New Business in Carthage Makes Selling on eBay Easy
Great things once treasured -- whether woofahs or wumpits, second and third copies of this or or that, clothes that once fit, or that old baseball bat -- can all go to eBay, by way of Carthage.
Rick Edelman has come up with what he thinks is a perfect solution for anybody with something worth keeping but no longer wanted. Some-body else is dying to have it, he says, and is probably searching the Web right now trying to find one.
He has opened a business unlike other downtown stores. His customers come in with the goods and go out with the cash.
His new store -- "ABC Sell It" -- is on a downtown corner in what used to be the Carthage Fire Department. It's a short block from the Moore County Courts Facility where his wife, Maureen Krueger, practices law.
"I do all the work -- take the pictures, do the listing," Edelman says. "When it sells, I pack it and ship. You just pick up a check."
No fuss, no muss. Edelman does all the work. His drop-off store has more than 7,000 square feet of storage space.
"We can accept all types of merchandise," he says. "We have enough room for almost anything."
Closets full of out-of-date clothes, garages packed with seldom used tools -- all the things people imagine themselves photographing, describing, and listing on eBay, but never get around to doing -- can be dropped off at his store.
Edelman will take care of all that. He'll check current prices, use camera equipment already set up and computer-linked to take pictures for posting, write a sale-generating auction description, and put it on the Web.
Until the sale goes through, he'll store everything. When something is sold, he will pack and ship it.
He handles all those PayPal payments as well. Customers get a copy of the final auction page along with their check.
A grid on the floor behind Edelman's office is marked out in squares with items stacked according to date. He has a packing area with lots of plastic peanuts, foam wrap and boxes galore.
Early customers have come in with odd and rare family heirlooms, high-value sports collectibles, objects of art and utility.
Current auction items range from a set of Pez dispensers, starting at under $4, to an extremely rare piece of ancient Aztec or Mayan pottery with a minimum bid set at $10,000.
"Nobody has to learn how to sell on eBay," he says. "Just come by and drop off whatever it is. I'll take care of it."
Edelman says he won't waste people's time putting up things he thinks won't sell or that are better sold through classified ads in local newspapers, Edelman says. He checks the Web to see what similar items sold for in the past and what prices they may be offered for currently.
Prices on the Internet can fluctuate wildly. A table-top wine bottle opener one customer brought in was already on eBay at $15. Edelman took it in, took pictures and listed it. It sold for $42. An identical one is currently listed on eBay for $21 with three bids, but the auction has days to run.
Edelman keeps 30 percent of final selling prices as commission. That covers all the costs and all the work.
His customers don't have to guess at shipping and don't have to truck boxes to postal service or UPS. They don't have to pack anything. They have only to make one trip: to Carthage to drop off a load and sign up for his service.
Entrepreneur Magazine called eBay consignment stores one of "13 Hot Businesses for 2005." They are a bandwagon business, and existing franchise operations are piling on.
Circuit City is testing drop-offs in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, calling its eight stores Trading Circuit. AuctionDrop teamed up with UPS so items can now be dropped off at any of the more than 3,400 UPS stores nationwide. A copy shop, PostNet, that does copying and shipping, now has auction services and expects 100 of its 500 national franchise operations to be selling on eBay soon.
Edelman, as an independent owner, doesn't have to fit in with an existing business model like a copy shop or a shipping service. He isn't part of a big franchise system. He can set his own rules, and keep a personal face on what he does for local people.
Most stores that offer this service charge anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of eventual selling prices, plus upfront listing and handling fees. Edelman doesn't. His deal is simple: 30 percent if it sells, nothing if it doesn't. While franchises such as AuctionDrop and PostNet charge upfront fees and offer higher priced options, Edelman asks only a minimum commission of $7 applied to his 30 percent cut -- and only if sold.
"There is no charge if an item doesn't sell," he says. "I charge only a 30 percent commission to do all the work. You come by and pick up a check, or I will mail it to you."
What he does has more than approval from eBay. The company is actively supporting consignment sellers, which it calls eBay Trading Assistants. Training, help in getting started and other support go with eBay's deal. It is a good thing for both buyer and seller.
Novice online sellers are more apt to make errors, have more trouble shipping, are more often liable to be late -- eBay trading assistants do this as a business, and eBay doesn't have to worry about their feedback. Most, like Edelman, are one hundred percent positive.
Dropping off goods in Carthage and filling out a simple form is about as easy as eBay can get. At the end of the auction, Edelman can relist for a second try, donate unsold items to charities, or hold them a limited time for owners to collect them.
He sells some things for local churches and charities. He sells for estates and for collectors of everything from stamps to coins to antiquities.
And he's in Carthage.
John Chappell can be reached at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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