Sticking a Toe in Ebay

We had a great visit with family. We showed them around a little in Dallas and even traveled cross country so my brother could check out an average home for sale in McKinney, TX. He’s been thinking of relocating his family somewhere south–and warm.

I see my mother at least once a year, but I haven’t seen my brother, David in 16 years, not since my dad died. I’m so proud of the way he turned out. He was barely four when I married and moved away, so I never got to watch him grow up.

He’s done well though. Single-handed, he chose his passion (gymnastics) and built himself a business. His wife, Laura, seems to have been equally instrumental in helping their family succeed. Although Laura couldn’t make it down for a visit, my brother enthralled us with her business acumen when it came to Ebay.

It seems we share a common passion–garage sales/estate sales. All by herself, she’s started a little side business selling the things she picks up at garage sales. Laura specializes in Barbie and American Girl dolls and accessories, but she’s sold quite a bit in other trinkets.

After talking to Greg, we thought we might give it a try. We’d like to specialize in things we’re more knowledgeable about, like vintage tools, kitchenware, and glass. We’ve got a few things to finish around the homestead before we place our first ad, but I’ll let you know how it goes–or doesn’t!

Our home is pretty well decorated and ensconced with a variety of vintage and antique decor, so we haven’t bought anything new for ourselves in a long time. After talking to my brother though, we used our last garage sale outing to snag a few things we thought would resell well.

Solid wood cutting board

I’d actually been talking to Greg about starting an Etsy shop for his woodworking, but we never considered Ebay until my brother told us about it. I’m not sure which venue is the better outlet for us.

I actually bought these dishes for myself, until I discovered it was china and decorated with a gold rim which prevents me from putting them in the dishwasher. Now they’re for sale again.

Have you sold anything on Ebay or Etsy? What was your experience like?

Have you ever considered selling your craft work, or garage sale finds? This is totally new to us, but I thought it might be a good side gig for us since we’re so passionate about garage sales.

If you have any advice, I’m open to suggestions!




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  1. I’ve never tried selling on EBay or Etsy, although I toyed with it after Mom died and I inherited her doll collection. I tried to get a feel for pricing by looking for similar items but found the whole thing too much of a pain for what we could have gotten back so I ended up giving them away. But you’ll probably do great at it.

    • Linda: The other day, I picked up a lovely old porcelain Victorian doll and rattan carriage for a pittance. I thought at first I’d use it in a Christmas display, but now I think it might do better as an Ebay/Etsy item. (I have enough Christmas stuff, but I couldn’t resist the gorgeous little pair.)

      Like you, I looked into what it was worth, but you really have to be an expert in dolls. I could have a real antique, or it could be a reproduction. Unless I find out differently, I have to sell it as a reproduction because i don’t want to misrepresent anything.

  2. Years ago I sold lots of things on eBay, mainly things we were not going to take with us when we moved. Did quite well. Underestimated about cost of postage so sometimes didn’t make much on a sale, but did relatively okay on some other things.

    My SIL does a lot of selling on eBay. She’ll go to the garage sales, she knows what sells well on eBay, she does her listings and her auctions and then packing up stuff to sell. She’s sold a few things for us that we commissioned to her. Its kind of like flipping a house. Most of the times you get lucky with what you bought to try to sell; sometimes you get the “lemon” and don’t make what you think you would have made.

    I have a fellow blogger who has an Etsy shop for her crocheted items. I’ve bought a few things from other Etsy shop people (specific items I was looking for, for gifts etc);. Some vintage stuff can be posted on Etsy too according to their guidelines.

    At this particular time in my life I wouldn’t consider selling on eBay due to other responsibilities but good money can be made if one knows what they are doing.

    Good luck with it!


    • Betty: That makes me feel better. My sister in law said I need to invest in a good scale so I can get the postage right and to limit it to the US. That seems like good advice.

      I don’t see us doing this on a large scale, but because we’re so good at garage saling, it seems a waste not to resell the really nice things we come across.

  3. I sold a few vintage quilts that I repaired and/or restored on eBay for a short time many years back. When a winning bidder demanded I reduce the price after the auction or she’d leave negative feedback for me, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and stopped listing.

    As an antique, art and fabric buyer I prefer Etsy over eBay. The sellers are for the most part lovely, creative people who really value their customers. Since there’s no bidding I can just order what I want. I also like that I’m helping to support independent artists when I buy handmade items on Etsy.

    I think shipping outside the US can be problematic (and expensive!) so you might consider limiting your customer base to domestic buyers. Also, anything heavy is going to be costly to ship anywhere, which generally the buyer has to pay, so smaller/lighter items tend to sell better.

  4. Lynn:
    re: When a winning bidder demanded I reduce the price after the auction…

    This is what I worry about. In your case, that seems like a justification to bring that up to Ebay for them to handle. I seem to recall when I’ve bought things at auction that there are strict rules about paying the final auction price.

    Postage will be my greatest concern. I will definitely keep things in the US unless someone wants to pay international postage.

    • I did consider reporting the bidder, but it wasn’t worth the hassle involved to me. I also really never liked selling on eBay with their last-second bid snipers, so it didn’t break my heart to close up my little business there.

      With international shipping there can be also some other problems. Speaking from my own experiences, I’ve never been able to get any of my author giveaways shipped to Portugal without a customs hassle on their side. Australia has been the easiest country to get things to; but Japan is the slowest with customs. Canada can also take more time than it should, considering their our neighbors (eastern Canada is usually fine; western is extremely slow.)

      It also depends on the service carrier; it once took me two months to get a single book to a reader in Germany via DHL international, but the USPS delivered a book to a reader in the same city in a week. Your mileage may vary, of course, and I hope it does. 🙂

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