Scavenger Life Episode 243: We Finally Sent Some Stuff Into Amazon FBA

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

With the help of fellow Trash Elf, Vic, we finally started our FBA experiment and it was quite fun. Jay even started calling us Scan Monkeys, since now we're looking for FBA stuff during sourcing. I even bought a barcode scanner on eBay. So I guess that really does make us Scan Monkeys. So far it's fun and we've even sold a bunch of stuff. Hope you're all having a good week so far with lots of sales.

Links we mentioned this week-
Our Store Week January 31-February 6, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3871
  • Items Sold: 29
  • Cost of Items Sold: $157li>
  • Total Sales: $1,340.84
  • Highest Price Sold: $149 (vintage brass bookends)
  • Average Price Sold: $46.23
  • International Sales: 6 GSP (wow, what?)
  • Returns: 1
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $22
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

  • ----------
    Bonanza: $20
    Amazon: $160
    Vangoe: $0 Etsy: $0
    ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 930
  • Items Sold: 9
  • Cost of Items Sold: $20
  • Total Sales: $357.92
  • Highest Price Sold: $75 (vintage lock)
  • Average Price Sold: $39.76
  • International Sales: 0 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

Scavenger Life Episode 242: How Well Do Things Sell On eBay?

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

Good week for us. No drama. Just an unglamorous steady stream of sales.

Here are links we discussed during the podcast:
  • Remodelista.com is a great site that gives examples of interestingly designed rooms. You may notice these designers use items they might find in your eBay store.
  • Terry sent us a smart blog post describing how much you can really make on Amazon FBA. We love the writer's quote: "You’ll never really know what others are making and it doesn’t really matter."

Hope things have been going well for you.  

Our Store Week January 24-30, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3911
  • Items Sold: 36
  • Cost of Items Sold: $630
  • Total Sales: $1,832.55
  • Highest Price Sold: $350 (vintage fashion illustrations)
  • Average Price Sold: $50.90
  • International Sales: 1 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $20
  • Number of items listed this week: 65

  • ------------
    Bonanza: $0
    Amazon: $0
    Vangoe: $15
    Etsy: $0
    ------------
  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 944
  • Items Sold: 18
  • Cost of Items Sold: $250
  • Total Sales: $1,074.36
  • Highest Price Sold: $290 (Lot of cartoon illustrations)
  • Average Price Sold: $59.68
  • International Sales: 0 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 79

Scavenger Life Episode 241: Super Snow Blizzard Edition

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

The big East Coast blizzard came and went. Honestly, as long as we have internet and the mail lady picks up packages each day, we could go weeks without leaving the house since we have plenty of food and firewood. We had a productive weekend while taking breaks to shovel paths around our property.

We had an average week of eBay sales, but also we did a below average amount of work. After having family visit last weekend, it always takes us a while to get back into our routine.

Jay drove 10 hours round trip to North Carolina to pick up a huge load of heartwood pine flooring for our new rental. 400 square feet for $350. Wow! Never know what you'll find on Craigslist. Ryanne stayed home and took care of business.

We just booked flights for a month of travel in May for some video jobs we'll be doing. This means we have about 2.5 months to get any eBay work done before our store goes on auto pilot. If you're in the Seattle, Portland, or New Orleans area, we'll be there soon.

eBay officially updated all our Seller Dashboards to their a new, cleaner look. Supposedly "more objective standards" will be used to determine defects. The new dashboard will tell you where you stand with these new requirements.

Marco and Mike emailed us about an app called Mile IQ. It's a phone app that uses GPS to track your mileage for business so you can easily keep records for tax deductions. We haven't used it yet but plan to check it out.

And lastly, Dan (who we interviewed recently) and I have been talking back and forth about keeping track of COGS or Cost of Goods Sold for tax purposes. He sent me the IRS rule that we think lets small businesses deduct inventory costs as you buy them vs as they sell. This is huge if it's true. Another listener called this the Cash Method. Here's the rule Code Sec 471.
IRS exception to required use of accrual method for small businesses:
The IRS has provided two exceptions to the otherwise required use of the accrual method by certain small businesses that account for inventories. One exception applies to taxpayers with average annual gross receipts of $1 million or less and a second exception applies to taxpayers in certain types of businesses with average annual gross receipts of $10 million or less.

Under the first exception, a qualifying taxpayer that has average annual gross receipts of $1 million or less is not required to use the accrual method or account for inventories under Code Sec. 471. Thus, such qualifying taxpayers will be allowed to use the cash method instead. If the qualifying small business does not want to account for inventories, then the taxpayer must treat inventoriable items in the same manner as materials and supplies that are not incidental.

Comment
Allowing qualifying small businesses with inventories to use the cash method is intended to simplify the bookkeeping requirements for small taxpayers.
Please note that we are not tax experts. Research yourself or take this info to your CPA. Might save you the time of keeping track of COGS and just deducting inventory as you buy it.

UPDATE: Please read this thread to see different seller's opinions on the issue of COGS.

Hope you had a good week.

Our Store Week January 17-23, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3899
  • Items Sold: 28
  • Cost of Items Sold: $113
  • Total Sales: $1,396.30
  • Highest Price Sold: $250 (Tumi bag)
  • Average Price Sold: $48
  • International Sales: 2 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $34
  • Number of items listed this week: 53

  • ----------
    Bonanza: $15
    Amazon: $35
    ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 874
  • Items Sold: 12
  • Cost of Items Sold: $25
  • Total Sales: $411.90
  • Highest Price Sold: $80 (vintage hand drill)
  • Average Price Sold: $34.25
  • International Sales: 2 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 15

Scavenger Life Episode 240: We Were Interviewed By JL Collins

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

In a parallel world, there's a whole community of people working towards Financial Independence. Or Early Retirement. Or Extreme Retirement. Often they're working high paying jobs, taking on no debt, and saving enough where they can quit their jobs and live off the interest of their index funds. Some are getting out of the job market as early as 30, like Mr Money Mustache. The goal for many of them isn't to never work again, but the freedom to do their best work.

One of these voices in that community is JL "Jim" Collins who wrote a great post about having F-You money. We mentioned him last month when we talked about savoring the freedom of having enough F-You money to do what we wanted and say no to boring jobs. This is different than being financially independent, but our eBay profits have solved the problem of being forced to do work we hated.

Jim recently reached out and interviewed us for his readers. Check out his "case study" on us. He links to an hour long interview with us where he lays out our lifestyle and motivations. Many of you know much of our background, but he does a good job pulling out nuggets we've never shared here.

Jim also wrote his famous "stock series". If you've ever wondered about how successful investing could work, this is a great place to start. Thanks Jim!

For those of you on the East Coast, the snow has just started. We made black bean soup and two huge quiches. We have a huge pile of oak firewood for the woodstove and a tub full of water if the power goes out. Cross our fingers that the internet stays on!

This is essentially an Open Thread. Let's solve problems and share tips. There's no crying in baseball.

Scavenger Life Episode 239: Good Selling Advice From the Trash Elf Audience

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

This week we devoted the show to all the good advice people contributed in the comments this past week.
  • After we sold so much on Bonaza during the holidays, Anne suggested we experiment with signing up for their selling plan that supposedly pushes more traffic to our store. So we paid $70 for the month to see what happens. If we make $300+, then it's worth $70.
  • Andy posted news that USPS are raising their rates soon. Any seller that uses Calculated Shipping on eBay doesn't have to do anything. Great news is that First Class Package Service is increasing from 13 oz. to 16 oz. Cool.
  • Because our scale doesn't show ounces very well, Chris the Dollar Flipper suggested that we use the free scale from Stamps.com. It's precise for these small amounts and perfect to use when we travel.
  • Like Sandy, we've been hoarding Regional C boxes that are being discounted. But she says that: "I called the USPS Small Business Support Office today (1-877-747-6249) and they gave me the number of the USPS Postal Store (1-800-610-8734). I found out that the Regional C box is now replaced with a regular Priority Box 14 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 11 1/2" That is the same exact size as the Regional C box and they are available to order now. You pay by weight, not a flat rate or regional rate." It's a great size box.
  • Cyndi aka AmazingTaste explained why eBay is asking everyone to insert product identifiers
  • Eve told that Amazon was letting people into these gated categories without much hassle. We signed up for a $40/month pro account to get into many categories. Our FBA experiment will start this year. 
  • Here's a page of accountants that are friendly to online sellers and people like us who have unconventional income.
  • I mentioned the article that explained that 2015 was the slowest retail year since the depth of the last recession (2009).
  • Here are the Scotty label peelers that a caller mentioned for getting sticky labels off items. 
We appreciate the constructive conversations and debates. I know our business improves when other people share what works or doesn't work for them.

And folks are slowing starting to book our Farmhouse for the spring and summer. We'd love to have you spend some time in the Shenandoah Valley. You can see (and hike) the mountains in our backyard that we see each day as we list on eBay.

Our Store Week January 10-16, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3884
  • Items Sold: 22
  • Cost of Items Sold: $303
  • Total Sales: $1,452.08
  • Highest Price Sold: $200 (Shell Cordovan Wingtips)
  • Average Price Sold: $66
  • International Sales: 1 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $23
  • Number of items listed this week: 19

  • ----------
    Bonanza: $0
    Amazon: $0
    ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 874
  • Items Sold: 12
  • Cost of Items Sold: $50
  • Total Sales: $477.88
  • Highest Price Sold: $200 (vintage Dansk cookware)
  • Average Price Sold: $39.82
  • International Sales: 0 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 11

Scavenger Life Episode 238: How to Find Reliable People to Photograph and List Your Items on eBay

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ebay-scavengers/id638443029?mt=2 iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

We all know that the bottleneck to running an eBay business is photographing and listing items. Treasure hunting, picking, thrifting, dumpster diving, scavenging: this is the fun, easy part. The often tedious work of listing each item on eBay is the part that throws most people off. There's a long, dusty trail of burnt out sellers who have given up the ghost because listing got too much.

About a year ago, we did an interview with Susie who explained how she used a Virtual Assistant in the Philippines to help her list.  Sue had a very particular process that worked for her. Also, she was able to travel to the Philippines to help her train her assistants. Since they were "virtual", they could only do so much of the work.

We also interviewed Will aka Terminal99 about how he has hired two full-time employees who help him photograph and list. He pays a full salary and benefits.

Today, we talk w/ Lisa & Dan from NewVintageNY. Both have full-time jobs, but have managed to build an eBay store with over 6000 items. They've created an eBay pipeline where they find the items, but then locally hire out the work of photographing and listing. By placing ads on Craigslist, they are finding trusted people willing to be paid per listing. It's a cool conversation because they're still figuring it out.

You'll hear us walk through their process, what they've learned, and how they plan to expand. After we recorded this conversation, Dan has hired a new person to help list. Hopefully he'll update us all in the comments.