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An Ebay Success Story

There have been some dissenting opinions toward Ebay on here lately, and I just thought I would do a little exposè on someone near and dear to me — my mother! I only sell things on Ebay for some extra pocket money. It’s a fun hobby, and it helps fund my other hobbies. My mom, on the otherhand, has made Ebay her livelihood, and I must say, she has done a pretty darn good job of it! I’m proud of her, for finding something she loves, and making it a success. Plus she gets to do it out of her home, to boot!

There are plenty of people who lose money when they try to start a business on Ebay, thinking they have some great product to sell, starting an Ebay store (not a good idea unless you have a TON of inventory and plenty of repeat customers), only to find that at the end of the month they owe Ebay more than they made profit. The trick to making money on Ebay is knowing what to sell. Period. You need to have merchandise that is high in demand, attracts lots of bidders, and brings home plenty of profit. My mom sells collectibles and antiques. She has been a collector for as long as I can remember, and she knows her stuff. So she knows what to look for, where to buy it, and she is not afraid of spending a little bit of dough to sell it for a lot more (we’re talking a profit of hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars). Why Ebay and not a brick-and-mortar store? Because she lives in a dinky little town, and she gets worldwide exposure that she wouldn’t otherwise get. Sure, she may sell it for a little less on Ebay than what it’s worth on the market, but at least she’s selling it! At a high turnaround, and high profit, I might add.

Other factors which come into play: Knowing how to sell (my mom uses regular auction-style listings as opposed to a store), whom to sell it to (my mom sells worldwide, and a good deal of her profit comes from international customers), and when to sell (there are prime selling times when you should list your items, depending on your target market). I have also found that a good, not too specific, yet descriptive title goes a long way in promoting your item. I once listed an item twice, changed the title the third time to a more general description, and sold it for twice the original listing price.

My mom only started selling on Ebay last fall, and she has already been promoted to Power Seller status, with nearly 500 positive feedback comments. She is definitely in the perfect market, since people who collect antiques are usually willing to pay crazy shipping fees, and are probably the least likely to scam you (unlike the electronics industry, where scammers abound). She ships worldwide, and hasn’t lost anything yet.  She prefers Paypal, but accepts money orders and cashier’s checks as well. She’s only had to file 2-3 non-payments, and those were on small items of relatively little value. PLUS, she ships fine china and other highly fragile items on a daily basis through the USPS, and she has 99.8% feedback! My mom is a FANTASTIC packer (she’s the first on my list to help me pack my kitchenwares when I move!!), which is another reason this business works for her. If she wasn’t so extremely careful, and didn’t know how to pack items, then people would get broken china or glass shards on their doorstep, and leave negative feedback.

My mom calls me up every week, all giddy about some item she’s just turned a big profit on. One week it will be a set of china, another week it will be a vintage pair of jeans. I just shake my head, and think, gosh, if only I could find a set of china or a pair of jeans to sell for $500 profit, just ONCE, I would be happy!! And she does it weekly. And that’s just on one item! She sells 50 items a week, on average.

Here is her latest and most profitable sale to date.

Native American Navajo Indian Chief’s Blanket:



Doesn’t look like much, does it? Just a typical Native American blanket/rug? (That’s what it looks like to me anyway). Well, it’s not just any old Native American blanket (which, by the way, are worth their fair share on the market if they are authentic). It’s a “Chief’s” blanket, which dates from the period of 1800-1875, and is the most admired and most valuable of all Navajo blanket types.  My mom snatched this one up for $125 at an estate sale in Sedona and sold it the next week for a cool $1725.  That’s a profit of $1600!! I know what the naysayers are saying now: Yeah, but how much of that went towards Paypal/Ebay fees? Sure, she ended up forking over $100 of fees to Ebay and Paypal, but she looks at it as money she didn’t have in the first place.  And in the end she still made out like a bandit.

So there, you CAN make money on Ebay!  My mom is a fine example. You would never know that I had to teach her the basics of how to use a digital camera, and how to send attachments through email not too long ago ;) 

7 Responses to “An Ebay Success Story”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love you,Sweets! Thanks for all your encouragement, couldn’t have done it without you!

  2. stardo says:

    **daggers**

    i never said you couldn’t make money on ebay. catching known price discrepencies through rare/uncommon items in niche markets is a good way to make some decent $$, but for the average ebayer i’d say it is untenable as a primary income source. i.e. stick to your day job. =)

    that being said, gratz to your mom on her find. one person’s loss is another person’s gain.

    [rant]
    i still discourage reselling of FAR items on ebay, unless the profit to be made far exceeds that which you could make in the same amount of time serving coffee at starbucks. instead think of opportunities to use those FAR items to help local schools/food drives/shelters/etc.

    i especially discourage reselling of stuff you don’t use anymore, and rather encourage you to stop buying stuff that doesn’t have lasting value. donating the stuff you don’t need anymore is less rewarding to you (and that’s a good thing, it’ll make you think twice about your future purchases) and helps the local community of people by funding jobs to manage the donated stuff, and by providing a convenient place for people locally to get secondhand stuff, should they feel the need to.

    you could likewise sell the items and set aside the money toward charity or investing toward charity (if you think you could manage the money better than your local charities, etc), but with fees and taxes eating at your profits, you are better off donating the raw usable items.

    [extra rant]
    those are just some ideas, i am not trying to guilt you into thinking of the greater good; heaven knows i have a bazillion things in my room alone that i don’t need; i just think ideally our time is more valueable and money could be used more wisely to not only ensure our own success, but also improve the condition of our local communities, rather than trying to turn a quick buck out of our excesses and fuel the systems that encourage such behavior.
    [/extra rant]
    [/rant]

    i’m too socially conscious today, i need to get some sugar in me or something! =)

  3. admin says:

    Well, while we’re talking about wastage of time, shall we address your WOW addiction? Maybe you should spend that towards something more socially beneficial ;)

    What you spend with your free time may be considered a waste to others (i.e. playing WOW for me or ebaying for you), but ultimately, who cares? If it makes you happy, that’s pretty much all that matters. Well, so long as it doesn’t harm others.

  4. stardo says:

    haha WoW is a completely different discussion (and no more an addiction that is your eBaying). i enjoy video games in general as a large chunk of my free-time entertainment, WoW enjoying the largest piece of that pie at the moment. as i stated above, i’m certainly not in a position to be chastising others for the way they spend their time, and at the end of the day i personally don’t care how others spend their time. i think everyone, including me, could be spending more time helping the people who aren’t in the same positions as us. their are hundreds of people throughout the world who have died while we have had this conversation. your ebay fees (or my WoW fees) could have paid for their meals for a whole year. or that money could be contributing to the great health crises we face today (aids, diabetes, cancer, etc). and we could be spending our free time enjoying something equally or even more enjoyable that costs less money. in these cases our enjoyment could be directly contributing to the harm of others in our inaction. it is something i think about often but don’t act on, unfortunately.

    speaking of free time, have you cooked up anything delicious lately? i haven’t seen pictures of anything of that nature on your blog in a while.

  5. admin says:

    Strange that you say that. I took pictures yesterday, and intended on posting my first food post in a while today. May push it off, since I got busy and havent had time to upload it.

    I admit I’m slightly obsessed at the moment at saving as much money as possible…which isn’t a bad hobby, mind you. But I think my current financial situation is a humbling position to be in, and I don’t think that I will give up many of the hobbies (i.e. couponing) just because I get a nice fat salary someday. I DO, however, like that my hobby is entirely productive (you could say I’m kind of obsessed with productivity — I find sitting and doing nothing, even during my free time, i.e. watching t.v. or gaming to be a frivoulous waste of time, but that’s neither here nor there) in that it makes side money. I used bake or watch Tivoed shows at 2-3 in the morning, now I’ve slightly switched gears to Ebay. You can’t really be much more productive at that hour. The difference between my Ebay fees and your WoW fees, are that mine are offset by the money I actually make Ebaying.

    Now, here’s something else that I’d like you to take to heart. You may not realize how you come off in written communication…but it’s not entirely positive. Not everyone needs to be doing what is best for you. Just because you hold your certain values or beliefs, and feel that a certain lifestyle is best for YOU, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s best for someone else. Case in point, I would never, EVER, buy and sell collectibles, either on Ebay or otherwise, like my mom, for reasons I do not need to go into. But just because I wouldn’t consider it to be a good choice for me, doesn’t mean that I should knock it for other people! In fact, as you have seen, I respect the decision, and applaud my mom for being successful at it. I think you could spend a little more time respecting other people’s decisions and lifestyles instead of always employing the “Brandon’s way is the only best way” mentality. I do appreciate comments that are constructive, but it does get old hearing the “This is what I would do” approach. Not everyone wants to do, nor should do, what you would do in a given situation. Just watch the tone of your writing.

    Just my two cents.

  6. admin says:

    Oh, and I forgot to address your point about reselling old items. I think that Ebay was initially created for this very reason. People have upgraded their computer, or camera, or whatever, and have an old one lying around. Better to recoup a fraction of their losses, right? Or here is another reason. Say you have lost a significant amount of weight, and now have an expensive, high quality pair of jeans that are too big for you? That was my case, and you can bet I sold them on Ebay for $50. Are you saying that I should not have bought the jeans in the first place? I think not, I kind of wear jeans everyday, so they are a necessity. People do this all the time (you know how quickly little kids grow? Their clothes are practically still brand new half the time) So I definitely think there are good reasons for reselling your stuff on Ebay. They aren’t doing it as a job, just to recoup some of their initial investment (it’s the online version of a yard sale). And even after Ebay fees, you generally get way more for your used items than you would at a yard sale.

    So I am again, in opposition here. But that’s okay. I like getting rid of things that I don’t otherwise have use for on Ebay. But it makes it sound like this is all I do!! Geez, how things get blown out of proportion.

    And I already donate way more than you probably ever will to homeless shelters on a monthly basis, so you can’t go into that spiel either ;) I don’t feel at all bad for selling my old stuff rather than donating it, when I purposely buy things at the grocery store to give to the needy all the time. So long as we each do what we can, within our means, that’s all that matters.

  7. stardo says:

    hey i’m not trying to give you a guilt trip about donating stuff. =P you do whatever it is you do.

    my main argument is people don’t need to buy new cameras or computers every few years. they would be perfectly fine buying a computer every, say, 4 years compared to 2 and taking the cash and investing the rest for their retirement or something.

    furthermore, i don’t buy expensive clothes, let alone expensive jeans. i’m satisfied wearing 10 year old shirts until they get so many holes in them they are no longer practical to wear. same with shoes. i think this is where most guys and girls differ though, so i’ll leave it at that. if you are fat and planning on not being fat at some point, stop buying expensive clothes. =) and if you bought expensive clothes when you were thinner, start exercising more so you can fit back into em! =)

    key is to stop buying stuff that doesn’t have lasting value rather than continually “recoup your losses”. and use things until it is no longer possible and it wouldn’t have value to anyone except those who are better of with it compared to nothing at all.

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