02/25/2020 at 11:30 am #74370
I’m Zach, aka RobinHoodRaccoon, a new/old seller on eBay. I’ve had an eBay account since 2007 but have only recently thought seriously about selling for personal income.
I’ve been working in eCommerce since 2010. I started working at Shopgoodwill.com, Goodwill’s version of eBay, for the Toledo, OH (now Oregon, OH) branch. I spent five years moving up the ranks from lister to head lister to asst mgr to manager. At one point, we were a million dollar/year store and I had 17 employees working for me (listers, packers, helpers, photographers).
I left Goodwill due to the lack of options for moving up in the company, and worked a bad job for a year until I started selling on eBay for a coin shop. I learned a lot about coins/paper money/tokens and learned even more about eBay. I had two employees who helped, as well as the shop’s accountant and the buyers who sourced for me. I loved the work until I hit a plateau of knowledge. Then everything became BORING to list and I started looking again.
Now, I work for a local collector who owns several bookstores and collectible shops. I run four different eBay stores (one for each major brick-and-mortar store she owns). The items available range from pottery/glass to historical items to animal figurines.
I have been working for this collector for a year and am running into limitations. Basically, my job is to sell off her massive inventory stored in four different warehouses. She won’t let me throw away anything, even broken items. I’ve been able to make some money for these struggling businesses, but it is a challenge and a lot of work. I’ve been able to source some items for her with her money, and the sales have shown incredible profit margins!
My potential income with this collector is limited, and so my girlfriend/partner/baby momma suggested that we use my existing eBay account and start selling my own items. After some evaluation, I decided to start sourcing my own items after work and sell on my own for side income. This was last weekend.
As of now, we are planning to slowly fill my account with items over the next couple months. My partner works as a limo driver, and so most weekdays she does not work and plans to source when she can (we have two kids under 5 years old). I will list before and after work, and when we start bringing in $200+ per week, she will quit her job and start working on our store full time. I plan to work for this collector until her inventory is depleted (probably about 2 years) and then move to my own store full time.
Our overall life plan is to become self-sufficient homesteaders. We “scavenged” our 2100 sq ft home on 1.5 acres, which we bought for $17000 from a land tax sale. It had sat unoccupied for 7 years, and was trashed AND filled with trash. We lived with my partner’s parents for two years while we remodeled the home entirely on our own (except to pay a drywall guy to finish the walls after we hung the panels). We replaced the roof, built a front entrance/porch, gutted the inside and replaced all electrical/plumbing/heating. Don’t worry, my dad was a licensed contractor for 25 years and her dad is a licensed electrician/plumber and her uncle runs an HVAC company (we are lucky in relatives!). We are living there now, and hope to remodel the barn for animal occupation and eventually move toward solar/wind power, feeding ourselves via a garden and animals that we grow ourselves. Final goals – zero debt, zero groceries, zero dependency on exterior power and a life in which we have full control over our destiny!
Thanks for reading, hope to get to know you all soon!
02/25/2020 at 3:41 pm #74380TemudginParticipant
- Location: Jacksonville FL
Cool story and background! You are starting your own store with lots of embedded knowledge and the right attitude. You’re in the right place, here!
02/25/2020 at 4:11 pm #74382
Welcome Zach. I love the full vision of your life that you and your partner are working on. I feel eBay is only successful if its a part of a whole.
When you managed an online store for Goodwill, can you share a more detailed process of the picking and selling?
–Who chose the items that would sell online?
–Were items being grabbed before they hit the floor?
–What quality of stuff was being sold online?
02/25/2020 at 4:56 pm #74385
The items come from donations removed from the stores during sorting. I would go to the area stores and train the sorters to pull certain types of items. The items never saw the sales floor in the stores unless a manager found something nice that the sorters would miss. The sorters would box the items for us, and slowly make up a pallet which went to the warehouse. When needed, I would order pallets from the warehouse, which they would send 20-30 at a time (basically one per day). My helpers (all people with disabilities) would then break down the pallet and I would sort the items I wanted, the rest went back to the warehouse to be distributed to the store it was sent from.
We sold some low quality items, basically our process required only a $5 sale per item. At the time (mid 2010s), selling all items at auction was our process.
02/25/2020 at 4:58 pm #74386
Would you say your pickers were skimming off a significant amount of good quality items for auction? I know many scavengers here have complained that Goodwill’s quality has gone way way down in the past 5 years.
02/25/2020 at 5:16 pm #74388
It’s funny you use the term “skimming” because that’s the internal Goodwill term for stealing. But to answer your question, yes. The sorters are instructed to take the better quality items directly out of the donations and send them to the Shopgoodwill operation. 99% of the items on Shopgoodwill.com never saw the sales floor. The Goodwill in your area may operate on a different process, but I’d say the way we worked was normal for most Shopgoodwill stores.
02/25/2020 at 5:48 pm #74393
Sounds like you were in the back office, but did you here complaints from customers over the lack of quality items as their online store ramped up?
Was there an issue of employees skimming high quality items for themselves?
02/26/2020 at 8:25 am #74409
We heard about some complaints at first, before I ever started working there. But the reality is that the sorters still miss a lot, and the overall quality of the items I received was only slightly better than what was on the store sales floor. The biggest difference would be what scavengers would call the “home run” items; the obviously valuable items (designer purses, high quality boots/shoes, clothes with tags, precious metals, etc) that are easily recognizable as high dollar.
Stealing is always a problem at Goodwill. I had to fire 4 of my own employees for skimming in only two years as manager, and caught one of the store sorters doing the same thing. Management does what they can, but most of the staff is paid close to minimum wage and struggle to make ends meet.
02/26/2020 at 8:27 am #74410
In fact, when I was assistant manager I caught my boss, the manager, shipping unsorted jewelry donations to his own address.
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