Step Twenty-Six: Airline Food Service Cart


I love never knowing what I'm going to find, especially when I'm not even looking for anything.  Yesterday I stopped in the local Habistore, a resale shop benefitting Habitat for Humanity.  Contractors, homeowners and businesses can donate building materials and household goods for a tax write-off. The store then puts them up for sale in their warehouse and whatever money they earn from the sale goes towards helping build additional homes for those who need them but can't afford them.  In past years I found incredible deals at the Habistore but unfortunately, the pricing has been ramped up to mimic retail prices, or at least near retail prices.  However, when I've found something I really like, I can often get a better deal by talking with the manager and making a serious offer on the spot.  Traditionally, this has been near half of what they are asking.  Case in point:  yesterday I found an airline food service cart for sale.  The store had priced it at $250, with a special sale price "today only" of 50% off.  He said he would accept my lower offer as long as I was willing to buy all three of the carts he had in stock.  I had no idea there was more than one but I went for it.

I've never seen these things for sale. I know they don't come up very often and a quick online search on my phone from the store showed me that there a lots of people who want them for retro uses around the home but they are hard to come by.  One recently from an off-brand airline sold on Ebay for $310.  Another sold for $150.  Checking the metal work of the ones I just bought, I found that all three came from Qantas Airlines, one of the premier airlines in the industry.  All aircraft aluminum. Great design. Functional. And very cool. People are putting plastic bins in these and using them for ammo, silverware, tools, crafts, drinks, you name it.

I put the first one online last night on Ebay.  Within just minutes I had 3 views and one bid of $0.99.

That's a good sign.  After only 24 hours, there have now been 11 bids, it is up to $53 and 16 people are watching it, and it has gotten 52 views.  Let the good times roll!

I still have a long way to go over the next week to get this sold for a profit, and then list and sell the other two, but assuming I come out ahead, this is another example which proves that buying and selling in bulk is a much better and more effective technique than risking it all on one item.  I only wish that the value had been in the thousands of dollars rather than hundreds.

In further researching these carts, I found a company called Flight 001, they take these used carts, wrap them in custom stickers with bold graphics like flowers, checkerboard patterns and sell them for $1,200 to people for use in living rooms, kitchens, craft rooms, workshops and the like.  I thought about doing that myself but I love selling things as is and letting the buyer do those touches if they want.  I know that if I did them it has the potential of bringing in more money but then you have to wait around until someone likes the pattern of sticker you picked out. And who knows, but perhaps some people really want the scuffed up original showing the thousands of air miles.





11 comments:

  1. Tripped across your blog while doing some online research about used airline carts. I have been a "picker" (yes, sort of like the TV shows have popularized, but those ARE Televison shows...)
    I have also found a variety of other ways to make $, some of which might help you out. my main blog is at www.pickersjournal.blogspot.com and am working on another that is non-vintage related, at www.skrounger.blogspot.com . I hope you will find some of my tips and tricks helpful in your quest!

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  2. Thanks for the tips. Always nice to get a helping hand when it comes to making money!

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  3. I am so addicted to your blog... saying that... I am dying to know what happened. Service carts, what did they sell for? what was next.. don't stop now man!! You have me thinking about doing the same thing. --Jamie

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  4. Hi James, thanks for the nudge. I'm still at it, gearing up for a big purchase this winter. I find myself getting evermore cautious when thinking about betting the farm on one big step, but that's they way to keep going up, right? I've so far sold 2 of the three beverage carts. They didn't go for the hundreds of dollars like I'd hoped for but I did double my money each time on them. Updates coming soon. Thanks!

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  5. are you still doing this? I would love to chat more, cause I just started essentially the same project.

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  6. Please don't give up, this has been such an exciting read. I'm from London - and I think you've just inspired my next project! Please, please update us and let us know how you've gotten on. Even if you have not continued, just something to let us know what happened next. . .

    Roxanne

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  7. I'm about to start on the same journey! I'd like to know what happened next and I've read some awesome ideas on your journey thus far. Do keep it up!! An idea though is once you reach 50,000 of so, look into R/E options. Buying and selling house contracts is a good way to double your money without tying it up. It will also get you some experience to negotiate with banks when your ready to pay off your mortgage- early payment will save you interest, but you may be able to knock some of the principle off as well.

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  8. Brilliant blog! Any news? I'm hoping you're too busy spending your millions to update the blog... All the best!

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  9. Ok, time for an update. Things took a turn south. The profits for the project were fine. I was cautiously preparing for a nearly $5k item. And then we decided to move. Just typing those six little words in that last sentence is painful. It was a great move, we love the house. Everyone's happy. But closing costs and fixing it up evaporated most of my profits from this project. I just couldn't say no. A few updates on the items: I sold two of the airline carts though not for as much as I was expecting. I sold them for about what I bought them for so that was a neutral gain. I decided to keep the third cart. I found 24 metal dinner trays that perfectly fit inside on the shelves and I turned the whole cart into a two sided mobile tool shed. Love it. With the last few hundred dollars I had left I let it ride on a second Icee machine. I had come to think of those things as total money, but this second one I bought is an older model and I'm not sure how to operate it. Different mechanism than the last and finding info on it is much harder than the first. I'd love to continue with this project but the Mrs. is now saying that if I do, I have to also account for my time and pay myself an hourly wage for the time I spend doing it. We'll see. But for now, hopefully you can learn from the experience and I hope you find your own treasures!

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  10. Theres no more post cause this guy must have died.

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  11. Wanna bet, Jack? :) I'm still kicking, just too busy for this project right now. Having fun with other adventures. When I have more time I'd like to start over back at $1 and follow my own rules more closely. Knowing what I now know about this, I think I can get back to where I was at within 6 months and far fewer steps. Good luck to you!

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