Scavenger Life Episode 208: List It or Donate It

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

Don't know about you, but we always buy more than we can sell in a short amount of time. Auctions have box lots, independent thrift stores have bag days and tag sales, yard sales give away stuff at the end of the day, estate sales encourage us to bundle to buy more, and flea markets have the guys who are getting rid of items because they don't want to pack it all up again. We always drive home, loaded.

When we unload our finds, we pick out the stuff that excites us and/or will sell for the most money. The rest of the items get put in plastic bins to be listed later. Well, that time is now for us. We have 24 plastic tubs of these items from the past three years. We've decided that in the next couple weeks, we're either going to "list it or donate it".

If you want, you can play along in this summertime challenge. Why keep those stagnant piles of stuff sitting around any longer? Since summer is slow, it's the perfect time to get to work. I know we'll feel better clearing off out this inventory. The donated items will go back into the waste stream so some other scavenger can find use for them. And we're now trying to buy smarter so we only bring home stuff that excites us and will list immediately (wish us luck).

In this episode. we talk about the following links:

The Weekly Scavenger Numbers 
Our Store Week July 19-25, 2015
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3927
  • Items Sold: 26
  • Cost of Items Sold: $67
  • Total Sales: $1,242.85
  • Highest Price Sold: $159 (Ferragamo shoes)
  • Average Price Sold: $47.80
  • International Sales: 3 (3 GSP)
  • Returns: 2
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $35
  • Number of items listed this week: 0 

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 442
  • Items Sold: 9
  • Cost of Items Sold: $115
  • Total Sales: $524.93
  • Highest Price Sold: $80 (vintage straw hat)
  • Average Price Sold: $58.32
  • International Sales: 0 (0 GSP)
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

Scavenger Life Episode 207: Fun Places to Talk About Scavenging

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

We love you guys and glad you show up each week to listen and talk with each each other. But we know we're not the only game in town.

Besides all the YouTube videos to watch, we've recently been hanging out over at Reddit's Flipping community. It's a multi-threaded message board that some folks have suggested we create ourselves. But why re-create the wheel? Though we're fairly new there, it feels well moderated. There's a variety of posts with a specific thread each day called the "Daily Newbie Thread" where people ask any question without anyone complaining (though not every question is answered). I enjoy the more advanced questions because there's plenty I can still learn.

The community seems split fairly evenly between eBay and Amazon sellers with some who do both. I've been learning about the innards of selling on FBA. It's feels like it's a younger crowd with lots of talk about selling videos games and electronics. BUT there is plenty of room for whatever people want to talk about around "Flipping". I enjoy when folks post weird photos of items they're selling.

Anyway, head on over there if you're looking to be chatty with a wider community. Our user name is (of course) ScavengerLife.

By the way, Dan sent us this photo from the first Scavenger meetup in Seattle. Hey Guys! If you want to self-organize in your local area, we're glad to announce it here.



In this week's episode, we mentioned the following links:

The Weekly Scavenger Numbers 
Our Store Week July 12-18, 2015
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3949
  • Items Sold: 38
  • Cost of Items Sold: $110
  • Total Sales: $1,682.59
  • Highest Price Sold: $250 (antique wool rug)
  • Average Price Sold: $44.26
  • International Sales: 5 (5 GSP)
  • Returns: 1
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $30
  • Number of items listed this week: 35 

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 450
  • Items Sold: 7
  • Cost of Items Sold: $25
  • Total Sales: $252.95
  • Highest Price Sold: $100 (two original paintings)
  • Average Price Sold: $36
  • International Sales: 1 (1 GSP)
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 79

Open Q&A: eBay's Advanced Transaction Defect Report


Today we're going to give eBay a little free advertising since they just rolled out their new Advanced Transaction Defect Report. Sounds like some secret Pentagon initiative.



We just got access to this new report in our Seller Performance page. Very cool to see the defects on a grid with the associated item. It feels fresh and logical. This is really normal internet stuff, but it's also a pretty big design/functionality leap for eBay. This feature is probably the coolest update we've seen since we started selling full-time in 2008. Makes eBay's layout not feel like it's stuck in 1998. So kudos where it's due. Although it does kind of suck to have to look at your defects no matter what, might as well make them look nice and logical.

We've always been clear on two things. First, eBay works for us. It's still the largest online flea market which has allowed us to earn a consistent living year after year. The site can feel clunky and outdated, but buyers have figured out how to navigate the site. eBay has always been fair with us as long as we've followed the rules.

On the other hand, eBay is also just a cold, calculating corporation. What matters are the earnings report each quarter and making money for stock holders. We have no illusion that eBay's leadership could do some insane things at any moment that screws sellers just to make some quick short-term profit and save their jobs. Many sellers say that's exactly what has been happening the past six or so years as eBay embraced the Chinese manufacturers who have made eBay feel more like the Dollar Store. There's always a need for balance.

Corporations are also run by people and we hope that the new leadership continues to improve and update the site. This recent article has the new CEO say he wants to take the site back to it's roots as a place for small sellers selling interesting items. Talk is cheap, so we'll continue to judge on action. We've dreamed of seeing a Traffic Report on eBay that feels more like Google Analytics. Wouldn't it be great to have dynamically generated charts that showed what is selling, who's buying, and how they came to the item? If some eBay engineer is reading this, contact us. We have lots of ideas!

This is an open post so talk about anything you want. Feel free to post questions of any issues you have. Some simple rules-
    • We do allow anonymous commenters, but we encourage you to use your ID so people can get to know you. Plus you won't have to re-enter the code for each comment.
    • Be civil. People have different ways of doing the same thing. If we disagree, no big deal.
    • We are solution oriented. If you want to simply hate on eBay, go to the dark depths of the eBay forums where your hate can be polished like a precious jewel.
    • Please back up any issues with facts and specific links. We don't deal in rumors.
    • Comments are threaded (what?). So you can either reply to a specific comment or start an overall new topic.

Scavenger Life Episode 206: Do You Have The Hunger?


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

When new people ask questions about selling on eBay, we do our best to answer. But really, I'm listening to see if I hear the Hunger in their voice. Do they have that thing that drives them to go out and look for treasure among the trash? Making money on eBay is very cool, but selling online is really almost beside the point for a Scavenger. The Hunger should make them want to spend an early Saturday morning wandering around someone's front yard looking through boxes. Or walking around a field of flea market stalls on a hot day. Or going through five hundred t-shirts at the local thrift shop. Or spending eight hours in an auction while the auctioneer sells off a lifetime of a man's possessions. This is fun for fun's sake.

We have the hunger.  If this blog didn't exist, we'd still be spending our days searching for treasure. Even if eBay didn't exist, we'd find reasons to dig into boxes at auctions because it's how we like to spend our time. We still get just as excited walking into our local thrift store now as we did when we first started selling in 2008. eBay just helps us scavenge full time. The Hunger comes from a place beyond just making money.

And when I hear the Hunger in a new seller's voice, there can be no obstacle that can get in their way.

This week, we talk about the following links:

The Weekly Scavenger Numbers 
Our Store Week July 5-11, 2015
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3963
  • Items Sold: 32
  • Cost of Items Sold: $250
  • Total Sales: $2,041.81
  • Highest Price Sold: $599 (antique hall tree)
  • Average Price Sold: $63.78
  • International Sales: 5 (5 GSP)
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $90
  • Number of items listed this week: 24

  •  Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 377
  • Items Sold: 8
  • Cost of Items Sold: $18
  • Total Sales: $249.92
  • Highest Price Sold: $39 (vintage stapler)
  • Average Price Sold: $31.12
  • International Sales: 1 (1 GSP)
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

Open Q&A: The Wonders of Craigslist


This week we found a newish Jenn Air stove/oven on Craigslist. It's worth between $1500-$2500 new, but we got it for $200. Do we need a new stove? No. But we have dreams of opening another rental, so it's always good to begin collecting. Plus how could we turn it down! If anything, we'll just resell it for 4x the price. This woman said she just upgraded her stove. Must be nice!

Since we live in rural America, we drive about 90 miles to get cool stuff from the closest CL city. If we lived in an urban area, we'd always be fishing for deals. People are moving and dumping their stuff. People are just downsizing and are kind enough to almost just give stuff away. It's incredible.

Of course, it's helpful if you scavenge for a living because Craigslist is all about quick response and pickup. You won't be the only full-time Scavenger looking for treasure.

On Fridays, we're now just opening up a post to ask any question or share whatever you want. We swear we won't be mean to you. The TrashElf3000 is switched off for now. The topic can be whatever you want it to be. But remember, we like to think of this blog like a pot luck: fill your plate but we ask you add something to the mix.

Some simple guidelines:
    • We do allow anonymous commenters, but we encourage you to use your ID so people can get to know you. Plus you won't have to re-enter the code for each comment.
    • Be civil. People have different ways of doing the same thing. If we disagree, no big deal.
    • We are solution oriented. If you want to simply hate on eBay, go to the dark depths of the eBay forums where your hate can be polished like a precious jewel.
    • Please back up any issues with facts and specific links. We don't deal in rumors.
    • Comments are threaded (what?). So you can either reply to a specific comment or start an overall new topic.

Scavenger Life Episode 205: Don't Cry About Slow Summer eBay Sales


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

If you read our blog comments (or could see the emails we get each week), then you know that there are sellers who are sincerely worried about their slow summer sales. Especially if someone is new to eBay, a quiet week can be scary. People have bills to pay, a spouse who's hassling them for wasting their time or a dream of quitting their job to spend more time at home with the kids. Slow sales make it all seem impossible. We hear this.

But it's always slow around summer time. It's not slow; it's normal. Next summer, sales will also be slow. And the summer after that. Even though sales are fewer, people are still buying from us. We're making money. Not as much as holiday season, but our bills are paid.

And this is not to brag or say we're Special Awesome Cool. We've just developed a year-round store with a variety of items to choose from. Our secret is to simply work hard. When there's a day when one thing sells, we make sure we add 40 new items to our inventory. Maybe we only made $20 yesterday. That's fine. We're listing winter coats because winter is right around the corner. Tomorrow could be a $500 day. That's how it's worked for us the past six years. Put in the hours. Slow times are when a large inventory pays off.

UPDATE: I remembered that we did almost the exact some episode last year. We were using the same exact strategies then as now.

In this episode, we mention the following links:
  • Alibaba's 11 Main, was sold off for failing to attract enough buyers and sellers. Another potential eBay competitor bites the dust. 
  • eBay's Seller Performance page shows up blank for us. Does it look blank to you? Maybe a new performance standard is coming?
  • Dan is holding the first ever Scavenger meetup in Seattle on July 15. Contact him directly for details. We have nothing to do with this event, but it sounds fun. Dan Mattson WoodenBoatdan@gmail.com 425 319-7800
  • If you want to do some hiking in the mountains, rent our Vacation Farmhouse. Meeting us is optional!

Little visitor in our yard this week.

The Weekly Scavenger Numbers
Our Store Week June 28-July 4 2015

  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3963
  • Items Sold: 25
  • Cost of Items Sold: $62
  • Total Sales: $1,272.71
  • Highest Price Sold: $299 (vintage converse shoes)
  • Average Price Sold: $50.80
  • International Sales: 5 (4 GSP)
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $75
  • Number of items listed this week: 25 

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 386
  • Items Sold: 8
  • Cost of Items Sold: $15
  • Total Sales: $322.94
  • Highest Price Sold: $59 (collectible golf markers)
  • Average Price Sold: $40.25
  • International Sales: 1 (1 GSP)
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 75