Scavenger Life Episode 273: What's Your eBay Emergency Plan?

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

Cyndi of Amazing*Taste said that her ebay partner/ husband had to go to the hospital last week. As far as we know he's fine, but she did bring up a good question: what would you do if your eBay partner is out of commission? Could you still run the business alone? Or if you already work solo, how would things work if you couldn't list and ship?

We certainly depend on each other. Each of us does certain tasks each day to keep the store running. Ryanne could more easily take control of the business herself but at much less volume. Jay would have a learning curve when it came to shipping. Our business certainly would change if one of us got sick.

But if you do depend on eBay for your income, it would be wise to have an emergency plan if something did happen. Maybe find a family member and teach them to ship. Definitely try to put enough away in savings so your expenses would be covered for at least three months. Selling on eBay is living without a safety net unless you build the net yourself. There is no sick leave on eBay.

This week we also discussed an interesting conversation going on in the Retail Arbitrage world on Amazon. Cynthia wrote a blog post that warned that Amazon may be ending the ability to sell retail arbitrage. This means no more going to Walmart, buying out the discounted items, and sending them into FBA. She backed it up with sources and her logic. But then Ryan from Online Selling Experiment (who we interviewed several years ago) responded with a well-reasoned argument why Amazon would continue to let you send in items you buy at retail stores.

The bone of contention is the fear that Amazon thinks that retail arbitrage items are often discounted, clearance items that are not in new condition. Because sellers say they are new, customers are returning these items more frequently and having a bad experience. No one knows for sure what will happen, but it is interesting conspiracy theories are not just in the eBay community. It would be a game changer for many FBA sellers.

For us, we continue to sell used items on Amazon and have learned to list the as such. If Amazon did stop allowing "like new" items to be shipped into FBA, I can only see this as a good thing for eBay since those used items would be sold there. Ryan did say that Target no longer allows him to buy up all their discounted items in huge lots. Not sure if this is nationwide or just his local store.

  • We also mentioned some seller's issues with VERO claims. Please educate yourself on this because eBay does not fool around with accidentally selling counterfeit items on designer labels. Often these claims can be made in error and can still cause headaches fighting it.
  • Check out our post this week on how to make your listings mobile friendly This is an evolving situation as eBay slowly tries to get us all to improve the look of our items online. We're always keeping an eye out on the new practical tweaks.
Hope you had a good week!

Our Store Week August 21-27, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 4,171
  • Items Sold: 28
  • Cost of Items Sold: $53
  • Total Sales: $1,201.60
  • Highest Price Sold: $150 (Small wool rug)
  • Average Price Sold: $42.91
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $250
  • Number of items listed this week: 62

  • ----------
  • Amazon FBA Store
  • Number of items sold: 9
  • Amazon total sales: $161.56
  • Amazon FBA Fees: $77.45
  • COGS (shipment to FBA included): $20
  • Net profit after COGS: $64.11

  • Bonanza:
  • Sold 1 items for $20
  • ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 1088
  • Items Sold: 12
  • Cost of Items Sold: $15
  • Total Sales: $332.89
  • Highest Price Sold: $40 (vintage wall calendar)
  • Average Price Sold: $27.74
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

Are Your eBay Listings Mobile Friendly?

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

Thanks to a tip by Jamie, you can use eBay's Mobile Friendly Test with any of your item numbers to see if they're up to snuff for people shopping with Androids, iPhones, Tablets etc. None of our listings were passing the test, despite having recently transformed them all into plain text with no active content or html. The great thing is, it's easy to bulk edit their code right into your listings, just follow the tutorial above posted by fellow eBayer Mesha Travesser.

The most obvious question is why aren't listings generated on the eBay website that just use plain text passing this mobile friendly test? The asnwer is: I have no idea. This is clearly a run-up to when eBay discontinues the ability to put active content into your descriptions. They want every description to be pure, plain text for mobile users. Hopefully, next year this code will automatically be part of their internal code for all listings. But for now, it won't take long to bulk edit, so you might as well give it a try!

Scavenger Life Episode 272: How Much $ Should You Risk On Your Inventory?

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

When we started selling on eBay in 2008, we had no idea what we were doing. If there were online tutorials or Youtube videos about eBay, we didn't know about them. There were the eBay Forums, but they were mainly full of negative stories of how eBay was actively trying to destroy sellers. (It never made sense to us that people were selling on the platform if they actually believed this.)

So because we were ignorant, we were looking for a low risk way to begin. This meant we chose to spend very little on our inventory. We found local church thrift stores overflowing with donations that had "bag day" sales to move their inventory. We found yard sales with many items for under $1 because people just wanted the stuff gone. We found auctions where entire households were sold off in a couple hours, and we could buy boxes of stuff for under $10. We found estate sales that discount 75%+ on the last day, allowing us to fill our car for the cost of a meal.

This is why we called ourselves Scavengers because we often were buying the items that no one else wanted. But this didn't mean these items were worthless. If we did the research and put these items in the right context so the right buyers would find them, we could make serious money. We became very good at selling something for $30+ that we bought for $1 or less. And every month we would even sell items for over $100 that cost us just as little.

Since we've always been frugal and rarely go out to eat in restaurants, we always have $30 to spend on inventory. We've never wanted to buy an item and not had the money. We've never been in the position of needing to liquidate inventory so we could have more cash to buy more items. We've never put inventory costs on credit cards. This is how we discovered our "list it and forget it" strategy. It doesn't matter to us when any particular item sells, as long as something sell each day. We learned that if we had a large enough inventory, then items do sell every day. Our experience since 2008 has proved our strategy to be effective.

Time is our big investment. It takes time to take a pile of "junk" and figure out the value of each item. Takes time to photograph. Takes time to write a proper description that will attract the right buyer. This is certainly much more work than just scanning and sending into Amazon, but the profit margins are incredible with very low risk.

One question we're always asked is: "If you could buy an item for $50 and make $500 quickly, wouldn't you do it?" Of course! But we find these opportunities very rare. Could you jump in your car right now, go to a thrift store or auction, and buy up these miracle $50 items that will sell for $500? For some reason, people are willing to give away items worth $30, but items worth $200+ have too much value to just let go. We do find these deals from time to time, but they're rare for us.

Some sellers really know a particular niche and have learned to pay big money for lots of specific items. They know how to part out the gear, or refurbish it, or simply know the items true value. They may pay $1000 for a box of items, knowing they can make $5000. Knowing a niche deeply is a real advantage.

Our point is simply that not spending much money on inventory takes one less stress out of running a business. Your miles may vary.

Here are the links we mentioned in the podcast:
--This is the blue tooth scanner we just bought to scan books for Amazon:
KDC200i
--Chris the Dollar Flipper sent us a link to this video of a kooky eBay seller.

Our Store Week August 14-20, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 4,134
  • Items Sold: 32
  • Cost of Items Sold: $55
  • Total Sales: $1,315.81
  • Highest Price Sold: $175 (Golf Bag)
  • Average Price Sold: $41.11
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $25
  • Number of items listed this week: 80

  • ----------
  • Amazon FBA Store
  • Number of items sold: 16
  • Amazon total sales: $209.35
  • Amazon FBA Fees: $71.31
  • COGS (shipment to FBA included): $25
  • Net profit after COGS: $113.04

  • Bonanza:
  • Sold 0 items for 0
  • ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 1104
  • Items Sold: 2
  • Cost of Items Sold: $3
  • Total Sales: $139.99
  • Highest Price Sold: $100 (vintage lamp)
  • Average Price Sold: $69.99
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

Scavenger Life Episode 271: Finding the Right Balance Between Scavenging and Listing

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

Our success on eBay is due primarily to one key factor: finding the right balance between scavenging and listing.

Here's the deal if you're new to scavenging- it's easy to find stuff to sell. You can complain all you want about thrift stores raising their prices or yard sales getting hip to researching their items online, but you will not find a nation on this planet that has more abundance and waste than the USA. If you are creative and put in the time, it's easy to get a carload of scavenged goods for little money. You could fill a house full of junk in a couple weeks. Some sellers just sit at home on their computers and source items on eBay or online auctions!

Don't believe us?  Just go on Youtube and watch the thousands of "haul videos" that show people bringing home bags of stuff from Goodwill, yard sales, auctions. Though it still takes some skill and experience to scavenge the real treasures out there, the bar is still pretty low. Finding items that will sell for $20-$30 is easy. This is why we like "What Sold" videos because it shows the reward of the work you do.

But scavenging is only one leg of a successful eBay business. The second leg is listing. ALWAYS BE LISTING. (The third leg is good customer service.)

When we first started selling on eBay, we spent 75-90% of our time scavenging. We'd go every day to buy stuff. Sometimes twice a day. It would drive us crazy thinking there was good stuff out there just waiting for us to find. Plus, we had no inventory so acquiring was important.

But very quickly we had more stuff than we could handle. An entire roomful of clothes piles, bins of shoes, junk. It was overwhelming. After three years of running our eBay business, we had over thirty huge plastic bins of unlisted items. Death piles everywhere. We realized that there would always be "stuff" out there, and that listing had to be our priority. It's now taken us over a year to photograph and list these items. AND MAKE MONEY SELLING THEM.

Death piles can cause family and marital strife. Death piles can sap your morale and paralyze you. Death piles can be a sign of a shopping addiction. Death piles can keep you from having anyone visit your home. Death piles can make you feel like a fool. When there's too much stuff, you can often not know where to start so you never start. Acquiring stuff is not the same as selling items online.

We now list 90% of the time and scavenge the other 10%. We do one big scavenging trip each week where we come home with a carload of stuff. It takes us the rest of the week to process it all and get it online.  We'll be the first to admit that we aren't always successful listing enough to keep up with our scavenging, but we feel much better about our eBay business and our lives. And people can visit us anytime and think that we're just eclectic collectors.

Here are the links we discussed in this podcast:
--Crystal pointed us to this site that shows the different Woolrich tags and the manufacturing dates.
--Ryanne mentioned Promoted Listings on eBay. If you have an Anchor store subscription, you get a $25 coupon to use each quarter.

Hope you had a good week!

Our Store Week August 7-13, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 4078
  • Items Sold: 35
  • Cost of Items Sold: $190
  • Total Sales: $1,202.92
  • Highest Price Sold: $200 (vintage art print)
  • Average Price Sold: $34.36
  • Returns: 1
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $60
  • Number of items listed this week: 137
  • ----------
  • Amazon FBA Store
  • Number of items sold: 12
  • Amazon total sales: $320.65
  • Amazon FBA Fees: $84.72
  • COGS (shipment to FBA included): $15
  • Net profit after COGS: $215.93

  • Bonanza:
  • Sold 1 items for $80
  • ----------
  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 1107
  • Items Sold: 6
  • Cost of Items Sold: $10
  • Total Sales: $147.71
  • Highest Price Sold: $30 (vintage purse)
  • Average Price Sold: $24.61
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

What Sells On eBay: Schmidt Beer Hat, Reel to Reel Tape, Yamaha Turntable, Vintage Geib Guitar Case

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

Thanks to Steve Schultz again this week for the guest video! Some great sales including a pair of classic Vintage Doc Martens, made in England, which you should always look out for in your scavenging.

Scavenger Life Episode 270: Self-Doubt and the eBay Life

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

Anyone that runs a business of any type or size deals with self doubt. When you're the boss, no one tells you if you're making the right choice or the wrong choice. Maybe the next decision will ruin everything! Maybe it's better to do nothing? Who knows!

And if you're just starting your eBay business, it truly is a leap of faith. Often you must list several hundred items before you see if you've scavenged the right items and priced them appropriately. The big mistake is to only list a couple items and then judge your success on whether those two or three items sell quickly.

Even though we've successfully sold on eBay since 2008, self-doubt still creeps into our eBay business from time to time. Usually this happens when sales are quiet, or when we get a series of unexpected returns. Luckily we have each other to talk through these times. We know that we must look at our numbers over the entire year, and not judge our success on any one particular slow week. We listen to the experience other sellers and research (and more research) to make sure our methods are still reliable. The worst thing we can do is get paralyzed.  Having fun and constantly experimenting is our cure for self-doubt.

These are the links we mentioned in this podcast-
  • eBay has a new podcast called Open for Business. It's hosted and produced by a cool, independent podcast company called Gimlet.
  • eBay has posted recordings from sessions at the recent eBay Open event in Las Vegas. It's free, but you have to sign up to watch. Maybe they're also on Youtube.
Hope you guys had a good week!

Our Store Week July 31-August 6, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3974
  • Items Sold: 22
  • Cost of Items Sold: $61
  • Total Sales: $745.87
  • Highest Price Sold: $125 (vintage painting)
  • Average Price Sold: $33.90
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $250
  • Number of items listed this week: 70

  • ----------
  • Amazon FBA Store
  • Number of items sold: 12
  • Amazon total sales: $241.36
  • Amazon FBA Fees: $104.03
  • COGS (shipment to FBA included): $15
  • Net profit after COGS: $122.33

  • Bonanza:
  • Sold 1 items for $25
  • ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 1112
  • Items Sold: 11
  • Cost of Items Sold: $13
  • Total Sales: $220.85
  • Highest Price Sold: $25 (five items at this price)
  • Average Price Sold: $20.07
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0

What Sells On eBay: Steven Schultz Guest Edition

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

Nice sales courtesy of Steve Schultz! Check out what vintage mailboxes go for. We always pick those up and they sell well.

Scavenger Life Episode 269: Being a Scavenger is Being an Opportunist

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

We recently asked listeners to share their "manifestos" on the blog so sellers could share the different strategies they use to run their eBay stores. You can scroll through them in the comment section here.

Lots of great ideas were shared, but we especially loved what Tim Snoper shared. He said that being a scavenger is all about being an "opportunist". To us, this means setting up your lifestyle so you can run into the great finds that are always out there if you look for them. It's about creating your own luck. This can mean running a full-time eBay store so you have time to always be scavenging when you're out of the house. We've found amazing items at random yard sales that we've just happened to drive by because we had the freedom of our time. We also love that we can go to any auction we want to because it's our job.

Or it can mean making sure you visit thrift stores on your lunch break. A worker at your local thrift store could be placing an extremely valuable item on the shelf right now! Just making time to stop in and check to see if there's anything new each day is a great way to improve your chances to find good items.

Here are the links we mentioned in the podcast:
--Pinterest is starting a new program for "buyable pins". It's unclear who will be able to sell items, but it's smart.
--The last factory on the planet that makes VCR's has closed down. To us, this means it'd be smart to start buying up any VCR you see for cheap. It's not uncommon to see them for $1 at yard sales. If you have the storage, who knows when they'll start having value since they'll never be made again.
--eBay updated their mobile phone app on iPhone and Android. Has anyone used it yet? Worth updating?
--One of our listeners, MyCottage, said some sellers can created "codeless coupons" to send to select groups of people.  Never used this feature before, but might be cool.

Hope you guys had a good week.

Our Store Week July 24-30, 2016
  • Store #1
  • Total Items in Store: 3911
  • Items Sold: 20
  • Cost of Items Sold: $375
  • Total Sales: $1,200.87
  • Highest Price Sold: $500 (Autographed photo)
  • Average Price Sold: $60.04
  • Returns: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $30
  • Number of items listed this week: 50

  • ----------
  • Amazon FBA Store
  • Number of items sold: 10
  • Amazon total sales: $323.31
  • Amazon FBA Fees: $75.58
  • COGS (shipment to FBA included): $20
  • Net profit after COGS: $227.73
  • ----------

  • Store #2
  • Total Items in Store: 1128
  • Items Sold: 9
  • Cost of Items Sold: $32
  • Total Sales: $361.45
  • Highest Price Sold: $100 (Vintage wool prayer rug)
  • Average Price Sold: $40.16
  • Returns: 0
  • Number of items listed this week: 0