Scavenger Life Episode 86: What's Happening In Your eBay Store This Week?

Hey y'all! As you can see in this link, we have made a new video about how to pack and ship delicate artwork for ebay. We get that question about once a week, so we decided to show you how. Other things mentioned in this episode: Thrift Hunters aired on Spike TV with the dudes from Thrifting With The Boys. We enjoyed it and you can too- they have the full episodes streaming on the Spike website. We have a new FAQ page to answer frequent questions faster than an email could. Check out this cool video on Laughing Squid where Michael Pollan explains how cooking at home is much healthier than eating out.

Direct .mp3 link. Direct ogg vorbis link.

We've included our weekly Ebay numbers below. In the comments, go ahead and post what you've done this week. And let us know if there are other numbers you want us to share.

The Weekly Scavenger Numbers

Jay and Ryanne’s Store Week Jan 19-25, 2014

  • Total Items in Store: 3105
  • Items Sold: 60
  • International Sales: 15
  • Total Sales: $2435.17
  • Highest Price Sold: $150.00 (Mid-century framed prints)
  • Average Price Sold: $40.58
  • Returns: 1
  • Positive Feedback: 34
  • Neutral Feedback: 0
  • Negative Feedback: 0


  1. I juts want to point out that we added "international Sales" in our weekly numbers. 25% of our sales this week were to people overseas.

  2. Adam and Emma’s Store Week Jan 19-25, 2014
    Total Items in Store: 477
    Items Sold: 9
    International Sales: 1
    Total Sales: $319.95
    Highest Price Sold: $60.00 (Vintage Catalina Varsity Coat)
    Average Price Sold: $35.55
    Returns: 1
    Positive Feedback: 4
    Neutral Feedback: 0
    Negative Feedback: 0

  3. Hey Jay and Ryanne-
    Enjoy your show as always! THANK YOU for the video of how to pack art with glass. I always pick it up when I can find it, but have not listed it for fear of shipping it. Even though I have been listing and shipping on ebay for many years, art is not something I have shipped. This gives me the confidence to do it!

    Here are numbers for my store. Have a goal to increase store listings to 1500-2000 (at least). I was there at one time, but ended a bunch of items that had been listed for a few years. As you grow in this business you learn what things sell and what does not.

    Total Items In Store: 1009 (I actually have 1262, but 253 of them do not show up in ebays count for some reason. They are older and Good Till Cancelled. I list with Auctiva and now put all on 30 day listings that relist every 30 days.)

    Items Sold: 29
    International Sales: 3
    Total Sales: $1119.53
    Highest Price Sold: $125.00 (Vintage Hiking Boots)
    Average Price Sold: $38.60
    Returns: 2 (items did not fit as desired)
    Positive Feedback: 17
    Neutral Feedback: 0
    Negative Feedback: 0

    Ebay Store:

    1. If you're willing to ship it, then it really opens up what you can sell. But other people just want to ship things in priority envelopes so it's easier. Just a choice. We lie the shipping challenge so sell almost anything.

  4. Loved this week's podcasts. Not sure why you posted Ryanne's video twice--guess I will watch it twice! Ha. It was great. Makes me hate myself for passing up so much artwork due to fear of shipping it. By the way, I still do put my watermark on my photos. It is allowed only if the photo advertizes your store, which mine does. I use a different watermark on my blog. I can always then post my photos on Pinterest for free advertizing! The watermarks have to be high resolution to not get rejected by Ebay. If they are high res they will work. You two are teriffic! Keep up the great work.

    1. hey linda
      i posted the video twice so people could find it here because we mention it on this podcast and then so it had it's own post for future reference. funny because we had a long conversation about it after i posted it here (should i post it twice???).

      good to know about watermarks. i'm linking to ebay's watermark rules page. they show examples of watermarks that are allowed here---


    2. Ryanne, I'm so excited! I went to the thrift store last Fiday and started actually taking a close look at the framed art they have there. I took a closer look at one framed poster that I had seen before but ignored because it is so large. When I actually researched it on my phone i found another very similar piece by the same artist listed on ebay for $600. Needless to say I didn't care even if I have to pay to have it packed at that amount. And it had been there so long it was half price, plus I had a 25 percent off coupon. So I ended up paying abput $4.00 for it! Could you tell me where you take large items to be packed? Our upS store costs a fortune! Thanks again, Linda

    3. We take anything too crazy to pack to a local independent shipping company. Like The UPS Store but privately owned. It's about $30 to have a big item packed, then we ship ourselves. Sometimes items are just too bulky and need really custom sized boxes. If someone buys art for over $300, they won't blink to pay $30 for professional packing. Just add it into the price under "handling". Or just work it into the price of the item. Let us know how it goes.

  5. Hi Jay and Ryan,
    Just wanted to say thanks to you and all the people posting there stats it is a great motivator. Thank you for given back. Have a great week.

    1. Feel free to post your numbers. Doesn't matter how big or small. Be good to see how the numbers changes each week.

  6. Hi Jay and Ryanne! Thank you as always for the great podcast. This week for me was a great example of how amazing eBay is. Our 14 month old daughter had the flu & bronchial pneumonia, so I spent most of the week caring for her and visiting the doctor. Although I couldn't do as much work as I'd like, it is so nice that eBay continues to make you money in the background while you're tending to life. I was still able to list enough to keep my inventory over 1800 (still trying to push towards 2000) and keep up with the shipping. But this week, it's back to the listing grind! My numbers are below:

    Brianna's Store Numbers:
    • Total Items in Store: 1845
    • Items Sold: 110
    • International Sales: 7
    • Total Sales: $2468
    • Highest Price Sold: $130.00 Coach Purse
    • Average Price Sold: $22.43
    • Returns: 1
    • Positive Feedback: 62
    • Neutral Feedback: 0
    • Negative Feedback: 0

    1. You're exactly right. If you have a big enough inventory, then you can take off for a week or a month and still sell. Of course we still must pack each day, but it allows us to work on personal projects, or take care of personal life stuff. Thanks for sharing your numbers. Good to see the big inventory works. I can;t believe you sold over 100 items in a week. That's really incredible.

    2. Wow, that is a lot of shipping, especially with a sick little one! Amazing.

      I notice that most your your listings have 'free shipping'.

      The total sales figure you have posted, is that your net after paying for shipping, or total gross sold with the shipping costs still in that figure?

    3. Whoa, I am very impressed with your numbers, just wondering, how many items do you try to list per week? It looks like they are selling at a good clip, but do you manage that pace yourself or do you employ help?

    4. boodle_n_kit - About half of those items had free shipping and the number is gross, so my weekly income would be a bit less if you deduct the shipping. I'm going back and forth on offering the free shipping. I used to avoid free shipping, then I went on a free shipping spree and now I'm slowly getting away from it again. It's so funny the psychological games it can play with potential buyers too. Everyone loves free shipping, but I have to mark the items up a bit higher to compensate. I've been doing a little experiment where I've been removing the free shipping on a group of items (last week I did all shoes) and reduced the listed price of the item as well. I sold several pairs of shoes that had been sitting awhile but still made the same amount (no difference between $50 with free shipping or $40 with $10 shipping). So funny that it got things moving again. Plus international buyers appreciate the price reductions as well. It's interesting that although nearly all of my items are set-up to accept offers, many people won't bother sending one.

      Caty- It's just me. I'm the one woman show for my business. A lot of work but I've got my schedule and process down to a science.

    5. Breezy-
      I did an experiment with 'free shipping' when ebay first started to push it. I did it on shoes. I had a HUGE increase in returns. I quickly ended that. I don't know what the difference was, but it was WAY outside of my experience of shoe selling for the past 5 years. I now just do free shipping on items that are light and can go first class.

      What do you do on returns for items with free shipping? Do you refund the entire amount or less the shipping? If it is the latter, what reception do you get from people about that?

      It is interesting what your experience is on 'make offer'. I always get offers- rarely does someone buy something without making an offer when there is that option. I wonder what the difference is.

      I have been having the experience Jay and Ryanne mentioned somewhere- you will almost always get an offer that is 1/2 of the listed price (and sometimes less). Jay and Ryanne said they took offers off of alot of stuff, and I think no offers under a certain dollar amount, maybe $40? I may start to try that. I do use markdown manager, so if there is not 'make offer', they can buy for the sale price.

    6. Shipping is never really free because sellers always just add it into the price. Its all psychological. We just don't fool with it.

      We did a podcast about how we handle "best offer" here:
      We've evolved. Now we put "make offer" on anything over $59. That gives us breathing room to give discounts. Once you add "make offer", buyers will never want to pay full price. But when you buy things for a couple bucks, everyone gets a good deal out of it.

      I think the "make offer" feature on eBay is one reason why I still can't get into Amazon. There's no way to let buyers haggle with you. Amazon expects everyone to shave their prices to the bone. Awesome when I'm a buyer, but tough when I'm a seller.

    7. boodle_n_kit: When I get returns I deduct my initial shipping costs before providing their refund. I have it written in my return policy and I've actually never had anyone complain. My return policy also says 10% restocking fee but I don't actually do this in addition to the shipping deduction, I guess I've sort-of added it to cover myself in case they miss the fact that my initial shipping costs will be deducted from their refund. But I have to admit that after offering free shipping for quite awhile now, I do not really like it. I get the most ridiculous offers sometimes where they don't take shipping into account. I also like being able to offer my items to international buyers at lower prices that aren't being "padded" by shipping. To be honest, my international buyers complain a lot less than my domestic buyers!

      Scavengers: After listening to some of your podcasts regarding best offer, I do love the fact that you only add it to items over $59, I've slowly been adjusting some of my listings to be similar. It's a bit exhausting responding to low ball offers on items that are listed for less than that. While I know I can set-up auto decline or accept, I prefer to review all offers myself.

  7. Great Podcast ! I was particularly interested in your comment on health insurance. This is not our first time being self employed but we never really figured out a good way to afford health insurance without the leverage of a big group policy. I guess this was the scariest thing to us about leaving our jobs which we have not yet done. Your comments on the affordable care act really sounded positive. Our store is just at just under 150 items, so we have not got there yet. We are 4 months in and the problem is, well maybe not a problem in the traditional sense but a problem non the less is that our items have been selling faster than we can list them. Now we are wondering if we should close the store like put it on vacation for a long period until we can get our max listings posted? we both have full time jobs and right now my partner only does buying which she is extremely good at, she has a much better eye for vintage than I do, but she is not comfortable doing listing or photos so i have to do everything on that end. Would shutting down the store help or hurt us in the long run. Your thoughts?

    1. I would never close your store. Why? If the only problem is that you're selling too much, then that's a great problem.

      Maybe your partner can learn to do some part of the process other than selling. Taking photos isn't difficult. or maybe you can quit your job to sell fulltime. Things didnt get going for us till we did this fulltime.

      Check out You can see how much a policy would cost if you went independent.

    2. I know that's exactly what I need to do but its so scary letting go of that lifeline to do this full time. Having 40 hours out of your week with only 1 person listing is pretty rough. Thanks for the advice Jay and I will check out that healthcare link !

    3. It's a catch 22. Keep your job with steady (but boring) income. Or take the plunge and do eBay full time, controlling your time but taking the risk. I'd keep doing eBay part time and get your store up to 500 items. That should get you enough income so you could quit your job if you were willing to take the risk.

    4. Yep, I just got my Obamacare card and couldn't be more pleased , I haven't had insurance in a couple of years, since I have been full time on ebay (although I did pay premiums for my kids) and although it is not perfect or cheap, it was a great solution for me and a lot better than anything I found before. Of course if you have a great employer paid policy that tough to lose, but I wouldn't let that stop you anymore, there are good options available.

  8. Thanks for answering my question. And Yes, that is my shop name. It doesn't have certain connotations does it? It's just vintage! :)

    Anyhow, I was wondering if you still offer an alternative method to the Global Shipping program, because since I started offering it I haven't had any international sales. So I started offering both global shipping and direct International First Class/Priority..

    1. We only offer Global Shipping these days. Some countries still aren't included so we still ship Priority to them. If a buyer doesn't want to use Global Shipping, we do consider removing it from an item. But ultimately, we want to only use Priority shipping since it has tracking. Why take the risk that something gets lost?

    2. I use Shipsaver insurance because it does provide international tracking, even on first class pkgs. the app is on your ebay store options. I dearly Luv them! They give you no hassle at all in settling a claim, and fast. Linda

    3. I not only offer Global Shipping, but I offer regular First Class, Priority and Express International and I let my buyer's choose. If they opt out of the Global Shipping I also just insure the packages for a $1 or $2 like Linda stated above. Super easy, hassle free.

    4. breezy-
      when you say that your int'l buyers can opt out of global shipping, how do you do that? i know of one way to do it after the person buys, but it's very convoluted and i have to turn off the 'pay immediately' rule on the listing. it's not easy.

    5. linda-
      i hadn't heard of Shipsaver, i see it's an app you can add to ebay here. might be a nice addition, esp for International Insurance which USPS often makes you purchase in person at the post office. which is dumb because i print and pay for all my postage at home specifically to AVOID going to the post office.

    6. Ryanne,
      I think Breezy means that she puts Global Shipping as an option but also offers the option of Priority International, etc right in the listing. When listing, there's an option for something like "Alternative International Option". At least that's what I'm doing. The buyer can choose either one, just like a US buyer might be able to choose first class or Priority.

    7. just to be clear, if your buyer's country is included in GSP, then they can't choose a shipping method, it just defaults to Global Shipping. if they live in a country that is not in GSP, then they have the choices you list for "Alternative" shipping options like Priority, Express, 1st Class. Breezy said she lets her buyers choose between GSP and just plain USPS, but i don't think that's actually possible. if you look on your listing and choose shipping rates for a country that is in GSP, like Canada, you'll see it only has one choice. if it's a country not in GSP like Saudi Arabia, it will show your alternatives.

    8. This may be what Breezy is talking about, but not sure. This would not be the customer selecting, this would be the seller electing:

      Ebay lets you keep your shipping method for 5 countries out of Global Shipping and then use Global Shipping for the rest.

      I have tried to implement this but have run into a snag. Not sure if it is because I have done something wrong or not.

      I get requests from people in Canada alot to take off the Global Shipping because Global Shipping seems to charge them a higher rate for import charges than they think is proper, or that the item for some reason (cost or used item) should not have import charges at all.

      So I tried to follow the instructions to keep me shipping to Canada and not GSP. I have accomplished that - BUT - what has also happened is that any country that is not GSP and is not Canada, now will not calculate a shipping cost. It will say 'seller has not specified a shipping cost, contact seller'

      So I am not sure if I have got my settings wrong, or this is a side effect.

      Incidentally, I have not seen increased sales to Canada with taking off the GSP. (my International Sales have been lackluster for quite some time). I may just put GSP back on and take it off when someone requests it. I have not found a way to take it off after the sale as Ryanne has. I do it before they purchase if they have contacted me.

    9. Linda-
      With Shipsaver Insurance do you choose the package you want insurance on when you want it?

      I went to the app and the description talks about

      1- Ability to add insurance in bulk
      2- Ability to add insurance automatically - auto purchase option

      I am sure you must be able to select single packages to insure as you need it, but I cannot find that in the description.

    10. Ryanne and boodle_n_kit- I did a little experiment on one of my items just now and I gave eBay a call (which unfortunately they were a little clueless). I took one of my listed items and checked the GSP box (I did not indicate any alternative options at all) and then viewed the item through eBay Canada and it gave only the GSP option (priority international with estimated customs charges). Then, I revised the listing adding my alternative options which are worldwide first class, priority and express in addition to checking the GSP box). It showed the first class, priority and express options I was offering but I couldn't find the GSP option (although it was also selected). Maybe buyers have to opt into this?

      I conducted the same experiment on eBay UK and got the same results. In fact, I guess I just learned that GSP options only provide GSP via priority international (it doesn't allow first class international) so I could see why shipping costs might be quite a bit higher in many cases when items less than 4 lbs could be shipped first class international instead.

      Somehow, however my international customers are still choosing their preferred shipping method. I list every item in this manner and each week I have a mix of GSP and non-GSP orders to send. I also tried following "Griff's" directions that he posted on facebook: but I keep receiving error messages when you try to list in the manner he outlines.

      Ughhhh. So confusing.

    11. I feel like eBay rolls out a program and lets sellers opt into it. They have a long troubleshooting period where they test and fix any problems. At some point, they they make the program mandatory. I assume this will happen for automated returns as well as global long as they can get it to work and they don't drive buyers away.

      And sellers can evolve or fade away (or go to war in the eBay community forums).

    12. Breezy-
      When you are shipping First Class International for things under 4 pounds, are you shipping all those things in boxes or using poly mailers?

      If you are using poly mailers, have you experienced any damage complaints?

      I like to use priority for the tracking, but also for the boxes. Having to have tons of boxes for clothes and shoes to go first class would be a nightmare. Poly mailers would be doable if the items are arriving safely.

      What I do generally for USA shipping is this:

      Give people choice of parcel post, priority, or express. 99 out of 100 will take the parcel post. From Ohio to the west coast, the difference can be several dollars between parcel post and priority.

      I then give them a FREE UPGRADE to priority mail. :)

      I do this for a few reasons:

      1- convenience to me of using post office priority boxes
      2- USPS gives shipping discount on priority and not parcel post- so MOST of the time, I can ship priority and still pay a little less than what the customer paid for parcel post. I can also utilize the Regional Rate A and B boxes, Flat Rate boxes- which ever works best for the item at hand. When you do the shipping label on ebay it will give you the rate for every box for the item you are shipping- pick the one that saves the most money.
      3- Hopefully generating goodwill with the customer with the shipping upgrade, and then hoping for 5 stars for shipping costs. We write on the packing slip the price they paid is what the post office charges for X amount of pounds from our zip to theirs. It has been working I think- 4 and 5 stars for shipping costs (knock on wood).

    13. boodle_n_kit

      I do have an unlimited supply of free boxes from my parents' business. They own a local hobby shop and have more cardboard than they can handle along with packing paper, bubbles, etc. I ship first class international with either boxes or padded envelope (I purchase yellow bubble mailers from the same eBay stores that offer the poly mailers). A bit more expensive but even at $25-30 for (100) 10 1/2 x 16 mailers they are worth it for providing that extra bit of protection for international shipments. I do the same thing as you in most cases with domestic shipments, offering parcel post with a "free upgrade" to priority. I feel that if I don't at least offer parcel post I always run across people who request (or demand) it, not fully understanding that not only is priority faster but it can even be cheaper in many instances.

    14. thats how i do shipping domestically too. most people choose parcel and i upgrade to priority because w/ the discount it's cheaper or the same price. and use Reg A or B or Flat Rates to get the best price for each ZIP code.

      i hate 1st class international with a passion. though, some countries now have E-Delcon tracking for 1st class, Canada and some in EU. but not all places do so you get screwed when your buyer writes "i never got this" after 30 days. GSP prevents that all together thank goodness.

    15. Replying to Boodle--yes, I only insure the individual items I want insured on Shipsaver. You can insure them one at a time, or click on several at a time for "bulk" insurance. It is Wonderful and Easy! And cheap! And provides International tracking.

  9. Oh yeah.. Thanks for sharing that Michael Pollan video too. I love his stuff.

    Brian @ thedirtyloft

  10. Thanks once again for keeping me company while I listed...and keeping me motivated to list more!

    Also wanted to let beginners know the best tip I've picked up from your podcast is your notebook method for listing!! That has revolutionized listing for me:) I use to do each item, one at time, from photo to measuring to your idea of doing it in bulk, recording the info in a notebook and not having to have the item in front of me to list it!

    Great week here...January is going to be a much better month than December for us:)

    Cheryl's Store Numbers 1/12-1/18/14
    • Total Items in Store: 488
    • Items Sold: 12
    • Total Sales: $440
    • Highest Price Sold: Vintage Dickies Work Jacket $65
    • Average Price Sold: $36
    • Returns: 0
    • Positive Feedback: 6
    • Neutral Feedback: 0
    • Negative Feedback: 0

    1. nice numbers cheryl! you're almost up to 500 in your store, that's a great goal.
      yes, i love my steno notebooks. can't live without them. i have even gotten into the habit of scanning them and adding those to my listing folders, so i can literally list from anywhere as long as i have my laptop, don't need to lug around the notebooks.
      we have thought about writing our measurements into a google doc or something so it's automatically electronic. but writing in a notebook seems a bit faster when photographing.

    2. I dont list nearly as much as you do. Just me doing it! But I am most motivated by setting a weekly goal, say of 50 items. Then I photo photo as many as I want to list in one day, then carry them to my desk, get them listed, and file them away in my Shipping Department until they sell. Works for me.