My Goodwill Store Haul, February 18, 2013
The Monday Thrift Store Haul
Yesterday--Monday, February 18, 2013--I shopped at two thrift stores.
I spent $16.88 at the Goodwill Store in Walla Walla.
About a dozen miles to the south, in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, I spent 50 cents at the Adventist Community Services thrift shop.
Total spent: $17.38.
Here's what I got:
- A Jo-Ann's nutcracker
- A vintage decorative lead crystal candy bowl
- 9 mugs, 4 of which are Starbucks mugs
Okay, so this is a cut and dry thrift store haul. Nothing really fancy. I wanted this social and entrepreneurial experiment to be as simple as possible.
The mission is straightforward. We are going to determine how much of a profit we can make after a week of listing every item in an auction.
02/26/13 Update--I am implementing a contingency plan. In the event that items do not sell after one week of listing, I will tweak the price or modify something else about the listing for a second week. If, after two weeks, the items have not been sold, I will transfer them to a Buy It Now (fixed price) listing in my eBay store. Giving items a couple of weeks on the auction block is a good strategy since eBay will refund you the initial listing fee should your item sell the second time around. You also have the potential to pick up new viewers during the second week.
I adhere to the premise that everything I list will eventually sell.Because I have a Premium eBay store subscription, my cost to list a Buy it Now item per month is 5 cents rather than the Basic Plan cost of 20 cents per item.
The goal is to sell everything.
However, some things do not typically do well in auctions. Normally, I list my mugs at fixed price Buy It Now items.
What this means is that, in order for me to get a quick turnover, I may have to keep the starting bid low, maybe as low as 99 cents, which consequently presents the risk of losing money if an item gets a low amount of bids.
However, for the sake of illustration, I'm willing to assume that risk. That, after all, is a very big part of what eBay entrepreneurship is all about.
02/25/13 Update--Due to unforeseen circumstances in my work schedule, I was unable to list all of the items in this haul on the same evening or at the initial listing prices as discussed above. In the additional text and photo sections that follow, I will discuss any modifications to my pricing and listing strategy.
How This Hub Will Be Utilized
I will publish this hub on the evening of Tuesday, February 19, 2013.
However, I will be making key additions to it such as photographs that will provide you, the reader, with a closer look at each item; any significant progress in the listings throughout the next week; as well as any other pertinent information.
Okay, then, here we go!
A Change of Plan for the Sake of Edification
When I created this hub, it was with the intent of demonstrating a typical Goodwill thrift store haul--or purchases of items that I could potentially resell for a profit on eBay--within a relatively short period of time.
A second intent was to use the hub as one of ten articles for the Ten Hubs in Ten Days Challenge issued by fellow hubber, Karen Hellier.
Having accomplished the second objective, I've since had time to rethink the first intention.
First of all, I was unable to list all the items on the same evening, so what ensued was a sporadic listing of the items over the last week, with the last two items listed just tonight--Monday, February 25th.
The initial objective is still the same--to demonstrate that it is possible to purchase items at thrift store prices and then resell them for a profit. The only things that I have decided to tweak are the time factor I gave myself to accomplish the objective and the somewhat related factor of pricing strategy.
My goal, after all, is to teach those readers who have directly expressed an interest in (or are at least thinking about) selling on eBay what I consider to be effective strategies for supplementing and even replacing traditional job income.
Don't get me wrong. I'm definitely an advocate for fun and entertainment--even when it comes to serious enterprises such as making a living--but I want to be true to my mission statement of teaching others effective methods of doing this...and not relegating this venture to a mockery of entrepreneurial endeavors.
That said, here's what I've done so far...
The Mugs--Grandpa and Grandma
02/18/13 Since two of the mugs were designed by artist, Sandy Tuzinski, and manufactured for Northwestern Products, I decided to list them together in the same auction. One mug was a tribute to Grandpa, and the other was the same for Grandma.
I listed both for a starting auction price of $9.99 with a Buy It Now price of $12.49. Shipping will be calculated according to the buyer's zip code, so this is not a Free Shipping listing.
02/25/13 Update: Mugs did not sell after the first week. I'm opting to bypass a second week of auctions and will instead place these in my store as a Buy It Now item with a $19.99 plus shipping price. I have one watcher.
Listing fees: $0.30 + $0.05.
The Mugs--Mickey Mouse; Fox Software; The Far Side; 2006 Starbucks Holiday
02/20/13 I listed four more of the mugs.
Disney theme mugs do fairly well on eBay. The brand name for this mug, Applause, is also a key word. I liked the frivolity of the artwork, displaying Mickey Mouse's exuberant face on one side of the mug and his backside on the other.
I purchased the next mug because I like the uniqueness of black mugs. I think it makes the artwork and logo stand out even more. Honestly, I don't know a thing about Fox Software. The orange silhouette of the fox and orange lettering give this mug a kind of Halloween aura.
I highly recommend The Far Side theme to eBay newbies wanting to engage in a mugs niche. In a forthcoming article, I will be writing about a sale I made of a mug with Gary Larson's iconic art and humor in record-breaking time. This particular mug from the recent Goodwill haul has a role reversal theme where a human is being patted by a dog.
The fourth and final mug that I listed on this date was a purple 2006 Starbucks holiday mug with a Christmas wish theme. This was the only item purchased on February 18th that didn't come from the Goodwill Store. Rather, I found it at an Adventist Community Services store in Milton-Freewater, OR.
Update: 11/29/13: 2006 Starbucks Purple Christmas Wish Holiday Mug sold for $20.69, free shipping. Net Profit: $9.70.
The Mugs--1995 and 2012 Starbucks Holiday
02/23/13 I listed the final three mugs, each bearing a Starbucks advertisement.
The first mug had a checkerboard look to it with alternating black and red rectangles taking up most of the mug's external surface area. Some of the rectangles had an illustration of a hot cup of coffee, and the others had the word, STARBUCKS, imprinted on them.
The final two mugs were identical, each bearing a red abstract Christmas tree on one side with STARBUCKS written sideways, adjacent and parallel to the handle. I listed one as an auction (with starting price of $9.99, just like the other mugs on auction) and the other as a Buy It Now for $19.99 plus shipping.
03/02/13 Update: The two mugs on auction did not sell during the first attempt. I relisted the red and black mug in a 7-day auction for a lower starting bid of $7.49. This was $2.50 less than my initial attempt. Again, I am using trial and error to find an optimal auction starting price for this item.
I relisted the Starbucks mug with the abstract red Christmas tree design in a 7-day auction with a starting bid of 99 cents. This way, I can determine if one price point works better than the other.
03/09/13: Neither mug sold after another week of auction. I relisted both at 99 cents for another week.
03/16/13: Again, neither mug sold. Fortunately, eBay is hosting free listings at this time, so I am taking advantage of this opportunity and am listing both mugs with a starting bid of $14.99 and a Buy It Now price of $19.99, with buyer paying shipping.
04/30/13 : I've relisted both mugs as store items at a nickel apiece.
05/09/13: SOLD the red and black checkered mug for $13.75 plus $10.25 shipping!
05/31/13: eBay's fee structure has changed. Cost to list for this month in the store was a dime apiece.
Listing fees: $0.55 + 0.35 + 0.20 + 0.10 +0.20.
Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores Young Woman Nutcracker Figurine
Okay, so this elegantly dressed young woman toting the Jo-Ann Stores bag seemed rather out of place on a shelf with shabby chic home decor items. I was moved to rescue her from her temporary surroundings at the local Goodwill Store and see if I could successfully play orphanage administrator and place her in a nice home somewhere in eBay Land.
She's a tall female, standing a fraction over 18 inches. The message at the bottom of the pedestal notwithstanding, I truly see her as a figurine masquerading as a nutcracker. She's too delicate to be relegated to cracking nuts. Instead, she needs to grace a fortunate owner's mantelpiece or have her own space among geisha dolls, vintage jewelry, miniature village architecture, or whatever collectibles are worthy of china hutch showcasing.
The figurine had a retail price of $39.99. I decided to list her in an auction on February 25th for $19.99 with a Buy It Now price of $24.99. We'll see what happens.
Update: Sold for $19.99 + $13.58 shipping. After expenses, I netted $11.87.
Hofbauer Lead Crystal Bowl
The Germans are noted for making some of the world's finest lead crystal masterpieces.
The last item I listed is certainly no exception. It is a Hofbauer lead crystal bowl. eBay hosts twelve images per listing for free, so I took a good number of pictures to highlight the gorgeous facets of this lovely piece when I listed it in an auction on February 25th.
At the local thrift store, I saw a middle-aged woman--herself another eBay seller--look at this piece and then set it down. I couldn't believe that she actually passed on it. Seconds after she left the area, I grabbed it. The sticker price said $6.99, a relatively high price for this store, but because it was a Monday, I knew that I could get 20% off, courtesy of the store's once-a-week senior discount. (Doing the math, that meant the piece would cost me $5.59 + 8.9% sales tax = $6.09.) I'll take that 90 cents savings any day if it means acquiring treasure like this.
I decided to put it up for auction with a starting bid of $9.99 and a Buy It Now price of $38.49. How did I choose that BIN figure? Someone else was attempting to sell a similar bowl for $39.99, so I simply plucked a number out of the air that was slightly less. Truly, it's not rocket science to strategize pricing schemes. It's really more about believing in God's providence, having a healthy dose of confidence, and providing excellent customer service.
Now, it's a matter of being patient. The nice thing is that I'm too busy repeating the entire process--thrift store treasure hunting, research, photographing, listing, selling, packaging, shipping--multiple times each week, each month, each year...that I simply have no time to watch the water boil.
Besides, I have lots of hubs to write...
03/03/13 Update: As of this date, there have been 10 bids, and the item is now up to $19.50. The sale of this one item will cover my costs for the entire haul, and the potential is still there for the other items to sell over time.
03/05/13 FINAL UPDATE: This item had a total of 13 bids and sold last night for $26.00. Including shipping, the buyer paid a total of $42.45. My total expenses came to $24.84 (cost of item = $6.09; listing fees = $0.45; PayPal fees = $1.53; final value fees = $3.18; and shipping expense = $13.59).
Net Profit: $17.61.
ROI (return on investment) = $17.61 divided by $6.09: 289%.