The other day I reached a feedback rating of 900 on eBay. I believe the one that got me over the top was a toner cartridge from a copier we no longer had at work which I, of course, was given permission to sell. I was going to get into a whole big ebay retrospective about what I've sold and whatever, but what I'm really thinking about is where all that money went.
It's a pretty big number for a just a schmoe selling his old crap (and his friend's old crap, and his job's old crap). Well, that was the case with most of it, anyway. A few were purchases, and some of them were things that I flipped, or bought new just to sell, which has rarely actually worked. The best case I can think of that working was a rare Daredevil Action Figure with his yellow costume. I bought it at K-Mart for $6.00, listed it the same day and it sold for $60.00 to some guy in India. Of course, I was still a rookie at the time, so I shipped it as cheaply as possible, and I think it took months to get there. However, I was bitten by the bug. Maybe there was something to this flipping thing.
There usually isn't. I know there are people who say they buy crap in bulk and sell them for profit and whatever, but I have yet to find a cheap way to do it (For one, I have very little to spend on an initial investment). It's like selling stock at auction. You want to buy low and sell high, but there is no guarantee that you will make money on certain items. Unless you shill bid. In my experience, the times I've made real money are on things that I didn't expect to make real money on. I sold an old camera lens a few weeks ago for over $100. I started the bidding at $9.99, figuring maybe one person in the world may be looking for it. Even in the last few hours, it was only at twenty bucks. It went crazy in the last few minutes. I had no idea anybody would have been interested in it. To me, it was garbage. If it weren't for the fact that I'm so broke and have now been trained that there's a market for almost anything, I would have just tossed it.
I know one of my major problems is that I never go all the way even when I do have something that may make me money. In the past, I've put a ridiculously low Buy It Now price on something, figuring that maybe I can get some impulse buyer, and it sells in minutes and I think, "Damn, I wonder what I would have got if I let it play out?" Most of my transformers fall into that category. Now go onto ebay and search for old Transformers toys and see how much I could have gotten. I could have probably gotten more for a toy robot that turns into a car than I did for my real car.
I've also under-charged for International shipping a few times, but that probably gets made up for the fact that I've over-charged some people as well. I write that off as a cost of doing business, and when you throw in the fact that I have never paid for a box or padded envelope since there are always plenty of used ones around the office, I think that evens out in the end.
And that's the rub. I think mostly the over-900 ebay transactions I've had in the last seven or eight years have pretty much equaled out to breaking even. I mean, I guess you could say, "Where would you be without that money?" or whatever, but in the end, I've never made enough money to make it seem like it was making a difference one way or the other. At this point, it's pretty much the thrill of the hunt. So maybe I'll climb up to 1000 and see where I stand. And on that day I'll probably find another rare action figure and keep going.