Follow TSP on Facebook
Follow TSP on Twitter


Sunday, January 4, 2009

eBay for Mommies!

By Jen P, Chief Founding Mommy, CharlotteSmartyPants

eBay is one of my favorite new hobbies and is actually my main revenue source for my children's clothing. Ahhh, my secret is out! Every new season, I sell probably $1,000 worth of gear, clothing, toys, books, etc. between eBay and consignment sales. I figure with three children's worth of outgrown items that are usually in great condition, I might as well try to make some spending money. This gives me a little "play" money, if you will, since I am only an expense on our family's bottom line, i.e., I don't generate much income!

So think of eBay as your dream return policy. No matter where or when you bought an item, you can turn around and sell it, sometimes for more than what you paid. The eBay marketplace is no longer a phenomenon; it's a hobby, a livelihood, and even a way of life for millions of eBay junkies around the world, myself included. I consider myself an eBay expert on selling children's clothing. For me, I save my really good stuff that I deem "eBay worthy" and sell the rest at consignment. All of your trunk lines and many boutique lines will fetch top dollar on eBay if you time it right.

For instance, right now, don't try to sell any winter clothes unless you want to give it away. Go ahead and box that stuff up and bring it out in August. Right now you want to focus on Easter and spring/summer stuff. If you have any super cute Easter outfits, list them now since Easter is early this year on March 23rd. But I would hold off for maybe 2-3 weeks on your good spring/summer stuff. Actually, now is the time that many people are starting to list their stuff, but not everyone is shopping. So shop on - you can probably get a pretty good deal. In fact, this time last year I won a Lilly Pulitzer dress for my 4-year-old NWT (that's eBay for new-with-tags!) for a bargain price of $26! Now that's a steal! However, in a few weeks, when I sell all my Lilly's, I will probably average $40 a dress on items that have been worn and loved by two little girls!

But remember, don't sell everything on eBay. Make sure there are no stains, rips, tears, etc. That goes for consignment too. Nobody wants to buy anything that is truly defective. Also, I don't waste my time on listing mainstream lines like Gap, Old Navy, Gymboree, etc. because there are thousands of these items listed already. To me, it has to be worth more than $10 for me to take the time to list it the right way. My favorite lines to sell on eBay are Bailey Boys, Beaux et Belles, Lilly Pulitzer, Hannah Andersson, Potato Saks, Rags Land, Chez Ami, Kelly's Kids and Jack Rogers (these are probably the only used shoes that I have sold unless they are in almost new condition or NIB, new in box).

So here are some good tips to know before you sell. Look before you list. The most effective way to get the most money is to know your market. Before you list your item, do a quick, title-only search on eBay for items similar to yours. Then, click on Completed items (under the Display heading) and sort the results by price (highest-priced first). Keep in mind that any given item on eBay is worth only what others are willing to pay for it, so ignore any listings that never received bids. Cut and paste descriptions that are like yours. You can modify it to your liking, but it's easier to get a start that way. Make sure you price your item to sell. When you're ready to list, set your Buy-It-Now price close to what you expect your item is worth. I don't recommend setting any reserve price for your listings. To me, this is annoying and I just scroll on past any items that have a reserve.

Make sure your title is accurately spelled and strategic. This is how your buyer searches for your item, so spelling counts. Also, it helps to include some intentional misspellings just to make sure you capture your future buyer. For example, if listing Rags Land items, make sure your title says "Rags Land Ragsland" since many people don't know the correct spelling. Don't lie in your description because you will get burned in your feedback, which is your ultimate survival tool as a successful eBayer. If there is a flaw in what you're selling, just say it upfront and include photos so the buyer can decide.

Make sure the payment and shipping details are included in your description and are easy to read to avoid disappointed customers or deadbeat eBayers. I recommend only accepting PayPal as a payment method. This protects you and your buyer - kind of eliminates the obscurity in the transaction.

Make sure you take a good photo with good lighting and pay extra for a few additional photos for different angles or close-ups, ie., you must include a close-up of any smocking if you're selling that type of item.

Last but not least, begin your auctions in the am, not at midnight or later when your customers are asleep - this will for sure get you a higher price. Although I have been known to set my alarm at 2am just to win an auction, it's certainly not my favorite thing to do.

Last spring, I sold probably 8 Lilly Pulitzer dresses that were in great condition. Guess what zip codes four of my buyers were in? Charlotte zips of 28209 & 28211! In all of the global eBay market, I could have hand-delivered half of my stash. So jump on the eBay wagon:-) And share your stories!


Post a Comment