Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Truth About Ebay

EBay is like Jerry Falwell or Hillary Clinton. Very polarizing. Love it or hate it. On the one hand, people love it because you can sell things you don't want anymore and make some extra cash. Sometimes you can score big if you find something valuable at a yard sale or the Goodwill for next to nothing and sell it for big bucks on the Bay. This is good. Some people hate it because it's a lot of work and sometimes your item doesn't sell for what you think it's worth, or worse, doesn't sell at all. This is no good.

I've been an eBay seller for years. I'm on the side of the fence with the people who LOVE it. It's a great way to make a little extra money for birthday presents for the hubby or money for vacation or the other extra curriculars of life. But I cringe when people come up to me and say: "I've got a set of crystal glasses (or whatever other things they paid too much money for) that I know are worth a lot of money, do you think they would sell on eBay? Could you sell it for me?" Argggg. #1, It probably isn't real crystal. I mean, really, can you prove it? #2, It's breakable. As much as possible I try to steer clear of breakables - too much trouble.

Here is what I know about eBay that has proven to be true EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Golden Rule of EBay: What you think is worth a lot of money (i.e., what you paid too much for) will not sell or will go for very little and what you think is worthless will sell for big money. For example I bought a 12" cardboard cutout of a 1970's Dolly Parton for $0.25 at the flea market. I thought I could decorate with it somehow, be artsy or some such nonsense. When started thinking clearly again, I said to myself, "Self, what was I thinking?" I'll put her on eBay, but she probably won't sell. Yeah. I got $19.25 for her. Crazy!! On the other hand, I've got Boyd's Bears and Lizzie High dolls for sale that I can't give away.

Silver Rule of EBay: There are exceptions to everything. Boyd's Bears don't really do all that well. I actually have a list of things that you're better off putting in a yard sale than eBay, but I'll share that in another blog. But Boyd's is one of them. Unfortunately they're going the way of Longaberger, Beanie Babies and a bunch of other country clutter collectibles. (Although I happen to love L'berger.) The world and eBay is flooded with them so they're not worth much. But, I just checked and a 1990 14" Boyd's Bear Nana Panda sold on Sept. 3 for $199.00. There are exceptions to everything. Every category, every product. Every week there are different people looking at different listings and it may be the week 3 people want your Vintage 1977 Troll Doll and it gets bid up to $45.00. Or it could be the week nobody cares and it doesn't sell (see Golden Rule above).

Bronze Rule of EBay: Get rid of all of your expectations. And please forget how much you paid for something. If you know you're not going to watch your Seinfeld (or Home Improvement or McGyver) DVDs ever again, wouldn't it be better to get $8-10 each (although you might actually get a little more) for them than to have them sitting in your closet for $0? Recently, as in last week, my boss brought me a Cricut machine with tons of accessories to sell for his wifey. Ok, that's fine, but I was uneasy about it the whole time because they wanted to get some of their money back out of it. We're talking $500-$600 invested in this lot of scrapbooking paraphernalia. It ended up selling for around $100.00. They're probably going to be disappointed, but it was an older model - not the newer, bigger one everyone is clamoring to buy (at around $300-375 each - if you have a Cricut Expression with some cartridges that you're not using, put that sucker on the Bay because they're doing really decent right now). Back to the point, which is: $100.00 cash is better than $0.00 stuck with something you're not going to use that's taking up space in your basement. Just sayin'.

I had a professor at Liberty (hence the Jerry Falwell reference at the beginning) that explained the concept of "sunk costs" this way: Let's say you're getting married. You've planned this big beautiful ceremony and you're getting ready to walk down the aisle with your emotional (albeit stoic) dad and suddenly, you realize, it's a mistake. You cannot base the decision of whether or not to go through with it on the invitations you bought and sent out, the money you paid for the flowers, the non-refundable down payment on the hotel for the honeymoon, or the cash you laid out for the ice sculpture (Really? An ice sculpture? No, but go with me on this). All of those things are sunk costs. You can't get them back regardless of your decision to marry (or not) the guy at the front of the church, so it can't, or rather shouldn't, have any influence on your decision. So it should be with things you're selling on the bay. Forget what you paid for them. Get rid of all of your expectations and then you might be pleasantly surprised when occasionally, things will go for more than you paid for them, or what you thought was worthless goes for hundreds. Yay! :)

Tons more to follow on the fabulous-ness of selling on eBay.

"Creme brulee can never be jello. You can never be jello!" ~My Best Friend's Wedding

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