Scavenger Life Episode 133: What's Happening In Your eBay Store This Week?

More and more playing cards are selling. So easy to list, store and ship! iTunes   YouTube   Download .mp3  Download .ogg

As we mentioned in our last post, we embarked on an adventure to Los Angeles to help our friend clean out his art estate. This recording comes straight to you from LAX at 5:30am before we hop on our flight home. Ryanne explains a cool hack on Virgin America, where buying and listing on eBay is free on the wifi. Nice! We put our store on vacation mode this week and changed the handling time using the bulk editor and we have seen quite a dip in sales. We still sold some cool stuff, like two more packs of playing cards, Ryanne’s new obsession. Check out Ryan from Online Selling Experiment’s latest post about how Amazon FBA is going. Also, if you're in the SoCal area, check out The Long Beach Antique Market. We had a great time there looking for higher end items to scavenge.

The Weekly Scavenger Numbers

Our Store Week July 13-19, 2014

  • Total Items in Store: 3498
  • Items Sold: 30
  • Cost of Items Sold: $85
  • Total Sales: $1,355.75
  • Highest Price Sold: $199.99 (Vintage lamps)
  • Average Price Sold: $45.16
  • International Sales: 11 (10 GSP)
  • Returns: 0
  • Positive Feedback: 21
  • Neutral Feedback: 0
  • Negative Feedback: 0
  • Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $150


  1. Is there any Charles Bukowski art in that mix by chance?

  2. No Bukowski. Lots of advertising and book art.

  3. There is a big hobby in Australia involving playing cards - they call them "swap" cards. Instead of collecting full decks - they collect a single card - frequently go for themes like cats, owls etc. Collectors keep them in plastic file pages, like the type for storing baseball trading cards.

    1. What a great tip you've given us. We did notice that people were selling individual playing cards for sometimes $25! Good to know there's a whole collector's world interested in these.

      Why do you think this is popular in Australia?

    2. I looked at some of the completed swap card listings. Most of them only show a picture of the backs of the cards. The exception seems to be jokers - which seem to be a subcategory of swap cards.

  4. U Haul sells boxes much cheaper then Fedex and always has stock here in Florida.
    Mirror boxes 37" by 4" by 27" cost $4.25 large boxes 18" by 18" by 16" are $1.35.

    1. Good advice. But we have noticed that many of these small independent Uhaul outlets don't carry much box inventory. Usually they just rent the trucks.

    2. Another place for sourcing the boxes is Home Depot for $1-2 and they are crush tested boxes (aka suitable for shipping).

    3. I work near a large restaurant district. Each place usually has a dumpster just for cardboard. Whenever I need an odd sized box I pop by & help myself (as long as they are clean).

  5. Oh boy those sounds of LAX will give me nightmares, I spent my first 33 years in LA, despite a B.A in English my entire working life has been picking---when we moved to Washington State 25 years ago we would pick here and fly down to do the Rose Bowl once a month, I did this for over 20 years. I relate to your friend with the art I found a couple of prints in the '80's for $50 that I sold at Bonham's (then Butterfields) for $35,000. I never replicated that because I was too lazy to get into the art gig fulltime (you need to educate yourself.) Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, I had a pretty good week with my ebay store, I had 48 items listed, sold 7 for a total of $419.28, the highest item sold was $175 (which I paid 0 for since it was a gift to me years ago.) My concentration is getting stuff into the store, sort of hard where I live, we have no flea markets and estate/garage sales have been sporadic.

    1. Being in a rural area too, we've learned to drive outside our small town. I bet if you're willing to travel up to two hours from your home, there are places to buy. Dying is a part of life, so estate sales are also a part of this life.

    2. LOL, Jay you remind me of myself at your age, I would get up early and come home late--I am a geezer, I went out for a few hours yesterday and came home, as our English friends would put it, knackered. I prefer to source online, and that is mostly what I do, of course I have to pay more that way

    3. Not really Omfug X
      when you factor in the cost of gas nowadays plus wear and tear on the car you could be ahead of the game by sourcing online. shipping you pay would be mute or equivalent to gas wear and tear.

    4. I'd love to interview someone that actually buys on eBay and re-sells it on eBay. In our most recent interview, James buys art on eBay and sells in physical auctions for quite a profit. But it's a lot of time spent researching.

      Anonymous, how much profit do you make buying off eBay and reselling on eBay. If you;re paying $5 per item to have shipped to you., that's more than the gas I spend going to the flea market to buy 50 items.

    5. Jay, First I'll say Your very lucky to find so many great items when you go to flea markets most of them are well picked in my area there are a lot of re-sellers... So knowing you both have a full plate of ambitious projects going on. lol It really come down to just Setting an hour a day aside to buy. (maybe only on rainy days).

      You click the mouse you buy when you Know what your looking for that sells well in lots preferably or singles and keep a lookout for auctions with no bids and low or free shipping. Buy low, sell High. obviously you guys are very smart!

      Since you seem to like shoes and are very in-tune with them ie The shoe example:
      You seek/snip/ buy Wingtip shoes $7 plus $8 shipping = $15 or $15 with free shipping.
      Then you apply your long tail store system of "list an forget it"...
      your cost is $15 and you resell for $52.00 plus shipping say $8 (buyer pays shipping).

      *.129+.3 = 8.04 Fees
      52-8.04 = 43.96 gross
      43.96-15 = 28.96 net profit
      28.96 divide by 15 = 193% return on $15
      You can't get that at any bank...
      You never left your house to receive or ship

      Time = Money and Money is Just a Tool.
      Make it part of your sourcing maybe in the winter months for your area.

    6. Cool. I love numbers. I appreciate you taking the time to think it through.

      Do you actually run a store where you are consistently buying on eBay and reselling the same item on eBay? Wondering if this is a thought experiment or if you have put this into practice. I can see doing it for an item here or there, but you'd need to find/sell about 125 items a month in this fashion to make a living. That's a lot of under priced items on eBay.

      Where do you live where you aren't finding shoes/clothes/electronics/antiques for cheap at your local yard sales and flea markets?

    7. Only 30 percent of what I buy is from ebay scavenging the rest is done by normal means what you guys do. Southern FL doesn't have the greatest amount of collectibles or vintage items. Probably because of the high temperatures here many things rot and decompose. When I go to the flea markets I often see items I've seen at the Goodwill or the Salvation Army that are just marked up a dollar or two more than what they where at the thrift stores...awful funny to see that.

      My philosophy is not to leave money piled up in PayPal account (Idle money makes no money)... keep it moving and making more money by buying more things from various sources. Everything you buy is like a Bank CD waiting to mature with profit. Much more than a CD.

    8. I'm just a newb but my passion is for antique prints. I have bought entire books off ebay, removed the prints I want for my collection and sold the others for profit right back on ebay. It's just another form of arbitrage. Some who is looking fir a singular interesting print may not be willing to buy an entire volume or even think to look at the antiquarian books in the first place.

  6. July 13-19 2014
    Numbers for the week:
    • Total Items in Store: 412 as of 7-23
    • Items Sold: 19
    • International Sales: 4 (3 GSP)
    • Total Sales: $2262.40
    • Highest Price Sold: $1000.00 Vintage vacuum tubes* $400 Bose Speakers $300 folding bike
    • Average Price Sold: $119.07
    • Returns: 1
    • Positive Feedback: 7
    • Neutral Feedback: 0
    • Negative Feedback: 0
    • Cost of Items Sold: $85
    • Cost of items purchased this week $204

    *Finally got the money for the vacuum tubes. Buyer from China contacted me after the unpaid item case was done and the tubes were relisted, said "I was on a business trip and didn't see your message". Maybe his business trip was in a rural part of China with no service. I told him they were re listed and he could make the offer again which he did and paid right away. What I'm learning is high dollar items that you accept a best offer on sometimes takes patience.

    Went to an afternoon auction of a long time Ham radio enthusiast hoping to strike gold on some more tubes, unfortunately they were all just common ones. But there was a gold mine of other stuff, spent $83 on old stereo gear, telephone, meters, speakers etc. there were some knowledgable buyers in the crowd and I was outbid on some really great stuff, I can get a little competitive while bidding which is not good but I'm getting better and held back on some rare stuff that just wouldn't bring a high enough return. A long afternoon but worth it.

    I never pass up a church sale, .25 shoes, $2 clothes and jackets, electronics $1, just love those big church sales but they don't advertise much if at all, my son told me about this one as he heard about it from a co worker. I'm thinking of calling all the churches in town and asking if and when they're having a rummage sale.

    Garage sales were good this week as well, my rented storage is almost full.
    I'll be moving this week and next, across town to a house with 3 bedrooms and a big mostly empty basement. I'm trying to pack and organize at the same time and with room to move about at the new place I aim to keep it organized.

    1. Always amazing. So people can understand better, what did you pay for the Bose Speakers and the folding bike? Wondering how much risk you were willing to take.

      Auctions are fun and dangerous. I've definitely paid too much for items because of the thrill of the moment, but I've never actually lost money. The box lots are the best value for the money at auctions.

      We know when our local churches have their yearly yard sales. Usually its the same time each year. Last year, we went right to one church sale when they opened and loaded up our car for under $30. Then we went the last day and did the same thing for less money. They really are the best sales around. Often it's the most amazing items.

    2. The Bose speakers I found at a garage sale that I thought at first was just baby clothes but behind a table I spotted them as they are about 3 feet tall, the teenager running the sale had no idea about them but I got her to call her father and he said $35 but while he was still on the phone I told her that all I had was a twenty and he went for it. I had looked them up first of course and saw top dollar was in the $800 range, when I got them home and inspected them they each had two woofers that needed re-foaming. I looked up how do do this and found a video from a store that sells the kits, didn't look too hard but after sitting on them fror a couple of weeks I listed them as is and provided a link to the kits. Sold in a couple of days.
      The folding bike I got at a garage sale, I knew these were worth a few hundred dollars as I looked for one when I was a truck driver, I offered $20 they came back at $25 and I said throw in those army Bata snow boots and they said deal. The boots should do pretty well too.

      Just came back from a garage sale that a lady was having to sell off all her recently deceased son's stuff, he was 47. Bought some vintage slot car sets and clothing and a collection of Star Wars Burger King glasses that seem to go high dollar. Also some Congress playing cards, not sure what I've got yet but you guys did so well I had to get them.

    3. I'm always wary when I see Bose systems because usually I can't test them. But wow, that's an incredible profit on $20.

  7. I found an amazing Jansport backback with an aztec pattern on it, kind of purple and black. It had a leather flap on top with a buckle and leather bottom. Great condition. It was unpriced at an estate sale next to an LL Bean bag priced for $50.

    I grabbed the Jansport bag just because I liked it and got it for $2!

    See a photo of it on my blog. It's awesome. Jansport Backpack

  8. Total Items in Store: 383
    Items Sold: 9
    Cost of Items Sold: $12.50
    Total Sales: $178.60
    Highest Price Sold: $70 (vintage Pepsi crate)
    Average Price Sold: $19.84
    International Sales: 0
    Returns: 0
    Positive Feedback: 8
    Neutral Feedback: 0
    Negative Feedback: 0
    Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $12

    This is my first time posting my numbers and I hope to get in the habit of keeping up weekly. I have been enjoying the podcast for a few months now, but have just started checking out the blog in the past few weeks. There is so much great info and discussion, what an awesome community!

    1. Welcome Brandon. Get in the habit of listing items each week. This is just a good place to talk about any issues along the way.

  9. Just thought I'd share my recent experience with putting my store in vacation mode for 2+ weeks. Overall, it worked out great. Thanks, Jay and Ryanne, for giving me the direction and confidence to do this! I will definitely be doing this again.

    The frustrating part for me was that, since we were on vacation in the northern Minnesota woods (family reunion), wifi was very very unreliable. (But, seeing wild wolves made the remote-ness worth it!!) We had to walk down to the lodge from our cabin, and then a lot of the time, we couldn't get a connection, so I spent some time walking back to the lodge to check on the wifi situation so I could send my eBay messages and check my email. Our phone got a better connection than our laptop, but it was still spotty.

    I was very happy with my sales. I have about 450 items in my store, and had about a sale per day. I did $581 in sales on 15 items, over 2 weeks and 3 days. As soon as a buyer paid, I would send them a message reminding them that, “as stated in my store and listing we are gone till July 21, and would ship promptly on the 21st.” (As Ryanne suggested, I not only sent this message via eBay, but also to their email address which is found on the PayPal transaction page.) Everyone was very very nice about it. Only 2 people asked for a refund, and were very nice about it too.

    It was very easy to actually put my store in vacation mode; just a few clicks and I was done. In the field where you can write what you want displayed on your storefront, I wrote my note and then enlarged the text to something like 14 or 18 pt (can't remember), just to make it much more noticeable.

    When I got home, I looked on my dashboard and my uploaded shipping tracking time had dropped to 86% (Top-Rated Sellers must have at least 90%). So, I'm hoping I can get this back up to 90% by the next evaluation date of August 20, and so will not lose my Top-Rated Seller status. I did not change my 1-day handling time because I thought I could get my tracking upload percentage back up to 90%, so hopefully I can!

    I think the most important thing is, as soon as possible after someone pays, to absolutely send the email reminding them that you are away until xx date. A lot of what makes a happy customer are their expectations!


    1. Your experience sounds like ours. Most buyers are willing to wait if you immediately remind them the wait time. Plus, it's nice to be running a business while out in the wilderness. Keep us updated if any buyers complain later.

  10. Another tip on the Jansport Backpacks: The ones that go for 150+ are a specific color. Look at the sold listings sorted by highest price first. I guess someone in the Twilight movies has a Jansport backpack in a copper-brown color, and those are the ones that sell for a lot.

    Other solid colors sell for $68 new, so still not a bad find if they're in good condition :)

    I've been on a backpack/duffel bag kick lately

  11. I just made a few new seller mistakes (I'm new, though I first sold on eBay in 2003), so I thought I'd share so other people can avoid these pitfalls. I got excited over a big purchase of a ceramic plate--lots of other listings by the same artist had not sold on eBay, but mine had a better description, I think, and it sold. In my excitement I insured the package with Shipsaver, momentarily forgetting that the package already had insurance as it was going Priority.

    Then I sold an exercise dvd. Somehow I had used a template from a previous listing which had 10 items. I only had one dvd, but when it sold, it immediately relisted as 9 left! Luckily caught the error and took the listing down!

    Then I got a sale on a cookbook I'd had for a long time-- but couldn't find it. It was one of the first items I obtained when I started selling on eBay a few months ago--tore up my apartment looking for the darn cookbook. Then it occurred to me that I had put a few items behind some other things on the shelf. Saved! But wasted a couple hours looking.

    When I went to package up the cookbook, I discovered that it had an inscription on the flyleaf. I had described it as "very good" and had not noted the description. I immediately contacted the buyer and offered her a discount. (If she had bought it for a gift, for instance, she would not want the inscription.) The buyer was very nice about it and said it did not matter, and she politely declined the discount. (Nice person!)

    On the positive side, my seller rank has gone to "above average" and I am set to be "top-rated seller" next month. Exciting, as I have not been there before. (Saying a prayer to the eBay gods that I don't come across any of those "buyers from hell"!)

    So, if you are new, learn from my mistakes. Check condition carefully, organize items in storage, don't insure twice, and be careful with templates. Maybe this will help somebody!