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Hawaii’s Buy and Sell Entrepreneurs

Meet the resourceful entrepreneurs who snap up other people’s castoffs, clean them and then resell to you and me

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Other collectors and dealers seek rare, often specific items that are worth more and, thus, usually take longer to sell. Dolly Domingo of Ohana Estate Sales says she has a customer database of more than 700 people who range from buyers of everyday items to those willing to spend thousands of dollars on rare finds. Estate sales commonly occur after a death, divorce or foreclosure, or when people downsize their homes. Domingo says Ohana Estate typically hosts one to two sales a month, with the most popular ones in Nuuanu or Hawaii Kai.

She says the biggest demand is for rare, antique Chinese furniture, nautical products, vintage and antique toys, musical instruments and koa furnishings.

Storage-Locker Newbie

Leroy Goo has been buying and selling items online for years, but purchased his first storage unit at an auction in June for $1,700 and entered a whole new world.

“It’s really easy to sell things on Craigslist,” Goo says. “All you do is put up some information and some photos and then your phone starts ringing. With storage units, you have to work a lot harder, but the payoff can be much bigger.”

Unlike Asuncion, Goo looks for storage units with big-ticket items.

Even though it takes more effort to sell a single big item, it’s still easier than selling 50 smaller things, he says. “But it’s always a gamble when you purchase a locker because even if you see 10 flat-screen TVs, they could all be broken, so there’s no guarantee that what you see is what you’ll actually get.”

Fortunately, Goo says, he was blessed with beginner’s luck. The first unit he ever purchased contained several pieces of solid-koa-wood furniture, including chairs and a dining table, two big armoires, nine sets of golf clubs, a crystal vase and several paintings. Goo says moving the items was challenging since he doesn’t own a truck, so he hired two men he found on Craigslist for $80. It took about one month to sell the unit’s contents, but he ended up making a $6,000 profit.

“It’s a challenge to try to find dealers who will buy the items, but I think once you know where to go and who will buy what, it gets easier,” Goo says.

Charles Yeehoy, owner of Alii Antiques in Kailua, says he no longer scours auctions and garage sales because people come to him to sell their finds. But, for Keith Tanaka, owner of Roots and Relics, a popular downtown Honolulu store that sells new and used golf clubs and accessories, the treasure hunt never ends. Tanaka has been going to swap meets and estate and garage sales almost every weekend for 35 years. Nine out of 10 times, he buys something.

“I’m mostly looking for unusual things,” he says. “Experimental clubs, clubs that tour players like, collector-type clubs from the ’50s and ’60s.”

Roots and Relics also accepts trade-ins, and that’s where Goo unloaded the clubs from the storage unit he purchased.

“We have a guy who refurbishes the trade-ins for resale,” Tanaka says, “and they come back looking almost like new.” In a good month, he’ll sell about 1,000 clubs, with used ones retailing for as much as 75 percent under the price of a new club.

With dealers like Tanaka offering such low prices, Goo says, “You have to be realistic about how much you’ll get for things. Just because you think – or know – something is worth a lot, it doesn’t mean you’ll sell it for that much. Sometimes what it comes down to is: How badly do you really want to sell something because holding onto it for a long period of time won’t do you any good?”

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Jan 3, 2012 06:50 pm
 Posted by  Paulson

You could try eBay arbitrage, using tools to find poorly listed items, buy them, and then sell them back on eBay, with a better title, description, pictures, etc.

Use a site like Ebuyersedge.com to set up saved searches. You'd get an e-mail whenever a matching item is listed.

Try a misspelling search site like Typojoe.com to hopefully find some hidden eBay deals.

Use a sniping service such as Hidbid.com to bid on auctions for you. It'll help you to save money and avoid shill bidding.

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