Today's guest is Jeff from Southern California. You can check out Jeff's eBay store here if you'd like.
When did you start selling on eBay and what made you decide to be an eBay seller?
Back in 2003, My father retired early at 50. He still had 10 years left on his mortgage and his pension did not click in until he was 55. So, to supplement his income along with his 401k, he started selling items on Ebay.
I saw how lucrative it was and decided to sell for myself part-time while I worked full-time. I was able to eliminate all my credit card debt and was able to save enough money for a down payment on a home.
Do you sell part time or full time? If full time, how long did it take to go full time?
When my daughter was born, I left a career I had for 18 years to be her primary caregiver due to our original caregiver becoming ill. Additionally, I drove 80 miles one way to work everyday and if you live in Southern California you know who tedious that can be.
I first tried to run a non ebay related business that failed so then I moved to selling Ebay full time while taking care of my daughter daily. Additionally I probably had about 1200+ items just sitting in my garage which took me about 5 years to acquire that I never listed while selling part-time.
What kinds of items did you start off selling and do you still sell the same kind of stuff?
My dad was a big influence on what I sold, he had the time to do the research and would keep me informed while I was picking part-time. I started focusing on collectibles and video games. Then took calculated risks on other categories. I currently buy clothes, old board games, legos, disney, lightweight electronics, video games, old toy collections, etc. Basically anything I can flip for income.
How many items are in your eBay store?
Where do you find your items to sell?
I focus on yard sales. Here in California, they are mostly Saturdays and sometimes on Friday. I go every saturday starting at 6:30am and usually end at 11:00am. I call 10am the danger zone because a lot of the good items are usually gone by then.
But sometimes, people make errors on the prices and are willing to negotiate on higher priced items toward the end of the day. Also, I believe you should always get out of your car when you get to a yard sale no matter what the house or items look like from afar. I have found some great items at yard sales that looked like they had nothing from the car.
What is something you will always buy when you come across it?
I always buy old video games minus sports games. Legos in bulk at a good price. Reel to Reel tapes, they always sell out. Creative Memories items sealed. Disney items, old cross stitch sealed packs, vintage board games either to part out or sell complete, old gi joe, barbie lots, basically 80s toys. The list is real long for smalls.
What is something you will never buy again?
Records. I know there are some worth money but I have been burned on big lots. Other items such as Baseball Cards after 1985. Scrabble tiles used to be hot and easy to acquire, Brighton Tins, Boyd Bears, Lolita Glasses, Beanie Babies, collectable plates and Dvds. I also stay away from learning systems that used to be profitable before tablets hit the mainstream.
What's the weirdest thing you ever sold? (how much did you buy it for and how much did it sell for?)
A while ago, I sold a Billy Beane rookie card for $250.00 prior to the grading frenzy. The card was a 10 cent common card, but he just came out and said he was living an alternative lifestyle. I also sold civil war discharged paperwork for $200 and a lot of wood tobacco pipes for $200 in total from a $1 dollar purchase.
What's the best sale you ever had?
My best one item purchase was actually from my wife. It was the first time she went with me. We were at a school yard sale fundraiser and she picked up a game & watch for 50 cents. I told her good job and thought, we would get around $50 for it. I sold for $350.00 on auction.
My best sales usually have to do with lots. I acquired a gi joe collection for $25 and profited $800 and counting. I also purchased a teenage mutant ninja turtle collection from a owner that kept everything immaculate for $150 and pieced it out for $2800 dollar profit.
What's the worst?
I purchased this camera in a fancy case along with lens, accessories etc. I overpaid and never heard the end it from my wife that told me not to buy it. The loss of money and the nagging was the worst.
How much are you profiting each month?
Every month is different but the average stays in the $1000 to $1300 range. The one thing I recommend is to weed out your inventory if it does not sell in year.
Those fees add up. Also, find a good local vendor for your shipping supplies. It is more cost effective to pick up my shipping materials at will call. Especially when it comes to bubble wrap. Bug your neighbors for their amazon boxes. Saving money every where you can will increase your net profit.
How do you handle storage and inventory?
My garage has racks in it. We used to have inventory in the house, E-Bay can overwhelm your life with clutter but no more. People that drive by my garage probably think I'm a hoarder but I don't care. Each item has its place in the garage, but it did get a little crazy when I was at 2300 listing.
What's your listing process like?
I list on a designated table with various foam boarding backgrounds. I use a Canon camera with a couple of lighting sources. I list my item titles in capitals, and use the words see pics! I try to make my listing the cheapest out there if the market is flooded.
If I have a rare item I will list in a auction, starting at a price I can live with. I also try to start and end my item at 7:30pm pacific standard time that way it's not too late on the east coast.
What tools do you use for eBay? (this could be physical or software).
The only software application I use is Easy Auction Tracker. It's great for getting a true picture of your net profit. My tax lady loves the program and recommends it to all her clients. I have joked with the company and told them should give me a discount.
About how much time do you spend on eBay each week?
I would say consistently 35 hours plus. Some weeks more, especially if I acquired something really good that week. Listing becomes tedious at times so I take a break every 8 listings or so.
What's your shipping process? Do you use specific methods for each item and do you do free shipping?
I ship by basic methods. If its over 2 pounds I try to use a flat rate box, when size permits. I'm going to start looking into fedex for heavy items, I heard the rates are better than the usps.
I also use bubble mailers for many different items as well. I package with care and always use bubble wrap and take other precautions. I go to the post office everyday and try to get the item out in 24 hours. Shipping fast definitely helps with feedback.
Do you do anything to promote your listings?
Not really, I sometimes use the eBay promotion option, if I want to move something fast. I always let people know I combine shipping items, which helps when individuals want to buy more than one thing.
Have you ever sold on consignment?
I have a few times, I get nervous if its a high dollar item. I'm just not comfortable with selling an item that is not mine. Things go wrong sometimes and I don't want to be held responsible for things out of my control. You can cost yourself money and feedback, etc.
What's your best eBay story?
The best story in general is my 6 year old daughter has learned to negotiate with people at yard sales. I have created a monster and she gets 5 dollars a week to spend. She gets away with murder sometimes.
Whats your worst?
One time, a lady had a entire storage container of 80's toys in the box. This guy said he was buying everything and got there right before me. There was no way he was buying everything in my mind. He was trying to talk her down major on everything.
I tried to wait but, had to leave because I feared I was not going to able to buy anything. I left and came back he bought everything for $300 dollars. Those toys were worth thousands. I don't like to think about it.
Do you sell anywhere other than eBay? If so, tell us how that's going.
I use offer up (pick up) and facebook (pick up). I especially like to use them for large items but one of the major downfalls is people don't show. It happens about half of the time, at least to me. Also, I always tell them to bring exact cash because I have no change. Some people try to use that as negotiation method.