General Question

LalenaMikala's avatar

Is it worth the effort to sell (cheap) things on ebay?

Asked by LalenaMikala (57 points ) March 27th, 2010

I am getting rid of things like books, some clothing and misc. items (even some stuff never been used). Should I just donate it all to a charity or try to get some cash for it?

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10 Answers

crazyzo2000's avatar

It really depends on how valuable they are. Antique stuff sells, and NICE clothes sell if they don’t at all seem used. You should search any items you think could be worth something on Ebay under completed to check if it’s worth listing. If it’s not looking so well, just put an ad in the paper, and some neon sign up, and have a yard sale!

Seek's avatar

eBay, at one time, was an excellent place for hosting an online garage sale. That time passed about ten years ago. Now, everyone’s looking for brand new stuff at giveaway prices. On top of that, every time you sell something, eBay gets a cut, and PayPal gets a cut. And depending on what you sell, eBay dictates what you can charge for shipping, so you can be forced to eat the shipping cost.

A better bet for what you’re trying to do is setting something up on Craigslist

anartist's avatar

Do you want to deal with PACKING & SHIPPING? Unless they’re really easy to ship or really expensive, that might be worth considering.

Do you buy a lot on eBay? That might make you feel more comfortable selling on eBay. I’ve thought of doing it several times, but just decided it was too much work. If I wanted to sell books, I would use Amazon.

Many people who sell a lot on eBay create virtual stores. Those exist elsewhere too—like Ruby Lane for antique dealers, but now that the first rush is over, they also usually have some way of setting fees.

There are easy enough utilities to put the stuff up and PayPal’s easy. If you have idle time on your hands if shipping doesn’t turn you off it might be worth trying just to see what it is like. but as @Seek_Kolinahr, you won’t get all of the pie and you may lose money if you put it to bid and it goes to cheaply or doesn’t meet your reserve amount.

strong*She’s right about Craigslist and you can post pictures. *strong

majorrich's avatar

Lots of folks make most of their profit on shipping and handling. making the product irrelevant.

prolificus's avatar

When I cleared out my bookshelves and closets during a move a few years ago, I had a blast selling “cheap” stuff on eBay. I made a nice chunk of cash – all of which I used for the actual move.

What I did was this:

1.  Textbooks – I did a check to see if it had any value online. Books that were out of date or worth pennies, I either threw away or donated.

2.  All other books – if the value of one book was more than $5, I sold it by itself. For books under $5, I grouped according to author, genre, or subject area and sold as a “lot.” I took pictures of the lot and used stock photos for single books. I gave a detailed description of the condition, and noted any unusual marks, etc.

3.  Clothing – I found that certain sizes and materials are more likely to be sold. If you have something unique or plus-size (or extra small), you’re most likely to receive bids. Make sure to take good pictures and to describe the exact measurements (tape measure comes in handy).  You’re more likely to sell clothes if they’re grouped together in a “lot,” according to size.

4. CD’s – popular music can be sold individually. Unique music will be sold more quickly in a “lot.”

5. Furniture – better to sell on craigslist than eBay.  I sold all of my furniture on craiglist with success. I tried selling big-ticket items on eBay and found that it was a waste of time and money (if you don’t get the bid you want, and cancel the item, you lose money).

When I went through my stuff, I sorted out the items I felt wouldn’t sell and donated them to charity (and to the apartment building vultures).  The more I sold on eBay (or didn’t sell successfully), the quicker I learned what is worth the time and energy to post on eBay.

Make sure you have lots and lots of boxes of all shapes and sizes (or know where you can get them). Make sure you have an easy and efficient way to package and ship items sold.  Be careful not to have too many items end on the same day—or you will be stressing over closing and shipping procedures.  Try to plan posting items to end when it is convenient for you.

Selling even the “cheap” stuff on eBay can be time-consuming, but it is a lot of fun and has the potential to increase your petty cash fund!

prolificus's avatar

One more thing—PayPal!!!! Never ever waste your time with accepting personal checks.  No matter how sweet or tragic the bidder’s request to pay by check comes across, it is not worth the hassle.

Oh.. I’ll give some more helpful hints:

1.  Organize your email filter and file system to track eBay comments, questions, bid status, payments, and shipping info.

2.  Shipping – Pre-print shipping labels.  Don’t waste your time with giving too many shipping options. The cheapest method works just fine.

3.  Don’t waste your time with special requests. The person wanting you to end an item so that she can get it before it’s sold to a higher bid will just have to wait like all other bidders. eBay is about YOU, not meeting the needs of special requests.

4.  It’s a crapshoot to re-post unsold items.  There’s a reason it didn’t sell in the first place. Try repackaging the lot. Otherwise, donate and move onto the next item.

5. As mentioned elsewhere, you make money by adding shipping costs. If you have something really cheap but worth selling on eBay, start off with a very low starting bid and mark-up the shipping cost by a dollar or two.  This way, the buyer thinks he/she is getting a bargain and you make more money than you would with a higher starting bid.

anartist's avatar

@prolificus thanks for that! I learned a lot. Maybe I will try it after all. Did you ever try listing books with amazon?

prolificus's avatar

@anartist – welcome!  I had fun writing it!  I’m not a frequent seller on eBay since my move, so I don’t do it as a side business. But, I will sell stuff occasionally. I think just about anyone can do it—and if you ever had an itch to have a small business, it is very doable.

As far as Amazon goes, I’ve never sold items but I have purchased used books.  I’ve also purchased items from third-party stores through Amazon. I’ve found it pays to do some online research—to compare the third-party store’s Amazon posting with the store’s actual website listing. Some online stores post on Amazon and eBay, in addition to their own website. The pricing and packaging options can vary significantly between the three.

Amazon tends to draw shoppers who don’t want to deal with the bidding process, and who think they are getting a better deal / product / guarantee through Amazon – when in fact this might not be the case.

Based on my shopping experience with Amazon, I would rather stick with selling items on eBay and craigslist.

anartist's avatar

The Amazon thing is being the 3rd party 2nd-hand bookseller. I don’t know how many of the listers for 2nd-hand books are occasional sellers and how many are serious businesses [although the feedback #s probably offer a clue].I thought it might be a no-fuss, no muss way of just unloading books. but @prolificus you are right about the $$$. That5’s what I lokk for when I buy through Amazon.[I rarely buy a NEW book.]

thriftymaid's avatar

It has been worth my effort. I’ve sold a ton of things on ebay in the last ten years . Ebay is not as good a forum as it once was for this because it caters now to businesses rather than individuals.

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