NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Trash to Cash-Online
Here's how to turn your excess stuff into greenbacks

by Donna Barnes-Roberts, Pasadena IBM Users Group, April 2001
(click to email author)

Ready to get rid of that unsightly IMSAI computer you use for a foot rest? How about that pot that says Roseville on the bottom, the one you can't stand? Well, with a few keystrokes, you can make someone else happy, unclutter your closet, and stuff a few bucks into your pocket.

How? With the Internet. It's not a multilevel marketing scheme and definitely not illegal. It's called EBAY. You simply list your item on their auction site, let people bid on it, and send it after the high bidder pays for it.

I have sold everything from machine tool brochures, WW-II throat microphones, dishes, dress patterns, slide rules, broken dolls, stereo equipment. The guideline is-if you can ship it, you can probably sell it. In fact, I've seen cars listed and even heard of houses listed, so I'm sure you can sell just about anything of value on ebay. The only however? Not everything is worth offering on ebay.

If you are unsure whether or not your treasure is really trash, just search ebay's completed auctions for similar items that have been offered in the last month. If it was offered for $2.00 and nobody bid on it, figure it really is trash and not treasure. And note that heavy stuff is not usually a good idea for ebay. Remember that you will have to package this and convince the post office to carry it someplace else. They do have limits.

To become an ebay tycoon, all you need is an Internet account, a computer, and a way of uploading pictures of your stuff to the Internet. (Pictures are optional but highly recommended.) When your item sells, you just e- mail the buyer with your address so he or she can send you your money, and send them the merchandise after the check clears. Most buyers are prompt and polite. Some are not. Kinda like life.

Once you decide to list an item with ebay, head to their site at http://www.ebay.com and click on the sellers link. This page walks you through the process of listing your item. Ebay charges start at $.25 to list each item, depending on how high you set the starting bid. They also charge a small percentage of the final selling price if it sells. You can also set a reserve, so that you don't have to sell the item until the bidding gets to a price that you set that is hidden from the bidders.

Need Some Stuff?
After you have sold your stuff and have extra money (and some new found room in your home), how about buying someone else's good stuff they just listed on ebay?

Not surprisingly, most users get started on ebay as a buyer, and the depth of the offerings are truly outstanding. If you are looking for anything from the commonplace to the esoteric, you'll probably find it for sale on ebay. It is world's attic for sale, and there are always surprises.

Auctions usually take a week, so there is plenty of time to place your bid, and you can watch the bidding escalate as time passes. Usually there is a flurry of bidding just before the auction closes, and things sometimes get crazy at the end. Or ebay crashes. Kinda like life.

While ebay is not the only auction house on line, it is the most diverse. For instance, Butterfield and Butterfield has online auctions for fine art and antiques, and Egghead is there for computers and software. These sites actually sell and ship merchandise they own or have on consignment, so you know who your seller really is. For reliable merchandise and product guarantees, these can be a great idea, but for the young business of selling anything online, give me the rag-tag wild west of ebay anyday!

Artist Donna Barnes-Roberts has essays on art, examples of her paintings, links to art-related sites, art clubs in the Pasadena area, and a little humor, at: http://www.barnesroberts.com/art/ You can reach her at donna@barnesroberts.com

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