to the "other"---what you can get for it. If you feel you have the market cornered (others set a high value) and you can get a higher price, your value rises accordingly.

@horsewoman - In your case it means that your value is higher than the the market would attach to it. So value>price, so you'd buy... but you already own, so you're good. However, if you tried to list it for sale, your listing price would be higher than your [high] value ... and nobody would buy it. Your listed price would thus be meaningless, so I find it best to think it of "prices" only in terms of what has happened, not what might happen. E.g. if I ask a kid how much he wants for his favorite toy and he says a million dollars ... that price is essentially meaningless (and thus not a price) .. but it is his ask (asking price).

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C40
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by C40 »

I know a guy who does this with 4x4 sprinter vans and he makes a KILLING on them.

He gets a 4x4 (usually has to wait for it), then sends it to get a pop top or something?, and then does a really quick campervan conversion for himself (40 hours). Then he uses it. Within a year, someone at a gas station walks up and says:
Them: Oh wow, I want one of those! Is yours for sale?
Him: yes. Now - do you know how expensive these vans are?
Them: yes.

He's sold I believe 2 or 3 cans like this for profit of like $50k-$70k EACH!

classical_Liberal
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by classical_Liberal »

Minor correction to the deodorant story. When I recounted the events of my golden discovery to the GF, she pointed out I actually made the bulk buy on Hollar, not Overstock. It was great telling her this story because I'm constantly on her to keep our possessions at a minimum since we have been moving so often. We've had to move the "deodorant box" 5 times now, and each time I had to take a shellacking for having it. @Laura Ingalls, even with this discovery the odds of me being able to stock up years worth of other toiletries, without other relationship compromise is low.

@Ego
The refinish looks fantastic!

Wrt CLDP (God, I hope another term replaces this in future discussions :lol: ) I tend to agree with you, and disagree with @jacob. Not everything in my life is commodified to the point there is a specific value placed on all items.

An example is a courier bag I just found at a local thrift store. I've been looking for such a bag, with very little intensity, for about two years. It's more of a preference than an absolute need or even a want. The one I found is beautiful leather, very high quality, and in like new condition. I got it for $7, I knew it was a steal. I've seen similar bags new for $300-400. I've seen similar bags used in OK condition, with likely still a long life span, for $75-$150. I never bought any of them because it wasn't even worth $75 to me, but it was worth $7. Looking on Ebay I found the exact bag with two recent sales for $80 (plus shipping) in poor condition, and another in good condition for $139 with free shipping. So lets just say I'm pretty sure I could turn this for at least $100 profit. Yet there is no way i'm going to do it, I like it, and it's unlikely I'll run into such a good deal again in the near future. Even though I was completely unwilling to pay $100 for similar in the past, it has more than $100 value to me at present. Otherwise I'd just sell it. This leads me to believe there is some form of value bias when ownership was obtained in extraordinary circumstances (like a REALLY good deal).... But it needs a better name.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Ego:

Your whole corner collection looks lovely together.

@jacob:

I generally agree with your price/value description, but sometimes you can "know" price in an illiquid market. For instance, it was pretty easy for me to be confident that the next person on the planet who wanted to own a copy of "Iron Bridges of Pennsylvania: 1824-1842" would be willing to pay at least $89 for it, even though I also knew that nobody on the planet might want to buy it this month.

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Laura Ingalls »

I kinda like CLDP. It has to be at least as catchy as JAFI (Jacob’s adjusted for inflation):lol:

The relationship issue is one I get. About a month ago there was a dish soap deal at the supermarket closest to our house. The soap was essentially free. I asked DH straight up how many I could buy before I stressed out his low clutter tolerance self. He said 8. I wanted 20. The compromise was 14 and I donated 2 of them before I ever got home

bryan
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by bryan »

@C40

I guess the 4x4 feature is what demands (the biggest) premium?

I've also considered doing it for vans. Buy where they are cheap, up-fit, drive to CA and sell within a few months. Lifestyle business for sure.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego »

@cL & @7W. Thanks!

@C40, something like that would be my dream job. Improving the design and livability of the van with each iteration. Sorta kinda what you were doing? The point where work and play overlap.

Last Sunday I arrived at the swap meet when they where opening. I absolutely love the chaos where people are elbowing one another to get at the good stuff.

One family arrived in a box truck and began unloading Chippendale ball-and-claw footed antiques. Everyone was distracted by the ornate chairs and didn't notice that they had moved aside a large black panel, which I promptly grabbed and held on for dear life. I tried to get the vendor's attention by asking politely in Spanish how much they wanted for the panel. His wife was behind me and said $30 for all four panels. She was surprised that I paid her before seeing the other three panels.

Each panel weighs a ton. I carried them individually to the car because I didn't want to damage the soapstone carvings.

At home I set the screen up in a vacant apartment to photograph it for sale then did some research and discovered that they are a special black lacquer made from the application of many layers of clay in the Tainjin tradition known as Coromandel lacquer.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coromandel_lacquer

I found one that had sold for $32,000 but most were in the $1-2000 range. I believe it was made in the 1920-30s but I'm not sure. I'll have to do more research. For now I've listed it on CL for $845 but I may raise the price if I discover anything that warrants it.

Image

For the meantime I've mounted them on the wall in the entryway of our apartment.

Image

Image

Mrs. Ego has fallen in love with them and is insisting that they remain where they are until after "La Dolce Vita" party celebrating her Italian citizenship.

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