12/04/2018 at 10:02 am #52634
I’m going to start putting together my journey in a monthly journal…0
12/04/2018 at 10:18 am #52635
As this is my first entry, would like to recap our current situation.
We are a couple in our 40s, no children, that live in the Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario, Canada. We have been casual sellers on eBay for over 21 years, during the last 5 years we have slowly grown our eBay business and have become comfortable with the numbers we are generating to move on in our careers. We have replaced one income with eBay sales and casual work, and I’m currently waiting to be made redundant at a dead company that is retaining me to sit around in a warehouse all day. I am getting paid very well to do almost nothing – and the bonus at the end is great, along with the government benefits for losing my job. Therefore, the best decision is to wait it out.
We have begun to plan our future extensively – we even have bought a new home in a much cheaper area of the province, and are slowly repairing it on weekends or having relatives do some work. We have even setup some small businesses to use some of our skills to even out our online/eBay sales.
Our transition decisions were based on several factors – our debt will be gone when we sell our current home and move to our new one, we have a decent nest egg in various pensions for our later years, our healthcare is covered, and worst case scenario we’ll just work for someone else casually if need be. However, we are confident with years of sales history and knowledge that we can be successful with some hard work and frugality.
Our lives are in a strange purgatory – one foot still in the clutches of the corporate world just waiting to be released to our new lives. However, it has been great to have the time to really plan our move, and life changes that are yet to come.2+
12/04/2018 at 11:14 am #52641
Great to see you starting a journal, Inglewood! The parallels between your situation and mine/ours is eerie. The only obvious differences being that I’m not waiting for my employer to package me out (I am waiting for a great annual bonus before giving my notice, though), and we haven’t bought our next home yet.
Are you currently shipping via Canada Post primarily? Safe to assume you’ll use them when you make the move? Have you looked into any of the cross border shippers?0
12/04/2018 at 2:19 pm #52657
Yes, our situations are fairly similar – I follow your comments closely and interested in seeing how well things work out in your journey.
I currently ship using only Canada Post – I can see the Buffalo, NY skyline from my house and I have crossed the border to ship items in the past when it was easier (it was only a 20-30 minute roundtrip, but usually tagged in a gas/grocery run in the U.S. when the dollar was better). With the labour issues at Canada Post, we did look into other options, but there is no local re-shipper near where I live (probably because of my proximity to the U.S.). Taking items across the border legally is not easy anymore – you use to just tell U.S. Customs what you had and they didn’t care. Now, you have to get a commercial permit to cross, use the “truck” lanes to make a declaration (they are always hours to wait in) and pay duty on anything you bring in (if applicable). You also have to have invoices and paperwork for everything, and can’t have it pre-packed. Too much hassle for the few dollars I would save on my U.S. shipments.
We also looked into this based on where we are moving, and the closest location would still be about 2 hours drive – so we’ll stick with Canada Post since it is in walking distance form our new place.0
12/04/2018 at 11:52 am #52646
I’m currently waiting to be made redundant at a dead company that is retaining me to sit around in a warehouse all day. I am getting paid very well to do almost nothing – and the bonus at the end is great, along with the government benefits for losing my job. Therefore, the best decision is to wait it out.
This sounds like the opening of a movie about the current reality of Late Stage Capitalism. So many people have their identity tied closely to “what their job is”. The biggest step is doing what you’re doing: create an identity outside your job.0
12/04/2018 at 2:33 pm #52658
Yes – it is an interesting challenge to re-invent your identity, especially when you don’t know when the change will occur. Some days I can’t wait to get my pink slip, other days I think how I’m getting paid very well to sit around for another 8 hours and get to do whatever I want with a parachute at the end. The biggest challenge is accepting the transition, and coming up with a solid plan. I’ve done that, and now I just need to execute it when the time comes.
Our only challenge now is selling our current home and moving – however, that doesn’t even seem bad now that we know where we are going, and have lots of time to move our possessions.
It’s an interesting phase we’re going through – many people I worked with cried when they finally got let go, for me it may be one of the best days of my life. It’s just an odd feeling to be overly prepared and waiting, instead of being thrown into chaos when I’ve lost jobs in the past.0
12/04/2018 at 3:54 pm #52663
Retro Treasures WVParticipant
I was distraught the first time I was let go from a job. I had a young child and another on the way. My severance was crap, but luckily I had worked a TON of overtime the previous year so my unemployment pay was good. We had to use food stamps and WIC. I forgot who I was a person/professional. It took 6 months to get another job, and I was ready to walk away from engineering and become a teacher.
One might say I “Lost” myself during this layoff. I’m lucky my marriage survived.
It was a tremendous sigh of relief when I was let go from the next job. I so badly wanted to leave that job, but the pay was excellent. Safety was being neglected at my site, which was a chemical plant with multiple high hazard processes. I was surrounded by high concentration Formaldehyde and High Pressure CO all day and was on call 24/7. My supervisor literally said “you don’t seem too upset about this”. I had a new job secured within 2 months (would have been much sooner but HR was SLLOOOOWWWW). I took off an extra month before starting and took a nice vacation with family. I also started my ebay business. Also, my severance package was AWESOME! I collected 2 paychecks for the first several months at my new place.
One might say that I “found” myself during that layoff. I had the best summer of my adult life. Lots of quality time with my family.
If I ever get let go from my current job, I will be soooo pumped! This job is it for me. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to working for another company.
My day job does not define me in the least anymore. I don’t hold punches. I tell my boss what I really think. Everyone knows I have a backup plan. I put in my 40 hours and leave and make it clear I have no desire to give away “my” time.
Some days I can’t wait to get my pink slip, other days I think how I’m getting paid very well to sit around for another 8 hours and get to do whatever I want with a parachute at the end. The biggest challenge is accepting the transition, and coming up with a solid plan. I’ve done that, and now I just need to execute it when the time comes.
This. This every single day. I’ve been building this plan every day and having this mental debate every day now for more than 3 years.0
12/04/2018 at 4:04 pm #52664
Yep Retro, it is amazing the feeling you get when you can go your own way. Either having a second income (like eBay) that you can develop, being out of debt, or just having FU money. You become very liberated at that time.
I remember when Veronica and I first got together, both had debt (her from Student Loans and me from Credit Cards from my previous relationship), car loans, and hard to see out from that mountain. I then remember that we took second jobs (one of which was at 1:30 am) so that we could pay this all off. And most joyously when we paid off our last debt besides our house. Very freeing! And when the house is paid off, even more.0
12/04/2018 at 12:05 pm #52648
Very cool Inglewood! I will love seeing your journey and how it progresses…0
01/02/2019 at 3:12 pm #54396
Had to change my avatar as this month has been good to us.
Our month was split in two distinct parts – on Friday, December 14th I received a call (from someone I never met who now is my “boss”) letting me know that I didn’t have to show up to work for 3 weeks…not the call I wanted, but will take 3 weeks of pay to stay home…
Instead of wasting the opportunity of free time with pay, we pounced on it. Our current home is purged. We are down to the basics we need, and moved everything else up to our new place. It also gave us a good pile of things to list. It was a huge amount of work, but now we have one less thing to think about in our future. Our new place is completely gutted of everything we didn’t want. It is cleaned out, cleaned up, and ready to live in.
We were able to do my annual purge – anything over 16 months without sales on eBay was removed, relisted, or put into larger lots. At the same time, I was able to re-organize my eBay storage to ramp-up for 2019. Typically, I have about 200-300 items up, our goal is to ramp up to 500+ in the next few months.
Our upcoming challenges are going to be interesting:
Building Inventory – obviously, to increase our profit we need to invest in more items/capital. For us, the challenge isn’t finding inventory, it is how much we can afford, and how much time we have at the moment to list.
Time – I will have to return to sitting in a dark, empty warehouse from 9-5 every weekday next week. We’ll continue to scavenge Saturday, list Sunday, but may need to mix things up during the week or the odd Saturday to get items listed, or change how we scavenge (do we spend every second Saturday scavenging 9-9, then list during our free time at our leisure?). Do I exploit my unique work situation (I’m alone, with internet access)…
“Project Trigger” – this is our code for when I finally get released from my job – it is the day we have to pull the trigger on getting rid of our current home, moving the rest of our stuff, and planning our financial future with the proceeds from our house sale. This could happen any day – or drag on for months, maybe a year? I’m not sure how long I’m going to get paid to sit around in a huge warehouse alone, but the new corporate owners don’t seem to care to communicate with me much, and I’m pretty much left alone.
Other ideas for income – we have skills, hobbies that we can make money off of, and other interests or ideas outside of eBay – however, we are moving to a completely different community. What will work, and what won’t work? We’ll have to explore this as other options for income are something we’re both open to exploring and exploiting if they interest us.
January is going to be focused on building up our eBay business – scavenging and listing will be the focus for the next couple months. The ultimate goal (if possible) would be to have a good portion of our income post-job coming in while still employed, and therefore the transition will be very easy. Will update everyone in a month how far we got with building up our listings/sales.2+
01/02/2019 at 3:29 pm #54399
Sounds great Inglewood!
For me, if you can quickly jot down any info you need for a listing, take that paper (or photo of info) to your current job along with the photos, I would spend that downtime at work by getting listings done. Then when you are at home, you build up the photos and listing sheets there and actually do the listings at work.1+
01/03/2019 at 10:12 am #54440
@t-satt – that was my thinking as well. Do all the photos and any information (dimensions/defects) at home, do the rest of the photo editing, and listing at work going forward during the 7+ hours of downtime I have almost everyday…I might as well take advantage of the situation while I’m able to.0
01/03/2019 at 12:54 pm #54452
Like getting paid twice for the same hours…0
01/31/2019 at 1:55 pm #56241
Still a few hours to go in January, but the focus this month has been on eBay after the holidays from work ended for me on January 7th. We have spent the last 3 Saturdays sourcing, and every Sunday listing. The results are interesting in that we didn’t make that much money this month, but we have grown considerably. It’s also been a very good learning experience.
We started January 1st with 125 items in our store. We ended January with 316 items in our store, with 42 sales through the month. Therefore, we have listed a whopping 233 items over the 3 weeks! We have about 50 items still to list as well. We are VERY happy with this progress. Our target was to hit 500 for the spring (April) but think we can hit that sooner.
So what do the numbers look like with this type of growth? Well, not great for the bottom line, but for the future we’re expecting a good payback. We spent $1000.65 on new items, fees, and supplies, and made only a $269.77 profit. Out of the $1000.65 we spent on the business, just over $200 was on eBay fees, gas, boxes, storage bins, and a female mannequin – the rest (just under $800) went to the 233 listed items and about 50 currently unlisted items.
This month we also started to take up our prices on some of our bread and butter items – we have a few items we buy for $1 or $2 that consistently sell (and run out of stock) at $15 – we decided to raise these up to $20 going forward. Still making sales, but instead of selling immediately, we’re keeping up with supply.
Our challenges next month are not much different – our goal is to continue to expand with whatever time we can afford. We are going to go scavenging 3 out of the 4 weekends, and the long weekend we have coming up on the 18th will be to get re-organized and list our unlisted items we have collected by that time. One challenge that we are falling behind on is storage – I like a very specific grocery store bin that they stopped making in the early 2000’s – hope to find more. Also, I can see at 500+ listings we will need another shelving unit.
I’m still employed – not sure why myself, but I am still sitting in an almost empty warehouse 9-5 M-F, listening to the winter wind howl against the doors in the darkness of the warehouse. All the lighting where I work is on motion sensors, and most of the day it’s dark except the glow from my monitor and clock radio. I probably had 30 minutes of human interaction in person this month, and maybe another hour on the phone…the rest of the day has been creating draft listings, doing research, and waiting. The good part is that building my store and not depending on the income is actually a really good thing – by the time I’m redundant, I may have enough income coming in to cover my future bills, which we have estimated at $800-$850 per month. I think we are well on the way.0
02/01/2019 at 1:25 am #56263
Thanks for the update, Inglewood. Nicely done expanding the size of your store! Even if the payback isn’t immediate, long-term it gives you some insulation for when you’re not able to list as much, and somehow seems to set a consistent baseline income over a long enough horizon. Then it just becomes a matter of staying lean during the good times, and weathering the slow times.
Keep going! Our work lives sound very different, but I’m still able to empathize with your situation! The waiting can be the hardest part of all.0
02/01/2019 at 10:08 am #56275
I think the interesting part of this month is the change of mindset when expanding. We’re not too worried about the net profit, but the future size/potential of the business.
What we are thinking is if you compared it to a traditional business, say a convenience store, when you start up there is a huge amount of costs involved to get the business off the ground – inventory, equipment, and learning how to operate. If someone wanted to start a convenience store today, they would have a huge investment up front to get started – they can’t do it slowly or nobody would come in. However, with an online business, we can build up slowly, re-investment the profits to grow, and the payoff one day will be a fully-stocked turnkey business that has already been paid for. Then we can decide to go into maintenance mode (replace items that we sell), expand at a slower rate (so we have enough income to support us when required), or even slow down if we hit our income goals.
In the next couple months we will easily cross our minimum expectations for income. Then, the challenge will be to build up to where we have a comfortable income level, and then decide if we want to continue to expand. I’m personally all in for expansion when I’m not dependent on the income, but I can see the current pace burning us out when the weather turns nicer.
Diversification of income sources is also something we are looking into. One of my other hobbies that I make some income off of is installing OTA TV antennas and components – unfortunately, it is a business that will not work in our new location as I don’t think many people would pay hundreds of dollars for a setup to only get 1 channel (CTV2 at that)…so that side gig will disappear. We have a few ideas that we are looking into but I think we need to understand our new “local market” better before we jump into anything.
I’m excited for this month – I see similar results and expansion that we had in January continuing and the numbers have been very positive (a little better than expected). I can say the results, and hard work have made us very happy and we have a good outlook going forward.0
02/01/2019 at 10:16 am #56276
It’s good you guys are taking it slow and steady.
But I do wonder about all the money it’s taking to grow your inventory. We find things to sell so cheap that inventory costs are almost minimal. Is your inventory cost so high because you’re buying exclusively at the industrial auctions?0
02/01/2019 at 2:12 pm #56278
Good point Jay – our average item cost was C$2.66 (or US$2.03) in January. It may be something to watch (I do not have it on a spreadsheet, but it is an easy thing to add).
Our sourcing at the moment is about 85% thrift, 15% RA. We’re scoping out some local auctions, but based on there websites, it looks overpriced (unfortunately, the auction houses are in a tourist area and may not be the best for sourcing).
We tend to look at items in different ways when we buy – we typically want to buy at 20% the sale price or less, but occasionally if there is something I can flip quick (and I mean in days), I will spend higher (up to 50%). January’s numbers were all below the 20% number.
Thanks for pointing it out – it’s another interesting number for us to track with our progress.0
02/05/2019 at 4:08 pm #56477
Having an eye on your capital needs for sourcing is important. It is an investment for sure, but you have to know how much it will cost you and how long it will take to recoup the cost and cash in the profit.
If everything is cheap (like J&R get), then it is less of an issue up front, but if it is also long tail (like J&R), it takes longer to turn that cash back into more cash, and you have to store the items, and maybe invest as much money (2000 $1 items vs 500 $4 items).
All in how your business is run…0
02/07/2019 at 9:56 am #56546
The capital needs of our business has been the most interesting part. I wouldn’t say we underestimated it, but it seems to be an interesting challenge as we are expanding beyond where we have been in the past.
It is not only inventory cost, but also investing in “equipment” such as shelving, bins, etc. to store the extra inventory; and if you count “time” as capital, we’ve been putting in a lot more time to reach our goals. Space (storage) has been the challenge as we grow, and thinking about how to organize our inventory.
The other capital I would say that we are spending is to learn – we slowly are buying little tools to make things more efficient, trying different things (at the expense of time and a bit of money) to try and become more efficient, and taking a few risks on different categories and larger items we would have left behind in the past.
The business is completely self funding so far – this month is starting off very well, and we hope to turn a decent profit this month even with all the capital investments we’ve had to make to expand.0
02/07/2019 at 10:50 am #56552
Inglewood: Amen brother. How to manage growth is the key. Many successful businesses can’t handle how to grow.
This topic can be talked about at long length. I would love to hear Jay, Almasty, and others discuss on how they managed the cash during the growing times.
Jay: Maybe we need a Reseller Happy Hour sometime. We do a group discussion on how we all did that. That could be fun!0
02/07/2019 at 11:07 am #56554
I like the idea of a Reseller Hay Hour. How would that work?
I honestly don’t remember any painful start up costs in the early days:
–we stored our items where we could. Our personal space was limited but it was free.
–we bought clothes at bag sales and goods at yard sales. Lower dollar items with some homeruns. But spending $100 in a week would be a huge amount.
–Tools for running the business? Beyond a scale, printer, camera…what else is there that’s expensive? We already had a laptop. Tools we scavenge for cheap. Never pay retail.
As we’ve evolved, we’ve spent bigger money on a large storage building, but that was 10 years later when we were pumping out cash.0
02/07/2019 at 11:14 am #56555
Jay: I have seen some Google Hangouts where muliple people get on at once. Maybe that would work. I haven’t done it, but I will on Thursday (Veronica and I will be on with Jason T Smith on Thursday).
I think that is really part of it. You guys figured out how to grow your inventory but still be able to have money from the business to pay for your personal lives. You had some advantages (warehouse was essentially free), and you went after the low dollar high return items, but those items are generally long tail, so when you first started, how did you get enough cash every month to pay your bills? I know you have mentioned you did auctions that were low dollar, but maybe they were a high turn rate so that helped you build cash quicker.
While we are on the higher rate but lower margin side, this is something we are just now really getting out of, but we still have to pay attention to, since we have to pay for outside warehouse, our COGS are more expensive, and our personal cash needs are higher (kids and a mortgage).
I think this is where folks like Inglewood and Winchester are at this point. Needing to spend for more inventory, more space, yet still pay for the personal stuff.0
02/07/2019 at 1:02 pm #56571
–We absolutely had good circumstances to start off on eBay. No kids, moved to a cheap rural area, payed house in cash. Our monthly needs were $2k. No wrong or right ways to live. Just different choices.
–Like many people here, we still worked while we were selling on eBay. It took us two years to make $2k/month consistently, but our selling costs were always low because we liked low stress. I know you’re like a machine and willing to pay $5? for shirts that sell for $25? quickly. You’ve really ramped up your income much quicker than we did. I have a feeling instead of being stressed by the higher costs of your store, you love the challenge 🙂 We were/are more focused on building a lifestyle than a growing income. Again, no wrong or right way, just choices.
–I’d love to hear from other scavengers. Are you paying $1000+ on inventory each month (which seems high to me). Or do you pay under $300 because you scavenge in a cheap way?
- This reply was modified 3 months ago by Jay.
02/07/2019 at 1:33 pm #56574
Jay: Amen on the choices. Hike Your Own Hike. But also look at others, see what works, and add to your process. Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.
I wish shirts still went for $25. Those were the days. Now, other things are getting the love while shirts just provide the capital to fund more purchases.
I would love to hear from others as well. If we could get a third party, it would be great to do an Online Happy Hour with you and Ryanne on one screen, Veronica and I on another, and a third party to provide even more flavor. Pour your favorite cocktail and talk shop for an hour!
It would be like going to a reseller bar on Friday nights…only like true scavengers…we don’t pay bar prices for our drinks!0
02/07/2019 at 1:34 pm #56575
PS – on the inventory question…yeah, we definitely crack $1000 per month…
Like averaging over $2500 per month for inventory…0
02/07/2019 at 2:57 pm #56584
Yeah, spending $2500/month on inventory would make us nervous, but you absolutely have income numbers to show you handle that expense.
Do you think $2500/month will be your inventory expense forever?0
02/07/2019 at 3:22 pm #56587
Yep, most likely. I could definitely see us at some point being at $5k per month in Inventory Purchases. At a 4X, that would be $20k in revenue.
That is the goal…0
02/07/2019 at 3:26 pm #56588
Is this buying wholesale or in bulk? More the Amazon model of higher inventory expenses but huge sales velocity?0
02/07/2019 at 3:32 pm #56590
I would like to get to that point soon, buying wholesale or in bulk. That is realistically the only way I see to get to the top line numbers ($20k/month in sales) without having to sit on a lot of long tail items. But that may be a way to go, as you have shown that long tail is a good way to go (for items that are 8X-10X).
The $20k/mo in Sales (at a minimum of 25% Net Profit, but preferring more of a 30%-33% Net) is the goal for now. How to execute that is the hard part. More hours sourcing the way we are is a possibility in the short term, but that way leads to burnout. So if we can do it without the long hours, that is where bulk or wholesaling comes in.
Once we get there, the net pays the normal bills much easier and allows more breathing room…0
02/07/2019 at 3:43 pm #56595
If anyone can do it, you can. If those random Amazon sellers are true with their numbers, it’s possible to go big and sell thousands of items a month.
But it looks like you raise the stakes when you source when buying $10k worth of one large shipment. If that purchase goes bad, thats a lot of loss to eat. Rewards are huge!0
02/07/2019 at 3:55 pm #56600
Absolutely the stakes are bigger. But the other downside I see, is that the margins are thinner as well. The stuff is out there, but takes time to find.
We will get there. Just takes time to look, process, and execute.0
02/07/2019 at 1:37 pm #56577
It would be an interesting conversation – scaling is a challenge especially if you depend on the income. As I am currently not dependent on eBay income, it will be interesting to see what happens when the switch is flicked and I am. Luckily, I’ll have a at least a year of slowly declining income after losing my job to master things – I know others have an instant change.
I’m personally OK with paying a high price for inventory if the returns are high. For example, I went shopping at lunch and found a few items that others may consider a high price paid:
-a hockey jersey for $17 – I’ve sold several the same for $90-$100. Should sell in less than 1 month at that price, but I could push for $120 or more, and the same has sold for $160 recently. The more I ask, the longer my $17 investment sits, but at the low end of $90, minus say $15 for fees, I’m left with $75 or a $58 profit in a few weeks. $17 is also a lot of money – once my situation changes, I could easily live off that for a day. Would other scavengers make this “investment” or see it has a high price to pay? I’m curious.
-on the other end, I bought a remote control for 50 cents. I sell several of this same remote a month for $20. This is a “no brainer” to me – copy a completed listing, a couple photos, and done.
With the hockey jersey, I invested 34x as much as the remote, to make about a 3x return. The return is still good on the hockey jersey, but obviously the remote would be a better investment if I could get more of them – and if I had the choice between 34 remotes, or the jersey, I would choose the 34 remotes for the same investment. The jersey will also take more time to photograph, and listing may be a little longer.
I think it is an interesting conversation – tie up funds with a sure bet, or wait for a sure bet that will pay off more…or take both bets like I did.0
02/07/2019 at 1:41 pm #56579
Inglewood: Excellent example.
for me…I do them both. Yeah, you may have to sit for a low profit, but it is only 50 cents (almost free) and the listing takes no time at all.
And a 3X on the jersey? At that profit $40+, all day. Less return and more capital needed, hence what started this conversation), but the profit per time spent is what you are looking for.0
02/07/2019 at 2:55 pm #56583
The jersey purchase is a good one if you know it’ll sell for $90 quickly. We’d certainly take that deal. But that’s really a one-off purchase, no?
What is your normal scavenging like? Are you usually spending $10+ for items? Or are you more buying the 50-cent remotes?0
02/08/2019 at 9:52 am #56618
I would say the $20ish purchases that turn into $100 quickly (less than a month) are once or twice a week. Most of my purchases are under $5, and the sweet spot would be around $2 (just based on my averages). My wife is the opposite – she is into designer fashion brands – rarely finds anything under $10, but the reward is high on every sale she makes. Majority of my sales are the $2 or less items going for $20 to $30 on a consistent basis (1-3 daily at my current inventory)
Right now, I’m limited on my scavenging time, therefore, I take what I could find. It would be interesting if my purchasing shifts as I get deeper into the full-time transition. It will be interesting to compare my numbers 1 or 2 years down the road.0
02/09/2019 at 10:01 am #56660
It will be interesting to compare my numbers 1 or 2 years down the road.
Amen. That is one of the biggest reasons to track your numbers each week/month. Gives you context, and you can see trends. Knowing your Average Selling Price, your Average Cost, your Sell Thru Rate, and seeing how they change over time is huge
First, you can see if the market is moving. Seeing the trends has been big for us to make good purchase decisions.
Plus, when you are climbing the mountain, it is good to look and see where you have been. Perspective…0
02/07/2019 at 8:00 pm #56609
I’m somewhere in the middle for eBay scavenging costs. I’ll pay $20 for something that’ll turn $100 within a few months, but generally pay a few dollars at most for items. I’d say on the high end, I’m spending ~$700-1000/mo on inventory.
I’m also feeling a slight capital pinch recently, but in my case, it’s almost entirely amazon expenditures.
Reseller happy hour sounds interesting/entertaining.0
03/01/2019 at 9:33 am #57908
I feel this was really a continuation of January focused on growth (inventory) and a lot of work, with very little profit. We spent every Saturday sourcing, and every Sunday listing, and worked our jobs during the week with evenings/mornings spent shipping as required. We were going to take one Saturday off, but ended up pushing to meet our 500 listings goal. Not there yet, but will be in a week or so. Our new problem is a growing “death pile” from too much sourcing and not enough listing. Oh well, we’ll work through it in March and spend less time sourcing until we are caught up.
The February numbers…
Listings – 430 (316 end of January)
Sales – 47
Sales Revenue (minus shipping/PayPal fees) – $1452.79
Total Listings added – 161
Inventory To List – approximately 175 (50 January)
Profit – $89.33
New items – $844.26 (approximately 336 items – average $2.51 an item)
eBay Fees – $225.01 (paid in Feb, runs 15th to 15th on my account)
Supplies/Travel – $236.50 (gas, 2 shelving units, 8 bins, 2 rolls of bubble wrap, 200 polymailers)
Other – Undercharged for shipping $57.69…we usually end up ahead, but had a few items with “free shipping” this month.
Still not a “livable” profit, but based on the number of items we’ve got this month, I’m OK as we are in fast expansion mode. The expenses (non-inventory) were really high this month, but they are long term investments in equipment and supplies for the most part.
Lessons learned this month…
We spent a day (a VERY LONG day) sourcing in the area we are moving to – 3 hours to drive there, almost 12 hours straight of sourcing (a full car load!), and 3 hours drive back home…focused just on thrift stores. A couple of stores were just beautiful (Thrift on Kent in Kitchener was beyond beautiful) – looked like high-end boutique stores but were charities and had amazing pricing. Feel very good about future sourcing once we move. The trip (time and almost $50 in gas plus a few coffee/snack stops) isn’t worth doing often, but gave us an idea that things are just as good where we are heading to. There is enough items locally where we are now that we won’t do this again unless we want to, but gives us confidence soon as we move that we have a good source of items.
Next steps for us in March…
Need to cut back on sourcing in March – we have a pile of items that need to be listed, and we are approaching our 500 listings goal quickly. We have the items to hit that goal quickly. We won’t go on a buying trip until we get caught up with our pile (it is well over 150 items…and may be 200). This will boost our profit for March if we don’t spend much. We’re well stocked for supplies and storage bins/shelves so the only expenses will be more inventory.
We will be going into what I call “Maintenance Mode” either this month or next. We are going to exceed our 500 listings goal – at this point, we are just going to maintain our store between 500-600 items, and only replace what we sold for a while. We worked hard to get here, need a breather for the next push (and store level…). The last couple months show us what growth mode is like (and the costs) – we need to see how a stabilized store works out at this level.
Storage was becoming tight again – but we should have plenty of room for the 500-600 item store size we want to maintain for now. Just need to re-organize a bit before aiming for 1000.
Where our heads are at….
Spending a lot of time on sourcing (a day a week) has shown us there is plenty of items out there. We are getting to the point where we “like” certain items, and “dislike” others. We’re starting to go for the larger profit items, cutting back on smaller items, taking less risks, and becoming a little more niche in the items/categories we sell in. In the end, it will be “easier” on us, and make us more money. There is an infinite supply of saleable goods out there – we’ll leave the items we don’t care about for the next person to buy…
The other challenge is we are not procrastinators – we want to grow, and feel good about putting in a lot of work. I think we will be challenged to hold back on growth if we try to maintain a 500-600 item store. We’ll see what happens, but think we may take the next step sooner then we think because of our motivation and current financial situation being secure while we are employed to take the risk on quick growth – however, we do need some time off or we’ll burn out (we think we will…but we’re still excited with how things are going). Between jobs and eBay, we’re working about 60-70 hours a week. We also need to think out this next expansion – we need to pre-plan the storage space (pre-plan how we organize really – we keep “splitting” bins), and come up with a plan for shipping multiple items on work mornings/evenings. A lot to think about.
The other odd thing that is happening to us both is our health – my blood pressure is way down (to the point where I may get off medication!), we’re both losing weight (in a good way), and just haven’t had the usual winter “blahs” we have every winter – we are just generally happier. I think a lot of it is the worry of the unknown is disappearing – we have a scaling business that is matching our expectations and projections. Just an added unexpected benefit of our effort.1+
03/01/2019 at 9:46 am #57910
–Scavenging in the place you may move to is really smart. Sounds like you did will?
–Also smart to learn the items you enjoy selling. Surrounding yourself with items you hate, even if they make you money, is draining. As you said, there’s plenty of cool stuff to buy and also make money. Have the best of both worlds.
–I just had my yearly physical. He said I was in great shape at 45. Should exercise more. But generally I think being able to get all the sleep I need, cook all my meals making them healthier, and the general lack of stress is the best healthcare I could ask for.1+
03/01/2019 at 11:16 am #57920
We did well in the area we are moving to for scavenging. It was limited to thrift stores (so I’m not sure how estate auctions, garage sales, and the area auction houses are like) but the good thing was that most of the stores were independent charity operations, and there isn’t as many Goodwills/Value Villages/Savers in the area compared to where we live now. I just find the charity operations more reasonably priced, and they are willing to tell you about items in the back if you mention what your looking for. Going there, even though it was $50 in gas and probably cost us $25 in fast food/snacks to keep our energy up, was another “unknown” that we don’t have to worry about going forward.
The health benefits are great – it’s amazing how stress affects so many health issues and “the cure” most doctors have is to put you on pills. We’re amazed how great we feel, the “good” sleep we are getting, and a lot of anxiety, anger, and turning to bad foods/beer/wine when we are down is completely gone. I need to exercise more as well – and that should be one of my goals this month to get a little more active with my time. I have a beautiful bike trail that goes on forever by my house I’ve rarely used, I have a kayak and Lake Erie 200 yards from my house, and the Post Office is a nice hour walk (there and back home) through a wooded park – I need to take advantage of these!0
03/01/2019 at 1:27 pm #57938
Awesome updates, Inglewood. Happy to hear your health is improving (my stress headaches have disappeared since giving my notice at work)! That’s more important than anything else!
Is it the Kitchener area you’re intending to move to? Where are you currently? I’ll be driving across the country in May or June, but probably won’t dip further south than North Bay/Ottawa.
As for listings and store size, I hear you. I pushed hard to get to 500, and found I had to revamp my inventory system around 400. Once I hit 500-600, I was hooked. Sales were happening pretty much daily, and the extra income pushed me into “GO” mode. If memory serves correctly it made sense around 700-750ish listings for me to upgrade my store.
Like you said, the main thing is finding the balance between listing, income, and burnout. Selling things that interest you is a huge help. As J&R always say, don’t build a sweat shop for yourself. Take your time if you need to. The reward will be well worth the wait.0
03/01/2019 at 2:41 pm #57945
The Kitchener/Waterloo area is the closest major city to where we are moving (about an hour drive) – we are moving to the south end of Bruce County – about 1/2 km from an amazing beach on Lake Huron. We currently are in south end of the Niagara Region outside of Fort Erie, just across the border from Buffalo, NY.
If you end up driving through Quebec, I find it a very interesting area to find unique items – must be the cultural/language differences, but they have some unique items. Years ago I use to make a killing on French titled video games, French sports memorabilia (especially baseball) or French Star Wars stuff (which I know nothing about) that I would pick up when I had to go on business trips to the outskirts of Montreal. I think I would need a van if I went back!
The sales have been great the last month – especially last week I had 5 sales Monday, 4 on Tuesday, and a couple both Wednesday and Thursday. Started March already with 3 sales today. It’s very addictive and my wife and I send texts back and forth with each “Cha-Ching” we get on the app. It’s a much different experience then hovering in the 100’s for inventory. The extra income is a huge motivator – and wouldn’t be surprised if we upgrade our store in April/May – we’re thinking the same as you that around the 700’s is time to flip to the next level. That will give us 2000 listings between Canada and the U.S. and that will keep us busy.
Right now the balance is good – we’re too excited to sit around as the results keep coming for our efforts. I just keep thinking it will become tedious chore – but don’t know why – maybe because my corporate jobs always end up that way? But just finding plentiful items I personally am excited about, and my wife has her own interests, has made us move on from the “it will make money, but is annoying” items we use to buy. Guess it is all a product of getting out more often, seeing more places, and just the volume of items we see in a month compared to going out occasionally looking for items as we did in the past.
The ultimate goal we’re looking forward to sitting on the beach by our current or new house, and hearing cha-chings on the phone while relaxing in the sun this summer. That will be the greatest feeling for us! I’m still waiting for “the package” from my job to move on though…it’s tough, but it’s too huge to give up. It will happen any day…just got to be patient…0
03/01/2019 at 3:42 pm #57951
I just keep thinking it will become tedious chore – but don’t know why – maybe because my corporate jobs always end up that way?
Scavenging and Selling can easily become a tedious chore. This is why you see people start selling, get excited to make some money, and then no one hears from them again. The excitement can fade quickly without intentionally keeping it interesting.
We do all the things you hinted at:
–buy/sell different things that interest us
–scavenge in different areas so were exploring. scavenging is best when its an adventure.
–put the hours into our business, but enjoy the freedom of a flexible schedule
You’re not at this level yet…but when you’ve created a cash generating machine, what do you do with that money? Pay off your house? Build up index funds? Invest in real estate? Start a new business? It’s very motivating to us that we’re investing in tangible assets instead of just blowing it. We’re building and not just consuming.0
03/01/2019 at 4:13 pm #57954
Good points and food for thought – even though I’ve been on eBay over 20 years, we’re at new levels that excite us, and our financial thoughts are “what are we going to do for income” stage – just planning on how to pay the bills in the future.
Financially, we need to think about extra money – we’re fairly secure in that we will have no mortgage, have no kids, have our own retirement savings, and have earned some OK pension money that will come to us, on top of the regular government pensions and old age security we will qualify for – so we will be comfortable when we get older. Our ground floor for income to pay the bills is about $800 at the moment – which will be easy to make between two adults – and we’re very frugal. So yes, we probably need to think about what we want to do with our money that interests us, and generates more money or assets. I think once we are “full-time” into eBay, and moved, the ideas will flow in. We have several ideas for rental businesses (as the area we are moving to is very seasonal) for water sports equipment (kayaks, canoes), bikes, and even specialized barbecues/smokers that interest me. The cool part about those ideas is that I find the stuff while scavenging. The idea is that if someone like you has a rental property, but wants to offer add-ons like bikes, barbecues, boats, etc. you could come to me to deliver them to your property for your guests, or the guests would contact me directly with there rental dates and I would drop off the equipment and pick it up at the property they are at. We have to explore things more though – lots to continue to think about and get excited about.0
03/01/2019 at 5:59 pm #57960
Awesome. I’m really enjoying this journal.0
03/11/2019 at 10:39 am #58439
1/3 of the way through March…and hit our fist milestone of the year – finally hit 500 items last night!
Doing the math, we’re still having the debate of moving up our subscription at about 750 listings, or go into maintenance mode at that level…we’ll make our decision when we get there.
We’re also starting to see the profits coming in (already over $500!) with us slowing down on scavenging and focusing on listing what we have – we’ve really knocked down our piles and still have a good weekend of items to go. It’s been a very good start so far to this month – the hard work and investment in January and February is starting to pay off…1+
03/20/2019 at 10:08 pm #58977
Awesome. Congrats on 500, Inglewood. From 500-700 was where I first started seeing consistent income, and regular sales.
I suspect as you push on, you’ll get hooked on the higher and more consistent income and will end up eventually upgrading, but it all depends on what you want, what you need, how much space you have, and how much time/energy you want to invest. It’s nice to have the power to make the decision for yourselves!0
04/02/2019 at 10:38 am #59601
The March numbers…
Listings – 611 (430 end of February)
Sales – 67
Sales Revenue (minus shipping/PayPal fees) – $2306.08
Total Listings added – 248
Inventory To List – approximately 225 (175 February)
Profit – $1018.44 + $59.39 Extra Shipping Charged
New items – $1020.09 (approximately 300 items – average $3.40 an item – shifting towards $50+ sale price items)
eBay Fees – $279.74 (paid in March, runs 15th to 15th on my account)
Supplies/Travel – $47.20 (gas)
Lessons learned this month…
We didn’t think we would spend much time this month scavenging, but we ended up scavenging 4 of the 5 weekends this month. We had to travel a lot for different family events, and of course we had to stop in local thrift stores by those events while we were in those towns/cities. Net result is we have pushed well past our 500 listing goal…the thing we really like is that we have built our store just on pure profits – none of “our money” went into building it. We spent a few months of re-investing our sales dividends, and built something that is going to pay off for awhile.
We have learned that in a 3 month period (well, closer to 10 weeks), with just working on sourcing/listing on weekends, it’s very easy to hit the 500 item store count. After 500 items, our “free listings” for our store (we get 250 U.S. listings, 250 Canadian for those wondering where the 500 listing store comes from…) are used up, and we are paying for additional listings. At this point we calculate once we hit 750 listings we would need to upgrade our store, which would give us 1000 listings (500 U.S./500 Canada). That will take a huge push, but isn’t impossible. We haven’t set any goals to get to 750 or upgrade our store yet, but have enough inventory to get there.
Next Steps for April…
Our excitement to build our business is still with us, however, we are starting to see we are neglecting other things in life that need to be done. Also, we continue to have a “death pile” that needs to be eliminated. I am not a procrastinator, so a death pile frustrates me. We have to focus this month on cleaning up our death pile, cleaning up our neglect, and slow down on the scavenging until we get re-organized. I believe we are getting very good at sourcing, therefore, we need to spend our time differently. We have been sourcing all day Saturdays (as time permits when we have other events), and listing all day Sundays. A full day of scavenging though is easily over a day of listing – probably closer to two days of listing – therefore we need to start scheduling our free time around that. Also, on Sundays we find we get into listing, and then around 7pm realize we have other tasks to do before the work week…we really need to plan our time better.
During March, with all the scavenging we have been doing the last few months, we’re relying less on looking up items on our phone – in fact the last few weeks I haven’t had to reference my phone a couple times scavenging. We’re also getting focused on a few categories that we are getting really good at. We’re getting picky, leaving larger items behind, and focusing on what we know will drive profit for our investment.
We made over $1000 profit in March…That is well above our “Survival” number of just over $800 but not at a comfortable living number of $1200. $1200+ profit would be my goal for April. Should be easy to get if we don’t spend any money this month and focus on listing our death piles.
Where our head are at…
We are enjoying the profit we are starting to see. We’ve never really had a store larger than 200 items for years, and to see what expansion does (several daily sales, larger weekly PayPal withdrawals) keeps us extremely motivated. For April we think that we will slow down quite a bit on scavenging, and get caught up on listings and other things around the house, but we get too excited with building our store…we’ll see what really happens as the month rolls on.
Pushing towards 1000 listings is something we’ll need to really plan for. We probably have the storage space for 1000 items in our current setup (a lot of large items have sold that we are not replacing that really helps free space) but if we go to say 1500, or 2000, it’s going to eat up our space. Plus, we have to move everything at some point. It is well organized in bins, so it shouldn’t be too bad, just will take up space in a truck. We currently sort things into bins by category/item type, then split them into specifics as required on the same shelf and each bin is labeled with what type of item is in it. Not sure how much more splitting we can do, or if we should just start numbering the bins and keep track of inventory that way. Just something to think about as we expand. The cool thing is that I know my new space at our new house is 7x larger than the current room we use at our current house, so I’m confident we can store up to 5000 items there – that’s years down the road though to get to that inventory level.0
04/02/2019 at 11:16 am #59604
Nice progress Inglewood!
I definitely hear you on how you find yourself neglecting other thing to build your business. I have along list of things that need to be done/handled before our upcoming move, and I find myself putting them on the back burner so that I can build my income streams.
It’s a real struggle sometimes.0
04/02/2019 at 2:37 pm #59617
Very cool Inglewood! Excellent post and summary!0
04/12/2019 at 10:19 am #60080
Just some “good news” from my perspective so far at the mid-way point of April…
I have a date when I know I will be finally unemployed! Well, it came to me in a round-about way. I was reading the local Civic News (this is how legal information is communicated by municipalities in Canada) and the empty building I’ve been sitting in has planning permission to turn into a residential subdivision – road and sewer works will start in May 2020…so I’ll be out of here before then. I asked the owners of the company I work for about it, and yesterday they got back to me and they didn’t deny anything, but still haven’t determined an end date for me (hopefully before the wrecking ball arrives). I can handle another year sitting in a dark warehouse to get my golden parachute at the end…but now it’s exciting. I feel bad for the building though…it was a productive facility for years…
Yesterday also I hit my “luxury lifestyle” profit for the month of $1200! Woohoo! Still 19 days to go! I would have been happy with my survival number of $800 by the end of the month, but very excited about this month so far!2+
04/12/2019 at 10:40 am #60082
Knowing is better than not knowing for sure. Glad you’re going in with eyes wide open.0
05/01/2019 at 10:57 am #61029
The April numbers…
Listings –540* (611 end of March)
Sales – 73
Total Listings added – “minus 2”*
Inventory To List – to be determine – collecting boxes of stuff from downsizing…
TOTAL Profit – $1735.90 – we also sold about $2500 of “junk” from our house this month locally.*
*This month we removed about 100 items, and listed about 100 items this month. We eliminated all our larger items, and some annoying items to ship this month. We sold them locally either through yard sales or on Kijiji.
Lessons learned this month…
We spent just under $250 on new items this month – most still need to be listed – however, the total eBay profit for the month was great! Over double our survival number, and well above our “luxury” number. We also dumped all our large items either locally on Kijiji, and are having a yard sale next month where we will try to sell the rest. Since we are moving twice in the next year (more below), we didn’t want to lug around large items that may or may not sell.
Next Steps for May…
The big news for us this month is my job will be ending in less than a year – just need to stick it out for all the goodies from the company and the government that will come from losing my job. I estimate I have at most 220 days of work left. I found out about it in a strange way – I was reading the local Civic News from City Hall, and it had a proposal for a new subdivision to commence construction next spring right where I work. I had to ask some questions to the new owners of the company I work for, but got an answer that the buildings I’m basically providing security for (not sure why they are paying me as an Engineer for security…) will be demolished in the near future and my job will be eliminated. I can’t wait!
We’re also taking a big step with our housing – we are preparing to get our current home for sale this month. We are moving most of our “stuff” to our new home, and items we need around here into a short-term rental starting in 2 weeks. The short-term rental is $350 a week, but will allow us to sell our house while we are in the area instead of trying to deal with a home sale from 4 hours away. Once our current home sells, we’ll be able to pay off the mortgage on our new home, and have lots of extra money to invest for our future.
The short-term rental however is small – it’s a 2 bedroom apartment essentially – just going to move in our inventory into one bedroom, our cats, and basics in the rest until my job ends. It’s a bit of a gamble to run 2 houses, a rental, and pay for it all, but if our home current home sells quick or not, it will relieve some of the stress of trying to sell a home full of stuff and cats, or trying to sell a home from 4 hours away. Either way, it may be a small financial hit, but will give us peace of mind during this transitional period.
Our current home will be nicely staged for sale at least – no litter boxes, no cat fur to rush to clean up before viewings, and no chasing the cats to get them in carriers before some comes to look at the place. We can “list it and forget it”!
Where our heads are at…
So the end of my “career” changed our direction a bit to prepare for it more than focus on sales. Once we are settled in our short-term rental, and our current house gets sold, life will be easier and less stressful. We’ll get back to listing again, and will only have a small move of our inventory and few personal items from the short-term rental. We also will spend some weekends getting our new life setup in our new home.
I’m also debating that we may move into the new home, and I just drive down on a Monday, stay in cheap hotels for the week (Monday to Thursday night), and go back on Friday night. It’s a 4 hour drive, but I don’t do anything at work at the moment – Mondays will be hard, but it’s only temporary – I may even lose my job today! I have no clue what the plan is for me, just that I need to stick it out.
Some nights I’m so excited I can’t sleep…the journey the next few months will be interesting.1+
05/01/2019 at 11:28 am #61030
We knew someone who lived far from his work. He rented a room in someones house for a very cheap monthly rate. You’d just need to find someone who wanted the extra info to let you sleep in their basement.0
05/01/2019 at 1:33 pm #61044
We were thinking that as well – I know someone who has an AirBnB in Niagara Falls, and they are fully booked on weekends (Friday, Saturday, and some Sunday nights) but weekdays are very hard for them to fill, and in the winter it gets very quiet all around. There may be some cheap sleeps available.
When I was in college I lived with a woman in her 80’s for a year – rent free – all I had to do was cut the grass, shovel snow, and run the odd errand like grocery shopping with her. I’d even do that again if the situation came up for a quiet bedroom a few nights a week. It sucked as a single guy in his 20’s to have no privacy, but now I wouldn’t care.0
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