Monday, March 30, 2009

Ebay - A Household Tool

So, I mentioned I use eBay. I actually use it quite a bit. Over the last nine years I have learned a lot and become very well acquainted with the online market place and interface and have found that it's a very handy household tool.

I don't necessarily use it as a full time money-making venture like some do. But I find it a handy tool in order to be productive around the house. I have mentioned that I clean out the closets on eBay in the past but while that helps me regain some of my money spent, there is another approach I thought I'd mention today. In times when everyone is concerned about being very frugal this may come in handy for you too.

I find that I can spend the same amount of time scrimping, saving, clipping coupons and shopping sale prices, or in short cutting back as I can looking for a entrepreneurial adventure or a way to produce capital while buying what I need.

There's a contrast in the way one thinks about both approaches to providing for your household. One is "reduce" the other is "produce". Producing begins with thinking in the other direction than we're used to. It's inspiring to think this way and the lessons learned from each endeavor can become the foundation for greater production for your needs in the future. One of the benefits of thinking like a producer is that you don't actually have to give up anything. In the end, I usually come out ahead too, so that's a plus.

The boot story

Once upon a time we lived in Alaska and heard stories about the wild Texas frontier. We heard that it was covered in snakes and that one would have to walk across snakes to get from their car to their front door. Not the case, but there are plenty of snakes any how. Once we arrived in Texas and settled in we had already dealt with a number of snakes and decided it was time to outfit the family in snake boots. This is when Andrea and I were with the Moores so there were a minimum of 7 people needing boots that ran $180-$208 a piece. eBay to the rescue!

In my online search I found a sporting goods store that was liquidating 33 pairs of name brand high quality snake boots. It was also the height of snake boots selling season online so that was great. After corresponding with the sporting goods store about sizes and condition, Andrea Moore bought the inventory. We'd already run the numbers. We'd already checked to see what brands were in the inventory and what they were selling for. We knew that they would all resell. There was a variety of sizes so everyone in the Moore family was outfitted along with the Heustis family, myself, and my father. I sold the rest on eBay for less than retail at a great sale price and made enough money to cover the cost of the original lot price and all fees. In the end everyone had high quality snake boots for free!

I have done this a couple other times myself. I bought an inventory of Danskos from a woman that had a shoe store that went out of business. I sold them all in one week on eBay and freaked her out. :)

On a smaller scale we were in need of some computer parts after our laptop tried to drink a glass of water. I bought a lot of 12 key boards, tested them all in the laptop and found only one was faulty. So I kept one and installed it in the laptop and the rest I sold for a profit above what I paid for the lot. Then I used the profit to buy a new speaker for the same laptop.

Here's another angle. Buy somewhere else and bring the price down on eBay.

I recently purchased a new Canon camera from BH Photo. I had looked around the internet for the best price I could find. The lowest was around $460 for camera and 18mm-55mm lens. I purchased a package deal which included the Canon camera body, the short lens and a long lens. I didn't want the long lens, but it was only $20 more when purchased it with the package. The same lens was selling on eBay for $100. There were plenty of buyers in the marketplace and not many lenses. When all was said and done I had a new Canon Rebel XS body and short lens for $400.

A few things to consider:
What season is it?
What kind of people buy this stuff?
How do they think when they shop?
What's the profit potential?
What's the percentage of sales?
How many buyers are there in the market place?
What have their buying habits been?

Happy eBaying!!!

Recommended Resource:
Pro-Sumer Power: How to Create Wealth by Buying Smarter, Not Cheaper!


Anonymous said...

Great story...

Craigslist is another great place to sell online. I am a bit of an addict and sold a little over $300 in stuff just this week. I like it because I don't have to ship the item or pay any fees. Plus I can post if for exactly what I want out of it $$ wise. Most times I get close to what it is listed for if not exactly that.

Miss Kelly and Miss Andrea said...

That's very true. I also use Craigslist. I often cross reference my sales on both sites to hit both marketplaces. Even though Craigslist doesn't have the option to do sales and market research, you can figure it's going to be close to ebay as far as selling price. It's impossible to determine how many buyers there are there though for your item unless you spend time watching it and logging what the results are.

Great suggestion.

Gina said...

I love your boot story! I'm still dabbling in Ebay but made $137 in March just selling some things that were in the closet. I haven't approached it as boldly as you have but can see the potential. Great job!

Miss Kelly and Miss Andrea said...

That's great Gina. ebay is certainly a great place to recapture some of the money spent on past purchases.