front porch trash

front porch trash

Saturday, November 15, 2014

How did you start you ebay journey?

I've been snowed under the last few weeks. No, not actual snow, the ebay kind. I am slowly digging my way out of the piles of stuff. Just in time to be the hostess for Thanksgiving for the family.

October sales were just average. But only slightly above last years sales. I have almost twice as much inventory this year as last year. Should that make me have twice as many sales? You would think so.

November has been super good. I have sold a lot of items that have been listed for a while, some over a year. I really think that Good Till Cancelled is the way to go. Why did I put it off so long? So, it really is true that anything will sell eventually.

That got me to thinking about August, 2010. That's when I lost my medical job and just couldn't find another one as good. No one wants an "older lady" CMA. Funny, while I was in school my instructor kept saying "you won't have any problem finding a job" Yeah right. Well, after I left that job I decided to give ebay a full time tryout. I had been selling off and on while I was out of work and in school, selling stuff around the house, leftover craft stuff and textbooks. I convinced my SweetiePie that I could make a REAL profit from ebay and I wanted to take a chance. He supported my efforts by not complaining about the lack of household organization or clean underwear. Thanks SweetiePie!!

So I took $100 from my "secret stash/mad money/emergency funds" and went to purchase my first real inventory. I remember planning my trip to make the best use of time and gas. I took some granola bars and a couple of bottles of water, some IKEA bags and off I went.

 Who knew that 4 years later I would still be going strong. I don't remember much of what I purchased that first trip, but I do remember going the cheap route. I purchased a ton of men's polo shirts, children's clothes, women's clothes and vintage glassware the first few months. Looking back on my logbook of inventory makes me laugh. I learned lots of lessons that first holiday season. I no longer buy men's polo shirts unless they are big name brands. I don't buy children's clothes unless they are Halloween costumes or fancy dress outfits. I don't buy anything that needs major repair. And at first I wouldn't purchase any shoes. Now shoes and boots are a major seller. In women's clothes I have stepped up to higher prices and better quality items and don't sell much vintage glassware.

But I am grateful for that first learning year. I wanted to argue with every return. I didn't want to deal with customer service. I learned how to pack everything correctly. I learned where to get boxes, tissue paper, packing peanuts, labels, tape and just about anything else I needed. But most of all I learned the most important thing...RESEARCH.

That first year I relied on the old gut. Well, the gut wasn't right enough of the time to suit me. So I started looking things up. Duh!! Why hadn't I thought of that before. I started reading blogs about people doing what I was doing, making the same mistakes, learning, and moving onward and upward. I started to make some money. I was happy, SweetiePie was happy, the cat was happy, everyone was happy!!!

So I'll share some of the things I've learned.

**Don't buy junk. If you buy something damaged, realize that it will take time to fix it. Time is money and if it takes too much time you don't make any money.

**Learn how to clean....everything. I don't like to scrape old gum or horse poop off of shoes. Who does? But sometimes it just has to be done. I bought a pair of Ariat boots for $4.59 and the soles were covered in dried poop and straw. I cleaned them and made $50. That's what gloves are for.

**Learn how to take good pictures. I'm still working on this. My camera hates me. Really. Black items come out green or blue. Red items come out pink or orange. Its still a work in progress.

**Learn how to write a good description. I cringe when I see items listed with one or two pictures, and the only description of the items is "good condition". How do they ever sell anything? Maybe I over describe, but at least I am familiar with my items and that helps me find little flaws and any issues with the item.

**Don't argue with a buyer. It's just stuff. Return it, refund, and move on. It's not personal unless you make it personal.

**Buy a  mannequin. I haven't done that yet. I have those plastic half people that really aren't all that great, but they are cheap and will do until I find a mannequin that I can afford. I do have Emma, a vintage sewing mannequin that my aunt gave me, but she is dark and doesn't adjust anymore and not really clean looking for good photos. I'll keep looking. There is one out there with my name on it. I just know it.

**Research everything. Twice. You won't be sorry. And you learn so many interesting things.

**Be thankful for all of the nice people who write blogs about the same things that you enjoy and are willing to share their successes and failures with the world.

**Don't believe everything you read on the internet. All of those youtube videos about such great hauls of stuff. It's nice to see what you bought but I would really be interested to see what sold and for how much. I don't really need to know the profit margin, just that it did sell

OK.....whew that was a lot of words. Now how about some pics of recent good sales.

 Raccoon collar and cuffs picked up at estate sale sold for $50 plus shipping
A yard sale find for $2, ordered the safety harness, sold quickly for $25 plus shipping to Brazil
Found at a thrift store and sold within a week for $75 plus shipping to Australia
Found at the same estate sale as the fur collars. Purchased 3 for $10 and have already sold two for $35 each. These were really damaged with some blocks  with chunks of fabric missing. Nothing that couldn't be fixed, by the buyer not me!! 

Found these at a yard sale for $2. VTG 70's with almost no wear and the original gold logo. Others online were selling for $60-$75. I wanted more, not greedy but I knew I could get it because of the condition of the logo, so I listed for $125 and free shipping and I shipped them out today. Only listed for about a month. Ask higher and you can always take less.
I sometimes sell items for my daughter and split the profits 50/50. She picked this Maya Wrap up for fabric and decided it was too nice to cut up. She is really happy that she didn't cut it up. Purchased for $1, sold for $50 plus shipping. A nice little profit for Mother and Daughter

So get out there and find something great, take great pictures, write a great description and sell it, and tell us. And share with me how and why you got started.


  1. love your story. I have a degree in medical coding and couldnt get a job either :( heck and I was 21 :D I started selling when my grandparents were downsizing and I was expelled from school. I love Bumbos....don't think I would want to send one international though. I agree most learning is done through trial and error not youtube videos. It seems different things sell for different people (I can't sell shoes to save my life).

    1. I admire you and your medical coding. I hated anything to do with coding, since most offices you work in have lots of the same codes but when you are in class you have to learn all of them. ugh!!! I love Bumbos too and the shipping is super easy. I have an egg box, that I recycle from a local restaurant, that they fit in perfectly. Mugs are my arch enemy. I can't seem to sell them for a decent profit and they sit forever.

  2. I've been a blog stalker of yours for a long time :-) I started on ebay last year when I was pregnant. I was about to become a SAHM and finances were stressing me out. I did pretty well, but like you, I now laugh at my pricing (way to low!) and sales. I took a break when my daughter was born and only recently have jumped back in. I opened a store last month and have seen my sales increase slowly but steadily. I'm addicted and plan on sticking with it this time!

    Also, Maya Wraps are an amazing find! I picked one up for a quarter (!!!!!) this fall. I REALLY wanted to keep it but I decided to list it once at a high price and if it didn't sell I would keep it. Well, it sold! The $50+ ROI was enough of a consolation for me! ;-)

    1. I thought I saw you lurking around the corner ;) I love the fact that I can work pretty much when I want and still have time for other stuff. Its really amazing how many things we buy that we want to keep but when you get big $$$ for them you never miss them!!
      Good luck with your store and starting slow is the way to go especially when you have a little angel to take care of.

  3. Those are great tips. I have to laugh too when I look back at my beginnings though I did find a few great items right off the bat. An early edition Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass was one of my first finds. Purely accidental. I started out after losing my job as well. I was tired of the rat race and decided to give full time ebay a try.

  4. My best book sale was purely an accident also. A textbook that "looked interesting" from 1952. Turns out this one was worth $300-400. I "let mine go for $142" since I paid 42c for it. A bookstore in San Francisco purchased it and I have always wondered what he charged his customer for that book!!

  5. Fantastic! It is good you have the knowledge and are able to do this. I applaud you. I will be honest, I have never been on EBay, but I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Knowledge? I think it's mostly dumb luck. Of course I have some epic failures which I plan on sharing later. If you ever do go on ebay be prepared for a learning, shocking, crazy experience. You can buy or sell anything on ebay. From gold and diamonds to farts in a jar. Really

  6. I had to chuckle at your post because I have been selling about 3 years and I laugh at my old listings and purchases. Live and learn I guess. I actually started on etsy and did ok, but when I switched to ebay I sold so much more and became quickly addicted. Plus clothes and shoes and the occasional odd item take up much less space than strictly vintage wares. Now I keep all the vintage for myself, win win :)

    1. I sold on etsy also. But I did handmade and hand painted items. I had to buy the stuff, paint the stuff and sell the stuff. Etsy was very slow. Ebay is much easier in spite of all of the ever changing "rules". And while I'm shopping for ebay, I'm finding stuff for ME!! win win

  7. I started selling 3 years ago because I'd go thrifting and find all this cool stuff & clothes that either I didn't have room for or didn't fit me. I figured there must be someone out there that would want it!

    Love that racoon collar!!!