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My Ship Has Sailed--on eBay!
My Next Visualization Experiment
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...
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.
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.
More from the Pen that Hawaiian Odysseus Couldn't Sell on eBay...
- The Pink Panther Soars on eBay!
How cool is the Pink Panther? The more appropriate question for Hawaiian Odysseus and his wife on a particular autumn Sunday was: How HOT is the Pink Panther?
- Sold in 11 Minutes and 15 Seconds--on ebay!
Personal records may not mean much to the rest of the world. Where they truly count is in challenging an individual to constantly improve his or her efforts. Here's a case in point...
- Raising the Bar...on eBay
Social responsibility in promoting vintage and contemporary print ads on eBay is just as important as social responsibility in the drinking of alcohol beverages. This hubber/eBayer considers it a privilege to convey this public service message.
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.
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!