eBay H*O*R*S*E* August 2013--The Smalls
What's This About an eBay H*O*R*S*E*?
H*O*R*S*E* is an acronym for Hawaiian Odysseus' Report on Sales Earned.(Hawaiian Odysseus is my pen name on the literary writing site, HubPages.) This is an initial report on the eBay niche of smalls.
- 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.
- Ten Freebies I Have Sold on eBay
FREE is a great word in anyone's vocabulary. In the entrepreneurial world of an eBay seller, it's a godsend to be able to acquire free inventory that one can turn around and sell for a profit.
The Significance of Smalls
I came from a small home in a small town on a small island in a small state. My very roots dictated that I would have a passion for the smalls in life.
I learn new things every day of my life. It's one thing that reminds me that I'm still alive.
For example, I recently did a cursory review of my sales history for the last eleven years or so as an eBay seller. I was surprised to find that since July 18, 2002, working only part-time at this amazing venture, my gross sales have been $111,956.54. Doing the math, that averages out to a little over ten grand a year. That's not much bread, but it certainly kept me in peanut butter and jelly.
These figures are neither anything to crow about or sneeze at. For illustrative purposes and writer's credibility, it is what it is. At the very least, it offers elementary evidence that an individual can supplement his or her income by selling on eBay.
99% of those sales resulted from the selling of smalls--items $50 or less, with the majority in the $5 - $20 range.
While the home run sales are fun and exciting, they account for only 1 percent of my 10,000+ transactions.
Truly, the Clydesdales of my eBay sales have been the nickel and dime endeavors.
My Small Intention
I am thrilled beyond measure each time I write another human interest story about my online entrepreneurship. The feedback I've received lends credence to the idea that there are many who are just now getting their feet wet in the eBay waters and countless others who have not yet taken the plunge but are certainly walking along the beach. In addition, the so-called veteran eBayers among us enjoy getting splashed now and then by the wake of peers adeptly surfing the pipeline of founder Pierre Omidyar's global marketplace.
But if I were in your shoes, what I would want to see more than anything is results. Yes, the hows and whys and whats are definitely important, but the real selling point is the bottom line.
So come with me now, friend, and I'll take you for an invigorating swim as we negotiate the gentle currents coursing through the shallow smalls of eBay.
Let's begin with a mug that I literally sold while writing the previous paragraph. I listed this late one night with both a starting auction price and a Buy It Now fixed price. The customer opted for the latter.
I bought this mug for 50 cents and sold it for $25.65. My net profit, after the initial cost of the mug, shipping expense, and the respective eBay (9%) and PayPal (2.9 % + 30 cents) fees, was $14.65.
As a shout out to all the boys of summer--especially a former ace pitcher and my good friend from the western side of the state, billybuc--I wanted to feature a great smalls sub-category, baseball gloves. I was cherry-picking in the basement of one of my favorite Walla Walla thrift stores, St. Vincent de Paul, when I came across a dirty old catcher's mitt. Still lodged in its creases and crevices were the remnant wisps of spider webs. I tried it on for size, and I could barely squeeze my left hand into it. Surmising that it may have been someone's old Little League glove, I decided to take a shot with it on eBay. I paid $4.30 for the mitt and sold it for $20.00 plus $5.95 shipping. After expenses, I netted $12.91.
The books niche is a relatively new experience for me, and yet my research indicates that this is a gold mine for online sellers.
That said, here's a book that I picked up at a yard sale for 50 cents. It's one of those coffee table books that the original owner had every intention of reading but--as is the case with most of us--got distracted by life and never got around to getting past the initial opening of the book. In other words, it still had that new book smell to it.
So what did I do? I listed it honestly: "Pre-owned; gently used; well maintained." I posted it as an auction item with a starting bid of $14.99. It sold for $31.00. After expenses, I netted $20.65.
At a yard sale of a military veteran and his wife, I picked up this aloha shirt that was as intriguing as it was colorful. It featured the Hale Koa hotel, an R & R destination for military couples, and several of the recreational activities and compelling Hawaiian woodies. I paid a buck for this item and sold it on eBay for $30.00. Uncle Sam's Hawaiian shirt netted me $20.18.
When I see something I like at yard sales, estate sales, rummage sales, or thrift stores, I immediately visualize its sales price on eBay. Even if I'm wrong, the very act of doing so reinforces my entrepreneurial inertia, if you will, and propels me in a positive direction.
I saw this intriguing poly resin figurine and visualized $34.99. Because I include the Best Offer feature, I got a lowball offer from a couple on the other side of Washington state--$19.00. I countered with $25, reminding them that I was offering free shipping, and they accepted it. (They also paid $2.18 state sales tax.) I had paid $1.99 for the item, and after calculating expenses, my net profit was $13.62.
Vintage Print Ads
When I think of the mad men of yesteryear ad agencies sitting around a large table pitching ideas as adeptly as they tossed crumpled pages of notebook paper around in a smoke-filled room, I have a greater appreciation for their incessant creativity. Here's a clever ad underscoring the menthol coolness of its product.
Because I glean twenty or more ads from a magazine I've paid maybe a dollar for, it's difficult to ascertain cost per ad. Let's assign it a nickel value. I sold this ad for $12.48 plus $9.75 shipping to Switzerland. Even with costs, because of my discounted eBay shipping, I actually made $12.79 profit. I love selling internationally!
Postcards have a surprisingly high return on investment. I purchased each of these cards for a nickel apiece. A customer purchased each of them at $4.95 a pop. Naturally, I was very happy to combine shipping--that is, charge one shipping price instead of multiple amounts--for him, a nice win-win transaction. My net profit for this bit of trade was $12.95.
A caveat worth mentioning is that the eBay seller needs to be patient with items such as postcards. They can sit around on the virtual shelf for several months, maybe even a year or two. Then, one day, out of the blue, just as happened in this case, someone comes along and purchases one or more of these vintage beauties.
In the third week of a torrid August here in Washington state, things really got hot when I woke up one morning and received a notification on my cellphone that a woman in Germany had purchased two annual sets--1983 and 1984, respectively--of National Geographic magazines. Scrambling to respond to her order, my thoughts retraced the steps I'd taken a couple years ago when I had built complete yearly units from individual magazines gleaned from a favorite local thrift store and a private estate sale. Again, as was the case with the postcards above, these magazines sat in a drawer in our carport, carefully stored until their day of liberation. A note of interest to potential eBayers, putting things in lot sets can be a very attractive sales strategy. I'd paid a nickel apiece for these magazines, and my sales price for both sets was $44.00. Since the transaction was an international one, the customer had to pay for shipping. I netted $36.52 on this deal, a fantastic way to start the day!
As is the case with mugs, I'm a sucker for tins. I used to think that the only tins that would ever appeal to buyers are the ones that are super old, rusty, and dressed in dings and dents. Not true! The adage, one man's trash is another man's treasure, is alive and well and very much the socioeconomic standard for tin containers with far less history. This fruit medley tin, for example, probably had its origin in the 2000's, but it still had a strong appeal for a woman in Canada. She gave me a best offer, and I heartily accepted. I paid $1.08 for this tin and she willingly paid $14.00 plus $16.15 shipping. When the dust between our respective countries settled, my net increase was $13.70.
Big Blue Marble
Have I lost my marbles?
I most likely have. But in the process, I've certainly found paydirt. Case in point: This Big Blue Marble!
About a year and a half ago, while scrounging around a liquidation warehouse across the street from the Walla Walla Regional Airport, I found this oversized shooter and tossed it into my box of finds. I paid ten dollars for a large box of mixed secondhand items, so I estimated I paid about a dollar for the agate behemoth.
I posted it several times as either an auction, fixed price Buy It Now item, or both, the prices fluctuating according to my mood at the time. It got a few looks but no takers. Finally, I said phooey on it! I'll just give it a ridiculous price and put it in my eBay store and forget about it. So I put it up for $68.50.
With four days left in the month of August, a woman in New Mexico offered me $50. I jumped at it! She paid, with shipping, $60.60. I walked away with a very satisfying $43.46.
So there you have it, my friends. This was a sampling of what my eBay month of August was like. It's my earnest hope that what I've shared here with you inspires you in some way to find value in being resourceful with the hidden treasures right in front of your nose or a few minutes away in someone else's front yard. As always, I welcome your comments and questions. If what you'd like to ask or share with me is something you'd rather not post on a public forum, then by all means, feel free to contact me via the HubPages messaging system available on the fan mail page.
Finally, just in case you were wondering, our favorite government agency receives full reports from me each April.
I'm having way too much fun to ever waste energy on looking over my shoulder.
A big aloha from an expert on smalls!
~Joe aka Hawaiian Odysseus
Talkin' story on the ol' front porch...
A Snapshot of Smalls Accounting for August, 2013
Purchase Cost of Item
Customer's Total Payment
Mizuno Catcher's Mitt
Hawaiian Reserve Shirt
1946 Noxzema Ad
National Geographic Magazines
$44.00 (+ shipping)
Fruit Medley Tin
Big Blue Marble
HO in Sepia
© 2013 Hawaiian Odysseus