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


  1. Week August 14-20, 2016
    Total Items in Store: 796
    Items Sold: 14 (2 Amazon, 1 Bonanza)
    Cost of Items Sold: $100.08
    Total Sales: $577.43
    Highest Price Sold: $110 (Lego lot)
    Average Price Sold: $41.25
    Returns: 0 (although 1 non payer)
    Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $0
    Number of items listed this week: 50

    I'm excited to listen to this episode in the morning on the way to work. I've always wondered myself if I'm investing too much on inventory or if I should slow down and wait til I sell more. I guess my willingness to risk for the bigger score is a bit higher than some because I'm not making a full time living on this income. If I went full time, I'm sure I'd become much more conservative with my spending.

    As for this week, I didn't go out picking to catch up on some listing and I was able to do just that - knock out 50 listings. Many of them were multiples of similar items so the listing went rather quickly. Individually listed what I got as a lot of 1980s GI Joe File Cards - paid $4 for the stack and listed each of the 23 for $9.99 so it could be a score, albeit a slow moving one. Also listed another 48 Star flag, yes another one. Got it for $5 at a sale last week and also got a WWII era Polish Legion of American Veterans lodge flag for $5 - both should be nice $100+ sales.

  2. Total items in store: 354
    Items sold: 8
    Cost of Items Sold: $12 thrift + $41 retail + $8 consignment
    Total Sales: $233.90
    Avg. price: $29.24
    Highest price item: $59.99 Klogs
    International sales: 0
    Returns: 1
    Money spent on new inventory: $30
    Number of items listed: 12

    Countered a $100 offer which was declined, I probably should have taken it.
    I was on vacation this week in Colorado. Still sold my average number of 8 items for around $200-$250.

    Ebay is a hobby. I could potentially make more, but I am very disorganized and don't spend the time listing that I should.
    I love the thrill of the hunt and being able to make money by shopping.
    I have disposable income that finances my eBay purchases. In the past I used to spend a lot more per item for new retail items for minimum profit. Now I try never to spend more than $25 on any one item, but most of my items I purchase for under $10.

  3. Week August 14-20, 2016
    Total Items in Store: 212
    Items Sold: 7
    Cost of Items Sold: $42.50
    Total Sales: $389.50
    Highest Price Sold: $125 (painting)
    Average Price Sold: $ 55.64
    Returns: 0
    Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: +/- $50
    Number of items listed this week: 7

    Three of my seven sales this week were dump finds (total sales price $102.) Listed a few items this week, some fresh, some stale -- including three paintings (two are a pair, one is completely unrelated) with dimensions of nearly three feet on a side. They've been sitting around unlisted for at least 10 months. Embarrassing! And, sourcing-wise, I picked up a very cool, very distressed, kilim rug at the dump yesterday. Overall, a good week, with the full-time parent, part-time scavenger system working as planned.

  4. Can't wait to listen to the podcast tomorrow as I photo/list. I am tackling my death piles hard now that my daughter is back in school. I have pretty much neglected them all summer while still hitting sales and growing them even more! So grateful for your podcast to keep me moving along =)
    Jen in Indiana
    I am always willing to dish out $$ if I am very certain that I can at least recoup my investment. If I have no idea about the item chances are I will pass.
    Went to an estate sale last week and found some great things. A 1975 Kiss poster, 70's/80's Nike shoes (unworn but have some storage/age wear), 2 gift sets of Estee Lauder and Alfred Sung and some antique printing press stuff. It was a good day!

    1. Nice to see another Hoosier here.

    2. I don't post very often - but I'm a Hoosier, too!

  5. Oops...Meant to put "Jen in Indiana" at the end!

  6. Week 8/14-20, 2016
    Total Items in Store: 11848
    Items Sold: 231
    Cost of Items Sold: $27.72 (average $.12 per card)
    Total Sales: $2,080.19
    Highest Price Sold: $81.01 Disneyland Postcard
    Average Price Sold: $9.00
    Returns: 0
    Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $79 (1150 postcards $.07 per card)
    Number of items listed this week: 150

    Excellent week for me. $1450 in postcard auctions on Sunday the 14th). Busy week with visitors, family functions, etc, so I only got about half the number of new postcards listed this week than I normally do.

    1. Brian - Treasures from Grandma'sAugust 21, 2016 at 10:48 PM

      Holy cow... All postcard sales? Are you willing to share your store with us?

    2. Yes all postcards. Click on my name, should link directly to it. If not:

    3. Impressive collection, do you feel that making a small amount of postcards auction vs BIN draws in buyers? How long have you been in the postcard business?

      Love the store name

    4. THANKS for sharing! Someday, I hope to REALLY retire, travel and have a store like this:)

    5. Awesome stuff, @spinachetr! I've done well with postcards, but I usually sell them in like-subject lots...not sure I have the patience to piece them out but you've shown me it's very possible to make good money on them!

    6. how do you store and organize your postcards? do you have a SKU system?

    7. @ Michale, thanks, I get 1000 "free" auctions a month and I'm really trying to take advantage of that. I just never know how much some of these cards will go for. I've sold postcards for about 17 years.

      @ Ryanne, I sort by states, then cities in alphabetical order, cities/towns that I have more than 5 cards from get their own tab. Postcards from foreign countries also get their own tab (mostly by continent), also have topical tabs for people, holiday, military, transportation, artist signed, etc.

    8. Do you do this all yourself and do you have an outside job as well? Very impressive.

    9. I have dozens of postcards waiting to be listed but I can't quite figure out the market, for example your Disney postcard that went for $80+ what made that card special? it seems that Disney cards, unless from the year the park opened aren't worth very much.

    10. @ Nancy. I'm a one man show and I have a full time job with a 2 hr commute.

      @ Omfug X. That Disneyland one was a shock to me. I didn't research that one before I listed it (just another Disneyland card or so I thought). I checked after the fact and similar ones have actually gone over $100 I think it was one of the first cards produced of the park. You're right, most postcards only bring a few bucks. Motels close to Disneyland sometimes sell better than cards of Disneyland.

  7. Photos on the floor without the floor "ick" feeling = white poster board (or black depending on item's color) from the dollar store :)

    1. haha. I know that "ick" feeling. Poster board is a good idea, but I've never seen any large enough for the clothing items I sell. Often I use a fleece blanket.

    2. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 10:12 AM

      Walmart sells 72" wide felt in various colors for cheap. I bought a yard and a half each of white and black for about $6 each.
      Some items picture well with black background, some with white on the iphone.

  8. •Total Items in Store: 367
    •Items Sold: 13
    •Cost of Items Sold: $34 (used) + $95 (new RA)
    •Total Sales: $452
    •Highest Price Sold: $80 (Awesome vintage Vera Neumann Placemat Set in box - paid $20 at fancy charity rummage sale)
    •Average Price Sold: $35
    •Returns: 0
    •Int'l sales: 1 GSP to England (new Hogwarts patch I bought at Universal Studios CA)
    •Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: -$75
    •Number of items listed this week: 2
    •Sales conversion rate: 1.1%

    A solid week, especially without listing many new items. The Vera Neumann placemat set was so fun. I hated to pay $20 for it but I've only had it listed since May, so that's pretty good.

    I buy what I know and love and hope other people respond to it. I don't mind buying new RA items if I know the price is relatively good and I can get 2 to 3x the money. I can shop at my convenience when the sale starts from my phone. But, I love, love buying vintage items at the indy thrift too. It's no fun to shop when those kinds of items have already been found to flip. All that being said, I would never carry items on credit to sell or advise anyone else to do so. Always work within your means.

    I met another ancient local thrifter this week at GW. He said he used to see Roseville pottery for like a buck and regrets that he doesn't have it. Maybe I'll establish a network. I don't really look like a typical local picker but they are starting to get used to seeing me.

    1. I forgot to mention the -75 sourcing. Bought 3 Lulu Frost jewelry items at TJ Maxx online. They did not have the same weight to them as my authentic item and they were stamped but the packaging & receipt did not mention the brand. I'm not taking a chance on being accused of selling fakes and decided to return.

    2. I love finding vintage Vera Neumann things. Great sale on the placemats.

  9. What should I do about this? I sold a VHS tape that is showing Return to Sender due to the wrong address provided by the buyer. He contacts me about a week later and lets me know about it. If it gets to me he will pay for the shipping to return it to him but so far it doesn't show any further scans as if it's lost in limbo. So if it doesn't come back anytime soon should I just refund him even though I don't have the item back? I hate having a VHS tape floating out there in this heat. It may not even work by the time he gets it. And I got a great offer on a calculator but the user has zero feedback and a very nasty worded username. I'm scared to deal with a new buyer who clearly isn't very respectful of others given his tasteless username. Thank you for your time

    1. First--It's the buyers responsibility to have a current correct shipping address within the paypal/Ebay system. And it is your responsibility to make sure the shipping address is a confirmed paypal address (seller protection), and that you ship to the address on record. That being said, you did every thing correct on your end.
      Second--Don't refund the buyer unless you receive the item back first (minus shipping cost). Any/all negative feedback will be promptly removed by eBay due to no fault of you own.
      Note--I've had two items where the tracking fell into the abyss.
      One being the address was from the buyers recently moved from apt. and was being forwarded, and the other was the wrong address entered from the buyer. In both cases the tracking stopped, but eventually showed delivered. It appears that the Post office is very relaxed (in regards to tracking updates) when it comes to extra shipping legs.
      Just my opinion/experience.
      Also, In regards to the weird username, well, that's your discretion. I've heard of people not selling to buyers who have less then 10 feedbacks, or 0 feedbacks.
      I will sell and ship to all buyers regardless of feedback numbers (unless it has a high percentage of negatives). All of us started with 0 feedback.

    2. i agree with everything Eric said. you have no obligation to refund if the item has not returned to you. but you should just re-ship it to their new address if they're willing to re-pay for shipping.

    3. Since you have a tracking # you can file a Missing Mail Search Request:

      If it's insured, I was told that also filing a claim as soon as the system allows you to makes it more likely it will be found.

  10. Total Items in Store: 180-->ebay, 347--->etsy
    Items Sold: 8 on ebay, 5 on etsy
    Total Sales: $360, ($253 on ebay, $107 on etsy)
    Highest Price Sold: $49.99-->men's shoes on ebay
    Average Price Sold: $27
    Returns: 0

    I would have sold just over $400 worth of merchandise if I hadn't broken a $65 item while packing it--d'oh!

    1. AHHHH! I have had that fear when handling some delicate sorry!

    2. Sue, I've done that more than once! XD

  11. This week's topic is my main concern by far. From one side everything I have in inventory is already offset. I am on the crossroad of starting to pocket, or to offset other costs of operations, or to grow inventory.

    Also, I made $600 net on 5 items on Amazon today, Sunday the 22nd. Astonished.

  12. Has anybody ever blocked for retail arbitraging on Amazon?

    The items I've been selling monthly that generate me steady revenue have been blocked more than once. First, I would just move the inventory >0, then it would just say blocked and would not allow me to re-list.
    Then later, it would warn me about the price, higher or lower I not sure compared to what.
    What I do now is either grab the list price or the current lower and then I put the items on a discount to match my yield.

    Yesterday I had to delete the products even from my inactive and re-list new.

    Interesting enough I sold 3 a few hrs in after listing (about $145 each)

  13. Total items in store: 668
    Items sold: 31
    Cost of Items Sold: $280
    Total Sales: $1,234
    Avg. price: $39.83
    Highest price item: $59.9

  14. This was an interesting topic that all may respond differently. Personally, I will always stop in my local thrift stores if I'm passing by. When it comes to purchasing items, I will always buy the low hanging fruit regardless of backlogged inventory, time restraints, etc... Meaning, if I see something that I know for sure will sell within a day and will yield 10x my COG's, then it's an automatic response (buy, list, receive money). We all know those items when we see them.
    If I have no backlog of inventory, no listing in 3-4 days, then I will set out to source for a couple of days, but will be selective in my purchases (excluding the low hanging fruit).
    I have only been going full time for about 6 months, and I've learned that knowledge a main factor in growing. There are so many item s that I have passed up in the past that I will now grab quickly. I know there are other pickers at the places I go (I see them methodically searching through every clothing item with great speed and accuracy), and I have still found amazing items to purchase that they missed. Why? Because I had the knowledge that they didn't with that particular item I found. The perfect ingredients are: Knowledge, Patience, Discipline, Motivation, Persistence, and a dash of Luck.

    1. Sounds like you have a process that works for you. incredible that you can scavenge so often and not have a backlog. That really is discipline.

    2. Eric your right on the money…Although I focus on keeping my unlisted inventory to a manageable level (I’m never caught up), I still force myself to continue sourcing 4 days a week, Wednesday through Saturday for FOMO. Regardless if my backlog is a bit on the high side. In doing so, I’m more discriminating in my purchases resulting in better quality and/or a sense of a greater profit. My motto is don’t buy more than you can reasonably list within a set period of time. As Jay always says, there will always be enough stuff for everyone to sell.

    3. Jay
      Yes, my process is working for me to a point. Meaning my sales (average $800 gross/week) is only keeping me treading above water in respect to bills. I still need to pull from savings from time to time. My discipline comes from necessity rather then desire. Meaning being the mom and dad and taking care of the house shackles my time and locations to scavenge. I am still looking for those fill a bag sales, and will soon pursue garage sales. In which I will surely have a backlog. A backlog is welcoming so long as the monitory aspect is not greater then my monthly need.

  15. RR Store Week August 14-20, 2016

    Total Items in Store: 1,064
    Items Sold: 13
    Cost of Items Sold: $15.25
    Total Sales: $378.88
    Highest Price Sold: $139.99 (50's girdle w/ garter clips)
    Average Price Sold: $29.14
    Returns: 0
    Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $0
    Number of items listed this week: A handful of Sell Similar

    I'm officially moved in, and I've been sleeping at my new pad for four nights now. I wish this was the end of it, but there's still more to do. I'm planning to have my estate sale in two weeks, if all goes well. I have a bunch of extra furniture, auction box lot leftovers, un-eBay-ables, and some straight up junk that I'm hoping to unload. While I'm feeling better about downsizing by so much, going back to the old house is a constant reminder of how much I'm giving up. I keep repeating the mantra "Lean and mean, lean and mean..."

    That girdle sale was awesome, and it made me laugh out loud. It reminded me of all the funny looks I get at estate sales when I'm digging through a woman's underwear drawer. Sure, it's not my favorite place to be, but vintage lingerie sells well, and for good prices. On the rare occasion I'm asked why I'm buying women's clothing, I smile and tell them that my girlfriend loves vintage clothes. At one sale, a lady asked me if I was a transvestite! Ah, the perils of our scavenger lives.


    1. OH PAUL! Thanks for sharing your vintage lingerie story...I was reading while drinking my morning coffee and almost choked from laughing:) FYI: Vintage Hot Water bottles with all the attachments sell well too, be sure to look under the sink at your next estate sale

    2. Reminds me of I think Steve (?) buying a bag a women's shoes at an auction and getting snickers from all the gearheads & farmboys fighting over the tools. $$$

  16. Aug 14-Aug 20

    Items in store - 417
    Items sold - 18
    Cost of items sold - $34.06
    Total sales - $580.73
    Highest price sold - $99.95 - Abercrombie & Fitch Camo Shorts (Scavenged by Kristi's Mom!)
    Average price sold - $32.26
    Returns - 0
    Money spent on new inventory this week - $211
    Number of Items listed this week - 40

    The week started slow, but as soon as we hit 400 listings the sales went nuts for two days....reward from the eBay algorithm gods? Hmmm... Anyhow, we'll take it. Lots of scavenging last week so lots of listing this week.

    1. Those shorts are cool, I would never have guessed they go for that much. Did you know what you were getting or was it a surprise to you when you researched the price? I wonder why they go for a lot?

    2. We were definitely surprised. The range on the a&f camo cargo shorts are 40-120--we priced high with best offer and got full price! Maybe they're discontinued?

  17. Cyndi (amazing*taste)August 22, 2016 at 8:35 AM

    Our week took a dramatic turn last week when my husband wound up in the hospital. We still did okay and luckily I can run the show by myself.

    Good reminder to all the Ebay people here and count on the money from it. Do you have a back up plan? If an emergency happened today is there someone who could ship your packages? How would you make money and could you go without the sales? Always have a back up plan!

    1. Thanks for this reminder Cyndi. Hope he is home and back to his old self. I think about this...we are getting older. Hubby does all the shipping. I've been getting pickier about the size of the items we are buying and selling. I can do the shipping, but not as patient as he is with the hard to pack items.

    2. I'm having rotator cuff surgery this week and will be unable to use my dominant arm for weeks. My dad said he will help me pack after the first week of recuperation. I know all my porcelain set items and things that are hidden will sell during that time.

    3. If you know that you are going to be out of commission you could pre pack the more delicate items and have those ready to go, with Postal pick-ups available, the business could keep running. Now if I was doing mass quantities and suddenly had an emergency it would be difficult, maybe in that case it would be time to take on a part time helper (a student perhaps?) When I had my surgery I put my shops on vacation, but I only took off about a week.

    4. Hope your husband bounces back quickly. I agree that its good to have a back up plan. Not sure what I'd do if my better half was out of commission.

  18. Thanks for the shoutout on the podcast!

    The way I look at inventory investment is on a sliding scale. Of course those $1-$2 items should fetch 10x-20x... but I know that a $50 item will not be worth $500-$1000. I'm willing to pay $50 if I can sell it for $200 - only a 4x profit, but it's a lump sum profit all at once. And I try to balance my store to have all of these types of things for any buyer that comes in. Here are some interesting numbers:

    - 55% of my store is priced at $30 or less (these are generally $1-$2 sourced items, maybe as high as $5 if I think it's cool, or if I've made a mistake)
    - 35% of my store is priced at $30.01-$99.99 (these are generally $5-$10 sourced items, maybe as high as $20 for the higher end of the scale)
    - 10% of my store is priced at $100+ (these items I'll pay as little as I can, but probably up to 30%-40% of the resale value just because I know they're rare to find and I'll make a big profit all at once)

    Balance is key.

    1. I like this analysis. I've now listened to the podcast and heard you're not digging my Anthropologie sheet set investments. :) But, except for a couple of early mistakes, I can at least double my money and most of the bedding sells relatively quickly, when the vintage stuff tends to linger. Also, it is easy to list and the buyers are very pleased to get the sold out items. They generally go to very expensive cities or overseas where Anthro doesn't ship. Some less expensive RA items I can make 7x the money, like a plate I sold this week that I bought the day after Christmas. I love the treasure hunt for cool vintage items, but think my small store gets rewarded for the activity my popular RA items bring to it. Just another approach.

    2. Yeah, it may sound crazy but simply doubling our money doesn't make sense to us when there's opportunities for 2000% profit on other items.

      Unless I knew items would sell within a week, I'd be afraid to have $400 tied up in inventory to just make $800 over the course of months.

      Our stress free method means that we're rarely on the hook for more than $50 at a time. As RetroTreasuresWV mentioned, we usually sell one item quickly in a lot and already make out money back. The rest is pure gravy.

      But as you said, different strokes for different folks. Our method only makes sense because we do this full time and can commit to the work it takes to turn trash to treasure. I can see how Anthroplogie items are very easy to buy/sell because its all new and has a built-in market.

    3. I hear you. I live in a perfect climate with tons of estate sales running year round, but it would take away from family time if I did that every Saturday. So, I would probably adopt your approach with the crazy ROI if I had more time. I also am the chuck of photo and listing time preference gal, so I don't get as much listed as I would like, and unique vintage items take longer. I'd also make more money on the latter if I cross posted on Etsy. Time is the weak end of my equation. But, the good news is, I'm not stressed about the $ in inventory and have mainly bought that inventory gradually with Ebay profits, not pulling much out of Paypal except after school care. So, it's all good. After Christmas I might reevaluate things. I feel like I'm still in a real growth period as a seller but I'm totally hooked.

    4. Christine I'm with you. I like RA because the buyers know what they are getting and there are no returns. You know what you are doing and the inventory moves quickly. Where else can you double your money so quickly?

      A major factor in finding cheap inventory is the amount of time you can to devote to scavenging. I rarely go to yard sales or estate sales. Weekends are family time so I only shop thrift stores during the week. I can shop online anytime. My specialty is children's clothes which makes up 50% of my store.

    5. Cool Anna. We can be part of the mom branch on this tree. Even if I ditched the fam Saturdays to do estate sales I couldn't process it all. I did meet a guy at the swap meet who has an estate sale runner supplying him with killer midcentury lamps, etc. from a nearby smaller town. He said he personally can't deal with the greedy grabbers. It would be awesome to get a connection like that.

      Btw, I've been doing some light experimenting with RA recently. I posted above re TJ (fail) but found Williams Sonoma sells quickly (used) so I just bought some summer clearance with extra % off and free shipping. I find extra % is when to pull the trigger but I also try to make sure there is a hook - print, art, animal. I'm going to expand on Pinterest too.

  19. Jay and Ryanne, I LOVE Comic Sans font!!!! :)

    1. NO, JUST NO. As someone who used to be in graphic design, there are several fonts that are just off limits for me - Comic Sans being one, also Chiller, Curlz, and Papyrus to name a few. I cringe whenever I see a business or professional site using any of those fonts. :)

    2. yep Papyrus is up there with Comic Sans.

  20. I've never had this happen, especially since I started running sales every weekend: 0 sales on Saturday and Sunday. 930 items in my store and not one thing sold. All for the best, I guess, since I've been fighting a terrible stomach bug and don't have the strength to pack today.

    1. Slow weeks happen. Focus on getting better and sales will come back.

    2. Review your prices and determine what you think your sell through rate will be at your currently set prices.

      On top of this, run a sale on your store because the theory is that it bumps your listings rank in Best Match.

      Get better, and you will bounce back.

  21. Okay Ryanne and Brian, I'll limit my Comic Sans font use to emails to friends from now on based on your advice:) But I really do like it and sure will miss it. Arial is so boring!

    1. You do what makes you happy, just keep me off your distro list! Haha :)

    2. i like my boring Arial (and Helvetica!). to each their own.

  22. Inflated crazy Prices.In response to your caller who was wondering if there was a hidden cause for some sales being unbelievable, I suspect there are many reasons.
    1- People just messing around, causing trouble particularly in Make Offer & auctions, like this one with a buyer with 0 feedback
    2- Unknown- here these Nike shorts had buyers with significant feedback, what's up? That price is crazy- maybe revenge bid then non payment.
    3. Mutiple Quantity items that are out of stock- seller just puts in crazy high price ($999.99) till replenished, socks actually sold for $8.33.
    3- wrong bids
    4- I've heard a number of times that this is a form of money laundering. You would think Ebay would have a handle on any regular fraud scams.
    Good question though as I've seen these unexplained $$ completed listings many times over the years.

    1. All these examples make sense. Didn't think about the money laundering theory. I guess as long as eBay doesnt flag those purchases, it's a clean get away.

    2. I used to work for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in DC which is the agency in charge of drafting the nation's Anti-money laundering regulations. I now occasionally do anti-money laundering consulting for a small firm in Atlanta when I need additional income besides ebay. I'm positive that there is trade-based money laundering going on through ebay. Paypal would have federal and state reporting requirements on money laundering activity that they identify, whereas now that ebay is separate from paypal, they would not. However, as a matter of reputational risk management, I'm sure they are always on the lookout for it in order to shut it down.

  23. Since I'm laying in bed, I have time to share a tip. I get mostly bubble wrap, some mailers, and even some sourced items essentially for free every month with Office Depot's and Staples' ink recycling programs. I get $20 rewards money at OD for turning in 10 inks and $40 at Staples for 20 inks, all of which I use for supplies and sourcing.

    Here are the catches: you must spend $10 in the store each month at OD to unlock the rewards $ (I usually buy a mouse on sale and sell it on eBay to break even), and you must spend $30 on ink every 6 months at Staples (my Dad uses my account number when he buys his ink, so I get credit for his purchase).

    Last thing--I paid $30 for 500 cartridges locally on Offer Up to supply my cartridges. You can buy them on eBay, too. So in just the first month I more than made my money back. Bottom line--$60 a month to spend between those 2 stores.

  24. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 10:05 AM

    Weekly numbers

    Items in store: 498
    Items sold: ( 10 ebay, 7 amazon FBA)
    Sales: $678.62
    COGS: $71.25
    Profit: $607.37
    Average Sales Price: $39.92
    Average profit: $35.73
    Best item: Motivational speaker training dvd set - $230

    The first half of the week was awesome, but the weekend took a nosedive. No sales on Saturday or Sunday. That is why it is good to do numbers - It felt like the sky was falling in the weekend but it was still a great week.

    I am flirting with 500 listings, but haven't hit that number yet due to sales trickling it back down. That's a good thing though!

    This weekend I did another big amazon FBA shipment of toys for the Christmas rush. I finally feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what to buy and how to price. My goal on the FBA front is to get up to 500 items before I even consider switching to a pro account.

    1. Are you mainly buying retail arbitrage toys? What is your investment and expected return?

    2. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 12:06 PM

      All the toys I sent in were arbitrage. The profit margin isn't huge. I spent $320 and will make around $500 profit. Spending $300 doesn't really bother me on this front now that I have experience. For instance, I was able to buy 8 of this one toy at $7 and I'll make $20 each after fees and cogs. It took me a matter of minutes to create the listing and label them. I bought some lego sets for $20 that will sell for $60 so I'll make about $20 on them. Again, I had several of each type.

      It's easy money, but I mainly stick to books due to the very low COGS and minimal risk.

    3. Do you keep good numbers on what you soend on retail arbitrage?

      When we bought $400 items from, it probably took us 3 months to make the initial $400 back. All the items still havent sold. Just feels like such a slow pay off.

      Are you just buying any kind of toys at Walmart? Or are you gambling that certain ones will be hot?

    4. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 2:11 PM

      I study the charts on Camelcamelcamel before buying anything. I may not sell everything during Christmas, but whatever don't sell I still have up to 6 months to sell. If all else fails, I can cut & run and dump the price to the buy box to get rid of quanties at the end of 6 months.

      Anyways, I tabulated my actual numbers after fees on this and I'll make $499.40 on 38 total items. The $500 number I came up with was a mental math guesstimate as I was checking out at the store. Pretty awesome I was that close!

      The actual listings is 15. Only 4 listings were single quantity. My best profit per item was $23.52 and my worst was $1.64 ( I miscalculated on that one). One of these items will actually get sold on ebay because it ended up being restricted (star wars furby) I'll make $40 profit each on those (numbers included in totals).

    5. Retro, if you are sending items in to FBA, when you get a pro seller account it saves you $1 per item sold. If you are consistently selling more than 40 items per month, switching would save you some $$$.

    6. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 10:48 PM

      I don't do enough volume on amazon to justify a pro account. And even if I did, if I decided to back off for a while that would be money wasted. You can't downgrade from a pro account. I want to be consistently hitting 40 items a month before I consider it.

    7. I got hit by restricted items on Amazon too for my RA. I focus on software though.

    8. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 8:14 AM

      The particular item I got hit on was the Chewbacaa Furby - AKA Furbacca. Walmart blew them out for $20 each. The seller app did not say it was restricted when I scanned it, but when I got home and went to list it they nixed me.
      No worries, I can sell it for even more money on ebay! I have them listed for $100 OBO and I'll sit on them as long as it takes.

    9. Not trying to talk you into it, but it seems like it is a fairly simple process to downgrade.

      I have not tried to downgrade but it looks simple. I waited until I consistently hit 40 items before I upgraded.

    10. Thanks Lee, I just downgraded using your link. It was easy, though it’s shown as “pending” for the time being. I’ll let you all know if there’s any glitch. I only wanted an Amazon seller account in the first place to sign up for Scanpower for scanning to help sourcing research. A seller account is necessary to get Scanpower, but not to keep it, apparently. When I signed up on Amazon initially, it only let me do Professional. The first month was free so I was going to cancel before the monthly charge kicked in but now I won't need to do that.

    11. Temudgin, I downloaded Scanpower yesterday and have been testing it. It doesnt seem to allow it to go into "rapid scan" mode where it refreshes itself after each new scan. This is important if you want to fly through a row of books.

      Like the Amazon Seller app, you can to click on "scan" for each barcode. Have you found this app to be any different?

    12. Jay, I have not found a way to get Scanpower to auto refresh either. I took a look at the website and could not find the issue addressed. Generally it appears that the intended strength of the app is its soup to nuts capabilities for scanning, pricing, listing and managing FBA inventory and printing labels, etc. It’s not so much aimed at usefulness in a scavenging environment. I did find it’s easy enough to hit the camera button to get back to scan but it’s not super quick. I think it will be fine for my occasional use if I happen to run across the kinds of non-fiction books that may be worth something. In the past I was selective in picking up a book but since my only option was pulling up ebay and amazon on a browser on my phone for a reality check, I usually did not bother to do that but bought anyway, often to my detriment. I have ended up with a lot of $5 – $10 books and they just go back in the donation box. I have not tried the Amazon app yet.

    13. Understood. I can't complain about an app that's free, but the "rapid scan" is the feature I desperately want (without paying a monthly fee.) I should just bite the bullet and pay up. Cost of doing business.

      In the meantime, I find that the Amazon Seller App is more useful than Scanpower. It allows us to scan the cover of a book for the price and rank. Works 95% of the time. Very useful since many of the valuable books we find are older without a barcode.

    14. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 11:32 AM

      Jay, what did you do to get your seller app to do the flow scan? Last we talked it wasn't working for you.

      As an aside, it totally refreshed you on doing FBA books didn't it? I love it! Every time I scan a book cover I get a kick out of the absolutely amazing technology in play at my fingertips. It really is the future that movies promised us back in the 80's.

    15. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 11:35 AM

      LeeinTN, is the ability to downgrade a new development? When I signed up for FBA, I did research on the pro account and it was pretty specific that you were pretty much stuck with it once upgraded. It is a great thing that it can be turned off if needed. I'll do a bit more research into it.

    16. Thanks for the reminder on that cover scan. Yup, I just downloaded and tried out the Amazon Seller app and I agree the information presentation would be more useful than Scanpower for onsite scavenging.

  25. This question is for Paula at Paula's Loft:

    I just wanted to say your shop is beautiful and your photos are outstanding! Do you mind sharing what camera and photo editing program you are using? Also, I get your newsletter and want to personalize mine more. I love how you have a little intro at the beginning. Where did you go in your store to add that info.

    1. Is that the store name? I try searching store names and only get "Paula's Loft of Bridal Treasures" which doesn't have any items.

    2. This must be it:


  26. 8/14-8/20

    Total Items in store: 432
    Items sold: 3
    Cost of items sold: approx. $8
    Total Sales: $47
    Highest price sold: $
    Average price sold: $16
    Int’l sales: 0
    Number of items listed this week: 8
    Amazon disbursement - $857– includes ebay to amazon and thrift store purchases
    Full time ebay goal - March 2018

    Ebay to Amazon experiment – Had 6 sales. Cost $157. Sold $410. Amazon fees $59 (14%). Profit $204. Average profit per sale $34.

    1. How do you find your eBay to Amazon experiments? IS it a certain category, or any lot of new items that you can list individually? Something else?

    2. It started with a new item I bought at a yard sale. I went to list on ebay and they were selling for around $30. I happened to look at amazon and saw it was selling for around $80. I sent mine into AZ and it sold almost immediately. This item was a router. I have tried to find other, similar items. A lot of times watching sold videos gives me an idea, highest price sold items on this blog, I have gotten a few items from resale rabbit videos, I have found items at a thrift store then replenished inventory from ebay, also I have found a couple of categories that seem to do well. Basically, no rhyme or reason, anytime I see something that sells for $80 plus on Amazon that is a little older item, I search for it on ebay and add it to my list. I would say mostly electronics, but I have other categories I think I could expand into, but have not spent the research time.

    3. Good idea Lee, especially since there are more than a few sellers on ebay who inexplicably value their labor at zero and seem determined to give their stuff away. I know that I could find stuff on ebay to sell on etsy (I don't do Amazon) but I haven't put in any time (yet.)

    4. I've studied a number of items to buy on eBay and resell on Amazon. The big barrier is shipping. The cost of the item may be cheap on eBay, but having it shipped to me often can add up to $10 to the price.

      And Lee, do you get any returns? I know electronics are notorious on Amazon for returns that you have to eat.

    5. yes returns are inevitable. I get the items shipped back to me to see if I can sell and re-coup what I can on ebay. I would guess AZ returns about 5%. I have been re-investing money after it is deposited into my account, so a return eats into the money I can spend. I figure shipping costs into my buy price. That is one reason the item has to sell for around $80 or more. I have found some clocks that I purchase on ebay for around $12, I have been buying 5 at a time to lower shipping costs per item and selling on AZ for $38. They sell within a week and I more than double my money. I don't know how many the seller has on ebay, so I will continue until they run out.

      Omfug, Part of it is the solds. This item I have bought more than 20 of, almost all of the sales are $40 or less, most of the sales are $30 or less and are to me. So if anyone just looks at ebay solds, they would assume $30 is all they can get for it in a quick flip. I have kinda set the market. Anyone who sells one sees all the solds are $30, puts it up for $30 and I buy it, lol.

      Another source for new items, is looking at AZ sellers that are selling the same item I am, then looking at their other items. Often they are thrift store buyers or someone flipping from ebay like me.

    6. Sue, in my process I add "handling" specific to quantify my labor. It is a standard for me.
      My end customer price is built under this table, simplifying:
      Cost + %Cost + Shipping + Handling
      Both %Cost markup and Handling are variable. The former depends on the cost (the lower the higher the multiplyer similar to Retro), the latter follows my labor table based on size and wight.

      Also, the markup is always 30 percentage points 'negotiation margin', basically the 30% discount I am willing to give

  27. Hi All,
    I can go for months without spending a dime, but then again, I do consignment...I know, I know! Most FULL TIME resellers cringe at the idea unless they are selling The Number One Original comic books of all the Marvel Super Heroes in pristine condition for a rich guy who just wants to get rid of them!
    For me however, even as a serious part timer, consignment works. First off, the folks I partner with let me have almost total control (or I would not sell with them!) I get collections of like items with histories, and full disclosures. There is even one gentleman who is retired and picks for his flea market booth, and sets aside the better stuff for me to check out. We've been at it for 12 years. There is always something to sell. An example would be a huge collection of antique model trains that translated into a few thousand dollars and was a lot of fun for a toy guy like me, and educational. The break down is simple. I sell an old toy for $50.00, partner gets $25.00, I get a minimum of $20.00 (after all the fees and such and so on). No paper work, nada. I pay my taxes and urge them to do the same. I understand that going out and finding stuff is fun, and that a real picker does not need to spend a lot to make a lot. However, there is time, gas, food, and real effort involved in all of that. And there still is money spent up front, even if nominal. I do get my hunting fix from time to time, regardless. I have to. You know.
    Right now, I am doing consignment for three on a regular basis.
    One is a traditional Business Lady who is enamored with all this reselling business. She lost her husband a couple of years ago, and we are turning his great things into cash as she sorts.
    Another is a retired Chef who collected anything old and cool for 40 years. We are working up to some serious finds as he lets go of more and more.
    And then there is the gentleman that I first mentioned. He no longer is day to day involved with his business in New York. I have come to find out he has more than plenty of money, but loves 'Junking'. When I meet this friend at the market, he usually has a gift for my wife, a couple of cigars for me, and a box or two of good old stuff. He learned and keeps learning what sells on line.
    So, I am not offering a defense here, just saying, I do not mind consignment at all. If you do all the other parts of eBay and other platforms well, the problems will rarely be more than what you encounter selling your own stuff.
    If I ever did quit my job to jump into buying and selling full time, I wonder how I would approach the idea of selling for others. Probably much like most of you full timers!
    Take Care,
    Tom (totommyto)

    1. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 11:04 AM

      So are you reporting the $25 in your example that you give to the consignee as COGS? If you are exclusively doing consignment and not keeping paperwork then you may have trouble if you ever get audited.

    2. Yes, COG would be $25.00 in that example. I have a hard copy notebook page devoted to each transaction. Consignment is far from exclusive. Just quite a bit at the moment. It will wind down, always does. The only long time consignment would be the NY guy at the market, going on 12 years.
      He simply got in the game, and I enjoy the partnership.
      I appreciate you pointing out the COG reporting for clarification.

    3. That's cool. As long as the people you sell give you total freedom, I can see how consignment might be attractive.

      I think for many of us, finding inventory isnt the issue. In fact, the hunt for inventory is the fun part. Take away the hunt, and all your have is the unglamorous listing work.

  28. I have also heard that sold items that were crazy prices are money laundering people. that seams like a good way to do it.

  29. Speaking about your international travels:
    How do you guys use your cell phones abroad?

    1. I usually get a small international data plan for the time I'm travelling - usually ~$20 - and only use it if necessary and then cancel as soon as I get home. I've found that free wifi is much more plentiful in most major international cities, so I turn off the roaming data unless I absolutely need it. I then use apps like WhatsApp for texts/sending pics to family when I have the WiFi - "Hey mom, I'm still alive... here's a pic of me in front of the Eiffel Tower to prove it". Facebook is also good for stuff like that. Big note - GPS is free worldwide! Most people don't realize that your maps don't use data, so you don't even need to enable data to figure out where you're going. [note on this, that apps that do more than map will use data for everything else except the GPS features]

    2. PS... love the names of your store categories... much more fun that "dresses" or "shirts". :)

    3. We bought cheap phones on eBay. When you land in a foreign country, go to the nearest cell phone store. Buy a SIM card for that country. Purchase minutes and bandwidth.

      Usually we get 1GB each which allows us to use Google Maps, text each other, etc. As Brian said, wifi is everywhere as well.

      Brian: GPS may be free, but Google Maps wont load without internet access. So you may see the blue dot, but it wont actually show the map.

    4. True true... I usually load the map while on wifi (or for a few seconds of data) and then it's good to go without data. This works for vacation, but I guess it depends how long you're abroad - your month long jobs probably require more accessibility and me just trying to find the next place to eat a croissant.

    5. We've done that trick. Pre-load the map, and let let the blue dot do its job.

      Since we often stay in countries for 2+ weeks, its worth the $40 to have full operational phones.

      If I liked the Nexus phone, I'd sign up for Google Fi that works in most countries without any new sim card.

    6. Jay, so every time you get a SIM card you get a new phone number? Is it with the country code you landed in?

    7. Nope. You can use the same phone and just buy a different SIM card for each country.

      That being said, you have to check what service each country uses. For instance, we can;t use our US phone in Europe because they're on a different system.

      But we can use the same phone for most European countries. Just need to buy a new SIM card in each place.

      Just google: How to use my cell phone in different countries

  30. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 10:59 AM

    This is a great discussion topic this week!
    For my bread & butter items, I'll pay up to $5 for something that will sell for $25-30. Generally these are items that will fit into a standard USPS box or a mailer pouch.

    For anything over $5 or anything large, I take into consideration the profit, the size, the shipping complexity, and my desire to research and list it. There's no hard and fast rule - just something that comes with experience.

    On the whole, I do not sweat COGS. I use my paypal debit card to purchase all my inventory so it all comes out of the same pot. Typically a single sale will pay for an entire haul of inventory so I see it all as "free" inventory.

  31. Hey guys. Still enjoying the podcast as I do my shipping this morn! Just wanted to comment on the item I sold to Stranger Things. It was a Golden Books How And Why book on Fish. I'm pretty sure I saw it when I watched the show. The scene is the sister of one character is quickly going through a couple of books to describe her theory of what is going on. I believe one of the books was the one I sold. It's a pretty brief shot :) but it was still thrilling to me. I enjoyed the show regardless. My teenage years where in the 80s so it was fun to see all kinds of items I remembered. It amazes me now that I am a reseller when I watch tv shows like these and Mad Men and movies the amount of time and money that goes into obtaining all of the props down to little minutia like a pencil. So interesting.

    Back to enjoying the podcast and working!

    1. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 12:10 PM

      Making authentic feeling 80's movies with modern effects must be the "in" thing right now. We saw Pete's Dragon this weekend and it felt very authentic as an 80's movie without actually pointing out that "hey, this is an 80's movie".

      It was also an excellent family movie BTW. I can't believe Disney is practically burying it.

  32. Here are my numbers for the week.

    Total Items in Store: 1081
    Items Sold: 31
    Total Sales: $630.45
    Cost of Items Sold: $33.8
    Average Price Sold: $20.34
    Average Cost of Item: $1.09
    Highest Price Items Sold: $31.85 -- 1942 Flight Cadet Yearbook (USAAF Sequia Field, Visalia CA)
    Number of items listed this week: 10
    Average age of items in store (in days since listing): 166
    Average number of days between listing and selling this week: 71
    Median age of sales (in days, between listing and selling): 58
    Sell-through rate: 2.87%
    # of Hats Sold: 21

    It was a normal week of sales for me (after a slow week last week). I need to get more higher-priced items into my store to bring my average sale value higher. My college-aged daughter is home for a few weeks so I had to give her back her bedroom (which is also my photography studio) so it limited my ability to list new items this week.

    1. Still great money for this being a part-time gig for you.

  33. Total Items in Store: 621
    Items Sold: 56
    Total Sales: $1,209.26
    Cost of Items Sold: $130.48

    No dead days last week lead to my best week ($200 greater than previous best week). Listing 10 things a day every day has proven to keep my numbers consistently growing. I have been utilizing 5% 24 hour sales too because of the belief that it brings a boost in listing rank.

    1. Hi Fred--Nice numbers!! I really like the white background on your photos--would you share your photography set-up? I am also in a very small space, although not a Hoosier! Thanks, Carol

  34. Just listened to your podcast. Look into Scanpower's scanning app. It is not a downloaded database it will use your data connection to look up the information on any scannable barcode against Amazons catalog. The scanning app is now free - they went to a subscription model and you pay based on your listing volume - so if you don't list through the app then scanning is free. It doesn't do everything you are looking for but the price might meet your budget.

    1. Thanks for the tip. Ill look into them. All we want is the ability to scan continuously.

      Does it automatically refresh itself when you scan a new item?

  35. Interesting topic. I think anyone who says they don't have money to buy inventory, has not found the right places to source. There are still thousands of $1 to $3 items that will sell up to $50 or more.

    The higher price items are few and far between, but still worth an educated gamble.a couple of months ago I bought a small Honda generator for $42 and sold it on auction for $380 within a week. By the way, $380 was my starting bid.

    If the cogs are no more than 20%, I don't see an issue with spending more on inventory, even on the long tail items. I do agree that finding the higher priced items with that profit margin is difficult.

  36. Soooo, any possibility of a SL forum? Yes, I know it might be a hassle, but I rather exchange ideas at the SL water cooler than Facebook. Just thought I would wonder out loud.

    1. If we built it, would they come?
      There's nothing worse than a forum that feels like a ghost town.

    2. So I was a bit of a bum on videos last week. I sold my first true attempt at venturing into used electronics, a Philips Home Theater , Unit Only, no remote, no speakers, that I got at the beloved Goodwill Weigh& Go. Apparently people really like these and units go pretty quickly. I bargained with the manager and ended up paying a few bucks for it. Sold it for $60 on best offer in a few days. Paid FedEx ground $18. Provided the buyer is happy, it's a decent return. After fees, taxes, maybe $24 or so net. Fingers crossed. So for the bored, here is a What Sold video on Scarves, with a bit of me channeling my inner crazy, followed by sales highlights on my "example" account I use for YouTube purposes.

    3. Jay, hey I will be there. Who else do u need? Ok, well probably more. I think the people here are very quality people, and it would be great to share ideas or post questions, show off those exhilarating finds that no one else gets but trash elves. I am pretty sure some boards come with self moderating where X amount of down votes boots the person off the island. A few years ago, a forum would be a pain, I have heard it has gotten a little easier since the old days.

      Ps- did not know this, but Reddit gives out a month of free Gold if you send them a postcard. They then post the postcard on Reddit. Sounds kooky, which I like.

    4. Pss- not sure I'll flip used electronics to only make $24 or so net. However, it sold in a few days and so far is painless. If I can replicate that several times over, maybe. I did sell a new Sony photo scanner for almost $200 in a day or two, but it's hard finding them new. Used might be a good side venture. We'll see.

    5. Oh, how I wish there was a SL forum. Since I started reading here (and participating a little) several months ago, I truly enjoy the personalities, the intelligent discussions and the vast knowledge, but I'm used to a forum environment and I really struggle with the blog comment format. Would love to be able to stop in once or twice each day and be able to quickly read and/or comment only on what's been posted since my last visit.

      While I'm a member of a couple, like you guys, I'm not a fan of the Facebook groups. Again, a much clunkier format for discussion and I never post or share because I'm not at all comfortable with strangers knowing my full name and precise location.

      With the huge following you have, there's no doubt in my mind that if you built it, they would come.

    6. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 8:18 AM

      The big issue I have with this format is I cannot post on any mobile device. I've tried both phones and the ipad. Mobile and web versions of the site. The only way I can post is on a pc.

      I also agree that a way to only see new posts would be awesome.

    7. Yes on the forum (not facebook)! Maybe keep the weekly check-ins here and use the forum for topic-specific discussions. Would certainly be much easier to search for answers.

    8. Good feedback. Some kind of forum would definitely allow everyone's comments to be searched and useful.

      Our concern has always been trying to start something that would not be used and kill off what we have here. And then do we have a blog to post our podcast...and then a separate forum to talk? Just dont want something confusing.

      Ryanne and I will discuss and see what makes sense.

    9. I like the existing blog format. After reading the comments for the first time, I click on “Notify Me” in the comment block so I receive emails with all the subsequent posts that I can skim quickly. I don’t have to come back to the blog at all. As for searching for past SL discussions on particular topics, I use the Google “Advanced Search” under the Settings tab, creating key word searches and narrowing results by the SL domain. It works really well and shows me the community input on certain topics that came up at different times.

    10. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 9:49 AM

      On a forum, each week you just "pin" the Podcast so general comments and discussion about the most recent podcast can be had. Same thing for a weekly numbers pin and a what sold pin. At the end of the week they get unpinned and a new set gets pinned.

      That's how I would do it so you could keep the general blog feeling going on a forum. At the end of the day this is your playground and you do what feels right to you.

    11. And I agree it'd be nice to post comments from a phone. Not sure why Blogger seems to nit support this feature.

  37. Our Store Week August 15 – 21, 2016
    Total Items in Store: 213
    Items Sold: 7
    Cost of Items Sold: $188.25
    Total Sales: $1,542.41
    Highest Price Sold: $750.00 (Vintage Movie Camera)
    Average Price Sold: $192.80
    International Sales: 1
    Returns: 0
    Money Spent on New Inventory This Week: $15.33
    Number of items listed this week: 0

    Sales Review: Great week. Sales were slow until midweek when two expensive items sold within hours of each other. A vintage movie camera sold for $750, then a ship model kit sold for $650. I had been sitting on the camera for over a year, and the ship had only been up for a few weeks. I had received a super low offer of $100 (“I’d really like to build this kit with my ill grandfather but I only have $100.”) LOL, ok guy, you would need thousands invested in equipment just to attempt to build a kit of this difficulty/scale. I couldn’t hit “decline” fast enough… I also sold a few NOS patches, a fireman’s coat that I picked up at a firehouse auction, and another movie camera (low end).

    Customer Issues: None.
    Scavenging: I spent most of Saturday morning and early afternoon at garage sales and a few estate sales. I bought absolutely nothing. As luck would have it I found a great pair of vintage wooden water skis on the side of the road about a mile from my house. Some quick research suggests I can get ~$125 out of them.

    With regard to the podcast, thanks for the mention Jay! While I love buying inventory cheap, I’m not scared to pay out if I know the item’s value. It’s a very calculated risk, and I have no problem sitting on inventory. Take that audio gear I mentioned last week. I paid $2,650 for it, but I know I could absolutely triple that investment fairly quickly. Unfortunately I decided to keep everything for myself. It takes me just as long to list a patch that will sell for $10, and a camera that will sell for $750. While I like the smaller cost items to “fill in the cracks” I base my model on higher priced inventory. With a full time job, and a baby girl, I have to use my time as wisely and effectively as possible.

    1. Matthew, my post here is aimed at all that read it, not you personally..... be very careful buying high end audio gear for big bucks until you know how to test it out. Refurbishing, updating, fixing, etc can get VERY expensive, VERY fast. I hope no issues with your gear, but be careful and never feel shy to ask sellers to show their "for sale" items work properly.

    2. Hi Anon,

      I agree 100%, if I was unable to test it, I wouldn't have spent nearly as much as I did. Luckily I had full access to the equipment during the preview. Those B&W 801s sounded glorious!

    3. Very nice! I recently got lucky finding a couple of Carver pieces as well along with the original manuals. If you're a hardcore geek, check out some of the really good videos on youtube of guys that professionally restore/refurbish audio gear. Good stuff. Enjoy!

    4. Very true, you may be prepared.
      I have a small speaker with wire, a VHS and cassette tapes, DVD and CD along with a 12 volt to 115v power inverter in my van at all times so when I go to yard sales or to meet up with a CL seller I can to a quick test. I've saved myself some money avoiding some shady sellers junk.

    5. Some good friends of mine are hardcore audio guys, it's starting to rub off on me... I got lucky and had an entire binder of manuals, receipts, and even the original calibration paperwork for the B&Ws! I'll have to check out YouTube for sure. Thanks!

  38. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 2:22 PM

    Does anyone on here exploit credit card rewards for their business purchases? My paypal business debit card has a small cashback rewards, but I've been thinking of switching to a card - possibly a Disney rewards card and also paying my monthly ebay fees with it to max out points. I am leaving a lot on the table right now by having my fees come directly out of my paypal balance.

    It would be fun to see how quickly I could rack up the points to cover the majority of a vacation.

    So, does anyone have any recommendations on this front?

    1. Absolutely. There are plenty of good cashback cards (CapOne Quicksilver, Bank of America Rewards, etc) or airline cards (every airline has one) or even Target/WalMart/Amazon cards that earn you discounts. I do regular cashback, cause what's better than cash, but my brother does a lot of RA and has an airline card - his yearly purchases add up to 2 roundtrip tickets to basically anywhere he & his wife want to go in the world.

    2. We use the Amazon Rewards card:

      We charge everything to it. eBay fees, food, bills, etc.
      Then we pay it off each month so there's no interest payments. We make enough to buy useful items that we need every couple months.

      I've looked into the frequent flyer cards. You really have to spend a lot to get two worldwide tickets each year.

    3. brooklyn_procurementAugust 22, 2016 at 2:57 PM

      for personal use Disney rewards is have to spend $1000 to get $10 back and only for Disney. Amazon rewards is the way to go.

    4. Retro Treasures WVAugust 22, 2016 at 3:07 PM

      I have amazon rewards for my main personal card. I charge everything and pay off every month.

      I don't think I can get two cards in the same program but I guess it is worth finding out. I definitely want to keep my personal spending separate from my ebay spending.

    5. Here's an honest tool run by ConsumerReports - you enter in your monthly spending by category and it calculates your estimated CashBack/Points:

    6. That's a brilliant tool. One downside of being frugal is that we dont spend much to make the rewards (a good thing!).

      We probably get about $500 a year to spend on Amazon. Perfect for little things we need. We're saving the points up for a new tub.

    7. I prefer cash back to airline miles so my main card is the Citi Double Cash card with a flat 2% back on everything and no annual fee. I also use an Amex Blue Cash Preferred which pays back 6% on groceries and 3% on gas. It has an annual fee but my level of spending makes it worthwhile.

    8. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 10:08 AM

      2% cash back with no fees is pretty awesome! I'll look into that for sure. Thanks for all the input everyone!

  39. Aug 14-20 2016
    • Total Items in Store: 705
    • Items Sold: 18 (17 eBay 1 TrueGether)
    • International 3 (2 GSP)
    • Total Sales $1010
    • Highest price $450 vintage amplifier
    • Average Price Sold: $56
    • Returns: 1 (changed mind)
    • Cost of Items Sold: $60 +-
    • Cost of items purchased this week $50

    I've owned and managed a couple businesses and always carried debt for inventory and buildings but not this eBay business, it's also been the most profitable and steady.
    For me, finding the more expensive items is my goal. They're fewer but higher profit with less time involved listing and shipping, more time for goofin' off.

  40. Brooklyn_ProcurementAugust 22, 2016 at 3:10 PM

    I finally feel comfortable enough to post my numbers. August was the best so far and this is my 4th month part time working towards full time. August so far:

    Total Items in Store: 303
    Items Sold: 12
    Total Sales: $725.22
    Highest Price Sold: $290 - brooks brother cordovan dress shoes
    Average Price Sold: $50
    Returns: 0
    spent: $986.42
    overall P/L for the year: P:$2592.11 L: $2902.55 : -$310.44

    Most of the money spent this month was on art work. I went a little crazy on auctions since the prices were so cheap and only went for pieces I really liked. I listed them already bu haven't sold any yet, but cant wait too!

    Noticed most of the items I sold this month were collectible china

    1. Welcome! Those are some good numbers. I am envious of your high average sale price. What kind of items do you sell typically? Lots of art and china?

    2. Welcome! Those are some good numbers. I am envious of your high average sale price. What kind of items do you sell typically? Lots of art and china?

  41. I'm still on team measurements because I think eBay will eventually make them mandatory if everyone stops providing them. Measurements have never been successfully used against us, and I think it helps the buyer. In fact, we still have 100% positive feedback and have yet to loose an argument with eBay. I think a big part of that is having extremely crystal clear photos and exact measurements down to an 1/8".

    We still think it's better to have the best listing possible with the best photos and relevant details like measurements over the most possible listings.

    All that being said, there's a lot of people doing just fine without measurements, and probably selling a lot more than we do. We just prefer to do it this way.

  42. Is anyone familiar with the blue Dallas Ware plates/cups? It's vintage thick plastic ware and I know it was never created to go in the dishwasher or microwave but has anyone actually done it? I have a batch of it and I plan on selling most of it and keeping a few things but it's dirty and discolored. And if i keep it im going to want to put it in the microwave and dishwasher at some point. But I don't want to ruin it or cause a problem. Thanks guys and gals.

    1. I have some Dallas Ware lunch trays like we had in elementary school, I use them and put them in the dishwasher. Nothing like institutional dish ware, tough as nails.

    2. We put ours in the dishwasher. Just had a family gathering on Sunday and 9 red plastic plates went into the dishwasher. Have a blue set we use for camping. It is terrific.

  43. I sold 7 t-shirts over the winter that are going to be used in the new Doctor Strange movie that is coming out November 4th by Marvel Comics. They sold to a person from NYC who sources props, clothing ect for movies and shipped overnight to London to the show set.

  44. Hey everyone....I have been following this blog for years and post occasionally and I need help once again. I am making plunge, I am looking for an engagement ring. Anyone have any advice on how to "scavenge" to find one.

    I have no clue about nothing on nothing when it comes to jewelry, any suggestions is much appreciated.


    1. Visit legit jewelry stores and get educated before buying on ebay.

    2. My husband (only part scavenger) went to the jewelry district in downtown LA. I'm sure some major cities have similar places and you could look on Yelp. There is also Costco.

    3. Ps. We have a local jewelry consignment / appraisal place if you don't need to buy new. I consigned some inherited pieces and their prices were good. Congrats.

    4. I have a few (argh!) in my jewelry box ... sigh. How do I get rid of them?!?! Too scarey for me to sell something that expensive on ebay.

  45. Want to give an update on my week starting tomorrow, super busy week:
    1) Took older boys to College
    2) Twins started Middle School today
    3) Last trip to Turkey got cancel due to the martial law there, will use the time to take care of health and most likely deliver the project remotely
    4) Today and tommorrow is inventory. I am remodeling my storage area with a nice storage system using ideas from this team. Wired shelves with 3 tipes of coded boxes with ziplocked items under the eBay item #. The best is donations and clean up
    5) process and list, had a great scavenging
    6) Sending a great number of good books and new,sealed games to Amazon. So I am really groing my Amazon srore

    1. Also, I have the items zipped with the eBay generated code inside each type of box: shoebox type where individual item needs individual storage, foam large or foam medium where I store vintage porcelain or vintage diecast, and dry clean shirt type where I store shirts or small items zip locked.

      The storage code will start going at the bottom of listing

    2. Have not decided yet how to classify the backed up photos. For now they follow raw time stamp

    3. Paulo, your industriousness is inspiring. I am so glad you didn't have to go to turkey when it is so dangerous. Love reading your posts; thanks for sharing!

  46. I have been venturing into the higher cost, higher reward items with mixed results. I don't know that I will search out those items often as I have been doing fine with the smaller dollar items and the bread and butter type items. Plus, sometimes the cool stuff gets passed up at auctions because no one really sees the value in the items.

    I haven't been able to do too much listing (although I'm still bringing items in here and there) since we are not just building a house, but doing some of the work ourselves to keep labor costs down so right now staining the exterior is the priority. Of the items I have been able to list, I had a great score on some medical record stamp sets from an auction. The sets had 12 stamps, an ink pad, and two metal racks. The stamps were of body parts like the hands, feet, head/face, and two full body views that came out of a dermatologists office. I listed the first set and in less than 12 hours I had an offer of $75 (was asking $150), but was able to get them up to $90. I took the offer because I didn't really know a value for the set and my August sales had been sluggish. I went ahead and listed the second set for $120 w/free shipping and no ability to make offers yet. We will see how that goes, but I'm already feeling good about it all since I got the lot for $4.

    Other recent items have been some designer sunglasses and glasses frames and I sold my first book.

    I also hit a great milestone this past week and earned my Top Rated Seller so I'm interested to see if I notice an increase in sales. Going to take some time and make a push to get more stuff listed this coming weekend. I am sitting on about 2,000 35mm slides that I need to get listed and decide how I want to do that. I'm thinking a few smaller lots of interesting slides (I have a series of slides showing a submarine submerging) and then grouping larger lots of similar themes like floral slides.

    1. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 11:22 AM

      Regarding Top Rated Seller - I had lost my TRS status a few months ago when they started requiring the scan within handling time thing. I adjusted my process and have recovered and got my TRS status back on Saturday morning.

      Coincidence or not, I have not had a single sale or even offer since I got the TRS status back. This is day 3. I usually sell at least one thing a day.

      One thing that has been proven time and again is that ebay is totally random when dealing with totally random inventory.

    2. Very good point.

      If we were selling multiples of contemporary new items like iPhone cases, we could probably better see patterns in sales. We could probably guess when competitors came on the market and were beating our price.

      When selling vintage, weird, longtail items, I think it's difficult to make sense of small changes in selling patterns. We've sold the most random stuff in our store these past couple days. Who knows why or when people will buy certain items in our store. The audience is much smaller for these items, so we just keep listing and let the market work.

  47. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 8:29 AM

    So I have a weird ebay customer issue right now. I sent a package 1st class to a customer. The customer messaged me asking what happened because the tracking said "return to sender". I called his post office and the post master said that address was marked as "unoccupied" and all mail was to be rejected and returned to sender. The package was returned but not delivered because it was "postage due" - the post office wants $3 from me to get it.

    Anyways this gets complicated because the customer says that is the correct address. I've talked with ebay and they say they will side with me and that I can refund only the purchase price minus the postage due as well. The customer is angry and wants their package, saying they'd leave me negative feedback if I withheld any shipping costs on refund.

    Currently I have asked the customer to contact their local post master, give them the tracking number, and try to clarify why they have his address marked as unoccupied. Once done, I asked him to message me the post masters name & number so I can confirm and also get some info to file a claim to get refunded the original shipping. At that point I will resend his item at no charge.

    It has been about 5 days and customer messages me asking what is going on and what am I going to do about this...he didn't do what I asked.

    My plan is to do nothing until he confirms his address is good in the postal system. I will not ship the package again without this confirmation.

    I'm staying cool and calm about it, which I'm pretty proud of. In the past I'd be losing sleep over this kind of thing. I'd be interested to hear how others here would handle this.

    1. You sound like you've handled it perfectly. You've communicated professionally and stuck to trying to find a solution. You've also called eBay and gotten them involved early to make sure they'll back you up.

      Since you've given the buyer logical choices to solve the issue, the buyer needs to take action. Sounds like they aren't doing this. Now we would just stay silent and give the refund as you stated. There are no surprises for anyone.

    2. agreed, nice job. i know it's a pain, but you've done all you can reasonably do to help this customer at this point.

  48. Total items in store: 1,277
    Total items sold: 26
    Cost of items: $30.00
    Total Sales: $347.70
    Average price: $13.37
    Highest priced item: $45.00 Hotter Comfort Concept Mary Jane Shoes

    My sales have been picking up and moving some old inventory. All my inventory is now on 30 days with best offer as opposed to good to canceled. Really seems to have jump started some interest. Went to a library sale found some hopefully good ones ( i do well picking out books lately) Found a three book set on St Francis Xavier that go for 350.00 each on Amazon and Abes books and some others. Also have been listing again hopefully I am making better choices as far as new inventory

  49. I hate getting these types of questions on eBay:

    "I have several questions:

    1) Can you post more pictures: the sides of the purse, the back of the purse, the bottom, and zipper-pull area?

    2) Towards the top of the purse above the cats' heads, the red and yellow lines running from east to west are thicker on one side than the other. Is this just due to a wrinkle on the outside of the bag when the picture was taken, or is this how the lines actually are on the outside of the bag due to how the bag was sewn/made?

    3) Does this purse come from a smoke-free environment?

    4) Is there any fading anywhere on the inside or outside of the purse?"

    DELETE. I want to write back something like this: "This is a purse I got at the Goodwill Outlet. That means it wasn't even nice enough for the regular Goodwill. Obviously, it will never live up to your high standards. Just move along."

    1. LMAO (I know how you feel.)

    2. We don't mind answering questions, but you;re correct that these are intensely specific questions that point to a picky buyer. She should just go buy in person.

    3. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 11:25 AM

      Just keep the mindset that the person just did you a huge favor - the person identified themselves as someone you don't want to deal with.

      I have to really be in the mood to answer questions. Occasionally I'll do it and it will result in a sale. Most of the time the person never writes back or puts in a really lowball offer.

    4. ha, yeah i think we've all had potential buyers like that. the great thing is you can ignore and block. or answer the questions the best of your ability and hope for a sale (with no return). sellers choice!

  50. Flim Store Week August 14-20, 2016

    Total Items in Store: 679
    Items Sold: 11
    Cost of Items Sold: $138
    Total Sales: $801.01
    Highest Price Sold: $248 (designer bag)
    Average Price Sold: $72.81/$55.30 without highest price
    Returns: 0

    This topic is ringing pretty loudly for me, especially because I'm feeling a combination of slower August sales + no fulltime salary. I'm trying to fight the shopping itch (because of my newfound freedom to scavenge 24/7) by attacking those death piles. The struggle continues...

    Another issue - I had meant to walk to the post office with 2 packages, but when I opened my front door there was a Fedex Ground delivery man dropping off USPS packages. It was blazing hot outside, and in a moment of laziness, I gave him my packages to scan/drop off. Big mistake. One package got delivered, but it took 2-3 days just to get the initial scan. And one hasn't delivered at all - no tracking uploaded, nothing. It's been a week since he picked up. What do I do? :(

    1. they were USPS packages? you can call the post office 800 number and give them the tracking number and see what they say. just say you accidentally gave them to fedex?

    2. Film would you mind sharing how your Papryus holiday cards did last year? Did you sell gift bag sets too? Thanks!

    3. They were USPS packages, but the Fedex Ground guy was delivering both USPS and Fedex Ground packages. Guhhh I'll call them now.

    4. Christine, the Papyrus cards were ok, but I definitely still have a bunch left. Only bought card sets. In the theme of this ep, not sure if I got enough mileage out of the money I put into the product.

    5. the good news is that one of the two packages got scanned, so he probably did drop them off. not sure why the other one is invisible though. hmmm.

    6. Oh, I meant to add - I got an ebay offer for 25% off FVF for fall categories like coats/jackets, women's boots, and athletic apparel. Perfect time to list these!

    7. do you have to opt into the offer??

    8. Flim, I didn't get that promo offer, but I saw it. Just want to reinforce what you said: Even if a seller doesn't get the promo, this is a good time to list this stuff....because the reason for the promo is that ebay believes this stuff is in high demand and supply is on the low side.I will definitely be getting up coats and jackets.I don't have too much in the other categories, but I've got quite a bunch of coats and jackets,good for cooler weather and for some Halloween costumes.

    9. ryanne, It's invitation only, and I think if you get the invitation, you do have to opt in. I think it applies to the first thousand qualifying sales in the particular categories. One thing I'm not sure of, is whether it is in addition to TRS Plus discount....I think it is, but I'm not certain.

    10. It's invite only and you have to activate it.

    11. Retro Treasures WVAugust 23, 2016 at 1:59 PM

      I had the offer. There was no email or notification - I just happened to see it when I glanced at the offers section of my dashboard.

  51. Welcome to the no measurement team ;-)

    For people that ask for measurements don't respond. I know it might sound rude but it's better than responding because people get offended.

    You will get people that are crazy and will ask you like 10 times for measurements on the same item. Ignore them.

    People that ask you for a measurement on a t shirt for example should raise a red flag. They have problem buyer written all over them. Another reason not to reply to them.

    Now that no measurements is being utilized my next quest is to get people to raise their asking price because it will collectively raise everyone's price.

    $24.99 best offer minimum on a t shirt. They will sell. Everyone needs to raise their prices! Selling for a cheaper price doesn't mean it will sell faster.

  52. Well I have just been suspended from eBay for 7 days. I listed a Monster energy drink trucker hat and it was reported by Monster energy as Vero. I do not know what I did wrong, as there are 50 other used monster hats sitting on eBay right now. I have a good reputation as a seller, 100% feedback and over 900 items. This has never happened before with the exception of having a Coach bag taken down but no suspension was given. I am in shock. The end of the month is coming and I owe eBay 300 dollars yest have no way to cover it. I guess this is it for me.

    1. call ebay ASAP. see what they say.

    2. Will do thank you. I will try to report back what they say as well.

    3. yes please let us know what they say. make sure you are calm, and professional on the phone. it's an honest mistake you made. they should understand that.

  53. I talked to a couple reps and was finally transferred to a eBay Vero department rep. I told him I did not know it was vero. He stated the Coach bag I had removed earlier was the reason they did it. I should have fought that, as the bag was legit as far as I know.

    The good news is he re-instated my selling privileges. The bad news is I am now shaken on what to list and which items I need to consider taking down (I have several Coach bags I purchased 2nd hand w/o receipts). This is going to make me re-think my entire selling strategy, and I see now I need to have more than one platform for selling.

    1. Glad you found an eBay rep who was reasonable. I've never heard of a seller being suspended/expelled unless they've been warned before. You had a VERO violation before, so you should be careful.

      That being said, it's definitely weird and abusive for companies to ambiguously enforce VERO violations. If they dont want their items sold second hand, they should just have eBay put a block on all listings. I believe Amazon does this where it's impossible to list certain brands.

      I would simply not be selling brands that are on the VERO list:
      Why take a risk by listing a coach bag? Or sell it elsewhere.

      There's so much to list on eBay that won't risk be a VERO violation. violations.

    2. Thank you guys. I will be taking the Coach bag listings I have down and putting them on Craigslist as is. I may wait a few days so it does not look suspicious. I am going to have to be extra careful going forward. I hope this helps other sellers. It is important to stay up to date with policies and learn which items are risky. I see now why you guys stick to vintage.