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My Ship Has Sailed--on eBay!

Updated on August 27, 2013
Collectible Ship in a Bottle
Collectible Ship in a Bottle | Source

My Next Visualization Experiment

Antique Hand Made Bronze Biplane ca 1920's
Antique Hand Made Bronze Biplane ca 1920's | Source

Visualization--A Vital Component of eBay Success

A staccato whisper cuts through the dimly lit warehouse. I instantly recognize the voice. It's my own.

Honey, check this out!

I hand her the item. It's basically a heavy jar attached to a wooden mount with two black metal straps. Inside the bottle is a magnificent replica of a sailing ship.

My better half gives me one of those looks, the kind I see a lot of when I'm yelling my head off whenever the Seahawks score a touchdown. It's a cross between a dazed I don't know what you're so excited about! and I'm in the middle of something important! Can it wait?

I ignore the look and--desperately trying to stifle my excitement--impulsively blurt out, I can sell this for $75!

I actually don't know why I say these words. Something's happened to me over the past year, ever since I quit my thankless graveyard shift bagel baking job in the Seattle area and moved back home, no longer wanting to be physically separated from my family in the pursuit of greener economic pastures.

I proudly admit that I'm a fool. I know it, and somehow accepting that I possess this quirkiness frees up the energy I'd otherwise spend attempting to quash that silly streak of mine in order to be normal like everyone else.

Truth be told, we're all quirky in our own distinct and unique ways. While most of us are driven to remain in the buffalo herd of life, I'm opting for a maverick lifestyle that manifests itself as foolhardiness masking an entrepreneurial shrewdness derived more from street survival savvy than Economics 318.

So why do I boastfully proclaim this to my wife when I'm fully aware that she's historically cognizant of my exaggerated sense of numerical estimates? (Hey, don't ask, it's not polite! And, besides, I was talking about the fish I've caught. Or--sigh!--almost caught.)

Quickly now...back to the ship...

A markerWalla Walla Regional Airport -
Walla Walla, WA, USA
get directions

About That Liquidation Warehouse

We're in this giant warehouse that's located across the street from the entrance to the Walla Walla Airport. It's a liquidation sales site that we've been frequenting and dropping a few bucks at about every two weeks. We've found some wonderful items here for ridiculously low prices.

I'm not exactly sure how their operation works. The little I do know is that the owner has contracted with local storage companies to buy their abandoned units at a discount. Everything is dumped into this warehouse where the handful of workers desperately try to organize the trash into resellable treasures.

There are basically three kinds of people who frequent this place.

First of all, you have the nouveau riche who've moved to the Walla Walla Valley, planted vineyards, and are raking in the big bucks as a result of the fantastic wines they're bottling. They're looking for those rare antique or vintage items to complement their western mansion decor.

The second group is the one I'd put my wife into, fairly or not. They're the I'm not in a Goodwill frame of mind this week; I'm just addicted to the hunt! They rationalize that they're finding gifts for family members when the truth of the matter might very well be that they want to get something nice for a very, very cheap price. I don't fault this motive at all, but the down side is that the accumulation of these alleged gifts over time qualifies the owners for starring roles in reality shows like A & E's Hoarders .

Ow! That really hurt! (Sorry...my wife just slapped me on the back of the head!)

Where was I? Oh, yeah.

The third group of people is the one I belong to. The pickers. The hustlers. The scroungers. The scrutinizers. The ones picking up items and looking underneath them to find the brand name, date, and any other useful information. We carry cellphones or other gadgetry that scan UPC codes or at least contain search windows in which we type out the key words.

We care about two sets of numbers--the here and now price we're going to have to pay for something, and the projected sales price flashing like bright neon lights in our mind's eye.

Call me a heel, call me a chauvinist pig, call me a narcissistic and manipulative scoundrel. Call me anything you like. I call myself a smart husband. I defer to my wife's intrinsic value and learned talent (from her German father) in haggling over the price with the warehouse supervisor.

It's really not that difficult, but I never feel comfortable with that part of our business. My wife, on the other hand, is like a fish in water when it comes to driving purchase prices down. We have packed two good-sized cardboard boxes full of vintage tin canisters, ceramic dishes, figurines, pottery, glassware, and other collectibles that I'd easily price at a hundred dollars or more. She walks up to the middle-aged guy, flashes a smile, and asks, "How much?" (I've taught her, you see, that the first person to mention a number loses.) She'll see him fidget, and then she moves in for the kill. I swear, it's like watching a mongoose vanquish a cobra.

One time, the guy said, "$10?" Almost as if he was apologizing for setting such a high price.

Another time, now somewhat acquainted with us, he timidly asked her, "$20? Is that too much?" Sensing weakness, my wife gave him an intimidating look and paused a few beats before saying, "How about $17?" He took it in a flash, and as we walked out of there, I told my wife, "We just made a killing!"

See, for me, the eBay sale isn't made when the customer pushes the Buy it Now button on his or her end. It actually occurs long before that. The actual profit is made when we haggle the price down and formally make the buy.

So, back to the statement I made to my wife, although part of me couldn't believe what was coming out of my mouth, the greater part of me was absolutely confident about what I was saying.

Visual WHAT?

It's called VISUALIZATION.

Simply put, it's all about: SEE THE PRICE. BE THE PRICE. BELIEVE IN THE PRICE. SEE IT AS THE CUSTOMER SEES IT. SEE THE CUSTOMER LOOKING AT IT. SEE THE CUSTOMER CONSIDERING IT. SEE THE CUSTOMER WALKING AWAY...THEN COMING BACK TO IT. SEE THE CUSTOMER TAKING THE PLUNGE.

Visualization--The Incredible Power of Words

No matter how good one's camera might be, the images it captures of the item you're selling pale in comparison to the aesthetic reality of that item. A picture might be worth a thousand words, and a dozen pictures, twelve thousand words.

But whether it's the way words depicting vivid imagery roll off my tongue as I uninhibitedly read my writing out loud in the solitude of the upstairs bedroom/office or actually look like on the eBay page they eventually appear on, I have a preference for the spoken word.

The best way I can explain my bias is to take you back to the original Garden. No, I'm not going to preach at you. I simply am going to facilitate your understanding of visualization .

In reading Genesis, I don't see any reference to God having or using a camera in the cataclysmic process of creation. He simply spoke into existence what He'd already visualized.

Point being: There is incredible power in the speaking (or writing) of words.

On eBay, rules have changed over the years, making it now mandatory for all listings to have pictures. And the pictures have to be a certain size.

I have no problem with the use of pictures. I make the case that images and words, effectively visualized in one's mind before actually being crafted, contain a great deal of power and energy. Words and images complement each other to the nth degree and, more often than not, result in successful sales.

Okay...But Aren't You Forgetting Something?

Actually, I haven't.

I just wanted to let my rudimentary concepts of visualization sink in a little bit before moving on.

Okay, so about the time I uttered the rather loud whisper to my wife in that old yet treasure-laden warehouse, a young man in the French city of Lyon gets a slight tickle in his left ear. A prominent and successful contemporary mix-master, Laurent is acquainted with that tickle. It accompanies those Eureka! moments when the music no one else hears flows past his ear drum...a slow trickle of single-note drops at first, gradually building to a waterfall crescendo.

Laurent capitalizes on those moments, the sudden, impulsive tidal wave of energy flowing from the creative recesses of his mind down to his hands and fingers as he manipulates the electronic turntable and makes incredible sound waves that turn an auditorium full of his devoted fans into the proverbial little children who just can't stop following their minstrel pied piper.

This same new wave maestro, if you will, was sensitively attuned to the whispered message I uttered to my wife on September 9, 2012. On the 11th, I listed the ship you see in the photo above for $74.99. (I wasn't trying to be cute. It's just another of my outside the box, quirky tactics that nag just enough at a potential customer to catch that second or third look.)

Unbeknownst to me, I had already connected with Laurent Caligaris' auditory sense. Now, he was building a bridge back to me with his visual sense. Ultimately, we connected, and he bought the item for $74.99.

But the story doesn't end there. No kidding, there's more.

On my end, I was whoopin' and hollerin' and driving my wife nuts! Yes! Somebody bought it! And it's a Frenchman! No significance in that last statement except a reflection on the fact that: 1) The ship in the bottle was a miniature replica of a Spanish galleon; and 2) Weren't the French and the Spanish constantly at each other's throats in the 1700's?

Anyway, Laurent had the audacity to renege on his bid and actually found a way to cancel it without first communicating with me. I was pissed!

I drafted a nasty letter to him and...thankfully...slowed down enough to bring the boiling cauldron of lizard and spider guts inside of me to an easy simmer. Remembering the basic tenet of successful entrepreneurship--The customer is always right!--I politely thanked him for his interest in the item and wished him well.

Sonofagun, wouldn't you know it? The very next day, he emailed me back and said that his wife had been very upset with him for not honoring his commitment to buy the ship, and would I please allow him to bid on it again? (At that moment, I thanked God for having had the good sense not to have placed Laurent on a blocked bidder status.)

Long story short, Laurent purchased and paid for the ship in a bottle on September 17, and it was promptly mailed to him that same afternoon.

The nuts and bolts of it all? The ship cost me a measly dollar. Accounting also for the eBay, PayPal, and shipping fees, my net profit came to $69.62.

Not bad.

So whether you're interested in selling on eBay or asking the cute brunette barista out to dinner or accepting chrisinhawaii's goofball The HubPages Midnight Challenge (just kidding, Chris!) or Karen Hellier's 10 Hubs in 10 Days Challenge commencing October 1st, try this visualization technique out. I can tell you from my own experience--It Works!

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  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @rajan jolly

    Thank you, my friend, for finding this dated hub and taking the time to read, enjoy, and comment on it. It's that kind of "going the extra mile" personable behavior that makes me appreciate the "total package" writer and genuine individual that you are here in this literary community. Glad you liked this one, and I look forward to reading your next contribution to the HubPages readership. Aloha from SE Washington state!

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Joe, I certainly enjoyed reading this absorbing story and my friend your visualization is a very strong tool you have, made all the more powerful, with the power of positive thinking behind it.

    I enjoy reading about all your Ebay successes, my friend. Keep them coming!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @bactobasics

    Thanks for taking time to explain the concept of car boot sales, Annie. Sounds similar to our flea market adventures which, incidentally, I have yet to attend. My wife just mentioned going to one the other day, so I'm looking forward to it...as a buyer the first time, and then perhaps someday as a seller.

    Best wishes to you for a wonderful week ahead in beautiful Espana!

  • bac2basics profile image

    Anne 4 years ago from Spain

    Hi Hawaiian. Oh I am so thrilled to make your following up to 100.

    Car boot sales are very popular in the UK, and a typical pastime for lots of people to visit, as a seller or buyer on a sunny Sunday during the summer . Usually held in the open air or occasionally under cover, you just load your car up, drive to the venue, and then lay your table of goodies out with the hope of at least paying your pitch fee and coming home with a few bob in your pocket. Car boot sales in the UK can be huge affairs, and it´s rare not to have a good day out at them, even if you have to be up at the crack of dawn if you are a seller.

    Many thanks for your fantastic praise, and also for your follow.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @bac2basics

    Hi, Annie! Went to your profile page, saw all your accolades, and scanned some of your titles and complementary photographs. I am so impressed! In just a relatively short amount of time, you've achieved so much. So I'm honored that you stopped by and read one of my hubs...and even more so to be followed by you. You are my 100th follower, and that's a wonderful hallmark to lay claim to. I'm so grateful!

    Car boot sales, huh? Is this like a yard sale but done from the car? Interesting name. In any event, I know that you would be successful with it and enjoy yet another stream of revenue. Why? Because my sense is that you're a kindred spirit...you think outside the box, and you're not afraid to try new things. You can definitely utilize your writing skills in forming interesting descriptions for your items. Anyway, let me know if I can be of any help to you along the way.

    In the meantime, it's great to make your acquaintance and to have a new neighbor here in the HubPages community. Aloha, Annie!

  • bac2basics profile image

    Anne 4 years ago from Spain

    Hi Hawaiian. I really enjoyed this hub, love your writing style, and had to laugh when you said your wife had slapped you on the back of the head, in fact I´m chuckling still. The content I found very interesting too. I have been known to do car boot sales ( you probably call them something different where you live) but only ever sold stuff that I owned, or that was donated to me by those desperate to clear out their junk . A few weeks ago however I went to visit my daughter in the UK and thoroughly enjoyed slobbing out in front of the TV watching programmes like " under the hammer" where teams go out buying stuff and then sell on at auctions, I found it fascinating and yearned to learn the perceived values of these things . During my car booting days I became aware that certain of my customers really knew their stuff and also that what I sold for a pittance would be sold on by them for a whole lot more, to be honest they really got up my nose, but 15 years later I can now see the wisdom of their way´s and so after reading this helpful hub, and learning more about eBay, I might just venture into becoming one of those people like yourself who learns what they need to know and makes a profit from doing it too. Great hub, voted up across the board and thanks for sharing.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thanks, Gamerelated! I really appreciate your kind words...they were timely in that I'm sitting at a coffee shop in downtown Walla Walla right now VISUALIZING this very moment about a Hub where I finance my next trip to Hawai'i in large part by stopping in at thrift stores and shopping at yard and estate sales with family members.

    My son lives and works in California, and I miss him a lot! Seeing that you're writing from California triggers both memories of his "little boy" years and visions of seeing him again soon. Ditto with my daughter who happens to be in Cambodia for a nine-month term as a student missionary teaching the young kids English and math.

    Your feedback means a lot to me because every writer needs affirmation that they're connecting with their readers. Plus, I know how busy we writers are, so it's really nice that you took time to read my work and comment on it. Good for you! Thanks for making a positive difference here on HubPages, Gamerelated! Aloha, my friend!

  • Gamerelated profile image

    Gamerelated 4 years ago from California

    Hello hawaiianodysseus, you do a great job of visualizing I can tell by your writing. Every time I read your writing images swirl through my mind. Reading your hubs helps me get my imagination going, especially this one about visualization. You do a great job of taking the reader on a journey, keep up the good work.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Eh, howzit, chrisinhawaii?

    You have some of the most awesome hubs, brah! Thanks for yesterday's challenge--that was fun!

    So today my modem gave up the ghost. I had to go down to the local library and split time between there and a nearby Starbucks to do my online stuff. Fortunately, the cable company came by tonight and resolved the problem, so I'm good to go again. My daily activities are sometimes like a shark frenzy...a bit of Hubbin' here, lots of eBay there, from sunrise to late in the evening.

    But you know, Chris, it's rewarding in so many ways.

    Anytime you'd like to get started or have questions about eBay, please feel free to contact me. I'll be more than happy to help you!

    Aloha!

  • profile image

    chrisinhawaii 4 years ago

    Dude! French wives are the BEST! (Well, right after Filipino/Japanese/Okinawan wives, that is...)

    An entertaining read, that's for sure. And encouraging too! I've been considering getting into eBay (finally), and it's great to see that people can still do pretty well on there.

    Aloha!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @KathyH

    I wish one could put pictures up in the comments section. Found this lovely seascape painting at a yard sale and paid only $2 for it. Currently have it up for sale on eBay, and with a couple of days left, it's at $20+...a humble amount, but with more upwards potential. The nifty thing about it was that I needed an expert to identify where this picture might have been taken. The area looked vaguely familiar, like I had seen it before, but I've never traveled to Europe.

    But my son did...for a quarter of his graduate studies, that fortunate young man traveled through almost all of Europe. I emailed him a photo, and in no time, he responded, "Amalfi Coast!" And then I remembered how he had taken and posted hundreds of photos online, and that is why I thought the place looked so familiar.

    Point being--God has this wonderfully strange way of connecting the dots. I'm glad to be your neighbor on HubPages, and if what I write about--mostly eBay--moves you to do something fun and wholesome, then I'm blessed for having been a blessing.

    Good for you, by the way, for meeting Chris's midnight challenge. Looking forward to running into you now and then here on HP!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @kashmir56

    I was in the midst of writing two paragraphs to you at the local library when my time ran out...and I lost everything. Sorry about that. But it gives me an opportunity to re-read your kind comments and respond in like fashion.

    Tom, YOU have been a wonderful inspiration to me. We writers come to HubPages with dreamy expectations and a whole lot of lifetime experiences, unfulfilled aspirations, and a mixed bag of emotions. We each go through the wringer producing these articles, stories, and poems in the hopes that we can better our lot in life and/or contribute a little bit more of ourselves to the world at large. Along the way, what really keeps us going are the encouraging and supportive words of our fellow Hubbers. I am grateful to you, Tom, for serving both roles--the writer and the Hubmate! Aloha to you, brother!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Kathy! So nice to hear from you. I love both worlds, actually--eBay and writing--and have found a way for each to complement the other with a relatively nice fit. I'll be the first to admit that I'm crazy about going treasure-hunting; the added bonus is that it's a fun date with my wife!

    I'm visualizing good things for us both here on HubPages! Keep at it, Kathy! I haven't made payday 1 yet, but I'm like a dog gnawing at the proverbial bone. : )

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Ka'imi'loa! Got one in, and just barely, because my modem gave up the ghost. So I'm down at the library with seven minutes to go. Hopefully, the tech will be out to help us tonight. Later, brah!

  • kashmir56 profile image

    Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

    Hi my friend glad your still listening to your wife. I have enjoyed reading another great adventure in finding these great treasures you find,love the ship in the bottle. I also enjoy reading your hub because of your writing style, you are a awesome writer and i am so happy to be one of your followers.

    Vote up and more !!!

  • KathyH profile image

    KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

    I sold a lot of things on Ebay before moving to Las Vegas, things I came across cleaning out the basement. Most of the time it was a great experience, I did get burned once though. Very interesting hub, you have me interested in selling again! :)

    I did find one GREAT item at Goodwill once... I bought a picture for $3.99 and searched on the internet and found out that this same picture (it had a number at the bottom which made me think it was worth some money, something like 117/500... that kind of number). It also had the artists name on it. I found out people were paying over $850 for it! I was shocked!! We kept it, though, because we like the picture, but what a bargain for only $3.99!! Someone apparently didn't realize what they had! ;)

    Now I'm thinking of trolling Goodwill and Salvation army again for treasures! I bet I would make more than writing $5 articles at an article writing site. ;)

  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

    Ok Hawaiianodysseus, the other hubbers and I are waiting for that hub you have been fleshing out. Thanks for the good wishes for our trip. This will be like a second honeymoon for us...to Hawaii no less, and Tahiti too. My children have finally flown the nest and we are looking forward to just being together. Those kinds of experiences I am sure will spark many hubs. When I come back, I will be trying my hand at Ebay due to your inspiration. Feel free to keep those Ebay hubs coming! Now that I think of it, when I come back, I will probably have over 500 hubs to read...yikes!

  • benisan85745 profile image

    Ka'imi'loa 4 years ago from Tucson, AZ.

    Meh....too many words.

    Nah Uncle, you get'em yeah! I don't know if I'll be able to do da'kine Chris' challenge, but I will try Karen-san. Not sure, keep a lookout by midnight I guess.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @howlermunkey

    Thanks, and back at you, my friend! Awesome layout you've got there on your profile page! Was that background from a photo you took? I gotta clean my site up, that's for sure! You have some terrific hub topics, and you cover them very well. That's why your encouragement and constructive comments mean a great deal to me. Aloha, and--please!--keep up the wonderful work you're doing.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @ Karen Hellier

    You are most welcome, my friend! One of the Hub ideas I hope to flesh out sometime between the 1st and 10th of next month has to do with Hubbers who have moved me with their writing talent. Are your ears burning? They should be because I've been visualizing a successful Hub that mentions you (and the others) in it. : )

    Karen, not to embarrass you, but the reason I commit the above paragraph to a written form here on HP is because I am the world's worst procrastinator. But I am getting pretty good at keeping my commitments these days. So if I make the commitment, I'm obligated to follow through with it. I know that practically none of this makes any sense, but I'm at least able to follow my own thread of reasoning. : )

    By the way, God bless you and your husband as you go on that nice, long vacation! We'll miss you during that time but will also look forward to the wealth of Hub action flowing from your fingers as you tap the keyboard upon your return.

  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

    Wow, what a fantastic story. The story itself about visualization is quite interesting, but the best part is the way you tell it. I especially liked the part about the slap on the head by your wife...no, just kidding! By the way, I am in the same category as your wife in the 3 categories you described! I would like to be in your category though. All your stories about Ebay have made me quite interested in selling there. I successfully sold one item a year ago. I have no idea why I have not continued because as I have been sorting through my "hoarded" gifts over the past few months in preparation for a move, I think Ebay will be my only way out of here alive!!! Thanks for your entertaining hub, and the mention at the end. Voted up and everything across the board!

  • howlermunkey profile image

    Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

    Hawaiianodysseus, You are a great story teller! I read that from start to finish. Awesome, interesting, up and sharing.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @wetnosedogs

    Yes, wives are good about keeping their errant hubbies in line. Ha-ha!

    I like your unique writing style, WND. Been thinking a lot lately about the Hubbers who have inspired, encouraged, and moved me with their writing, and you're definitely one of them.

    Good to have you as a neighbor here on HP!

  • wetnosedogs profile image

    wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

    Hope you comment in Chris's hub and give him the title. I believe you have time. I got one and not nearly as good as yours. You have a great writing ability and let me say, bless your wife. I couldn't haggle with prices, either. Also happy the ship in the bottle sold. Good thing the Frenchman's wife got after him.

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