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This is great. When I first started a few years ago, I bought a lot of crap as do many newcomers. I’m still working through totes of stuff I bought a few years ago. Many of the things I find in these totes are $20-$30 items and I’ve found some that are $40-$50 items. But there is a lot of crap. We have an auction house in town and I take stuff down there a few times a year. I basically put a handful of items in a lot and sell them off. The lots usually only sell for $5-$10 each but it’s stuff I don’t have to deal with anymore. If it’s not worth putting in a lot, it goes to our local thrift. As Jay stated, having stacks of crap in your workspace sucks the energy out of you. Having a clean, non-cluttered workspace is vital.06/14/2019 at 3:40 pm in reply to: eBay has now automated return shipping labels and taken away choice #63474
I do essentially the same thing. Most of my item costs are so low, I’m better off just letting the buyer keep the item and eat the cost of shipping it to them. I immediately contact them and just tell them to keep it. Luckily, my return rates are super low so it’s not a big issue.06/14/2019 at 3:24 pm in reply to: Well… full-time it is! My eBay Journey goes full throttle. New Journal #63473
A few years ago I produced a documentary on the history of a nearby city for their historical society. I interviewed several local historians. During one of the interviews, a gentleman said the words “short-lived”. But he pronounced it “LYE-vd”. I’ve always pronounced it “livd”. I was a little startled and actually stopped him and asked him. He insisted this was the proper pronunciation. I went along with it but I still think its “livd”.
The point of the story is my foray into full-time eBay selling was short-lived and it really doesn’t matter how you pronounce it. Two days after publishing this post I was contacted by the owner of another company I used to work with during my time selling sporting goods. He found out that I was available and offered me a fantastic job. I’ll be traveling 6-7 days a month but I get to work at home when I’m not traveling and the work is what I enjoy.
The idea of selling full-time is exciting. I know it is the dream of many here on the forums. The reality is I’ve worked as a freelancer before. I know what the stress of having inconsistent cash flow feels like. I was willing to go for it but having a good income that is predictable has a lot of advantages, especially when you have two active children and you’re used to taking vacations.
The good news is in the roughly 45 days I was out of a job I built my listings up. I’ve always had about 100 listings as a part-time seller. I hit a high point of 232 in early May. Admittedly, I haven’t done much listing in the last 30 days. I’m sitting at 190 right now. I’d like to push that number back up to 250 and then maintain it there for good. That will provide me with a lot of extra cash. I’d really like to start stockpiling cash so if I find myself in the same position in a few years, it’s no problem. 250 listings would also leave me with a really nice foundation if I ever needed to shift back into full-time selling. Once I get there, I’ll just replace listings as I sell items off. This will allow me to be a little more selective with sourcing as well. It would be great to get into selling more expensive items.
My goal is to work my store back up to 210 listings by the end of June, to 230 by the end of July, and 250 by the end of August. Here’s what May looked like.
Active Listings May 1: 215
Active Listings May 31: 199
Listings Created: 63
Listings Sold: 79 for $1767
Average Price: $22.36
Overall it was a pretty ho-hum month. I came up about $250 short of my goal of $2,000 but I pretty much quit listing things after about the 10th of May. I only listed 20 items after that as I shifted into new job mode. No really big sales other than a pair of Made in the USA Red Wing boots I bought at auction for $11 and sold for $80. I also sold a Tommy Bahama shirt bought at a church garage sale for $1. That went for $50. I averaged about 215 items throughout the month. My best day of the month was the 9th. I sold 8 items on that day. There were two days in May that I sold nothing.
My scavenge of the week is some patio door hardware. I found some Andersen door hardware that was still in the box at a garage sale this week. There were 8 sets and they wanted $5 a set. I used to sell this stuff as one of my first jobs out of college. It is very expensive, $200-$300 a set new. I offered them $20 for all of it and they countered with $25. So I got them for a little over $3 a set. They sell on eBay for about $80 a set. So a really nice find!
Even though the full-time experiment was short-lived, I have revved up my part-time income. In the end, I had to do what I thought was right for me and my family right now. You never know what the future might bring. I’ll keep updating my story here. Even though it’s not full-time, I still enjoy it and like sharing. Two of my friends have really gotten into reselling over the past few months and it’s fun to hear their stories. They’re texting me just about every day with what’s going on with their stores and their scavenging stories.05/01/2019 at 10:12 am in reply to: Well… full-time it is! My eBay Journey goes full throttle. New Journal #61025
Thanks for the comments. I did get a small severance but not enough to chill all summer. I’m planning to use it as a war chest since I don’t think I’ll hit the numbers I need right away.
I actually sold the memorabilia on my own in the late 1990s-early 2000s. The gentleman that I was working for sold sporting goods. We purchased them from manufacturers, then resold them as an authorized dealer. He also had a large retail pro shop. We basically sold items online from the backrooms of the building. He didn’t do much with our part of the business. He basically ran the pro shop and would come back for meetings and high-level stuff. Our sales were almost always growing so he didn’t have much to complain about. It made it a great place to work. If I needed to leave early or come in late it was never a problem because during the three-month busy season we would be putting in 10-12 hours a day. So the flexibility was nice even if it came at a cost. During the busy season, I would work a normal day shift and go home to see the family. After they went to bed I would go back for a while or work at home for a few hours.
After the layoff, I did approach him with a few different proposals to go back to work for him. Unfortunately, he hired someone right after I left. I do know their sales are down significantly right now but I think he hired him at a large cost savings and I don’t think it’s at a spot where three people can work and it will be profitable. We did most of the buying for our part of the business too so I know what most of the costs are. I believe his net profit on the 1.7M was somewhere between 125K-175K. That’s with salaries and employee costs, building costs, websites, and Amazon, eBay fees, etc. He was able to share many of the costs over both parts of the business(pro shop and online) which made it possible. I honestly don’t think you can survive just doing one or the other in today’s world. I think he took it a little personal that I left and that’s part of the problem too. If one of the two guys decide to move on or sales continue to slump perhaps he may call me back. I’ve given up on sending proposals. He knows where I stand. It’s on his time now. He’s a good guy and I’m thankful for the opportunity I had with him. If I could do it again, I definitely would not have left. But I can’t so I have to move on and rebuild to the best of my abilities.
I’m in Wisconsin and it’s finally starting to warm up(but not today!). There is a 100 mile garage sale that starts tomorrow. It runs up and down the Mississippi River in my area. I’ll be spending all of Friday hitting sales. It should be a blast. Have a great day, folks. I’ve got orders to ship and listings to post.
Thanks for the interest and the responses. I was looking at white labeling early in 2016 and after looking pretty deeply I decided I could not make an investment that large when my supplier could simply undercut me with the exact product I had them make for me(which seems to be happening a lot these days).
The research I did last year on this did prompt us to launch an Amazon store at my day job. We did roughly $150K in sales in the 3rd and 4th quarter on Amazon. Our average ticket over all our selling platforms is just under $300 and we sell several items right around the $1,000 mark. But if we look at that $1,000 item it costs us roughly $690 to purchase it. Then we’re paying Amazon $150 in fees to sell the item and an average of $40 to ship it. So there’s not much left in profit considering the sale price of the item. There is no way you could sell only on Amazon in our industry and stay alive as a business.
On our e-commerce sites the margin is far better and we do most of our business there although eBay and Amazon together make up about ½ of our sales. The way we look at it is Amazon customers are going to buy on Amazon so we may as well be the ones who sell to them even if the profit isn’t what it would be on our platform. It helps our sales volume and allows us to negotiate better prices with our vendors. There is no way you could do FBA in our niche and there is no one doing FBA within it although Amazon does sell some of the products themselves. I also do not see how someone could buy items from distributors using a drop ship model and be successful either. The only reason it works for us is the items are already on hand anyway. We work out of the backroom of a large local retail store that has sales numbers similar to our online numbers so there is plenty of inventory on hand.
I personally have a few items up on Amazon and have even sold a few things there for decent profit in the past. I only do merchant fulfilled. There really is no point in putting anything on your Amazon store unless it will sell for $20 or more. The fees are just too egregious. I have evolved into selling more unique items and used clothes so the things I currently buy don’t fit the Amazon model well. I have dabbled in retail arbitrage but when I find good items it seems that days later other people have also found them in stores and completely taken the profit out of that item with the race to the bottom. You simply can not purchase all of the clearance items in every Wal-Mart across the country.
Jay, as far as sales without having a lot of items… like I said I price more aggressively and keep in mind, eBay isn’t the only place I’m selling. Between my three stores in July with an average of 140 items listed, I sold 64 items for $1573 with another $400+ collected in shipping payments. I sold one item on Craigslist for $80, 3 items on Facebook for $65, one online auction house for a net(after commission) for $60, another online auction house for a net of $110, and our live auction for a net of $155.
I normally don’t sell that much stuff locally but I cleaned my garage out early this summer and had some old beer signs, tool boxes, and bikes we were no longer using. My average month is probably around $1200 with everything.
Obviously, with selling 64 items my sell through rate is pretty good. But again, I would say thanks to the garage cleaning my store had a lot of the better items from my death piles. The good news is I still have lots of great stuff to list!
I like to sell toy trains, belt buckles, mens jeans, vintage computers, vintage stereo equipment, vintage fishing equipment, slot cars, Made in the USA clothing, vintage tools, and other cool stuff. I like to tell people to buy things men like to buy. Maybe it’s because I like to buy things I’m interested in but I do believe men spend far more money on their hobbies than women so I think these niches generally do well.
One thing I don’t hear you mention much is Etsy. I haven’t had any listings up just because I’ve been so busy over the past few months but I enjoy selling there and a lot of the weird vintage stuff goes for pretty good money over there. The fees are better than Amazon & eBay as well. Have you guys sold on Etsy?
Going through a few random box lots I picked up at the auction this weekend. I bought this lot for $4 because it had two solid brass belt buckles and a pocket knife in it. I sell a lot of these and they are not huge money makers but you can usually get them cheap and they are easy to list and ship. As I was sifting through all the other crap, I saw this toy gun that I assumed would just be trash. Then I saw the words “Superman” on it. On the other side it said “Space Satellite”. This was a little toy gun that Kellogg’s gave away in the 50s. The kicker was you had to send in to get it so of course most people didn’t bother and those that did probably destroyed theirs within days of receiving it. I don’t have all of the parts to this thing(I just have the gun, none of the accessories) so I plan to list it at auction for $60. A nice little bonus to what I call a “grinder lot”.