Welcome to the 2nd edition of my e-zine. I have great news! Please read on to find out more about my new book for Wiley.
This e-zine is published every other Tuesday.
June 14, 2005 Volume I, Issue 2
In this issue:
- New York and Book Expo America
- Auction Drop or Sell it Yourself?
- The Unofficial Guide to Making Money on eBay for Wiley
New York and Book Expo America:
I just got back from New York and Book Expo America (BEA). BEA is the world’s biggest book publishing event. It draws all sorts of authors, book buyers, librarians, bookstore owners, agents, and press from around the country. I had a great time. To read more about it, please check out my blog at http://thequeenofebayauctions.blogspot.com/
Auction Drop or Sell it Yourself?:
Any time someone asks me what I do for a living and I answer ‘eBay’, they invariably want to know, ‘What do you think of those auction drop stores springing up everywhere?’ Here is my take on the whole thing!
It has been an amazing phenomenon. Auction drop stores have been springing up around the country faster than drive-through coffee houses. As a funny side note, I had an idea for an eBay drop-off store about three years ago and after running the numbers, decided that I could make much more money selling my own items. I also realized that the overhead (labor especially) would not allow these businesses to make money easily. My personal opinion is that these franchises are not going to make a whole lot of money and most will not last.
According to an article by David Steiner at Auctionbytes.com, he agrees with me. In January of 2005 Auctionbytes did a survey of 100 eBay drop-off stores and here is what they found. ‘It was apparent how labor-intensive this business is, with an average in excess of 20 minutes to research, caption, photograph and list one item on eBay. This did not take into account the amount of time spent packing, shipping and answering emails about the items. Looking at the results of this survey, it is obvious this is not a get-rich-quick business, but rather a challenging, labor-intensive one.’
I also personally believe that you can make a lot more money selling your own items for yourself. Who is going to do the best in-depth research and really care about your item? Of course, the answer is YOU, not some employee working for minimum wage.
As we have learned, eBay is a very labor-intensive undertaking and the money that you pay someone else to list and sell your own item could be going right into your own pocket. That is of course, if you do have the free time. Instead of watching TV, playing computer solitaire or socializing, you could be getting paid for that disposable time. It all depends what your priorities are. Is money or free time what motivates you? Let’s look at this closer in the next three sections.
If you have absolutely no free disposable time, then I would say that an ‘auction drop’ is for you. If you do not own a computer or digital camera and have no desire to buy one, then once again auction drops may be for you. If you have dial-up and cannot upgrade to DSL or cable, then I would point you in the direction of your local auction drop. They will take the mess, the stress and the learning curve out of the equation and do it all for you.
To wrap it up, the pros to an auction drop are:
1. It saves you the trouble of learning the ropes.
2. All the work is done for you.
3. You end up with more money than you started with.
In my opinion, there are many more ‘cons’ to Auction drops than there are ‘pros’ –the first con being that they take a huge chunk out of your sales price. Not only do they charge a percentage for selling, but they also charge you the actual eBay listing and selling fees. As an example, ‘I Sold It’ charges 30% of an item’s selling price plus the listing, selling and PayPal fees. On average, they charge 37%. Let’s just imagine that you have about $2,000 worth of great items to sell on eBay; this company would take $740! Yikes.
Next, they have stringent rules about what they will take. Most auction drops will not take any item that is worth less than $30. Hello, who knows what is worth less or more than $30 on eBay? I certainly don’t and I have been in the antiques and collectibles business for almost my whole life. Things that I think will not sell for anything sometimes sell for 100’s of dollars and things that I think will sell for big bucks, never sell. It is a whole new marketplace and these auction drops will only take very saleable and easy to sell items. They skim the cream of the crop and leave you with the challenging items. They do their research and if something has not sold for $30 or more, they turn you down. One of the nation’s largest sites, AuctionDrop.com, will not take an item if it is not worth more than $75. I have sold 50,000 items on eBay in the past seven years and my average sales price is $14. What does that tell you? It tells you that the majority of items being sold on eBay are not in the $75 range.
Another good thing to realize is that most of the time when I do my research, I still won’t know if something is going to sell and for how much. This is because eBay only gives us two weeks of completed auction research–it is just a small snapshot and not the big picture that a year’s worth of data would yield. It also really depends on how well you do with your title, description, photo, research and most importantly, who is watching the auctions that week?
If you go to some of the eBay drop web sites you will see that they only accept the easiest items to resell. They will often only take easily identifiable items that are signed with the maker’s marks like Lladro, Wedgwood, etc. They will not do the intense research required to find out what you have and what it could possibly be worth.
Also, these stores will not take items that are over a certain pound weight and over a certain dimension. ‘IsellIt’ will take things up to 150 pounds but AuctionDrop will only take items up to 25 pounds. They do this so that they do not have to ship anything that is oversized. This really limits you if you have furniture or another large item to sell (such as a car).
Finally, my grandmother always told me to never ever take items to sell on consignment. It is a big, huge headache. She told me, ‘Who is responsible if it is stolen or broken’? Please do your research and make sure that the place you are considering using is responsible. I would guess that most of them have you sign a waiver limiting their liability.
Here is a great web page from Ina and David Steiner at Auctionbytes.com. They have done an intensive look at the costs and terms from over 50 different auction drop houses. Check it out at http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/pages/consign
There are plenty of risks involved with using an auction drop–the first being, what if your item is lost, stolen or broken? You will probably be taking on this risk. Secondly, what if it doesn’t sell and you forget to pick it up? I would imagine that it is donated to charity or given away. Finally, what if the company is a fly-by-night operation and does not pay you? My very good friends, the Scalises, took some items to a consignment store here in Palm Desert. Their items sold, but they were never paid and the owner went bankrupt and closed his doors. Do your research and be very careful before you let someone sell your items for you. In fact, you may want to test them with some cheaper items first before you bring in the more expensive things. Please let me know your experiences with Auction Drops. I would love to hear more at Lynn@TheQueenofAuctions.com. Thanks!
The Unofficial Guide to Making Money on eBay for Wiley:
Some of you may already know about this if you have been reading my blog. For those of you who missed it, I got great news last week. I have been chosen to write The Unofficial Guide to Making Money on eBay for John Wiley Publishing. Wiley is a big New York publisher that has a lot of great authors and series. Some of you may be familiar with the ‘For Dummies’ series, ‘Frommer’s Travel Guides’, ‘Cliffs Notes’ and ‘Webster’s New World Dictionaries’ that they own. This is going to be one of their ‘Unofficial’ series books and I am thrilled to be the author. I had always wanted to write a basic how-to eBay book and was looking for the right fit. The book has to be completed and to my editor by August 15th for a publication date in December 2005. Wish me luck! That is a lot of writing in a short period of time. I will keep you posted.
Happy Buying & Selling!
Please contact me with any questions or suggestions for future issues. I would love to hear from you Lynn@TheQueenofAuctions.com