03/30/2020 at 12:02 pm #75624littleBlueHouseParticipant
- Location: North Chesterfield, VA
Prior to going on this journey I would make some not so great purchasing decisions. I would buy stuff for the next “project” I was totally into. Or a few days after a night of hanging with friends a random board game that I hadn’t played since childhood would show up. Recently my “poor choices” have been a zebra label printer and then I just had 8 different color tablecloths show up that I purchased to use for backdrops. Yes I needed these items (eventually) and I’m not upset by the purchases, I’m just highly amused by how they have changed! Has anyone else noticed that when they look at items to “spoil” themselves it is more for your business vs frivolous items that you might have purchased before?
03/30/2020 at 2:30 pm #75634AmatinoParticipant
- Location: Texas
LOL. Fun thread idea! I’ve found that, if I’m shopping for something, I think “it costs how much? I could get it cheaper on eBay!” Not that eBay is always cheaper, but I have found that I’m a lot fussier about my shopping!
03/30/2020 at 5:32 pm #75653
This is a great thread idea. For me, there are two categories of poor purchasing decisions. The first is personal use items, but I have always been frugal and never had a need to buy a lot of things, so this hasn’t affected me much.
But I have a lot of experience with poor purchase decisions for inventory. Cleaning up bad inventory purchases has increased my profits significantly in the last six months, to the point where eBay has become close to full time income. I buy almost all my inventory through auctions on eBay. This has its perks, especially now where everything is closed but it’s still (mostly) business as usual for me.
I use a bid sniper (Gixen) to eliminate last minute “one more bid” impulse decisions. While a bid sniper is great (and I recommend it to anyone who buys auctions on eBay), that kind of platform makes it so easy to bid on — and potentially win — hundreds of items. Learning to pass up low dollar items unless I can buy them cheaply in bulk has been so important for me. Especially with items I “like” to sell even if they’re long tail or not that profitable.
This has led to me slowly phasing out a lot of inventory listed for $10 or $15 in favor of $25-$50 items. I did this in a number of ways, but lotting up similar items was the most successful for me. I primarily sell sports collectibles and trading cards and grouping by team has been very profitable. I am sure that kind of connection (geography, place, type) would be useful for other niches as well. Of course, the most important thing is that your inventory has to have some kind of demand. You can’t just group up junk and expect it to sell!
It took me a few years of trial and error to develop this system and especially the discipline to stick with it. It feels like a big breakthrough, but I’m sure in a few years I’ll look back and wonder how I didn’t realize ______ for so long.
03/30/2020 at 9:33 pm #75666AmatinoParticipant
- Location: Texas
craig rex, that’s great! I’ve been removing some items from my store now that I’m moving stuff into my new work cabin, and I had thought about getting rid of some of my low-dollar items. To be honest, I didn’t think of lotting items, it hasn’t worked out too well for me, but I’m not in a niche market like you. What are your other techniques?
03/31/2020 at 10:07 pm #75712
Amatino, I started lotting items because I received a promo on my buying id for a $10 coupon (up to 5 times) for every item I sold in my niche category (sports memorabilia). I’m not sure how eBat decides to send out those targeted promos but I’m guessing it was based, in part, on how much I buy in that category on that ID.
I lotted up similar type items and listed 6 or 7 them to end the day before the end of the promo, so I could relist as fixed price (and still qualify for the coupon) if they didn’t sell at auction. But every single auction sold. One went for buy it now price, another was bid up close to my buy it now price and best of all, the same buyer bought 5 of the auctions, so I only had to ship 3 packages total. I made just under $200 in profits total after fees plus the $50 in coupons with inventory that had either been unlisted or stale.
So this got me to take a hard look at my store, which has had 2000 or more items in it for about the last six months. Before that, it was a year of growth from around 500 items to 1000 and then 2000. Really, most of that was just listing anything I could like Jay & Ryanne suggest.
But the last few months were really the first time I actually looked at my listed inventory aside from buyer questions or packing sales. Looking at and touching most/all of my listings over the period of about a week forced me to realize I had some items overpriced and others which I had in inventory for so long that I wasn’t sure how much I paid for them or what they were worth. In line with this thread, I also observed a habit of buying things I “liked” which weren’t very profitable. Things I thought were cool but not valuable, basically.
I experimented with looking at items as they were “ending today” (even though Good til canceled items never really end) and used that as a means of repricing and ending items that I thought were overpriced or unlikely to sell. I think sorting low to high is a much easier method, though.
Reorganizing the physical space — I have one bedroom as an office — is probably my next big project. One of my other niches is media (books, DVD’s, CD’s) and I know I have too much shelf space devoted to low dollar ($20 or less) items. I hate lotting them up because it’s a loss of (theoretical) profit. If I had a larger space like Jay & Ryanne, I would probably keep it all listed. But I don’t. And I also think you can drive yourself crazy chasing the hypothetical “I know it’s worth this much!” especially with less than $20 items.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the thinking of list, list, list that it is hard, at least for me, to spend time on things like organization and maximizing space and repricing. Make no mistake, if you have less than 500 or even 1000 items and want this as any sort of reliable income, the single most important thing you can do is scavenge and list new items until you get to 1000 and probably higher. My sales didn’t really pick up until I got to 2000 listings.
But now that I’m at this level, if my last few months are any indication, the time spent reorganizing and repricing and doing something with the inventory is well worth it. Even if it’s just a few hours a month or a few hundred extra in net sales.
More sales don’t just give me more money to spend on inventory or put me closer to “what I need to live” money, they help me learn. And I think that’s why we’re all on this forum, after all.
04/01/2020 at 8:46 pm #75746
Hi Jay, I am a weird scavenger in that my main niches are modern trading cards (mostly sports and autographs) and physical media (books, CD’s, DVD’s). So keep that in mind. I don’t know if my methods would translate to ephemera, or clothes, and almost definitely not to bulkier items, but everything you and Ryanne talk about on the podcast have helped me build my eBay store to close to a full-time income, so who knows.
In the last 60 days, I have sold 17 trading card lots totaling just over $400. So, average sale price of about $23, average profit of about $15. I have listed another 48 lots (again over that 60 day period) and I’m confident that most or all will sell eventually. I build them by taking one or two low-priced items out of my store (usually items I spent $1-$3) and fill out the lot with cards that aren’t worth listing individually. I mostly sort the lots by team since some collectors (but not all) build their collections around a fan or rooting interest.
I have a similar system with modern books, sorting by genre, and CD’s & DVD sorted by genre. The last book lot I sold (a few months back) was contemporary poetry, 20 books for $45 plus shipping. The last CD/DVD lot was metal and hardcore (a few months before that), 20 CD’s for $50 plus shipping. I should do these lots more but I live near one of the largest record stores in the US (Princeton Record Exchange) and it’s easier to just bring them a few boxes of stuff and get $50 or whatever in trade-in.
I don’t know if this is a common development for scavengers, but there was a good year of so where I accumulated a lot of inventory that I had bought for $2 or less hoping I could resell for $10 or $20 or more. But after I did the research, it turned out my ‘gut feeling’ was wrong. Either there was no demand or the item would only sell for $5 or something. I grew my inventory by listing and selling those $10 items. I learned so much in time. But I realized in the last few years that if you want to rely on this for consistent income, your average sales price has to go up.
The lot auctions have been a way for me to get rid of some of that excess. Decreasing the frequency of those ‘poor purchases’ is obviously much more important. And I think that mostly takes experience, you know? Scavenging and doing the research and looking things up.
My niches are obviously all huge categories. There are so many worthless books and CD’s and I’m sure most scavengers probably think that sports cards stopped being worth anything in the 90’s. It’s mostly true. You need to know your stuff. But the obscure and unique is (and probably always will be) worth a lot of money to the right collector and there are a lot of people who may not be fanatical collectors but drop $20 or $40 every so often on a card they want or CD box set. My lot listings are stuff that is not as obscure but watching a good number sell has taught me that for the right price, those kinds of items will find a buyer, too. I imagine some of my items are even going to other resellers but I’m fine with that.
I am curious to see how all this holds up across the next few months in an economic downturn and I am really interested to see if this method would work for scavengers in other niches.
04/01/2020 at 10:41 pm #75748JayKeymaster
- Location: Virginia
That’s awesome that you keep evolving and finding out what sells. We had then same process. We’re all learning from experience. Not everyone does.
Selling baseball cards or CD’s will be different than selling clothes or pottery. It makes sense to buy the 1986 Astros line up. Makes sense to lot of 10 CDs for $60, than try to sell each one for $3. Easy to ship.
Doesn’t always make sense to lot up other kinds of items. Will someone buy five pairs of shoes? Or eight vases. Who needs eight vases? How do you ship them?
Sellers who specialize in postcards, trading cards, ephemera, etc make a living by having thousands and thousands of listings. It’s about volume.
We interviewed another seller who bought baseball cards in the tens of thousands to resell.
04/03/2020 at 11:24 am #75793TopNotchParticipant
- Location: WI
Since attending more and more auctions and seeing how low these items can sell for, we basically no longer purchase retail for anything but food or home repairs. I picked up a 5hp air compressor for $80 that appears to be worth $400-600. Buying when items become available rather then when they are needed. Everything is for sale, but I can enjoy them while they are here and not feel the least bit guilty about the purchase.
I also like to lot books/magazines and baby clothes. I got a bunch of home repair manuals and lotted the plumbing books together. They can ship cheaply through media mail and I sold the lot within a couple hours of listing. Only made about $15, but that sure beats selling individually for $5.
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