eBay store on vacation for a few weeks…

Yeah. Trying to run an eBay store while you are packing up to move is not fun. I decided to put the store on vacation until after I move to our new house.

It was also time I cut loose all of my inventory that wasn’t selling. So I had a yard sale and sold/donated everything that had been sitting for a while on the store. I will have a fresh start once I re-open later towards the end of May.

In the next few weeks while I am waiting for the bank to close on our current house (and we get paid!) and when our future house closes (we pay for it) I will be looking at my numbers since January 1st 2017 and working on my bookkeeping workflow. I hope to gain some insight into what works and doesn’t so far and then apply that knowledge going forward in my sourcing and listing strategy.

Here are some things that I have had success with and will continue to do.

Trust my judgement in the weird and wonderful. These are the things that sell best on ebay. Continue to hone this aspect of my sourcing.

Look for things out of place in thrift stores. Either previous shoppers have placed these things intentionally to buy later when they are half price or they are just under valued by the store.

What I’ve found, which people on youtube have confirmed, is that Goodwill in particular and to a lesser degree Salvation Army thrift stores mark up stuff they think is valuable to on line sellers.

The game is to find things that are undervalued by the thrift store but rare and desirable to eBay shoppers.

I’ve also come to understand that the thrift store prices are retail not wholesale. Sometimes you can get 99 cent clothing and half priced items that sell for a healthy profit but more often you are looking at a very slim profit margin at best. I’ve seen many things that I thought were valuable sit in my store and maybe sell for a 99 cent auction.

Vintage clothing and household items do sell but not always for what you would like. Buy as cheaply as possible. I plan on sourcing from auctions and flea markets in addition to estate sales and thrift stores to try and get items cheaper.

The most important strategy for eBay selling success is to list consistently each day.  There are many theories why this works. I think that it’s because every time you list an item eBay gives you a “newly listed” boost by having your items appear on like pages that customers are currently browsing.

I’ve also learned that if you get an offer on an item, you may not get another one once the newly listed boost has expired. So, I plan on making sure my best price is on the new items, with “make an offer”.  This is in contrast to my previous method of trying to offer the lowest possible price for an item, thinking that the customer would impulse buy.

What I have come to realize is that for the vintage, rare and special items customers will pay the price even if it’s higher because it’s exactly what they were looking for. And if they make an offer you want your original price to be as high as possible so you start at a higher point. For example if you list something for $19.99 a decent counter offer from a buyer is usually at half of the listed price, or 9.99. If you listed this item at $29, or $39 initially you would get a half price offer of 14.99 – 29.99. If the item doesn’t get any offers you could then put it on sale and still have a good starting price. Basically don’t start too low when first listing an item because you soon run out of room for any decent profit.

Finally, I am going to concentrate on selling on eBay and Amazon only for the time being. These get the most “eyeballs” to your products and produce the most sales.

I will also try sourcing from the apps like letgo/offer up and craigslist as you can get deals. There are also deals on ebay. My goal is to find items more easily than driving around to thrift stores, garage and estate sales.

My eBay business plan

Step 1) List everything I have

Step 2) SEO the shit out of my listings

Step 3) Learn how to use Google Analytics to figure out what the hell people want to buy.

Step 1 is almost complete … Actually, Step 1 can never be complete I keep buying more stuff to sell. But, I have gotten rid of all of the surplus crap that I possibly can.

Step 2 I have been working on learning more about SEO titles and descriptions. I am getting traffic to my items and they do sell eventually, usually for much less than I had hoped.

Step 3 is still a mystery to me. Maybe it is un-knowable from an analytics standpoint. I tried Terapeak but I think I am too dense to know what to do with the info. It really didn’t look that different to me than checking the sold listings on eBay.

I have also just sold my house, and purchased a new house, so my listing will be grinding to a halt while I pack up my inventory and my household belongings and move.

Although I won’t be listing anything new I plan on cross posting all of my vintage items on Etsy to see if I can generate sales there. I really haven’t been showing Etsy any love and it shows, I only have a few items in my store. I have 2 follows or likes, or whatever and no sales.

I may try Poshmark again but I really don’t like all the sharing. I feel like I am only sharing with other sellers. Maybe that’s the point. Postmark may just be sellers selling to each other. I’m just not that into modern day fashions.

What sold recently on the Internet of Things eBay Store: 03/11/17 – 03/25/17

The saga of my first negative eBay feedback

A few weeks back I noticed that I got my first negative feedback. The customer didn’t contact me or ask for a refund, they just gave me a negative review.

The item was an Olga vintage full length nightgown which the customer purchased 3 weeks earlier. Their comment with the negative review was that there were “brown and yellow stains” on the night gown.

I immediately contacted the customer to apologize and offered a full refund, including shipping both ways. No response from customer.

In looking at their profile I noticed that they were not just an eBay buyer but were also a shop owner and they sold similar items to my store. Specifically vintage nightgowns.

To me, it seemed that buyer/seller was not interested in being compensated for an item they didn’t feel meet their expectations but rather to “punish” a seller. A seller who also happened to be very new, and selling exactly the same type of items they did.

I’m not saying that I may have missed a stain on a vintage garment. I didn’t notice it when I had it under the lights photographing it.  Personally, unless the garment had a pant load of human excrement on it, I would probably contact the seller to resolve the issue. The buyer didn’t attempt to get a refund or make any move to return the item.

I believe their real motive was to eliminate some of their competition.

I followed the procedure to dispute bad feedback on eBay. The customer changed it from negative to neutral but insisted that there were stains and the didn’t want to return it because I was “nice seller” whatever that meant. They should know as fellow seller that they weren’t doing me any favors giving me a negative review even if they didn’t ask for a refund.

My sales have dropped by almost half, so mission accomplished seller/buyer d-bag!  You are now banned from my store. And I know where to get lots of vintage clothes, that I would  have sold you for your store at a good price.

Whatever/ Be aware that this kind of petty crap goes on in the eBay world. Up until now I have just been happy that someone purchased my items. Going forward I have to look at each potential buyer’s profile to see if they’re going to scam me in some way.

In another incident, I put up a solar panel kit for sale, local pickup, Buy it Now priced. Almost immediately the item sold for asking price. I contacted the buyer to complete the sale because local pickup items are not paid immediately, the seller has to work that out with the buyer. They never responded, when I checked their profile they only had 1 feedback. I am not sure what they intended to gain by “buying” it and not completing the sale unless they were also trying to sell similar items at a lower price. Who knows, after 48 hours I cancelled the sale and relisted the item, at a lower price. I eventually pulled all of my larger, local pickup items because I don’t want to deal with the BS. I will try to sell these items off of eBay probably via a yard sale.

Anyway, I’m not discouraged, there are enough honest people out there and the scammers are pretty easy to see coming once you know what to look for. eBay also has filters to keep low feedback buyers from bidding on your items. I am using all possible filters now. This could also be why sales are slow, but I don’t need the hassle of dealing with scammers.

BTW: There’s a 25% off March Madness Sale going on now at the Internet of Things!

What sold recently on the Internet of Things eBay Store: 2/27 – 3/10/17

Sales have been almost non-existent these past two weeks so I thought I would wait a while before my next post. I also have some idea why things have slowed down and what I plan on doing about it.

First what sold over the past couple weeks:

Etienne Aigner “Taylor” Black Leather Pumps 2.5″ Heel Size 7 M

Purchased for $3.99 from the Thrift Store, sold for $9.99 plus buyer paid for shipping.

2X Women’s Periwinkle Blue Stretch Lace Camisole Top Cami Ashley Stewart Spandex

I paid $1.99 at Thrift Store, sold for $9.99, buyer paid for shipping.

Derek Heart Sleeveless Tropical Print Sundress Women’s Size S 95% Cotton/5% Span

This was one of the first items I bought, but I think I only paid half price of what SA charges for dresses, probably around 3 or 4 dollars. It sold for $0.99 plus buyer paid for shipping. I try to have a few sacrificial .99 cent auctions running at any time. They seem to drive traffic to my store. They are on a 7 day cycle and if there are any watchers on your item they will be notified of the progress of the sale. In general I make whatever I hope to get for an item the starting price for auctions on eBay. The days of bidding wars seem to be over.

McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys 1992 Cabbage Patch Kids LOT of 7 NEW IN PACKAGE

This was also a 0.99 auction, however there was competition between two buyers, actually three but one was a person from Korea with 0 feedback so I blocked him from my store. It sold for $1.25 plus buyer paid for shipping. Ah yes the cash is rolling in now! This was part of a $5.00 a bag sale at an estate sale. I may have broken even in this case, maybe…

NEW Women’s Large Flannel Pajama Set Pink Panda Print Nick & Nora Pandamonium PJ

My one large ticket item of the week. New with tags, I paid $4.99 at Thrift Store. Sold for $30 plus buyer paid for shipping.

Chico’s Platinum Stretch Denim Jacket SIZE 1 – RN 79984

Another of the first clothing items I purchased for my store. I paid around $5.00. I put this for sale in my store right around Fall. Apparently you have to be at least 1 season ahead in clothing on eBay if you hope to get your asking price. This sat for months. I put it as a $1.99 auction item and that is what it sold for, buyer paid for shipping. They buyer gave me good feedback so that’s something at least.  The title was not the best from an SEO standpoint. But I think my titles are getting better.

Universal Studios Twister Extreme Risk Ride Pin Still on Retail Card w/Tags

I had a lot of watchers on this item which was part of a lot (grocery bag) full of buttons and pinbacks that I got at an estate sale for $5.00. This was a $0.99 item that got bid all the way up to $6.50, plus buyer paid shipping. Happy days are here again! And the rest of the bag of buttons is paid for, so there’s that.

How to avoid being scammed as a new eBay seller. Shipping Scams – Part 1

Selling Solar Panels. Scam Bait? Probably.

For various reasons my original title for this series of posts was “Scammy Scammers and the Scammy Shit they do AND how to avoid it.” but I’ve calmed down a little bit since the coffee kicked in.

I really want to share what I’ve learned so far so that I can help other new re-sellers not get scammed.  I’m sure there are still plenty of ways to get ripped off but these are probably the most common for the new eBay seller. I’ll break them down in excruciating detail so you can hopefully avoid my mistakes.

The very first item I ever sold in my new store  was an Aeropostle pea coat. I wasn’t sure how to ship it really and I chose a Priority flat rate letter sized envelope in the listing when I entered the shipping method for this item.  I didn’t have any of these envelopes at my house, I just printed out the label I purchased from eBay and brought the coat and label to the post office. I planned on getting some envelopes there when I shipped my coat. Upon looking at the envelope I realized a coat wasn’t going to fit in it. This is a thin (approximately 8.5″ X  11″) cardboard envelope for mailing documents, not clothes. Although many sellers stuff clothes into the legal size envelopes, mostly successfully, I chose letter size and there was no way in hell a coat was going to fit in there.

Even though I knew I was going to lose money on shipping I wanted to to the right thing ( as I understood it) and pay up for the proper shipping. So I grabbed an appropriately sized Priority envelope (not a flat rate thankfully) and paid by weight at the PO counter. I already paid eBay for the Priority Flat rate envelope label, I think that was around 6.50 or so but the customer paid for that even though it was wasted at that point. The new shipping cost around $13.50 or so. Coats are heavy and it was going to one of the coasts (I’m in Detroit).

I then notified the customer, through eBay messaging, that “great news, I was upgrading their shipping and included the tracking number for the larger tyvec Priorty mail envelope.

The item sold for $9.99 and including the cost of the item, shipping, eBay & PayPal fees I was probably already in the red for $10 bucks or so. I chalked up as a shipping learning experience and thought no more about it.

Until, I noticed (after the time frame for me to complain) that the buyer filed a claim that they never got the item. So they were refunded the cost of the item, plus the shipping they paid out. Now I’m out another $17 bucks or so. The important thing to note is that the customer never contacted me that they didn’t get the item.

I now believe that once the customer realized that the item wasn’t being tracked by the original shipping label that I purchased through eBay that they could claim “Item never Received”. So they got the coat for FREE and were reimbursed their shipping as well. 

What I learned:

Lesson 1:  Always be aware that some people live to scam others on eBay. They have lots of free time and have no conscience. Fortunately, most people are honest and wonderful to deal with, that’s why I still work towards making my store successful. I want to believe.

Lesson 2: Know your shit about shipping. Links/articles on how to do this to follow on this blog.

Lesson 3: Always ship within the eBay platform. Buy your shipping labels in eBay ONLY!

Here’s why:

  1. It’s easy to do. Just click the button on the page where you print out your packing slip.
  2. The Customer is notified immediately once you pay for shipping that the shipping process has begun, they get the tracking number. No funny business! Note: You still have to get the package to the PO (or get it picked up by the PO) in the time you agreed to i.e. handling time.
  3. It’s cheaper! you always save something when you buy labels from eBay. It can be a lot more if you are a top seller, so I’ve heard.

Lesson 4: eBay’s concern is keeping the buyers happy so they keep buying and as a result generating fees from sellers for eBay. You are expected to know how to sell your items safely and for the best shipping rate. This is a business, it’s your business, don’t assume they will be on your side all the time. Use all the tools you can to protect yourself. Be ready to prove when a customer is wrong. Most of this can be done just by using eBay shipping labels and only communicating with customers with eBay messaging.

Lesson 5: Keep a close watch on the eBay sellers dashboard. Learn how to use it. The information is there you just have to become familiar with it and how it relates to your sales, or lack thereof.

Unfortunately this was not my last issue with scammers using cracks in the shipping process to get free stuff. I have at least 1 or 2 more that I will publish soon. Please share this article if it was helpful and subscribe to one of the Social Media platforms that I am on to keep in touch. I love to learn about how other people are doing on eBay, Etsy, Amazon and Poshmark!

What Sold this week 2/17/17 – 2/24/17

What Sold This Week ending 02/24/17

Hey there! This is my first blog post on the latest incarnation of this site detropia.com. The focus of this site has changed to match what I am doing in real life.

To keep myself accountable and to keep my numbers front and center I will be posing each week between Friday – Sunday sometime to list what I sold, where it came from and how much I paid for it. My hope is that it will help me learn more about what sells and at what price.

I will also talk about any challenges I faced as a re-seller and how I dealt with them.

What I sold this week, in order of highest profit:

Ebay Store: (200+ items)

Mizuno Wave Rider 19 Running Shoes Blue Green Men’s Size 10 Seconds
Purchased at Salvation Army in Detroit for $6.99. They were listed in the store for only a few days at $39.99 plus shipping. I accepted a best offer of $32 plus shipping.

DEMONIA BOXER-05 4″ Platform Velcro Strap Adj. Sneaker Goth Unisex Men’s Size 8

These were purchased in a Detroit Metro thrift store, not GW or SA. I prefer not to say exactly since this has been a magic place to find weird, quickly selling stuff. I paid $3.99 for these shoes. They sold to someone over seas for $19.99 plus  shipping to KY for eBay’s global shipping program. I’ve sold at least 2 items including this one via the GSP, no problems so far but I’ll keep you posted.

Vintage 1980’s Glasses Retro Big Eye Frames Women’s Prescription Brown Gold

I got these at Salvation Army for $1.00 they sold after a couple of weeks for $9.99 plus shipping. The bows were kind of bent and I noted that in the description and photos.

Nick & Nora Women’s SMALL Light Pink Flannel Owl Pattern PJ Pajama Set Cotton

I paid half price, plus it was SUPER SENIOR day at Salvation Army, so I probably paid only $2.00 or so for these. They sold after a month or so for $9.99 plus shipping.

AKM Men’s Silk Handkerchief/Pocket Square Made In Italy Red BKG with Navy/Olive

Purchased in Salvation Army in Detroit for $0.98. Sold for $9.99 plus shipping. It sat in my store for a couple of months. Glad I didn’t mark it down and try to sell it on an 99 cent auction. From what other long time eBay sellers are saying, you can sell anything on eBay eventually for the price you set, within reason. It’s just a matter of having the space for storage and being able to wait for the sale. For the next few months I’ll be trying to sell a little quicker because we’re moving. Stay tuned for crazy deals 🙂

American Rag Faux leather Bomber Jacket; Knit Collar; Womens Size M; Color Beige
This was one of the first items I purchased at a local Goodwill Family center. I have quickly realized that Goodwill/Salvation Army are really retail prices when you are trying to resell clothes online. I never pay more than 1/2 price. I think I probably paid about $5 dollars for this item. It sat for months, probably because this is a fall jacket and I was trying to sell it in winter. I put it up for 0.99 starting price 7 day auction. It sold for 0.99 plus shipping. Totally lost money on this deal but glad to free up the space at this point.

346 Brooks Brothers Tie, Pure Silk, Made in USA, Yellow w/blue flowers

This was another 0.99 auction. Sold for 0.99 plus shipping. I bought it at goodwill for 1.99. Again no gain no pain. Moving on.

Customer Service:

I had one weird incident where a buyer, who was also an eBay shop owner, gave me a negative review on an item. They said there were stains on a garment that I honestly didn’t see stains on, they didn’t show up on photos either. But rather than contact me, I would have gladly given them a refund they just gave me a negative feedback. So, it was some kind of “punishment” on their part. Meh! I am quickly learning that people will scam you if you fall into any sort of eBay selling traps. But I am also learning that sad, drama possessed people enjoy controlling others anyway they can. eBay is a convenient platform for that as well as buying/selling. This buyer/seller didn’t open a case, yet. I contacted then to apologize about the item and offered a full refund. So clearly there was more to it than being disappointed by a purchase.

This week I also listed several large items for local pickup. Some one did a “buy it now” full price for one item. They then never paid or contacted me on how to complete the transaction. You can’t do instant payment for local pickup items on ebay. I contacted them to complete the sale but they never responded back. So I cancelled the sale and relisted the item at a slightly lower price. My reasoning is that perhaps another seller who was selling the same item at a lower price may have wanted to disable my listing somehow. The buyer profile showed only 1 feedback. Could be a bogus account. So it goes.

Postmark Store: 6 items; no sales this week.

Etsy Store: 10 items; no sales this week.