Something From Nothing Log

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

Post by rube » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:00 pm

Ego: every time I read something about the Violin player, a smile appears on my face.
Thank you for the thread and (all) the stories.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:01 pm

Rube, thank you! He is such a funny guy. He is constantly making me laugh.

Today I was coming into the building by way of the back door. One of the tenants was about to flatten the packaging for a Dyson heater/fan. She told me she had ordered a second one when the first stopped working. She said she knew I was handy and asked if I wanted to try to fix it. "Absolutely!" I took the box from her and told her I would take care of it.

https://www.amazon.com/Dyson-AM09-Heate ... B00SMLKEYG

The bottom plate was held in place with a bunch of security screws. A few months ago I had purchased a set of 33 torx bits on ebay for $5 and had the correct one to remove the screws. With the plate off I immediately noticed that the power supply line was disconnected. I plugged it back in. Screwed the plate in place and now have an obscenely expensive remote controlled fan/heater in new condition with a box. Going to craigslist.

Image

BlueNote
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by BlueNote » Sat Jul 02, 2016 10:28 pm

@Ego

I am loving the violin/italian lesson and basic computer skills exchange. I used to have a neighbour who'd have me over and show me stuff on guitar, I ended up helping him with his computer and am still friends with him 20 years later. It's amazing how many people are out there who really have little to no idea how to use a computer but have advanced level skills in other areas, it's a great trade off.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by black_son_of_gray » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:08 am

Man clears 8k per month by bidding on boxes of returned retail items, then sorting and selling on Ebay. It's kinda like storage unit bidding. I imagine that an sufficient income for ERErs (~1k per month) could be had with about 1/8th the effort once you got a system down... so that would be one day a week.*

If @Ego or @7w5 wanted to scale up ... article here.

Honestly, if you have an entrepreneurial attitude, this could be a great way to get things you need for free. Bid on a box that likely has the thing you need (e.g. phone case), pick out the thing you need and keep it, sell the other premium items on the secondary market... profits should cover initial cost... item you wanted is free**. Also, you could build some social capital by offering the less premium items (e.g. phone chargers, etc. in the article) for free to neighbors, coworkers, et al.

*I'm not sure that this is a long-term income play... maybe for the next few years, but companies will likely build this returned-item problem back into their business model. Or some companies will squeeze profits by competing in this space. It's a rapidly changing dynamic, methinks.
**Actually, you pay for the item in labor, but if you have the time and like the hustle, not a bad deal!

rube
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by rube » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:28 am

Actually it is not really new. My parents did this type of side job already 30 years ago: buying returned goods from catalogue companies and re-sell them again after sorting them out. Mind you, this was before the Internet! I helped them when I got a bit older and learned how to fix all kind of things.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by black_son_of_gray » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:48 am

@rube: If I may ask, how did they forge that relationship with the companies? Did they just find a manager and ask or was their some more formalized program or process (e.g. like bidding for boxes in the article)? My impression is that, although that is a very simple thing to negotiate with local store managers (or at least try), most people probably wouldn't have the gumption - which also makes it a great opportunity for those who do.

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jennypenny
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by jennypenny » Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:12 am

There's a conair factory around me. They fill giant bins with all of the returns and products with broken/defective packaging, and once a year they open to the public. Most of the stuff is $1-2 dollars including hair dryers and flat irons. Cuisinart products are a little more. You can tell most people plan to resell the items. I think a lot of factories offer stuff to the public like that. The trick these days (near me, at least) is finding factories that haven't relocated.

The guy I bought my bike from has an arrangement with a couple of local cycle shops. When they take trade-ins for bikes that are below their threshold for selling them in their shop, they sell them to him for almost nothing. He fixes them up and sells them out of his barn.

My DH's first job was at Campbell Soup and they also had a factory store which included products from Pepperidge Farm and Godiva. They had a bin with loose pieces of Godiva chocolates that were tossed from the machinery and didn't make it into boxes. DH bought a bag full of chocolates every day for a month, and we re-packaged them to give away as favors at our wedding. Everyone was very impressed that we gave away Godiva chocolates--they had no idea we'd paid a nickel a piece for them. :lol:

rube
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by rube » Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:42 pm

black_son_of_gray wrote:@rube: If I may ask, how did they forge that relationship with the companies?
They were introduced to the 'wholesaler' through an acquaintance. The 'wholesaler' bought with truckloads directly from the catalogue company.
We bought it per dozen/pallet from the guy. We walked around, picked out the pallet/stuff we thought we could sell, asked for a price and negotiated till we thought it was 'no' risk for us. E.g. we were pretty sure we could sell the good stuff for at least what we paid for. Then if we could sell it for more and we could fix defectives also, we had a nice margin. This was mostly the case.
But all this was 30-20 years ago (and in Europe). So I don't have any recent experience.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Jul 03, 2016 3:37 pm

@black_son_of_gray: When I was heavily engaged in retail arbitrage, I did consider buying, sorting and re-selling large lots of returned and slightly damaged items, but never quite got around to it. I used to bid on mixed boxes of items at country estate auctions, just to get one book, and end up with a half dozen plates, a string of broken Xmas lights, 5 heavy iron hooks and a rust-stained table cloth for "free."

Amazon wants to clean up its warehouses, so they recently offered a promotion where dealers could have stuff shipped back to them for next to nothing if it hadn't sold. So, an odd and amusing assortment of stuff we shipped out during our retail arbitrage hey-day has been arriving back at our door lately. Travel wallets, giant minnow bait, crib bumper pads etc. etc.

Lately I've mostly been scavenging and semi-mooching for my perma-culture hard scrabble farm camper project. I've been thinking that some sort of geo-cache app would come in very helpful, because I keep locating plants I could transplant or crops, seeds I could forage, but the timing isn't right.

The author of "Discards: Your Way to Wealth" suggests that the skilled scavenger should always be looking for unconventional sources of discards. One method is to walk up to the back-door of any business and make friendly, and inquire if they have anything they want to get rid of. Most people abide by rigid lifestyles and most businesses are rigid in their functioning also, so anything that doesn't serve a pre-defined use is declared useless, or even worse than useless. For instance, used books my sister and I decide aren't worth enough to bother shipping to Amazon, we dump into boxes labelled "DEAD", and we donate them back to a library sale, because we haven't come up with another creative use. Until I went to the trouble of learning how to harvest and roast chicory root, pressure cook the greens, and its value as a clay-buster, mineral accumulating mulch, and source of inulin fiber, I just thought of it as an obnoxiously fast-growing weed.

The world is pretty much just like a giant box full of free toys.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:03 pm

A few years ago I bought an REI Quarterdome 3 tent at the REI garage sale for a song. It had a broken pole so it was really very cheap. I repaired the pole. For those who don't know, REI holds a special sale several times a year to sell all the items that have been returned. REI has an exceptional return policy so they usually have a lot of really great stuff really cheap.

Last month I went to another garage sale and found my dream tent, a brand new (used once) MSR Mutha Hubba NX-3 with ground sheet, for $220. So I listed the REI tent on craigslist for $265 and just now sold it. The profit did not make the MSR tent free, but it came awfully close. The MSR tent sells for $499 and came with the footprint which is another $40 or $50, so I am a happy camper.

The guy who bought it will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in sections with his family. This morning they did the first section starting at the border and have planned the next few weekend hikes.

black_son, I've considered buying stuff like suggested in the article. Liquidation.com looks very interesting. Hum. I will have to watch for outdoor gear.

bluenote, I was telling a senior friend about the arrangement this morning and she admitted that she does not have a computer and does not know how to use one either. I could see the gears working in her head, wondering what she could trade. I agree, it is amazing how many people are in the same boat. We were at the YMCA so I was able to tell her about the senior computer class they hold every so often.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:52 pm

We had another violin/computer lesson today. When I arrived Maestro was excited to show me the two tuxedos (one white, one black) and this suit he had purchased at the thrift store for $5. While his first love is music, he also worked for many years as a tailor. Over the weekend he pulled the sleeves off of all of the jackets and is in the process of completely resizing them, pockets and all.

He has a few violin gigs lined up for weddings and he was hoping to get the black tux done for that.

Image


He's been thinking about flying home to Italy for a visit so we searched for flights on the computer. It is really quite wonderful to be reminded just how incredible the internet is when seen through the eyes of someone who is still living in 1985.

IlliniDave
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:29 am

Great ongoing story with the maestro. My great grandfather was an Italian immigrant who came to America to farm in north central Illinois, but also played the violin. I never met him, but have a soft spot for Italian immigrant violinists.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:45 pm

Dave, if you ever decide to get your Italian citizenship, I am glad to help.

Mrs. Ego volunteered at a yoga conference the weekend before last and was chosen to model some of the clothing in the fashion show. They allowed her to keep an outfit. I just sold the pants on ebay for $50.

Yesterday I bought a vintage Gregory backpack that had a few brand new Sam splints inside. I am keeping one. Anyone want the other? I will gladly apply some of the proceeds from the yoga pants to mail it for free.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nMS3HkV7sM

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:35 pm

Ego wrote:Today I was coming into the building by way of the back door. One of the tenants was about to flatten the packaging for a Dyson heater/fan. She told me she had ordered a second one when the first stopped working. She said she knew I was handy and asked if I wanted to try to fix it. "Absolutely!" I took the box from her and told her I would take care of it.

https://www.amazon.com/Dyson-AM09-Heate ... B00SMLKEYG

The bottom plate was held in place with a bunch of security screws. A few months ago I had purchased a set of 33 torx bits on ebay for $5 and had the correct one to remove the screws. With the plate off I immediately noticed that the power supply line was disconnected. I plugged it back in. Screwed the plate in place and now have an obscenely expensive remote controlled fan/heater in new condition with a box. Going to craigslist.

Image
Just sold the Dyson fan/heater for $170. The young woman drove down from Orange County to get it. She bought it for her mother-in-law who lives in a house with no heat or cooling. On the coast this is not unusual, but MIL lives slightly inland which can make a big difference.

enigmaT120
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by enigmaT120 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:38 pm

Do those things work?

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Tue Jul 12, 2016 5:47 pm

enigmaT120 wrote:Do those things work?
Absolutely! They are fabulous at generating $170 out of thin air.

As far as the fan/heater goes.... meh.

enigmaT120
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by enigmaT120 » Wed Jul 13, 2016 4:05 pm

I want a Dyson Sphere (not around Sol). And a way to get to it.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Wed Jul 13, 2016 8:21 pm

Ego wrote: Also in the trash was a Keurig thingamajig and a Delonghi stainless toaster oven. Both appear to work. If so, craigslist they go.....

Image
I sold the Keurig and the toaster over together with the espresso machine I got in the trash a while ago, all for a $100. The couple just purchased a condo on the beach near Ensenada, Baja and they are setting it up as an Airbnb rental. I felt like an appliance salesman, testing everything in my little office. Hah!

Enigma, I have no doubt one of my tenants will throw away a Dyson sphere soon enough. It seems like the entire universe ends up in my trash cans eventually.

enigmaT120
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by enigmaT120 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:03 pm

That brought up some oddly delightful images.

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Ego
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Re: Something From Nothing Log

Post by Ego » Tue Jul 19, 2016 2:24 pm

Some disappointment regarding the cooperative violin/computer lessons. The Maestro has a long list of things with which he needs help. The more he learns, the longer the list grows. The last few classes we've spent almost the entire time working on his rather complex problems. Of the six hours of reciprocal lessons, 5 1/2 hours have been spent on his issues with another two hours spent by me at home on his issues.

I went into this with the understanding that it probably wouldn't be 50/50 because I have to spend as much time understanding problems* and explaining them to him as I do in finding solutions. Last night when he took me through the same abbreviated violin lesson we did the last time, I realized this may not work much longer.

Most of the problem is his excitement at having scratched the surface of learning/understanding and being lured in ten directions by all of technological doors that are opening to him. He is enthusiastic and I want to help, but the time and attention he needs is much more than I am able to provide. I've tried to find resources/classes that can help him with some of the things he wants to do, but each time I make a suggestion he looks at me confusedly and says something like, "why can't you just push the buttons and make it happen?" Trying to explain, "give a man a fish, teach a man to fish" to a 75 year old has proven harder than I expected. My parents were both tech savvy and self-reliant problem solvers so this is rather new to me.

Last night I explained the problem to him for the first time. I suspect I will have to explain it a few times before it sinks in. My concern is that we've reached the end of his ability to teach me anything new with the violin, though I am trying to be mindful of the fact that the most valuable lessons I am learning have to do with the * below.

There are some good online violin resources and I am shifting my focus in that direction. Makes me sad to say that.

* I've realized there are six distinct barriers involved in the issues he is experiencing:
-cultural
-language
-inexperience with technology
-dependence on daytime public transit
-lack of confidence to try new things that involve understanding the motivations of others (does theory-of-mind diminish with age?)
-Earning limitations for Social Security & low-income housing. (he is eager to work but the resultant benefits cuts keeps him from doing so)

Lots to learn here.

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