Got some free days on Ebay, so mom and I have been working hard to both relist and put new stuff up. Then it occurred to me it might be interesting to do a post about the Ebay experience. It has been ten years of learning to get it going right.
Ten years ago, I found out about Ebay, but I used to be a buyer. This was back when I worked as a manager at Hardees, I think, while I waited for my postal test results. I bought a bunch of useless stuff, like native American spiritual figurines and scented candles. Then my parents got pissed off and told me that if I could afford to buy stupid shit, then I could afford to move out. I said, "Fair enough" and quit. Oh no wait...this has to be more than ten years ago, like when I worked for Dr. Bhayani and just started hanging out with my scumbag friends. Anyway, I don't know what clicked in my mind and when and why, but one day, I thought, "Heyy! I can do this! I could sell stuff on Ebay! My parents wouldn't object to me collecting money, LOL!"
The hunting began. I had a huge collection of books that I didn't need, so I started putting up $.99 auctions because they only cost ten cents, and I could relist for free once. I sold enough that I was covering the auction prices of the stuff I didn't sell, plus making a profit. I admit, I sold a lot of stuff for $.99, but I slightly inflated the shipping to get a little more. Sometimes I'd get lucky and have something get bid up almost to what it was worth. I started buying books at garage sales. There were two instances when I got REALLY lucky. One was when I found a book called The Preppie Handbook that got bid up to thirty bucks. Then I found a book called Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were that got bid up to $80. The lady running that particular garage sale had boxes of pewter Dungeons and Dragons figurines. She gave me a few for free, saying she wanted to get rid of them. I could kick myself because I sold those pretty high on Ebay. I should have offered her a lump sum for the whole lot. I haven't seen anyone selling those since either.
I worked with this lady, Laveda, who I used to call the Great Folk Hero of the Post Office because her battles with management were legendary. About Laveda: She used to tell Yolanda in so many words what a useless human being she was. -My hero, seriously. She had a disabled son and a daughter. The son was one of those thalidomide babies who was born with a flipper at the elbow of one arm. He lived on his own and passed away suddenly of a heart attack. Yolanda spread around that when they found him many days after the terrible event, his black Labrador was eating off his body. That is why I hate Yolanda forever, like who says that? It's so believable too, because it's totally something a disgusting dog would do. I don't believe it because Laveda still had the dog when I went by her house. You'd think someone would have put it down (with his/her own hands) if the rumor was true. Back on topic: One day, she asked me if I wanted to buy some of her son's old things. I ended up coming away with two solid oak antique end tables (one of which I take my Ebay pictures on) and a medium sized bookcase filled with hundreds of sci-fi and fantasy books. I made so much on Ebay for the books that I made my money back for the whole lot many times over.
Back then, I used to either wrap books in paper grocery bags or else I'd buy 9x11 sized shipping envelopes when they were on sale at Walgreens four for a dollar. Sometimes I'd get lucky and find someone selling a huge box of shipping envelopes at a garage sale, pretty much giving them away. Also, I always recycled the envelopes I'd get when I'd mail order something. I hadn't caught on to click and ship yet, so I would take all my sales to work and stand in line. Eventually, I caught on that it was worth buying printer ink and paper, just so I could print labels at home. I tried to go cheap, using the blank back sides of already used papers, like bill invoices and such. I would buy refurbished ink, but quickly abandoned that because every third time I'd get skunked with a cartridge I absolutely could not make work. Now when I buy ink on Ebay, I have to type 'geniune ink cartridge' for my model in the search engine. They are pricier but guaranteed to work.
You know how you see ads where people claim to be able to remodel their house with money they make selling on Ebay? It's true! I made so much money that when I mortgaged my first house at age 28 and finally moved away from my parents, I was able to buy all kinds of things to decorate. Back then, I would buy the things I needed directly, but it was difficult to find a deal, as people are prone to gouge. I don't gouge. Since I buy stuff at garage sales or on clearance, I price stuff to sell. That way, I can move so much cheap merchandise that it adds up quickly. I have a credit card bill every month for expenses because Ebay charges 10% final value fees for everything you sell, but I have so much more in PayPal, where the money goes when you sell something.
Right around the time when Randall was going through the immigration process, mom started selling stuff on my account. She sold mostly books, some artwork she got tired of, and some clothes. When I'd sell clothes, I'd put them in lots, as I didn't believe people would buy one article of used clothing. Mom proved me wrong by selling a lot. Now we both have it down to a science, like what brands are guaranteed to sell, what brands will sell after a while, what particular article of clothing sells better with each gender, what kind of kid clothes people are more interested in, etc. We try to keep everything we sell under 13 ounces, as first class shipping is much cheaper than priority or parcel post. Jeans, sweaters and shoes often go over, but are popular enough people will pay higher shipping. I don't sell books much anymore, as I often get hosed on media mail shipping if I don't inflate it enough, while Ebay gives me a discount for every other kind of shipping. I used to ship first class parcels in paper business envelopes, -to keep it light- but I've had a few parcels get mangled in the postal system and lost. Now I buy light-weight plastic shipping envelopes off Ebay in bulk. I can get 200 for under $15. Mom still uses paper envelopes because she gets used ones for free at work.
Mom is a lot better at Ebay selling than I am. She is more committed to buying stuff at garage sales or clearances to make a profit, whereas I buy a lot of stuff for myself and the kids, and only sell if I can't use it. Mom came up with the idea to use the money we make to buy gift cards on Ebay, instead of goods directly for a gouge. You can get a lot of gift cards or store credit cheaper than they are worth, just so long as you don't buy gas cards, Walmart cards, Amazon or Costco. Those always go for more. I've been buying a lot of Lowes cards at a discount, to fix this place up.
The downside to Ebay selling is having a lot of junk sitting around in tupperwares. I always sell stuff I've had for awhile in lots so I can reduce the stock. When I move to Indiana, I'm going to decide if I want to give everything to the church garage sale and start over, or seriously haul everything to the new house. Hopefully, I'll move in the spring, when stock is down anyway, because the only way I get new merchandise over winter is shopping clearance at Goodwill or finding odds and ends on clearance everywhere else. I got rid of A LOT of stuff before the last move, as I didn't want clutter and didn't want to sort through a lot of junk with twin babies. It will be great to move to Indiana because Illinois is always trying to pass laws to tax some of our online profits. Hopefully we will be long gone before they start coming after people. They shouldn't be able to though, because it's like a big online garage sale or flea market. People already got taxed when they bought the items the first time; why should they be double-taxed? We live in a bankrupt state though, so they'll try to get what they can get.
Ebay takes time, like you have to take detailed photos of your merchandise, and you have to give exact measurements for clothing so people will take more care and not return stuff as much. Sometimes you have to answer questions about your item, so people can get more information before purchasing. It's worth it though, because once you list something, it takes no effort to go do something else and let people view your items online. You don't have to take a day off to set up a garage sale or a booth at a flea market, and you can get a steady income, instead of one lump sum from a day of effort. You do have to check email often, in case someone bought an item and sent money through PayPal.
Sometimes a buyer will bid on something and not pay for it. You can open a case against them to get your final value fees back. Mom and I have been selling so long we have a high rating and get free listings often. We get so many free listings that we never pay to list anymore. We used to have a top rated selling status, but ran into a few douches who gave us negative feedback after the post office lost their parcels. Even though we could prove it was the fault of the post office, they still did it to be malicious because there are all kinds online. One time there was a glitch and some idiot was able to leave neutral feedback on an item she never paid for. We had to open a case against her. Mom called Ebay to ask them to remove the bad ratings that weren't our fault. She got a hold of a foreigner who couldn't speak English well, and who kept repeating the same phrases over and over again, which makes us believe they don't know what they are doing. It's annoying because we could have 300 positives, but one negative knocks us down to Power Seller for a month. I love Ebay though because it's an addicting hobby bringing a very satisfying return.