Tag Archives: ebay

Plight of the Beanie Babies

Jess (the mediocre bowler) Burg comes at us with an article on a very fuzzy topic: BEANIE BABIES. Can’t say I ever collected them myself, nor really understood the hype about them. All I know is I worked at a toy store during 9 out of the 10 last major toy rushes of the late 90’s, but missed out on the beanie baby rush. I was already in college when these things hit the fan – thank god. Jess tells it all below. Be sure to comment and leave your own beanie baby memory or anti-memory about them.

Plight of the Beanie Baby

by Jess Burg

Any thrift store, in any urban or tranquil settlement you will most likely stumble upon the Beanie Baby aisle. Tossed aside and forgotten, their era as the #1 must have bean-filled animal sensation lapsed. Once prized and precious collectors items they now rest in heaps, disheveled amongst themselves like corpses in secondhand catacombs. When I see a mound of them all I can think is how their abandonment is a token of our culture’s futile obsession with crazes. Or my how my poor little sister was bamboozled believing her Beanie Baby collection would buy her first car. Or, my friend Adam’s remark, all the empty beds at the children’s hospital.

I would bet that many of you, like me, tend to skip looking through the piles of Beanie Babies. Let it be known, there are a handful of them still worth a good bit of money—enough to warrant keeping an eye out.

But first, let’s take a moment to re-live Beanie Baby mania. In 1994 Beanie Babies made their gift shop debut in the Chicago area as a product of the Ty Warner toy company, renamed TY Inc in’93. There are nine original or “first generation” Beanie Babies. Every Beanie Baby comes with a small heart shaped red tag on its’ ear that has the Ty logo on the outside. Inside the tag is the given name of the Beanie Baby, its’ birth date and a stupid limerick. At first the plush little toys gained popularity with kids and at offices as gifts between coworkers. They were cute and inexpensive, usually selling at around $5-$7. As popularity and sales grew, the toy company decided to boost collectability by introducing new Beanies, making changes to the color of some Beanies, or retiring them out of production. That’s when the mass hysteria ensued. In 1996 an estimated 100 million Beanies were sold. The New York Times called Beanie Baby mania the source which, “helped surge ’97 toy sales”. Adults and children alike found themselves in spell of Beanie Baby mania collecting them in colossal amounts. Everyone thought an investment in Beanies would promise an opulent payoff. This clip I saw on Vimeo.com illustrates it pretty well. Beanie Baby Craze.

Since the craze Ty has made over 600 different Beanie Babies. Obviously in 2010 the most of them aren’t worth squat. If you become familiar with the few that are, say a royal blue Peanut the elephant, you could be looking at $1,400 sack of beans. This list from about.com gives an up-to-date estimated price list of how much the rarest Beanies could be sold for at auction.

  • Chicago Cubs Dusty Bear — $75.
  • Cranberry Bear, New Face — $250.
  • Derby w/Fine Mane — $290.
  • Daisy the Cow, Harry Caray — $50.
  • Humphrey — $400.
  • Lizzy Tye Dye — $199. (3rd generation / Authenticated)
  • Lucky (7 spots) — $60. (Authenticated)
  • Nip the Cat (white face/white belly) — $80.
  • Nip, All Gold — $225.
  • Peanut, Royal Blue Elephant — $1450.
  • Peking — $220.
  • Princess Diana Bear — $50.
  • Quackers without wings — $225.
  • Bo w/Bo Tush Tag — $300.

Of course, with any collectable, the better the condition the item is in the bigger the auction price tag. The best place to find a buyer who is just waiting to find the ultimate Beanie Baby addition to their collection is online. EBay has a whole section dedicated on the proper way to determine the value of a Beanie. It outlines just how to list the conditions of the hang tag (heart shaped tag) and tush tag (small white tag on the butt), and offers advice on how to liquidate an entire collection. I encourage you to look up some of these rare Beanie Babies. I have a feeling that somewhere out there a Nip the cat or Quackers the duck is just lying there, waiting to be discovered.

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How I Paid My Rent For 6 Months By Thrifting

Let me first start by saying that having to make rent this way was in no way fun or recommended. Unless you’re retired or insanely dedicated to it. Paying my rent for 6 months via scraping by on reselling thrifted goods was a ton of work. I was able to utilize my in-depth knowledge of web selling platforms to more easily liquidate most of the items. I was able to achieve this feat mainly by selling just a few items each month that made up most of my then $800 a month rent. On a soapbox-rant side note: let me say that when congress or some rogue old senator (who you know doesn’t even use the web) dabbles with the idea of taxing people’s income from selling items on sites like eBay and Etsy, it makes me seriously cringe. Some folks do this for a living and it’s grueling. An extremely slim percentage of the web sellers are making good coin from doing it. Like I said above, reselling items for a living is not what I’d call fun.

HOW DID I DO IT? You have to have a keen eye for items that you know will sell. “Don’t sell what you don’t know.” A bus driver wouldn’t apply for a job as an Army helicopter pilot would he? You have to know what you’re looking at or you’ll waste a lot of money on stuff you can’t liquidate and end up  looking like a hoarder with a garage full of junk. My item of choice was art, because that’s what I’m comfortable in. Having a fine art and design background I was able to find rare prints that had probably been turned in by someone who didn’t know any better. I found real screen prints by David Weidman, hand-colored etchings by UK artist Jo Barry, and ORIGINAL impasto oil paintings by Italian artist P.G. Tiele (which still blows my mind!)  I also found art objects such as original McCoy pottery and vintage little sculptures and plant holders from various artists & eras that sold for amounts that still surprise me to this day. America is a nation of collectors and when they see an item they want or don’t have – you bet your ass they’ll pay for it. What happens is when someone passes, all of their stuff has to be dealt with by their spouse or relatives. Most of the time it’s in hasty fashion and a lot of the items get put in a box and donated to thrift stores – that’s just my guess. Whereby, I heroically pluck them from their dusty shelves and find a better venue for them to be noticed and subsequently sold. In some ways I’m helping keep these works of art from the trash or thrift store purgatory. In a way I’m helping to connect the items with someone who collects or genuinely cherishes that artists’ work.

WHERE DID I FIND THE TIME TO DO ALL OF THIS THRIFTING? I  had the time to pull this off because I was freelancing at in the evenings and would go out and thrift by day to avoid heavy crowds. Being a night owl, doing this by day made it exactly like having a 8-5 day job. I’d set my alarm and get up to go hit my spots 6 days a week. Through this experience I quickly learned how, when, and what time the newest goods were delivered to each location. I even started to notice (and feel) like some of those old creeps sitting in their cars for the stores or garage sales to open, just to be the first to get in there and peruse. QUICK TIP: using a phone with fast and strong internet can help you quick google search any artist or pot or item you think may have good value. I personally use an Apple iPhone  and will attribute it to helping me find and sort through a lot of the stuff I’ve scored over the past couple years, all while shopping in the store!

It’s now been well over a year since I was doing this and have found a real comfort in knowing that if I ever hit a rough patch again in my life, that I’ll be just fine due to my sheer resourcefulness. Anyone can do this if they really have to. It may take a little bit of studying and a keen eye but you can pull it off. The thrill of scoring something you know isn’t supposed to be in there for $2.99 is the best feeling in the world. It’s a rush and it’s frankly why I manifested it into this blog.

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Please stay tuned because my upcoming post will cover the best things to search for at a thrift store.

Pile of Blank T-Shirts at the End of the Rainbow Mug.

Hello fellow bloggers and occasional readers,

I’ve probably set a personal record for frequenting the most thrift stores in a particular amount of days. I don’t necessarily have that much variety to show for it, but here goes. I’ve been very into terrariums as of late (laugh it up – I don’t know why.). I just find them interesting in that you can create your own mini biosphere in a small item, watch it dew up and cyclically maintain itself and grow. I remember a huge freestanding probably 3′ tall x 3′ wide circumference terrarium my mom kept in the living room when I was a kid. Mine are made with old (glass only, plastic may mold over time) apothecary jars, clear coffee/cookie jars, mason jars, and milk bottles with tops or corks. It’s a fun and inexpensive 5 step hobby for the indoor Winter months and I plan to dole out a few as gifts this holiday season. With each one I make my craft gets better and I can’t help think about Mr. Miyagi and him delicately pruning his little bonsai trees, danielson. Here’s a helpful basic to-the-point link on how to make one with household stuff. http://www.stormthecastle.com/terrarium/terrarium-basics.htm. Any of the supplies like gravel, or charcoal can be found at any pet store or in your garage. Finally, I visited an old haunt Ax-Man and found some little plastic creatures to put in each one for the imperative “decorative” aspect. Each jar was about $.89 – $1.99 depending on it’s size.

In other news, I found 2 awesome mugs. A rainbow one I intend to sell on Etsy or give as a gift. The other (I’m pictured with) is a designer’s delight with a simple Canadian flag and nice type, I will not be selling this one unless the price is right. Each mug was $.89 each.

I found another designer geek-out item in the book section. A bear scouts field guide manual, SOOO many great 50’s and 60’s illustrations and icons. This was $.99

Another beautiful vintage Yashica SLR was added to the collection. I love when they still have the straps. And I also found a neat set of bright orange 70’s African needle & felt wall hangings which are also for sale on Etsy.

When we left off, I was deep into finding solid color T-shirts at thrift shops in which to print shirts for my pet company and my DIY record label. Since then I’ve discovered a gold mine and basically cleaned out any Twin Cities’ shops of their blank solid color T’s. From my close guesstimate I bought about 90 shirts (mostly dark colors in Medium and Large) for under $65 total. A lot of them were brand new never used. Some major brands like American Apparel, Gildan, No Sweat (Union), Hanes 50/50, and Alternative Apparel. It feels good to reclaim these from the stores and reactivate them into something great to wear! The shirts ranged from $.89 – $2.99 as the most expensive.

In a final thought I’d like to share a wonderful web video I found about America’s consumption and its linear planned obsolescence waste patterns. This made me seriously upset and completely justifies why we need to emphasize recycling, reuse, smarter design, and cleaner technologies. Do yourself a favor and watch it quick, it’s about 20 mins.