1) The Basket People: the Longaberger Mother Load
I'd heard a lot about Longaberger baskets, and how well they sell, what good products they are, how they last forever, blah, blah, blah, but never come across any. For me, it takes actually seeing something in person to get excited about it.
Well, a few weeks back was my weekend for Longaberger. I drove past a sign for an estate sale that I hadn't seen advertised on craigslist or the paper. And it was only one sign off one of our main local roads, close to the sale's street. So not many people knew about it.
Of course, I had to investigate. I pull up, and there they are. Baskets...lots and lots of baskets. All out in the front yard. Or so I thought.
I poked through many cutesy Longaberger fabric-lined, limited edition basets, trying to find ones that would resell well.
Then the ladies running the sale said there was more in the house. Hoo-boy, was there! This was one of those totally unsorted, messy sales...everything strewn all over. Looks terrible, unless you're a shopper who doesn't mind digging through all that stuff, like I do...not to mention it's better to find under-the-radar items that way.
One room off the main level had mugs, baskets, basket lids, Fenton vases, etc. etc. and so forth, all over the floor and on some shelves. I got three Fenton vases for $10 each..one of which had a Longaberger signature on it. and I plucked a nice Longaberger American Work basket, a very nice sturdy basket with a wooden lid, off the shelf behind a bunch of other stuff.
The basement was a bonanza -- Longaberger placemats, shower curtains, valances, more baskets...large market baskets, smaller market baskets, and even craft supplies. One room in the basement was so full of boxes stacked with Longaberger stuff, the cleared space on the floor was only one person wide, and you'd have to trade places with anyone standing there or you couldn't get to the back of the room to dig.
Well, as an aside, I just have to mention that is one of the things I find very annoying at these sales, when someone is just planted there going through stuff in a tight space, blocking access to everyone else. That was the case in this room. I wanted to pick my way through the boxes in the back, but this lady had plunked herself down in a seat blocking the way, and was slowly and methodically rooting through stuff in a secretary desk on the side of the wall. Well, I didn't feel like dealing with the situation, and there were two other full rooms to explore, so I moved on.
In the end, I picked up several brand new Longaberger shower curtains, placemats, a valance, fabric basket liners, two market baskets, the aforementioned American Work basket, and two collectible fabric-embellished baskets with plaques. Not to mention the Fenton vases! Oh, and a scrapbook kit.
So who were the basket people?
Well, I saw them the second day. That's right, I went back the next day of the sale. There was a huge wall made of Longaberger baskets and other products, all stacked in a row on the lawn outside the front of this house, and a very serious woman was standing in front it with her arms crossed. I thought at first she was simply one of the people working the sale, and asked her a question about pricing or such, and she let me know in no uncertain terms that none of that stuff behind her was for sale, but that she was guarding it.
Sure enough, a couple SUVs and a truck pull up with more people...who I shall call The Basket People, and they loaded up baskets like you wouldn't believe in their vehicles. I don't know what they paid for all that stuff, but I'm sure it wasn't cheap. However, it was cheap enough that they were probably going to make a killing on all that stuff.
Well, I had my little haul, and I also knew I had some learning to do about what prices these baskets would actually realize on eBay, so I was OK with it. But again, I think people could be nicer at these sales sometimes. But you all have heard me go on about that before.
So what did I learn?
- Some of the most valuable and collectible baskets are labeled "J.W.," which are a limited edition named after the founder's first and middle initials. For example, one recently sold for $305.00. However, it was pretty vintage and rare. But they all tend to do well.
- Bigger is usually better. The hampers retail for around $300 -- they were selling one for around $100 at the sale, but a lady was hovering around it and at that time I didn't know what they resold for, so I didn't go for it.
The big picnic and market baskets do very well too.
- People love basket "combos" where you offer a fabric liner, plastic protector, wooden lid, etc. etc...so if you get a chance to buy accessories, to sell with baskets or separately, go for it.
- Longaberger is known for its quality and being long-lasting. I have already found this to be true with the four placemats and market basket I kept for myself. The placemats are very sturdy and have withstood washing and even my putting them in the dryer a few times, when they are really supposed to dry flat.
That's right...sometimes it's good to keep a few items for yourself! It will also remind you of that really fabulous sale you came across when you see them.
I also bought a set of brand-new placemats in a lovely blue/teal color to give to my sister for Christmas. (I don't think she reads this newsletter-- let's hope). That's right...estate sales are great places to get inexpensive but quality holiday gifts. But that's a whole 'nother article!
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