Flipping Challenge Week 9: I made a huge mistake and lost $272.50.

Today is Day 61 of my 90 days challenge – we’re officially in the final month with just 29 days left.

If this is something that you want to do as well, there is a free guide available on picking and listing your first 5 items, as well as a prize package available to anyone who completes the first step of the challenge.

You can get more details about all that here.

Week 8 Update

Up until this point in my challenge, things have been going pretty smoothly. For the most part, I’ve avoided any major problems and each week I’ve seen the value of my inventory and cash go up.

This week I made my first major mistake.

In last weeks post, I mentioned that one of my goals for the upcoming week was to try my hand at a wider variety of sale types after having focused mainly on estate and moving sales. One thing in particular I was excited about was going to an auction.

The auction…

The auction I went to was a giant farm estate auction. It was scheduled to start at 8am Saturday morning, and I was there on time.

But my first mistake was that I thought there was a preview period that morning. The hand-made sign I had seen for the auction simply said that it would be a “huge sale” and that you needed to “Be there by 8.”

I had been to an auction a long time ago with a family member, and there had been a preview period in the morning, so I assumed this was going to be the same way.

As it turned out, the preview period had been going on since the weekend before.

So this meant that I had to “preview” the items while the auction had already started. Which actually wasn’t that big of a deal on account of the amount of stuff that was being auctioned. There were multiple houses and multiple barns involved in this sale, and there was a lot of valuable stuff there.

To preview, you literally just walked through all the buildings and looked at what was being sold. Every item had a number associated with it, and a lot of the stuff was being sold in big “lots” in order to keep the process moving.

The “find”…

There was one in a storage area of the one barn that caught my eye immediately – it was a huge lot of model trains and tracks, plus a ride-on Thomas the Tank train set for kids. The total value of this set was easily in the thousands of dollars. Based on what all was there, I would say between $3000 and $5000.

I didn’t take picture at the auction (yet another mistake), but this is what the Thomas ride-on looked like. It was Peg Perego brand and came with a lot of extra track.

By the time I had found this in the barn, I had a list of other items I was interested in and wanted to go see what number they were on to make sure I didn’t miss the things that I had already found.

There was a huge field with several hundred people in chairs listening to the auctioneer over a PA system. To my excitement, the number they were on was getting close to the train set, so I stood at the back and waited (I had already registered by this point).

While I waited, I noticed that there was a stand they set up where you could buy donuts and coffee. I decided that I’d have enough time (and could still hear), so I went over to wait in line and get a coffee. I cut it close, but I was able to get back to the crowd just as the bidding had got underway for the trains.


When you registered you got a paddle with your number on it like this one. The numbers were red though.

Bidding started way lower than I had expected, and I sat on the sidelines with my heart pounding in my chest while letting other bidders go back and forth early on. But then it slowed down around $500, so I jumped in at $550. There were only two other people involved at that point, and one outbid me right away. We went back and forth, but they jumped out and I won at $750.

I was through the moon excited about this. I hadn’t even taken $750 with me, but I had my checkbook and the return on this set made it an easy decision. I sat around waiting for the other numbers I was waiting for, but for the most part I was too distracted thinking about the trains to bid on anything else.

The mistake…

And then the bomb dropped.

“The barn auctions will be starting in about 15 minutes.”

What do you mean the barn auctions?

I left my spot at the back of the crowd and went back to the barn. There was a second auctioneer there and a crowd gathering around him. I worked my way up and asked what exactly was going on.

“We’re about to start auctioning off everything in the barns.”

To make a long story short, there was so much stuff that they were running two concurrent auctions, one for the house stuff and one for the barn stuff. The lot I had bid on was the same number as the trains, but for an assortment of stuff from the house.

Due to the setup and the size of the crowd, I hadn’t heard exactly what the auctioneer had said along with the lot number, but I heard enough words like “lot” “GE” “model” to be confident everything was good.

What I won was an antique GE refrigerator in unknown working condition along with an assortment of random antique kitchen gear.

This is very similar to the fridge I ended up winning, only it was much cleaner and a light turquoise color.

And I had drastically overpaid.

Not to mention I didn’t feel like trying to transport a large antique refrigerator that I was guaranteed to lose money on.

The (Semi) Resolution…

I talked to the people running the auction, explained my scenario, and at first they were unwilling to help. There were signs everywhere stating that you couldn’t cancel winning bids, and a lot going on in general.

But I finally found someone who helped me locate the other person I had been bidding against at the end, and I was able to negotiate a sale on the side to her for $500.

So by the end, I lost the $250 plus a $22.50 buyers premium, for a total of $272.50. To add insult to injury, I had also spent over 5 hours there and a lot of gas to get there.

Bought and Sold This Week

Starting the week with a mistake that big really set things off on the wrong foot. I didn’t go to any more sales last weekend, and I didn’t manage to buy a single item during the course of the week.

This was entirely mental. My bad experience led to me dwelling on the lost money instead of focusing on going out and making more. As I’m writing this post, I’m recognizing that I’m making a bad situation worse by thinking about it too much.

What I Bought

Nothing, except for a very expensive and very old refrigerator for $750!

What I Sold

I didn’t do much selling this week either. The first sale of the week was that same old refrigerator a few hours after I bought it, but this time the price was down to $500. I might be forgetting something small, but this is also the first time I took a loss on an item in this challenge.

On top of the refrigerator, I also sold all of the remaining records and bar stuff for $150. This represented the majority of what I had listed on eBay, and they weren’t selling fast enough or for enough money to make it worth doing all the prepping and shipping work (in my opinion).

When a local guy stopped to look at the records and showed interest in the bar stuff too, I was more than happy to sell all of it in one go and clear out some room in my garage for better inventory.

Current Status of Challenge

Here are my stats so far (plus the change from last week)…

Cash: $210 (-$122)

Items Sold: 46 (+11)

Items Currently Listed: 9 (-8)

# of days into the challenge: 61 (+7)

Time invested: ~ 40 hours and 45 minutes (+ 6 hours)

Gas Used: 22.5 gallons (+5 gallons)

Estimated value of current inventory: $1500+

Looking Ahead

My main goal this week is to sell the riding mower. That would be a moral victory that would help put the refrigerator mess behind me.

But I also need to get that sold to free up more cash for the challenge. Right now, I’m down to $210 in cash and that could easily be down to near zero after sourcing this weekend.

There is another auction that I’m thinking about going to tomorrow. Even though I don’t want to, I really think it is worth making myself do it anyway to make sure I don’t develop a bias against auctions because of one bad experience that was entirely my fault.

The trains I had been bidding on ended up going for less than $2000, which meant that a healthy profit could have been made on them had I had the money to bid. There were also many other items at that auction that could have been flipped very profitably had I not been tied up sorting out the refrigerator mess.

What About You?

How is your challenge going?

Do you have any bad experiences you’d like to share? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has made a mistake like this…

Please share in the comments below!

And don’t forget to submit the form on this page for a chance to win the prize package!

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