Scavenger Life Episode 230: Does It Matter What You Sell On eBay? iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

Does it matter what I sell on eBay? How do I make the most money? How can I quit my job and live the good life? All common questions. The answer is not always so easy.

It's obviously smart to sell items that are easy and cheap to find. When we started selling on eBay, we sold clothes. Lots and lots and lots of clothes. We had a couple thrift shops where we could buy clothes by the bagful for pennies on the dollar. It was a lot of work, but we also had a very low investment so could afford to make mistakes and still make money.

As we evolved as online sellers, we definitely felt the stress of "always be listing" in order to make a decent income. It started to feel like a job we didn't like. As one smart listener said, we created a sweatshop for ourselves. We were finding items to sell for cheap, but we were also not making much profit on each item.

Plus, it felt boring. We knew what each day would be like. No surprises. If we're bored, we don't work as hard. If we don't work as hard, don't list as much. If we don't list as much, we don't make money. If we don't make money, we have to start searching for a job where we work for someone else who tells us what to do.

This is why we began focusing on selling items that we enjoyed scavenging, researching, AND listing. In a country with so much excess and waste, why not treat it like an actual Treasure Hunt? We began digging and searching and having fun finding weird items that most people overlooked. We enjoyed learning about the history and use of these items. And we realized that many of these items would often make us a higher profit margin. But in the end, the most important thing is that we enjoyed what we did.

So does it matter what you sell on eBay? Yes and no. Everything sells. It's relatively easy to be a successful online seller for short periods of time. The key is finding a way to make sure you enjoy the process day in and day out. Month after month. Year after year.

Our Store Week November 22-28, 2015
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3989
  • Items Sold: 28
  • Cost of Items Sold: $132
  • Total Sales: $1,270.56
  • Highest Price Sold: $300 (Mid Century Dresser)
  • Average Price Sold: $45.37
  • International Sales: 0 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $40
  • Number of items listed this week: 37
    ---------- Bonanza: $20 (Dr. Pepper hat) ---------- 
  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 741
  • Items Sold: 14
  • Cost of Items Sold: $95
  • Total Sales: $749.29
  • Highest Price Sold: $200 (box of vintage model rocket parts)
  • Average Price Sold: $53.52
  • International Sales: 0 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 50

Scavenger Life Episode 229: Interview With ReSale Rabbit: Selling on eBay/Amazon from the Road iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

Hi. This is Jay. In my 20's, I did a lot of traveling. Lived in Europe, Africa, and across the US. Rarely did I live in any one place longer than a year. With nothing to tie me down, I was just wandering and looking for whatever this life was about. And as I've discussed in the past, I worked a lot of low-paying jobs where I was poorly treated. I was always broke and it was an often lonely adventure. Glad I eventually met Ryanne! I am much better with a partner in crime. 

My traveling took place in the 1990's when the internet and cell phones weren't ubiquitous as they are now. I guess I was the last generation to grow up without the ability to connect so easily. I would infrequently keep in touch with family and friends through postal letters and pay phones. Remember when you could actually get lost?

This interview is with John or Resale Rabbit. He shows us how the world has completely transformed. He travels across the US, scavenges at thrift stores, and mails these items to the Amazon FBA warehouses. Items then sell, Amazon handles the shipping, and the money is deposited into his account.

Unlike my vagabond days, it sounds like John is exploring the world, meeting other scavengers along the way, and making an incredible amount of money. His scavenging seems to focus on video games and electronics which is different from us, so shows that there's many ways to make a living on the bleeding overabundance of this great nation.

John is currently traveling the Southwest. He puts a lot of time into editing videos of his thrifting adventures. Check them out. John was also one of the early moderators at the Flipping subReddit where there's plenty of good info sharing happening.

Scavenger Life Episode 228: Best Practices for Local Pickup on eBay iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

After noticing the gorgeous pieces of furniture that could be cheaply purchased at auctions and yard sales, we started an ongoing experiment with selling furniture on eBay. I guess most buyers don't want the hassle of hauling furniture home? It's perfect for us since we're always trying to find the items that no one wants but can be sold for huge profits. For example, we paid $80 for two pieces of furniture and recently sold them for almost $1000.

The issue with selling furniture on eBay is storage and shipping. We have plenty of storage so that's not a problem. We use "Local Pickup" on our listings since we don't want to deal with preparing pieces for freight. We also list shipping companies that will give buyers free shipping estimates. It's better for us if the buyer directly works out their own shipping if they choose to not pick it up themselves.

For the most part, we've had good luck. Buyers are willing to drive up to 9 hours ONE WAY to pick up unique furniture. People are nice. We make them pay by Paypal before they come so there's no fumbling or last minute negotiations. Then we "mark as shipped" on eBay. You read the about strange nightmares online about buyers picking up items and then telling eBay they never did. We only make money. 99.9999999999% of people are going to be normal and nice.

But these past two furniture pieces we sold only because we offered to deliver them ourselves. Why? Because we didn't want to lose the sales. So we spent Saturday and Sunday driving all day to the South and then North of our state. Wouldn't recommend this delivery service regularly, but we had fun scavenging along the way. It was just another adventure.

These are the links we discussed in this podcast:
Our Store Week November 15-21, 2015
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 4013
  • Items Sold: 38
  • Cost of Items Sold: $77
  • Total Sales: $2,095.72
  • Highest Price Sold: $375 (Vintage Bankers Chair)
  • Average Price Sold: $55.15
  • International Sales: -- GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $65
  • Number of items listed this week: 105
    ---------- Bonanza: $320 ---------- 
  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 701
  • Items Sold: 14
  • Cost of Items Sold: $22
  • Total Sales: $350.08
  • Highest Price Sold: $50 (fold up piano)
  • Average Price Sold: $25.00
  • International Sales: -- GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 34

Long Weekend Means Monday Podcast

We always try to get the podcast up Sunday night so it's ready for Monday morning work, but sometimes our weekend gets packed and we need the extra day. So look for the podcast sometime tomorrow.  You'll hear why we were so busy this weekend.

Open Q&A: Using Our eBay Profits to Pay Off Debt

Last month we talked about paying off one of our loans for two acres of land we bought in 2013. Here's the bank statement that we received. I loved seeing those words: PAID OFF

The land is across the street from our home. One day we saw a for sale sign go up. The previous owner defaulted on the loan so the bank was selling the land. We called the bank and bought it to avoid someone building next to us. The bank gave us a ten year loan, but we paid it off in two years. I guess you'd say it's a luxury purchase, but having privacy is important to us. We have no plans to ever move so we're investing in our long term future. The two acres is also a prime piece of forested real estate if we ever wanted to build on it ourselves. Land is never a bad investment IMHO.

Anyway, we always love hearing sellers talk about how they use their profits beyond just paying monthly bills.

This is an open comment thread (is it ever not?). Ask and answer as you see fit.
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 227: Winter is Coming iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

Many scavengers who live in cold climates fear winter. The cold weather means no more yard sales or flea markets which can be a huge source of awesome finds. Scavengers who live in 12-month warm climates don't have this problem. But they usually deal with high prices and tough competition because the warm living means high density populations.

Winter is our favorite season for eBay because it means uninterrupted work. No more distractions like yard sales that start as early as Wednesday some weeks. During warm months, we also buy much more than we can easily list. At a good auction, we can easily buy a carload of stuff that will take 3 weeks to photograph and list. So we're never worried about a lack of inventory in the winter. We always have TOO MUCH. It's a great problem to have.

Winter also means we have less reasons to leave home. Our town gets quiet. Less outdoor chores to do. No gardening. No cutting grass. Just sit by the wood stove and list all our cool items on eBay. The shorter days of light also keep us more focused.  We know it gets dark by 4pm (sometimes even 3pm?!), so we take photos efficiently during day light.

Since we like to travel in the summer/fall, winter is when we bulk up our store. We can dream of our travel as we work hard listing. Then when we travel in the summer, we can let our eBay store sell on autopilot for up to two months with little drop of income while we enjoy ourselves. (Love 30-business day handling time!) Our next trip is in April (Portland and New Orleans), so we have five months of pure eBay living to prepare.

Hope Winter treats you well.

In this podcast, we mentioned the following links:
--I see more and more articles about people working towards Early Retirement. This article talks about "Super Savers". Guy saved $1-million by the time he was 35.
--And check out our other podcast about running a vacation rental.

Our Store Week November 8-14, 2015
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3986
  • Items Sold: 42
  • Cost of Items Sold: $85
  • Total Sales: $1,732.85
  • Highest Price Sold: $175 (Vintage Danish Modern Side Table)
  • Average Price Sold: $41.25
  • International Sales: 2 GSP
  • Returns: 1
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $60
  • Number of items listed this week: 49
  • ---------- Bonanza: $100 jacket ---------- 
  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 684
  • Items Sold: 10
  • Cost of Items Sold: $12
  • Total Sales: $389.92
  • Highest Price Sold: $80 (vintage hat)
  • Average Price Sold: $38.99
  • International Sales: 0 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 66

Scavenger Life Episode 226: Using What You Have vs Acquiring More iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

Another quiet-ish week for us on eBay. We haven't seen the holiday sales yet (Hope they come!) But things are still selling and we're listing as fast as we can.

Many Americans are obedient consumers always buying new things whether they need them or not. But even as Scavengers, we can get into the habit of constantly acquiring more stuff. We may never pay retail, but there's always more to bring home. We remind ourselves to use what we have and sell anything we don't need. It's a lesson that has done well for us so far...especially when sales are slow and money needs to be saved.

This week we talked about the following links:
--eBay is starting the new Performance standards in February which will do away with Defects. But now there's a new things called "Late Shipment Rate". Obviously eBay expects tracking to be uploaded within your handling time. However now eBay will ask the customer if they received the item within the estimated delivery date. If not, that's a "ding" against you. Hopefully it won't cause issues because of slow post office issues.

--If you use Go Daddy Bookkeeping, I've finding the Profit/Loss page very helpful. If you're logged into your account, that page will let you compare your sales from different months. Helps give us an better perspective on our sales at different times of the year.

Our Store Week November 1-7, 2015
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3974
  • Items Sold: 25
  • Cost of Items Sold: $155
  • Total Sales: $1,465.95
  • Highest Price Sold: $600 (Vintage sewing machine)
  • Average Price Sold: $58.62
  • International Sales: 1 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $100
  • Number of items listed this week: 84
  • ----------
  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 626
  • Items Sold: 10
  • Cost of Items Sold: $15
  • Total Sales: $223.91
  • Highest Price Sold: $40 (Williams Sonoma Napkin set)
  • Average Price Sold: $22.30
  • International Sales: 0 GSP
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 5