- Business and Employment»
- E-Commerce & How to Make Money Online
Starbucks City Mugs Are Hot!
If You Travel
When in Rome, do as the Romans do...go to the local Starbucks Coffee shop and enjoy your beverage of choice.
And while you're there, do yourself a favor--spend a few bucks and purchase a Starbucks city mug.
In just a few years, your small touristy investment could net you surprisingly huge dividends.
Replace Rome with the name of any other major global city...or island...or nation, and the same scenario holds true.
Starbucks city mugs are hot! Even when they're empty!
Case in Point
A great example is the Aachen mug featured here, part of the 1994 Starbucks Coffee City Mugs Collector Series.
Up until just recently, I had never heard of Aachen, so I did some casual research. From an eBay seller's perspective, I was specifically interested in the two images of the Starbucks mug's design.
Aachen is the westernmost city of Germany. It is located in the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, formed in 1946 as a merger between two former parts of Prussia, the northern Rhineland and Westphalia. Aachen is bordered on the west by both Belgium and the Netherlands.
The favorite residence of Charlemagne (742-813)--the first Roman Emperor since the demise of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier--Aachen remained an important city through most of the Middle Ages. It served as the principal coronation site of more than 30 Holy Roman emperors and German kings from the Middle Ages to the Reformation.
A statue of Charlemagne is featured on one side of the mug.
On the other side is an image of Aachen Cathedral.
Here's a Hub About a Delicious Brew by Gifted Guest Writer, Hawaiian Scribe
- Is Guatemala the Motherland of Kona Coffee?
Kona Coffee remains Hawai'i's premier brew, and is world-renowned for its gourmet flavor. Read about its interesting history and the important link with Guatemala. Watch a 7 minute video of Kona Coffee pioneer Miyoshi Moromoto and his coffee farm.
Not a Jetsetter? Then How About Jaunts Through Town?
Recently, my good friend and fellow hubber, Karen Hellier, asked me a couple of generic questions about selling on eBay. Interestingly enough, the opening segment of this article is an almost verbatim account of my email response to her.
Karen and her husband, Chuck, do a lot of traveling. I simply suggested that it would behoove her to invest in a Starbucks mug from each major city along their itinerary.
But what about those of us who don't engage in any long distance traveling?
Well, you can do what my wife and I do...we aislin' hop (my apologies to the state of Hawai'i for a poor attempt at contriving a pun) through our local thrift stores and trip on over to the various yard, garage, and estate sales in our community. Sometimes we throw caution to the wind and even go out of state...all eleven miles to our Oregonian sister city, Milton-Freewater. Once a month or so, we hit another Oregon city, Hermiston, which is about an hour away. Back in Washington, we occasionally go on day excursions to the Tri-Cities--Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland--also located about an hour away. About four times a year, we make the five-hour drive over the snow-capped Cascade Mountain Range for a combination buying trip and visitation with my wife's siblings in the Seattle area.
I'm sure you get my point. Just plug in your own favorite thrift sites. Collectible Starbucks Coffee mugs can be found virtually everywhere.
Lest I forget, the most obvious place to find them are at Starbucks Coffee shops. A few days ago, that's exactly what I did. My wife had an appointment with a chiropractor in Hermiston, Oregon, so I had her drop me off at a Starbucks Coffee shop to do some eBay and HubPages work on my laptop. After placing my order with the baby boomer female barista (I think it's pretty cool to see members of my generation working at Starbucks), I browsed through the mugs on the shelves and purchased three cool looking ones--two with a Sumatra Tiger design and one that featured a Yukon Bear.
As is the case with all my purchases specific to re-selling on eBay, I mentally crunched the numbers before making my payment. The mugs each cost $8.95, so my total came to $26.85. There is no sales tax in Oregon, so that helped with my bottom line. I am going to auction the two tiger mugs together as a pair with a starting price of, say, $44.99, with a Buy It Now price of $54.99. I will tag the item with Free Shipping, the cost of mailing already absorbed into the price. The bear mug will be listed as a Buy It Now item for, hmm, $27.99.
At any given time on eBay, someone will pay the price I set for my items.
Surprisingly enough (but not to those who've been reading my meandering banter for some time), I digress.
This article is about the Aachen mug, and we need to be mindful of it.
Especially since the rest of this will be presented in real time as we track the progress of this beautiful mug on eBay.
More Hubs About Selling on eBay
- How to Sell Your Mugs on eBay
Whether you're an ebay veteran or newbie, collectible decorative mugs are fascinating items to procure and sell. In this how-to article, Hawaiian Odysseus engages in his favorite pastime--mugging it up for his readers.
- Ten Great Items for Newbies to Sell on eBay
When a fellow writer requested an article about items a new member could sell on eBay, Hawaiian Odysseus was up for the task. He learned just as much from the writing of it as he hopes his readers will.
- 1 Cent Opening Bid for Spider-Man on ebay--What am I...
Establishing integrity as a writer sometimes involves reporting about the bad (almost) as readily as the good, especially when it's embarrassing to the author. Here's an interesting example of a writer putting this into practice in real time.
- A Simple Illustration of Arbitrage on eBay
What is entrepreneurial arbitrage, and how does it work? In this relatively abbreviated Hub, the writer and eBay seller provides his readers with an elementary example that anyone can utilize at any level, whether novice or professional.
- Selling Old Collectible Vintage Art Print Ads on eBay
A retired baker, looking to expand his eBay business, engages in a new niche--selling vintage magazine ads on eBay. He shares his initial steps of progress as well as positive results.
But First, A Behind the Scenes Look at the Starbucks Aachen Mug
So one day not too long ago, my wife came home from shopping at SonBridge Community Center Thrift Store in our bedroom community of College Place. She has a penchant for showing me the various things she purchases on her solo buying trips, completely oblivious to the fact that I'm busily scrambling to get things packaged up so I can get them to the post office before it closes. But (sigh!), if I want a nice dinner, as I've learned over time, smart (and hungry) husband that I am, I'll stop what I'm doing, assume the role of a very patient and attentive spouse (very difficult for a Type A personality like me), and try hard not to glance over her shoulder at the ticking clock.
She brings out a couple of items, each time exclaiming, "Isn't this cool?"
18 minutes to 5! Yikes! "Oh, yeah, honey! Wow! Nice!"
"Wait! I'm not finished. There's one more thing."
Good thing the post office is just a few blocks away."Oh?"
My wife pulls out this orange and white mug.
Before she can say anything, I'm on it! "Oh, my goodness! It's a Starbucks city mug!" Now, I've never seen this exact design before, but the general pattern of the mug instantly triggers my recall of mug designs I've been recently researching on eBay. I know for a fact that these mugs can fetch top dollar from enthusiastic collectors.
"How much did you pay for this?"
"Oh, fifty cents." Okay, so with our 8.7% state sales tax, that comes to 54 cents. FIFTY-FOUR CENTS?(By now, the all too familiar eBay adrenaline rush has kicked in!)
"Honey, this is exciting! Wow! You did good!"
Later that evening, after successfully mailing my eBay packages and enjoying another delicious dinner, I did the research for this specific mug design, I found that the Aachen mug was quite desirable and had the potential to command a pretty decent price.
Okay, then, I've brought you up to speed. Here we go in real time mode!
Current Status of the Starbucks Aachen Mug
As I write these words, the time is 1:03 AM PST. The date is Saturday, January 19, 2013.
On Sunday evening, January 13, I listed the item with a starting auction price of 99 cents.
With approximately one day and twenty hours left to go on this auction, there have been nine bids placed. Currently, the item is at $42.00. Even if the auction were to end here, I've already made a decent profit.
But I have reason to believe that the price will climb even higher. The item has received 80 views, and there are 10 watchers, each of whom is a potential bidder.
I'm going to bed now. Let's see if things get a bit more interesting tomorrow.
Real Time Updates
It's the last day of the 7-day auction, Sunday, January 20, 2013. The auction will be over at 9:11:09 PST tonight.
- With just under seven hours to go, there are now eleven bids. The bid amount is currently $51.00.
- Nothing happened for the last five hours and forty minutes. But with just under 1 hour and 20 minutes left, two more bids have been made on this mug. The current high bid is $61.77. Maybe, just maybe, there's still some action just around the bend. Stay tuned!
- At 9:11:01, just eight seconds prior to the auction ending, someone places a bid for $71.20. Does he win? No, he doesn't.
- The reason he doesn't win is that someone else had placed a bid at 9:10:58, just three seconds before him, that was higher than the $71.20 bid. What essentially happened, then, is that the second place bidder ended up pushing the eventual winner's bid $1.00 higher than his own.
- The winning bid, therefore, was $72.20!
A Final Reckoning
Okay, then, this was fun!
Let's take a look at the final numbers.
With shipping, the buyer paid $86.05.
Here are my expenses:
- The cost of the mug was $0.54.
- Fees for two prior failed attempts to auction the item off with initial prices much higher than 99 cents cost me $2.00.
- Listing fee for an auction with a starting bid of 99 cents was $0.10.
- The PayPal fee was $2.80.
- eBay sellers in good standing who use eBay's shipping labels receive a discount on mailing. My shipping cost was $11.95.
- The eBay final value fee was $5.19.
- Total fees: $22.58.
$86.05 minus $22.58 equals $63.47 profit. Not bad!
My friends, I share this experience with you not to pat myself on the back. Some of you know very well that I've shared the disappointments as readily as I have the triumphs. When I ponder it all, both failures and successes are kinfolk along the learning curve of life.
So, no, it's not about showing off. I give the glory and thanks to God.
My mission in writing these articles about my eBay experiences is to demonstrate that it is possible to initially complement and eventually replace your regular job with your own business. I'm no expert by any means, but I do have the courage and motivation to share with you lessons learned along this entrepreneurial path of my Hawaiian Odyssey. If by chance you should learn even one small thing as a result of reading what I write, that would indeed be a blessing for the two of us.