Knowing what items are worth is a big deal at an auction. Many years ago I went to a doll auction after one of my club members passed away. Anything with Coke or Harley went sky high and some really nice NRFB items - both vintage and modern - went really cheap.
I also once met a woman at a doll show who wanted to sell her childhood dolls. She talked to several people and took offers, saying she wasn't going to sell that day but would call us. She called me and asked if I could meet the best offer because someone else offered more than I did, but she liked me better. LOL
I once got a really good collection through a friend's mother who met someone on a senior citizen trip. The woman had been bugging her daughter to get her dolls out of her attic.
Also, when you go to garage sales, always ask if they have Barbies. They may not have thought of putting them out.
Also, I always tell people that if they're on the fence about selling to wait. Barbie holds a lot of sentimental value, sometimes more than monetary value.
I know everyone had fun looking at my new AG, and a lot of folks commented on how lucky I am, and I do admit to some amount of luck, but I also work VERY hard at finding dolls. It helps that I sell on Etsy, so it is really a sort of side hustle, but for those who want to know what I do, here is a run down.
1. I go to garage sales EVERY week. Not just one that hops in front of me. I lay them out and go to half a dozen on Friday, and as many or more on Saturday. It helps that hubby likes to go too. I search the ads on Facebook and Craig's list for sales.
2. Several times a week I do searches on Craig's list and Facebook Marketplace for Barbie. I look for local stuff within a set radiance from home. You have to look often because a good deal will come and go before you see it. That last lot I got was up for less than 24 hours before it sold. Don't be afraid to contact people with crazy prices and make an offer. Sometimes it works. Also you can sometimes get somewhere offering some doll advice. Sometimes people don't know what their dolls are. I have gotten decent deals on clone dolls with Barbie clothes after I explain the Barbie is NOT a vintage bubble cut, but a clone. Just be patient and show them the difference.
3. I go to thrift stores once or twice a week. Doesn't often cause a score, but you never know.
4. Recently we have been doing a lot of on line local auctions from the Estate sale folks. Check in your area on Estatesales.org and Estatesales.net. Just put in your zip code and see what comes up. Takes a while to wade through everything. Lots of times the old toys are on the last page of the sale, but you never know.
5. Make sure your friends and family know you are looking. Best to train your significant others to spot things too. My son has really good eyes, and sees things quickly for me. He likes garage sales too.
6. Put out that dolly Karma. This is just me, but I believe if you are supposed to own a doll, she will come to you. I always am very careful to let owners know their dolls are going to a good home. I took the time to clean up several of the girls in that last lot and sent a pic to the lady that sold them to me. Made her happy to know they were safe and sound. I just think this comes back to you. Just my personal mantra. Give back where you can. I share pattern pieces, advice, little extras, and things when I see a need.
7. Know your stuff. Don't get pulled into paying too much at an auction just because it's Barbie. Pay when it's appropriate. There is someone in the area paying stupid amounts of money now and then for not much. I just let them have it, and pick up the not so well known stuff for a song. Good to have some basic texts on dolls and the clothes, so you can spot those little details.
That is basically it. It gets results, but you have to work at it. Good luck in your hunt, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!