While we were putting together our latest video, it stuck me about how some of the easiest things to sell on eBay are those that are useful and/or necessary to the buyer. When I first began on eBay, pretty much anything would sell since internet marketing (and eBay) was still in its infancy.
Demand was higher than the supply at the time, and of course today it’s just the opposite (with the exception of truly rare items). I still love offering scarce items. But, it’s called “scarce” and “rare” for a reason – I don’t stumble across one-of-a-kind pieces every day.
The things I do seem to find more often include everyday, “useful” stuff.
As I mention in the video, I happened upon an estate sale that was organized by the family of someone who had evidently been a hoarder. There were a lot of happy dealers at that sale, including me.
I noticed that a lot of people were walking right by a lot of glucose test strips – the strips that people use to test their blood sugar. These things can be expensive, and if someone needs one box, they’re going to need a bunch of them. I bought the entire lot for next to nothing, and within a couple of days of having listed them, someone bought them for $240.
The buyer saved some money; I made some money. Everyone is happy.
I love buying new old stock. I don’t even have to know what something is (necessarily). If I see something still in its blister pack and it has a $40 price tag on it and I get it for $2, I’m a happy guy. You don’t have to only check eBay to see what something is going for; you can also check on Amazon to see what a similar item is selling for.
So, just think about that when you’re out and about. I’m not saying to bypass the antiques or jewelry, but keep your mind open to useful items that the average person is looking for. Some of easiest things to sell on eBay are often right in front of us and being ignored by other buyers.
It’s hard for me to believe sometimes, but this month marks 19 years that I first sold my first item on eBay. It was a 2-book set about the Wright Brothers. No picture; no template – just a brief description of what I had, and that was the start of it!
Of course a lot of things have changed in 19 years – some good, some not-so-good.
First, some of the good stuff.
International Shipping on eBay is Great
I have to say that one of the things that eBay did for me (us) that I’m most grateful for is that they made international shipping a whole lot easier than it was before.
In the past, I had to do a lot of research about whether or not I could send certain items to certain countries. I had to fill out customs forms, work on figuring out the postage, etc. It made selling to customers outside the US really difficult, and sometimes I wouldn’t do it, depending on the item.
Today, however, all I have to do is send my international purchases to an address in Kentucky, and eBay takes care of the rest. They seriously have made international selling a pleasure again!
Still, there are a few things I don’t like
Of course, eBay is not without its faults. I still don’t like the fact that a seller cannot leave an honest negative feedback to a buyer; however, buyers have free reign on feedback. Also, buyers don’t always seem to understand that an item that is purchased through an auction is historically non-refundable. eBay tends to side with the buyer if they have buyer’s remorse.
You can’t get away with that in a live auction – that is, at a physical auction house. You buy it, you own it. Period.
And yet, through it all, eBay is still my selling venue of choice. I also buy a lot of stuff on the platform for my own use – both for business and for the household. I’ve looked at a number of different venues to sell my stuff, and I always wind up deciding to remain with eBay.
What about selling on Amazon?
Today, we all hear about selling on Amazon, and my wife and I both know people who do so, and many who do so with great success. Selling on Amazon isn’t something I’m ready to do myself, however, because the items that I typically purchase for resale seem to fit more into the eBay model.
And, if I find that my item isn’t quite right for eBay, depending what it is (furniture or glass products, for example), I’m happy to offer it on Craigslist, or send it to live auction. We sell at small, local auctions, and we have also been venturing into selling at larger auction houses (e.g. Swann Auction Galleries, where we’ve sent a few items).
My busiest “eBay season” tends to be winter, because once my building and carpentry season ends up north, Kathy and I head south where I can yard-sale to my heart’s content, and find an almost never-ending supply of great things to resell in order to make my living while I’m away.
Where I live in the north country of New Hampshire during the summer, as much as it’s awesome to drive around in the mountains and head down to the “big city” (e.g. North Conway or Littleton or into Maine towards Portland), we can put over 100 miles on the car in a single day and make it to only 5-10 yard sales – sometimes a few more, but also sometimes hardly any.
In Florida, I can drive around on any given Friday or Saturday morning, and hit 20 yard sales and drive less than 40 miles. That doesn’t include the dozens of thrift stores that are within a reasonable drive, and where I also find stuff to sell! Of course, it’s not in how many sales you hit, or how many miles you drive, but the results that matter.
In order to show you results, I’ve got a YouTube channel where I do my best to document the stuff I find – whether it’s profitable or not! If you haven’t subscribed to my channel, I hope you’ll consider doing so! You can find me on YouTube at my “Johns Yard Sale Finds” channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/JohnsYardSaleFinds.
In the meantime, thank you for stopping by the website! I appreciate your visit. Here’s the video I just uploaded today to get the ball rolling! This vid shows the results of Friday’s yard sale haul!
When I’m home in New Hampshire during the summer, it is a rare Saturday morning that I’m NOT going to yard sales. Buying at yard sales has been an integral part of my buying and selling business for so many years now, that I’m not sure what a sunny Saturday morning would be like without going yard saleing!
It has really just become a natural extension of my life.
When we began heading to the southern US for these last few winters, it was great! I could yard sale my way through the entire winter with scarcely missing a beat. Up north, yard sales pretty much cease to exist once Columbus Day hits. When we were here in the winter, the best I could do would be to visit the few thrift stores and occasional group shop that would be open and within driving distance.
Otherwise, I had to depend on the inventory I collected in the summer to sell during the winter.
In heading south for the winter, I had to be judicious in deciding what to bring with us to get rolling on eBay as soon as we arrived at our winter rental. I really can’t afford to be without income for more than a week or so. Before we left, I pre-loaded a bunch of items for sale into Turbo Lister (the listing software for eBay) – all stuff I could carry down south with us that wasn’t too bulky.
Then, all I had to do was “flip the switch” as it were, to start all the auctions running at once.
This last winter, we arrived in Florida on Tuesday, November 22nd – just a couple of days before Thanksgiving. We took a few days to unpack, get the lay of the land, get stocked up on our groceries, and then Friday morning, I was out at a local flea market I’d located, as well as some yard sales.
There weren’t a ton of yard sales that particular weekend, which is understandable since it was Thanksgiving weekend. But there were enough to get me out the door and driving around to learn the neighborhoods, roads, and where the “perpetual” yard sales tended to be. By “perpetual” yard sales, I mean the types where the homeowners are out there every single weekend, typically trying to sell the same tired old inventory that’s getting dustier and grimier with every weekend that they take the tarps off the peeling and bowing and delaminating plywood tables.