The mixed blessing that is eBay

alisandeOctober 22, 2007

Parrot_phan's post on the "liberating" thread inspired this one from me, but I thought the subject deserved a thread of its own.

My contribution is more of a comment than a question. In 2003, when I first got uber-serious about cleaning up the house, my son was selling ham radio stuff on eBay. I asked him to sell his father's chemistry and horse books. He said, "No, you do it. Once you get into it, you'll love it." I had zero enthusiasm for learning something new, but I couldn't persuade my DS to take this on. So I bought a book on how to sell on eBay, and I jumped in.

My son was right: Once I got into it, I loved it. I especially loved selling books. One reason is that I love books, and another is that they're easy to ship. So after I sold off all my husband's books, I culled my collection and sold a lot of them (including a limited edition that I bought in 1965 for $25, which went for $1400 on eBay).

Of course, I didn't stop there. I love books, and I also love the hunt. What fun to prowl thrift shops and yard sales for potentially valuable books. I estimate that I was right about the potential value 50% of the time. And I never tried to calculate how much I was making on eBay on an hourly basis, because I was sure the figure was likely to be shockingly low. But I had fun.

Eventually, though, I got tired of selling and tired of books, packing materials, and other items all over the place. I stopped selling for many months. I haven't been tempted to start up again, but last week my son suggested that we list some of his dad's scientific equipment. I told him I'd round up some leftover books and list those first, to get my feet wet again. I did that, and I threw in a brush that my parents used to clean vinyl records in the 40s and 50s. I knew if I held onto it, I'd pack it away somewhere and it would just take up space. Well, it sold for over $60, and many of the books sold, and now I'm feeling some of that old excitement.

Trouble is, now I'm tempted to start hunting again. I'm resisting this because the last thing I need is more stuff in the house, even if it's stuff I hope to move out of here. As it is, my living area has already been taken over with UV lights, spectophotometers, chain balances, and other large items from my DH's lab. Oy! EBay can be a good ideaÂa great ideaÂbut I'm wondering what I got myself into...again.

Any other ambivalent eBay sellers out there?


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Maybe if you thought of it as "stock" since it's really part of your business....????? "Stuff" just makes you think of clutter.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 2:24AM
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One thing about businesses and their "stock"--they have warehouses, and they "stock shelves"--so they have dedicated PLACES for this stuff. If you had a shelf somewhere that was "eBay stock," and you could have things on it, but nowhere else, for your little business, that might help.

If you wanted to go that direction.

but if you don't want to truly have a business doing that, then maybe still think of it as "stuff" so you don't go getting more?

Or, maybe think of yourself as a "seasonal" sort of business. There retailers who only sell stuff during certain times of the year. It's part of their business model.

There was some sort of clothing-retail movement in which the businesspeople would rent a storefront for some odds-and-ends type of time--the two months before it was due to be demolished, or six weeks between other tenants, or something. They got the space at some phenomenally low rate (since the landlord would ordinarily not have been able to get a tenant), and they sell what they can, while they can.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 9:42AM
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We do have a store on EBay -- and turned our two-car garage into our stock room, packing and shipping room. We had a carport built for our cars -- best money EVER spent!

And my DH bought very very strong garage shelving to house things -- and left a table for his "photographing, packing and shipping" items at the front of the garage.

(we have a home with alleyways along the back in the whole neighbourhood -- very common for suburbs here in Dallas!)

Its been hard to keep the "business" under control in such a small house -- AND my DH is a major packrat anyway! BUT we've reached some agreements about "boundaries" .....

BTW -- if you do have things to sell -- there are businesses that will take your stuff -- and sell it on EBay -- for a price. And this IS EBay's busiest time of the year -- with the holidays coming up fast!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 11:21AM
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I guess I would feel differently about it if I considered eBay selling my business. But my business is writing, and I think of eBay as practical entertainment. My eBay volume isn't suffient to qualify as a business in any case.

Teacats, I'm looking forward to selling in November and December, and maybe after that take another break. Or not. :-)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 11:54AM
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but if you think of it as a side business, then would you persuade yourself to dedicate a shelf in the garage for that stuff, while it's around? Sort of the way my dad has a dedicated space for his model railroads, his entertainment?

It might make your entertainment stuff less of a burden on the rest of your life.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 12:09PM
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There was a newspaper story last January in Buffalo NY about a drug-addicted twenty year old man who sold his Dad's DVD movie collection on Ebay and was charged with a felony for stealing the DVD's. The father tried to get them back by offering refunds for the selling price, but the buyers wouldn't give them back. A mixed blessing allright! This was a nightmare for this family.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 12:15PM
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Oh, that's awful, Jannie. And I'll bet it's not an isolated event.

Talley Sue, I don't have a garage that's not open to the elements. I don't expect someone from Queens to understand this. :-)

I do have a barn, but it's not a place where I'd keep books. And my DS is bringing stuff from the barn to the house. So I think I'm just going to have to grit my teeth and either sell these items as quickly as possible or pack them back up to the barn for my son to sell in 40 years or so.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 12:20PM
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OMG! I can totally relate to this post!! Actually, the reason my house is so cluttered is because I love "the thrill of the hunt" SO MUCH TOO! I used to sell on Ebay (children's readers, etc.) and this is what got me started on the thrift shops and yard sales, but then it got out of hand. I'd turn over tea cups to check for markings, old pottery, and ANYTHING I thought might sell. As a result I have literally tons of boxes in our basement being stored. Now I have to ask myself a couple of questions-----#1---the stuff being stored down there has to have a musty smell, so who in their right mind would buy it? And #2---will I live long enough to sell all of this? In the meantime I worry myself sick over this "stuff"!

If you have a stockroom area in your house that's protected from the elements and is a space that you can keep organized, etc. then I say "GO FOR IT", but if you are like me and can't keep that stuff neat and corralled into just one space without dragging "more items" up to sort later, then by all means...QUIT NOW!! LOL!

The frustration isn't worth the money I've made in the past to be honest and then too you have to look at the items that didn't sell! I mean there's still that listing fee that Ebay snags from each ad you place. During my de-cluttering phase I will be paring down my stock by about 80-90%..the rest will be donated to charity or tossed.

Have to admit---I do get tempted to scour the flea markets, etc. for that special treasure, but the last couple of times I went, the basket of goodies was left on the counter and I walked out empty handed. It was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders! SERIOUSLY! It's very freeing to know that you can actually NOT give in and spend more money on something that is not guaranteed to sell. The thing is if it doesn't go on Ebay, then you tend to hang onto it or relist, etc. While you're doing that, it becomes "your problem"..something else to fret

Good luck sweetie! Grats on making some really good sales! Whatever you decide to do, make sure it's in your best interest=)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 1:09PM
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Fortunately, I came to eBay after I made the commitment to declutter, or I might have ended up in a similar situation, Adobe. My stepdaughter sells china and pottery items on eBay, and for a while I found myself looking at markings. But then I realized I absolutely didn't want to pack breakables for shipment, so that was that. Whew! (That does not answer the question of what I'm going to do with all this lab glassware that I'm looking at.)

It's unlikely that things will get out of hand at this point. I don't even like to keep books around for a second try if they don't sell. I've done it if I have a strong feeling about the book, but most of the time they leave for the thrift shop immediately.

"Make sure it's in your best interest" is very good advice indeed.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 1:34PM
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Talley Sue, I don't have a garage that's not open to the elements. I don't expect someone from Queens to understand this. :-)

yeah, us folks from Queens don't even HAVE garages.

I guess I was just hoping that you had one (and forgetting any earlier thing you had ever said)

Maybe AdobeSunlight's "quit now" is the best advice, LOL!

or think of it as a hobby-type skill that you can tap now and then when it's useful to you (the way I can sew a Halloween costume, but don't anymore sew my own clothes)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 1:56PM
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I came over to this organizing forum to get some advice about our giant new walk in closet( how to organize it) and my eye saw Ebay so I had to read and now I have to post. I started out selling some of my own things( makeup, books, clothes, etc). I then found something at a town rummage sale that I bought for 10 cents and sold for 26.00. We were hooked. My spouse is the hunter and loves the thrill of it. Our bookshelves have turned into a catch all for stuff we'll be selling. We have boxes and boxes of stuff in the basement and guest room. We've just added a giant 565 sq ft room onto our house that we'll become our new bedroom. Our current bedroom will become the guest room and the former guest room will become the office/ebay packing shipping room.

I can't wait to get my bookcases back

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 2:01PM
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I used to LOVE antique hunting.The thrill of the hunt, yeah. I basically limited myself to the Northeast,Kutztown PA, Brimfield Mass, Kelly Schultz in Clarence NY. Now, 25 years later, I have more costume jewelry than I could ever wear, an overly decorated house, and who-knows-what packed away in boxes. I SHOULD become an Ebay dealer.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 4:50PM
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