Monday, October 20, 2014

New Stack Pack

Just a quick post today...got our new stack pack and matching genoa UV strip installed.  Wife wanted a high visibility color...that ought to work.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Annapolis Sailboat Show 2014

So, what do you do the weekend after your estate sale?  Well, in our case, we headed out to the 2014 U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis Maryland.  The biggest sailboat show only happens once a year and we hadn't been in over two years so it was time to go.


This time our focus was quite a bit different than the last show.  If you recall, the goal of the last visit was to look at boats as we didn't yet own Rover.  This time we are boat owners and are now looking for things that we need or want.  My wife didn't have proper foul weather gear yet (waterproof gear that can take a wave isn't available in Colorado) and we could both use some decent sailing gloves. The laundry list of items that Rover needs (or we want her to have) keeps expanding too.  Solar and maybe wind power, water maker, more eco-friendly bottom paint, various interior and exterior cushions, a dodger, a better anchor, baskets of hardware, and maybe some toys like a kayak or SUP are all of interest. I also wanted to see a friend who lives on the east coast and since our broker Pete was at the show, wanted to see him too.

If you are shopping for a variety of items for your boat, a show like this is a real time saver as you can see a lot all in one place. We were able to check out most of the items we were interested in.  My wife was able to try on rain gear from several makers, and I was able to talk with several vendors about solar installs, bottom paints, etc.  We found an interesting nesting cookware set for the galley that seemed to be decent qality.  And we got to check out a few of the newer style anchors available today.  You could easily spend a LOT of money at one of these shows, so while it is nice to see all the newest and latest things, you do want to hold onto your wallet.


We did end up buying a few things at the show.  My wife now has some new Slam rain gear and we both have sailing gloves.  Since Rover needs a new dodger set and interior and exterior cushions, we had the idea we could make our own and picked up a Sail-rite sewing machine.  Sleeping at night is high on our desire list so we also bought a new Mantus anchor that we think will help when out on the hook.  Most of the items will be shipped, so I will let you know more about them once we have a chance to play with them.

Here is an interesting thing we discovered at the show.  We attended the last two days of the show this year.  Our first day at the show was the third day (if you count the VIP day), and I think most of the people working the booths were getting a bit worn down by that point.  We were having a bit of a hard time engaging some of the vendors to get information about their products.  Or maybe it was because the Sunday was the only nice weather day at the show.  Monday was the complete opposite.  There are no seminars on the last day of the show and it was a bit rainy so there were no crowds. We found it much easier to talk with the vendors that day. Some vendors were even offering additional discounts (probably not wanting to lug unsold product back to their trucks). This was the day we made most of our purchases.

Overall, it was a good show for us.  We acquired some stuff we needed as well as information we needed. And we might even have our first sponsor...we will see.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Estate Sale Day 3 - A Little Faith Restored

Sunday was the last day of our estate sale. We decided to do something we found fairly common in the estate sale business, we made Sunday a half-price day.  Most items, there were a very few exceptions that were specially marked, were half off the marked price. This doesn't necessarily get you a lot of cash per item, but it does help move a lot of stuff out the door that wasn't moving at the marked price...at least that was the theory.

I think we were finally getting the hang of running the sale as it was our smoothest opening of the three days.  Signs were all out well before the start of the sale (we retrieved signs each night since there are people that will deface or remove signs...calling them street spam...and we didn't want to spend more money to replace the signs), we had time to walk the house and make sure everything was in order, and get an OK from everyone that we were ready to open. It also seemed like there wasn't quite as big of a rush on the Sunday and that helped.

Overall, I don't think it was as busy all day, but we still had good traffic (better than our typical garage sale).  One thing happened that day that helped restore a bit of faith in my fellow man.  A lady had come in on Friday and purchased a jewelry box.  She came back on Sunday to return all the jewelry that was apparently in the box.  She said the jewelry looked like family heirlooms and wanted to make sure we got it back.  Most of it didn't have sentimental value, but was real gold and silver and we appreciated getting it back.  We gave her one of the pieces as well as a stuffed animal one of her children liked as reward for her honesty and integrity.

While we didn't get rid of as much stuff as we would have liked (much of the nicer furniture remains), I think we did all right. If you recall, the estate sale companies thought we would gross between $7000 and $8000 leaving our cut at about $4500. The first day of the sale we made over $5000, the second and third days were a bit over and a bit under $1000 respectively. This put us right at what the companies thought we would get without taking the 40% loss and we still have a few big items to sell.

Would I do it again...well...that is still a good question and I don't know if I would.  But the past couple days we have spent a couple thousand dollars on the boat so it is nice having that extra money...but that is the subject for a couple other posts.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Estate Sale Day 2 - Continuing The Purge

Day two was a bit more organized than day one.  I started putting the signs out a full hour before the sale started...with an added note on the sign in front of the house that read "Open @ 10 am". When I got back, we had time to walk through the house and make sure things we didn't want to sell (or have stolen) were hidden away behind locked doors. There were a number of people waiting as we opened, but I don't think quite as many as the day before...which was a good thing.  Adding that all three of us were there for the start I think made it a bit less hectic.

Attendance was still pretty good for the second day of the sale.  I think it probably helped that it was a Saturday so all those with real jobs during the week could finally attend.  It is only a guess, but I presume more people stumbled across our signs than came because of the online ad after the initial morning rush.

We were able to sell a number of items that I originally wasn't sure we would sell...like one of our artificial Christmas trees, our patio furniture, a computer monitor, and a work desk. Sometimes it amazes me what sells and what does not sell.  Someone found our stash of a few garden tools we needed to keep to clean up the yard and asked if they could buy the cheap, broken, duct-taped-together leaf rake.  Someone else dug out our stashed half package of toilet paper that was guarded by a baby gate and a "Nothing for sale here" sign.

There didn't seem to be as many people that were rude in their negotiation efforts that day. On Friday we encountered several people that were obviously looking for things they could get cheaply so they could resell them on Ebay.  When they realized that we wouldn't sell a collectable item for 1/10 of its actual value (we were priced below typical market prices), we would get snotty comments on price (and the item would often sell for the marked price just a little later).

While we didn't recoup as many freedom chips as we did the first day, we did OK and managed to clear out a fair amount of stuff.  Unfortunately, some of the bigger items (furniture) do remain.  Wondering get if we will have to figure out another option for selling that.  One more day to go and the estate sale will be done.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Estate Sale Day 1 - Disappointment With Humanity

After getting to sleep at 4 AM, we awoke at 6 AM to prepare for the first day of the sale.  We make some coffee...a lot of coffee...and continue pricing things, moving items around, and actually creating the estate sale signs that you saw in the last post.  My wife makes a run to McDonald's to get us something to eat before the show started (not a great option, but about the only option we had for something quick that early in the morning).

I left the house about 20 minutes before the start of the sale to put up signs and there were already a couple of people parked outside waiting for the sale to start.  I ended up miscalculating the amount of time it would take to put all the signs up and I didn't return to the house until 20 minutes after the sale started.  When I returned it was a zoo.  Cars were lined up and down the street. Apparently advertising the sale on EstateSales.net can bring in quite a crowd.  Hope it didn't bother my neighbors too much.

In our exhausted state, no one thought about doing a walk-through of the house before we opened the door.  As it turned out, I had left my laptop running so we could continue pricing items when I was distracted with making the sale signs.  It wasn't until someone tried to buy it that my wife realized it was still sitting out and rescued it.

Sales were very brisk throughout the day and we made a majority of the entire sale proceeds this first day.  We didn't even have time to stop for lunch (or even notice lunch time passed by).  The 60" LED flat screen TV, home theater with custom speakers, stainless steel gas grill, front loading washer, futon, one bedroom set, and other miscellaneous items were sold the first day.


Unfortunately it was not all good news.  Even though we had three people running the sale (the estate sale companies only planned on two), theft was an issue.  Two of us tried circulating through the house to answer questions and prevent theft but it apparently wasn't enough.  While I was busy demonstrating the home theater equipment to a buyer, I noticed that a rare CD collection (KBCO Studio C Box Set, numbered and one of only 200) was missing.  Later in the day we found a few boxes that used to contain items but only the empty boxes remained. And a few of these items were priced less than $1. The camera bag that went with a 35mm camera I was selling also walked away (I kind of wonder if it was used to smuggle the Box Set out).

One of the more disturbing things we found was discovered after the sale closed the first day.  In addition to the computer being left out, the old digital camera I was using to take pictures for the estate sale site was also left out.  The camera itself wasn't stolen, but the compact flash memory card was missing (you know the old, "big" by today's standards, cards).  Really?!?!  Why would someone take a 64 MB compact flash card...here you can buy a 1 GB card for a little over $6?  Other than pictures of the sale, my wife had taken pictures of some of the items she was selling so she could remember them and now those are lost.

So, while we got rid of a lot of stuff and recouped a fair amount of our freedom chips, the thievery put a damper on our excitement. Guess I forgot that not all people are as good as most of the cruisers I've met.  All we can do is hope that karma catches up with the thieves one day.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting Rid Of Our Stuff - The Estate Sale

As is usually the case, by the time I get to write about an event it has come and gone and so it is for our estate sale.  But let me take you back to the beginning of the process...


When I came back to Colorado to help wrap things up, one of the big items on the list was to sell all our stuff. Having lived in our home for about 18 years, we certainly managed to collect a lot of stuff (I guess George Carlin was right).  Looking around our house, and after dealing with my father-in-law's estate, we thought it might be a good idea to hire an estate sale company to come help us get rid of everything.  Yes, indeed, there is an entire industry devoted to getting rid of your stuff...wouldn't George be proud.

While looking for estate sale companies, we quickly found the EstateSales.net site and decided it might be a good idea to check out how some of the businesses run the sales.  So, one Saturday we found a few sales from the companies we were interested in and went to check them out.  Some were better than others, but the basic idea is that an estate sale is kind of like a garage sale, only on a larger scale and more organized.  They also seem to generate a lot more traffic than the usual garage sale.

We came up with a short list of the companies that we liked that seemed to be doing a professional and organized job and started giving them calls.  A few of them were not interested since we wanted to remain in the house during and after the sale (having to stay in a hotel for a week or two as the house was set up was not an option).  A couple others came over to the house to give us their pitch and look around at what we had for sale.  The estimates on how much they thought we could get out of our roughly 2000 square foot (186 square meter) home was between $7000 and $8000 U.S. This is where we found out that the companies would take 40% of the proceeds as payment.  Doing the math here...the fee for the sale would be around $3000.

Since I'm no longer employed, we thought it would be nice to keep that $3K ourselves to put toward the boat improvements.  I also found out that EstateSales.net and other estate sale advertisement companies allow private individuals to advertise sales on their sites and to their subscriber mailing list.  We pondered the potential loss we might have being less experienced in pricing for the sale.  In the end we decided it is unlikely we would be off by more than $1000 so we would do the sale ourselves.

We started digging through our stuff, throwing away the trash and cleaning up the stuff we wanted to sell.  We moved around furniture and started to set up our house and all our stuff for display.  We learned some tricks from the estate sales we attended like how to use a board and a couple small waste baskets to make a second shelf for your displays on folding tables. And we learned what the standard prices are for many smaller priced items like clothing, bedding, CD's and DVD's, flatware, stemware, and kitchen utensils.

We spent several weeks slowly going through stuff and separating it into:
  • Stuff headed to the boat (the smallest group)
  • Stuff headed to storage
  • Stuff to sell
  • Stuff to donate
  • Recycling
  • Garbage
You don't realize how much stuff you have acquired in almost 20 years until you try to go through and sell it all.  It didn't take too long until we realized we were going to need more tables.  This is where we also found out that renting banquet tables at the local rental places ran $10 a day per table.  That can get pretty expensive when you consider the amount of time needed to rent the tables (in addition to the 3 day sale, the set up and tear down time makes it a pretty long rental).  This is where having friends comes in handy.  I pleaded for help from a few friends and one had tables we could borrow for the sale.  Thanks Tom!

We planned on a little over a week to get everything set up and really turn our home into a showroom for all our stuff.  We set up the ad on EstateSales.net including a preliminary list of items, a few pictures, and our terms and conditions of the sale (Cash only, no moving labor provided, everything sold as-is/where-is, etc.).  Half way through the week, we realized we were not going to be anywhere near ready and ended up pushing the sale off by a week.

Not how our master bedroom usually looked

We continued to set up tables in our house, clean and collect like items together (it is recommended that you put similar items together and in the rooms they are used in as that makes for a more organized sale).  Kitchen appliances and cookware in the kitchen, dishes and decorations in the dining room, entertainment related stuff in the family room, etc.

Living Room or Showroom?

We bought some white corrugated plastic signs from the local quick sign shop and a really fat permanent marker and made signs for the sale.  To keep the signs easy to follow, they simply said "Estate Sale" in big letters and a big arrow indicating direction and in smaller print the hours of the sale (10am to 4pm for us).  When we used to go to garage sales, we found an arrow was far more useful than writing the address on the sign (who memorizes where every street in their part of town is) or a list of contents at the sale (usually too small to read as you are driving by).

After getting a lot of the stuff set up, we started going around and pricing items.  For cheaper stuff we generally took our best guess on prices.  For more expensive things or items we simply had no clue on, we checked retail prices as well as the sold prices of items on Ebay or similar sites.  The general rule of thumb we were using for pricing was to price items that were practically new at 1/3 of retail and reduce down to 1/10 of retail for more used items and a little below the bottom line Ebay price for items of a more collectible nature.

We had a few surprises on prices.  For instance, my wife had a Beatles White Album vinyl record and I had a hunch it might be worth a bit more than the $2/record standard price.  I checked and they can go from thousands of dollars down to a few dollars or so.  The pressing and condition of the one we had put it's price at $20~40.  I had purchased an electric bass guitar my senior year of high school and, as it turns out, the guitar is apparently pretty rare.  Ovation made the Celebrity BC-2 guitar and apparently it was a flop so the best information I can find says they only produced them for a single year.  I was having a hard time finding information on it and most of that was in forum threads that usually started by asking questions related to their existence or legitimacy.  I found one thread that indicated someone found a beat up one in a pawn shop, bought it for $100, and then sold it to a collector for $750. And the one I have is in near mint condition.

The day before the sale we were busy pricing items and still digging out more for sale.  We worked through the night to try and get everything ready.  Finally around 4am the morning of the sale my wife and I decided we should try to get at least a couple hours of sleep before the sale started.  So we pushed all the stuff that wasn't even close to being ready to sell into the closets and bathrooms, blocked them off and went to bed.

Were we ready for the sale....no.  Were there things out that were still unmarked...you bet.  But we were out of time and needed to push forward.  In one of my next posts, I'll cover how the first day of the sale went....it was definitely interesting.

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's been a MONTH?!?

Wow.  It's been almost a month since my last post...and I was sooooo planning on picking up the pace on the blog posting front. I thought things would slow down a bit, but that simply hasn't been the case so far.

I'm actually writing this while taking a brief break from the mad push to get ready for our big estate sale. Originally my wife and I were planning on hiring an estate liquidation company to come and do the sale, but in a "oh...I can do that" fit of insanity, we decided that we would just do it ourselves.

Part of the reason for making this decision is that the estate sale companies take 40% of the proceeds of the sale as their fee.  Having spent the last couple weeks going through all our stuff and turning our house into a "this was your life" showroom, I can say that 40% is probably a bargain.  I can't believe how much stuff has been packed in our house.  All this stuff could easily sink 5 or more catamarans the size of ours (my wife was thinking a garbage barge).  And I don't even think we were as bad as most of those around us in the "good American consumer" category.

I doubt this will fit on the boat...
...or this.

We've also met with a couple real estate agents to get an idea of what to expect when selling our house.  In the 18 years we've owned the house, the housing market has done some pretty strange things across the nation.  Fortunately, it sounds like our area is still a sellers market and we should do OK...probably not as well as we did selling my father-in-law's place (it went for almost $20K over list price), but well enough.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

In other news, our boat is still on the hard in Virginia. Unfortunately the yard hasn't been doing a very good job of getting work done on time or anywhere near estimate.  So, pretty soon I will be returning to Rover to finish the necessary out-of-the-water repairs, get her back in the water, and get her heading south for warmer waters.

Well, I think my 15 minute break is over...so back to work. Only 3 days left to get everything dug out, cleaned up, displayed and priced for the sale.  Wish me luck!

Oh, and if you happen to be in the Denver area this weekend, feel free to swing by the sale and say hi.  Here is a link to one of the advertisements for the sale with the info: Broomfield Colorado Estate Sale.