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ISSUE 15: June 2004

Yard Salers: Issue 15! In Search of High Profit Margins

Subscribe at: www.yardsalers.net

Yard Salers and eBayers: Issue 15! YAB's "Best Item You've Sold at Auction" CONTEST Winners!: 2.15 June, 2004

p>Yard Salers and eBayers: Issue 15! 2.15 -- June 2, 2004

**(Late) Spring Special**

Hi all!

As always, there have been many topics swirling in my mind that I've wanted to tell you about.

Here in Washington, D.C., there's been a lot in the news this past Memorial Day weekend about the new World War II memorial and its dedication. Of course, a related story involving eBay popped up. It seems like these days there's an eBay auction related to just about every news story.

A man named Norman Frazier acquired the long lost Viet Nam medals of his late brother, Dick Frazier, via eBay. Norman's three children pooled their funds and were able to come up with the winning bid amount, $362.01. (Someone had called Norman and alerted him to the sale of his brother's medals). Apparently the medals had gone to Dick's daughter, who had them in the storage of a bar, and they were confiscated during a police raid. They were later lost to posterity -- until they showed up on eBay, having been picked up by a collectibles dealer who put them up for auction.

Pretty cool, huh? If anyone sees my Lord of the Rings metal figurines collection turn up on eBay, let me know, willya? I haven??t seen ??em since a couple guys with bad B.O. moved my stuff eight years ago.

eBay Envy

eBay's stock has been soaring to new highs. It was at 88.90 last time I checked. Why do I bring this up? Well, I hear people complaining off and on about eBay. Certainly there are problems that go with the territory of doing business on eBay -- fraud, feedback abuse, system changes that people struggle to stay on top of. But overall, they've got a pretty darn good thing going that has enabled a lot of people to make money.

So the next time you marvel at their genius for "monetizing" (don't you just love that verb, and when exactly did money become a verb?), you could think about buying the stock so you own a little piece of the company. (Disclaimer! Disclaimer! I am not a professional investment advisor, nor do I play one on tv! So please don't blame me if you buy the stock and it goes down.) All I'm saying is, if you take a look at the company and do your due diligence, and, perhaps more importantly, you just plain LIKE the company and its service, consider buying it, so the next time the fees get jacked up (assuming they ever do..DISCLAIMER, DISCLAIMER!), you can feel good instead of annoyed.

I do own some shares of eBay..not a whole lot, in fact not very many at all, and certainly not as many as I'd like. But, having been through the old AOL stock roller coaster, one tends to proceed with caution.

Where is this whole eBay/Internet marketplace thing going? Will Google -- you can't swing a dead cat these days without hearing about the Google IPO -- (DISCLAIMER: I don't really swing dead cats) make more headway into the world of online commerce? Will amazon step up its used item sales and eat some of eBay's lunch? Will Yahoo auctions ever -- er, gain critical mass (OK, I shouldn't say that..I haven't been in Yahoo auctions lately. Insert another all-purpose disclaimer here). Will some upstart company no one's even heard of now come along and surpass all the other auction companies? Will "local auctions" become the "next big thing"? The Washington Post ran a large separate section with assorted local auction listings the other day.

Whatever happens, one thing is certain, it's bound to be interesting. (As the Chinese say, may you live in interesting times).

We have more to talk about -- the YAB contest update, the eBay "wedding dress guy," ebay Live in New Orleans later this month, and more..so let's get to it!


Have you ordered your copy of "eBay: Top 100 Tips & Tricks" yet?

It's available now on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. If you do want to order the book, I??d appreciate if you'd use my affiliate link below.

ebay top 100


Have you checked out YAB's new design? Give it a look at http://www.aolmemorabilia.com/yab(I know, the next step is a better url).

I still need to plug in a few holes for a few back issues, but we'll get there.


Do you like this newsletter? Please forward it (in its entirety) to a friend!

**Don't have five minutes to read the newsletter now? Print it out; take it to bed with you! (That's my favorite place to read my newsletters!). **


In This Issue:

1) Breaking all the Records? The eBay Wedding Dress Guy

2) In Search of High Profit Margins

3) YAB's "Best Item You've Sold at Auction" CONTEST Update!

4) Requests for eBay Live?

5) What Sells for What? Lighters,'The Apprentice' and Lots o' Prices!

6) Reader Mail



NEW ebook offered: Get my latest ebook, "How to Spot Fakes," for only $3.95! It covers how to tell if some of the major upscale-brand designer handbags and accessories are authentic.

If you want it, please email me at juliawilk@aol.com.

1) Breaking all the Records? The eBay Wedding Dress Guy


eBay has been notorious for all kinds of kooky and crazy auctions, but one auction recently has gotten more media attention than any other: its lister is known simply as "the eBay wedding dress guy."

I first came across the eBay wedding dress guy while keeping one eye on the "Today" show in the other room, as I am wont to do. They were talking about a guy dressed up in a wedding dress, and the words "eBay" and "auction" must have pricked my ears. So I think, this I gotta see, and go into the other room to watch the segment.

They showed a burly, longish-haired guy on the screen, and then cut to the pic from his eBay auction: he's got a women's white wedding dress on, but he is wearing a black t-shirt underneath, in a nod to at least some modesty.

Apparently Larry was just trying to raise enough money from the sale of his ex-wife's wedding dress for couple of Mariners tickets and some beer?? (he lives in Washington State), but I think Larry tells it best himself in the text of the auction (I've added paragraphs and a few other spacing changes to break up the text and make it easier on the eyes):

"For Sale: One Slightly Used Size 12 Wedding Gown. Only worn twice: Once at the wedding and once for these pictures.

"Make: Victoria/Style: 611/Size: 12

"Divorce forces sale

"I found my ex-wife's wedding dress in the attic when I moved. She took the $4000 engagement ring but left the dress. I was actually going to have a dress burning party when the divorce became final, but my sister talked me out of it. She said, "That's such a gorgeous dress. Some lucky girl would be glad to have it. You should sell it on EBay. At least get something back for it.

"So, this is what I'm doing. I'm selling it hoping to get enough money for maybe a couple of Mariners tickets and some beer. This dress cost me $1200 that my drunken sot of an ex-father-in-law swore up and down he would pay for but didn't so I got stuck with the bill. Luckily I only got stuck with his daughter for 5 years. Thank the Lord we didn't have kids. If they would have turned out like her or her family I would have slit my wrists. Anyway, it's a really nice dress as you can see in the pictures.

"Personally, I think it looks like a $1200 shower curtain, but what do I know about this. We tried taking pictures of this lovely white garment but it didn't look right on the hanger as you can see, so my sister says, "You need a model." Well, quite frankly my sister isn??t exactly small, (like a size 12 is?) so she wouldn??t pose for the picture. Seeing as I have sworn off women for the time being and I ain??t friends with any, it left me holding the bag.

"I took the liberty of blacking out my face - not to protect the ex-wife but to protect me from my bar buddies and co-workers finding out about it. I would never live it down. Actually I didn't think my head would fit in the neck hole, but then I figured she got her Texas cheerleader hair through there I could get my head in it. Though, after looking at the pictures, I thought it made me look fat. How do you women wear this crap? I only had to walk 3 feet and I tripped twice. Don't worry ladies - I am wearing clothes on underneath it. I gotta say it did make me feel very pretty. So if it can make me feel pretty, it can make you feel pretty, especially on the most important day of your life, right? Anyway, I was told to say it has a train and a veil and all kinds of shiny beady things. I think it's funny that one picture makes it look like the chest plate off an Imperial Storm Trooper. Did I mention that all I want is a ball game and beer? Cheap at twice the price. Ladies, you won??t regret this. You may regret the dude you marry but not the dress.

"Just a little side note - As I was putting this ad in EBay, it asked me for a color. Is a wedding dress any other freaking color than white or ivory??!! If it is it wouldn't be a wedding dress, now would it?? I suppose black would work...

On Apr-26-04 at 10:38:31 PDT, seller added the following information:

"Well, the auction is a little over half over and I am just amazed. This thing has taken more hits than that pothead that lives in the next building. Man, oh man, if hits were bucks I'd be getting a suite at Safeco.

"I also have received TONS of email. I don??t have the time to reply to all of them but I just want to let everyone know that I appreciate the well wishes.??

"Of the email I received:

"Five or so were invitations to ball games in other states. Two of those were for little league games. Do they have those cushy executive boxes with the free chicken wings at those?

"Most were thanking me for the laugh. You're entirely welcome. Five years of misery was well worth the hearty guffaw that was my pleasure to give you.

"Oh, yeah. I also got three marriage proposals. Yes, you read it right - three marriage proposals. I feel like one of those mass murderers on death row. I never understood how the hell they got more chicks than I did. Now I know. They sold crap on eBay."


The auction ended Apr-28-04 15:37:01 PDT with a winning bid of US $3,850.00

Starting at $1, it received 113 bids.

When I last saw Larry, he'd not only been back on the Today show for a 2nd segment, but he'd tried his hand at stand-up comedy at a club near his town.

Who knows what is next for Larry? Will eBay start spawning mini-celebs, the same way "American Idol" and "The Apprentice" has?

2) In Search of High Profit Margins


I've been thinking about what items are most worth their while to sell on eBay ?V how can you make the most profit for the least time? (Well, if you??ve read my books you know I've been thinking about that for a while now!) Probably an age-old question since people have been doing business, but the worldwide auction marketplace has made it even more relevant.

So lately a related question has nagged at me: what types of things sell fore the highest profit margin? Or, to put it another way, what products have the highest markup? And not just in online auctions, but in general?

I set out to do some informal research, but at first didn't come up with much. If you do a Google search on "highest markup" or "highest profit margin" you get a smattering of news bits from different industries -- which cars have the highest markup, for example, or drugs, but I didn't find one nice, neat resource that listed various products and their average markups in order.

I did ferret out a few things, though. Here are some products that have high markups. I'll continue to research this topic, and if you get leads or know of resources that would be helpful, please email me about it at juliawilk@aol.com.

- Makeup/Cosmetics

We women already have a good idea that makeup brings in a healthy product; I sometimes wince when I look at the price of that lipstick, especially when I guess what it cost to make.

Per one source I found on the internet, some larger chain stores that retail cosmetics and toiletries expect a minimum 35% profit margin from the sale of cosmetics and toiletries.

Does anyone out there sell cosmetics on eBay? If so, let me know; I'd love to hear your story.

I don't sell makeup, but I'm considering offering a huge lot of all the (expensive) cosmetics I've bought to recoup my losses. I have also bought makeup and perfume on eBay?Kespecially perfume, where I've saved a lot of money by buying testers instead of the regular version. (Giorgio is one of my fave perfumes, and it ain't cheap!).

I think this category is an excellent one for people to explore on eBay.

- Coffee

Do you know how much profit the typical coffee shop makes from a $3 drink? About $2.60. That's right! It only costs the shop about 40 cents to make that cup o' joe.

"The profit margin in coffee is probably as healthy as it is in any product that I know of," said Bruce Milletto of the industry consulting firm Bellissimo Coffee Infogroup, as reported in The Washington Post by consumer writer Margaret Webb Pressler (one of my favorite Post columnists -- if you have a chance to read her "Selling Us" Sunday columns on the Post web site, go for it).

Of course, you can't sell espresso drinks on eBay -- at least, no one has figured out a way yet. But I thought you'd be interested in that info anyway. ;)


Per one source, wholesalers and distributors say the average markup is 300%. There was a fascinating article in the Post recently about how Wal-Mart could afford to squeeze out other toy retailers by selling toys so cheap. One way was to make up for the losses on brand-name toys by selling their own private label toys sold under names such as Wal-Mart's Kid Connection. Many of these are manufactured outside the U.S. and profit margins are often twice that of the well-known brand-name toys. (Another way was that Wal-Mart gets discounts from manufacturers for buying toys in bulk).

I'll continue to explore profit margins in the issues ahead. Meantime, if you have thoughts on this, please email me: juliawilk@aol.com.

3) YAB's "Best Item You've Sold at Auction" CONTEST Update!

The entries are rolling in for the YAB "Best Item You've Sold at Auction" Contest. I've seen some truly amazing entries, but there is still room (and time) for more! You have until the end of June to enter.

And don't worry; you'll get to read all the wonderful and inspiring stories yourself after I announce the winner. I'll be publishing all the entries (names not necessarily included, if you don't want!) in a newsletter edition after the contest ends.

If you missed the details of the contest from the last issue, here's all you need to know (this info is also available on the yab web site at http://www.aolmemorabilia.com/yab):

YAB' s "Best Item You've Sold at Auction" CONTEST

We're running our first ever Yard Salers "Best Item You've Sold at Auction" contest!

We're giving away a signed copy of my new book, "eBay: Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks," a package of all 5 of my auction ebooks, and a bunch of collectible pins with tin from last year's eBay Live. (We're talking a lot of pins, here, folks!)

It's easy to enter: Just email me at juliawilk@aol.com and tell me..you guessed it, what is the Best Item You've Sold at Auction! The winner will not necessarily be the one that sold for the most money. Entries will be judged on creativity, humor, and anything else I feel like judging them on.

Prize to be awarded by the end of June, and announced in the July issue.

4) Requests for eBay Live 2004?


Hide the beignets and gear up the gumbo, Julia??s goin to Nawlins for this year's eBay Live!

Yes, I brought it to you last year, and I'm bringin' it to you again, so if you can't go, just watch for the issue after I come back.

Anything in particular you want me to cover? Email me at juliawilk@aol.com <>

And if you do go, I'll be at the Wiley booth signing books from 2-4 p.m. on Friday June 25. (Let's hope people are in a book-buying mood).

5) What Sells for What? Lighters, "The Apprentice" n Lots o' Prices!


Well, when I started collecting prices to use for this edition of YAB, "The Apprentice" was still on tv. OK, so it's not on anymore, but we can still look at what some of the Apprentice Merchandise brought in on eBay, can't we?

(The final sales price is followed by the number of bids the item received).

The Apprentice Mark Burnett Internship Package
$19,000.00 38

The Apprentice Nicole Miller Internship
$6,100.00 27

The Apprentice Cast signed 'How to Get Rich'
$760.00 22

The Apprentice Trump Personalized "The Art of the Deal"
$665.00 26
The Apprentice Trump Personalized "How To Get Rich"
$662.00 19

The Apprentice Apprentice Cast signed poster
$535.00 20

The Apprentice The Donald signed photo
$405.00 13

The Apprentice The Donald signed photo
$360.00 14

The Apprentice Learning About Sotheby's
$360.00 15

The Apprentice The Donald signed photo
$355.00 13

The Apprentice The Donald signed photo
$355.00 19

The Apprentice Autographed by Bill,Briefcase Crew Only
$335.00 38

The $Apprentice Trump/Final 4 Signed Fortune
255.00 23

$255.00 16

The Apprentice Apprentice People Magazine
$213.61 27

The Apprentice Signed Apprentice T-Shirt
$200.00 16

Well, that's enough Apprentice for now, don't you think?

In our Reader Mail this issue, Norman suggests taking a look at lighters; in particular, Zippo lighters. So let's look at some of the high-flyers:


$1,950.00 24
[This really is pretty amazing..it does look like a little aquarium].

$1,800.00 23

[Now there's a Zippo for you! Why can't I ever find one of these things?]

OK, let's look at some of the more average priced lighters in this category:

Musical LIGHTER Music Box
$8.50 4

Nightmare Before Christmas Logo Black Lighter
$8.50 1

Harley Davidson Shield - Brass Zippo Lighter - 1980's
$8.50 4

TRANSFORMERS Autobot Silver Metal Lighter
$8.50 1

New Zippo U.S. SEAL Lighter NIB HOT
$8.50 10


Topyardsales.com Promotion for Free Yard Sale Supplies

From now until June 30th Topyardsales.com is running a special promotion in conjunction with YardSaleSupplies.com. Anyone who posts a free yard sale ad then enhances it with a modestly priced bonus feature, like boldfaced type or top-ten placement, will receive an entry for each paid add-on. The prize packages include custom-printed yard sale signs, preprinted price labels, and clothing size labels.


6) Reader Mail


- Oo la la?KYard Sales in France?


I am writing from France. I am a French lady and a new seller on ebay.fr and just registered to your newsletter, which I find interesting although I expect what sells in the US is quite different from what sells here.

At one time I even thought that I could sell French stuff on ebay.com that might be appreciated like French-made material for curtains or French baby items.... but I was soon put-off when I read on the chats all the trouble that sellers and buyers have when they deal with the US.

Trouble with the shipment - it takes ages - trouble with the payment - Paypal is a must. Problems with the customs. The main complaint I see is that the shipping fees requested by the ebayers(.com) are exaggerated.

Anyway it's nice to read your newsletter and sometimes to see how others are faring. So far I am only trying to get rid of books and newspapers that have accumulated over the years but when I see how much work it is for a few euros I cannot believe that some people can make a business out of it. It would be interesting to read some stories (I do not find the right word here) about their experience.

I shall read you with pleasure and may be buy one of your books. Sorry for the mistakes in English.


[P.S.] Just something else. In France, we do not have yard sales. We are just starting having sales at schools once a year to the benefit of the school but private yard sale or garage sale as they are called in England I believe, do not exist in France. It's only in open-air markets that we see second-hand stuff.

Hi MH!

Wow, a letter all the way from France! Wonderful! Or should I say, magnifique?

I lost my original reply to your letter, so I??ll make up a new one here. I share your frustrations with international auctions, although some of my biggest thrills have been sales I made to foreign people, and things I bought from abroad.

Recently, I bought a wonderful stone necklace from eBay, and I paid for it so hastily I didn't even notice where the seller was located. When the box came, it has these wonderful Chinese letters on it, and I realized it was from yes, China.

I've sold items to people in Germany, Australia, Holland, England, and Japan. I think Japan is the farthest-flung (that was a black AOL brand bookbag..I had gotten it for free as an employee of AOL, where I worked 1988-1997, and didn't need it anymore). Maybe the lure of cyber-type items is bigger in Japan? Who knows.

I have also experienced sellers who inflate shipping, though I find it's not limited to international sales by any means. As a matter of fact, recently I was doing research on what art sold for the most and least on eBay, and the cheapest paintings or prints were all only a penny! But -- here's the kicker -- the shipping on a lot of these items ran from $9.95 to $19.95!

But having said that, I haven't given up on international trade, and a lot of sellers do charge fair shipping fees.

Pierre Omidyar, eBay's founder, said at the last eBay Live that he envisions eBay long-term as a true global marketplace, and it has already become one in many places, but I can see it branching out even more.

And, I can tell you that I, for one, would love to buy a lot of items from France! Things French are very popular here..French country style decorating (although the rooster may have gotten out of hand..lol), French fashions, etc.

So I hope you hang in there, and I urge you to experiment with different items until you find that item that makes it worth your while.


Hi Julia,

Interesting information in this issue..keep up the good work!

What sells on eBay ? It seems that lighters are VERY VERY HOT right now! Especially older ZIPPO lighters! My mother recently gave me 104 old lighters she had in storage...they are currently at 150.00 with 3 days left ! Lighters can be found under collectibles/Tobacciana/lighters. So save your lighters !

Norman S. ID: MiamiLT1

Hey Norman!

Thanks for reading! That's a great tip! I'd like to use it in my next newsletter, if ya don't mind (along w/ your letter). :) I'll also take a look at lighters in general and how they are selling.

Happy YAB'ing! :)

Julia ---------

Jimmie had a comment on my diatribe in the last issue about not getting thanked for my business by certain retail establishments -- to wit:

["Venue: a 7-11 near my house. I patronize this 7-11 fairly often. Would it be too much to ask to get a simple "thank you" after handing over my money? That's the least I ask."]

Hi Julia,

What my son-in-law does in this situation is say, "You're welcome." Try it and see if you get a response. Maybe they're just brain-dead. :8>)~

This is my first issue and I really like it. Thank you for publishing it.


Hi Jimmie!

Thanks for writing, and your compliments. That??s a great suggestion. I'll try it next time...if I can get up the chutzpah. I agree, it gets the point across. Actually, my concern is, although it should get the point across, with these people, it won't. ;)

Welcome to YAB, and keep reading!


Hi Julia,

I was on google and came across an article on how to make money by selling books on ebay. Could you add any comments on how well this works and is it worth my time to invest in this venture. Any info you could send on this would be greatly appreciated as I need to make some xtra income pretty bad right now. Thank you for any help you can give me. Have a great day.

Very truly,


Hi Cal!

Sure -- well, it is indeed kind of iffy; as I was writing in my last newsletter, some books sell well, and others not so well. To date, I have done better selling books on amazon.com than on eBay. My theory is that although eBay currently has amassed the largest online marketplace in terms of number of people, when it comes to books specifically, amazon.com is still the #1 destination in most people??s minds. And if you're looking to sell non-antique books in particular, amazon can be very effective.

My advice: Go regularly to yard sales and look for books on specific nonfiction topics, esp. those that may be out of print. Current books sell well for a while, while they are new, but when a book is mass-distributed, there are often too many copies of it floating out there to make if valuable (especially book club editions -- fugeddaboutit).

That John Grisham book of a few years ago, of which there are three zillion copies in print, will only bring a few bucks. And yet there seem to be a lot of people selling books for that little. In my mind, you can do better working at McDonald??s than going to the trouble to list, store, pack and ship a book for a few bucks.

I'll fwd you my last newsletter where I discuss this..meantine, think about subscribing to my free newsletter, Yard Salers and eBayers, bec. I discuss selling books on a regular basis. :)

So far, I've found that the following types of books sell well enough to make it worth my while: mystery/thriller audiobooks (if you can find them at book stores); most books about investing/finance/anything to help people make money; self help; travel. And those rare, quality "art" books that may be harder to come by but can usually be found at estate sales and some yard sales, if you go early enough.

I find my books at these places: yard sales, estate sales, library sales, thrift stores -- and, let's not forget my own bookshelf.

Oh, I neglected to mention textbooks. If they are recent enough, they can sell very well. Recently I was researching what nonfiction books sold for the most money on eBay, and some that came up were study-guide type sets of the sort that help people prepare for the law, medicine, bar exam, etc.

Good luck! Keep me posted as to how you're doing; I'd love to hear!


------------------------- YOUR FEEDBACK WANTED: An Update to ??What Sells on eBay??: Secrets of the (High-Margin!) Powersellers; The Real Deal on Wholesalers, and What Else Do You Want to See?


Note: I am always open to reader articles, so if you want to write about something relating to yard sale-ing and eBaying, just flag me down! I will of course give you credit, using your eBay ID, web site, or any other contact info.

I'd love your feedback on this topic, as well as other topics you??d like to see me address.


That's it for this issue. Until next time, happy yardsale-ing and eBaying!



eBooks by Julia L. Wilkinson: [all my ebooks are offered at substantial discounts from their regular price of $8.95 to the subscribers of this newsletter. Only $4.95 each! If interested in any of them, please email me at juliawilk@aol.com.]

New eBooks:

- Making Big Bucks off Catalogs on eBay: http://www.aolmemorabilia.com/clkslcat.html

- Over 100 Books that Sell for $50-$100 on eBay: email me!

- Selling Kids Clothes on eBay: email me! (these last two will be available for purchase via my site soon).

- How to Spot Fakes

Julia Classic:

What Sells on eBay for What:


My Life at AOL (available at amazon.com, booklocker.com, and 1stbooks.com)


Copyright 2004 Julia L. Wilkinson


Thank you for subscribing to Yard Salers and eBayers. Yard Salers and eBayers email newsletter may be freely distributed in its entirety, so please pass it on. (Individual sections MAY NOT be copied and/or distributed without written permission of the publisher.) No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Yard Salers and eBayers makes diligent efforts to obtain accurate and timely information. However, Yard Salers and eBayers disclaims any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions in Yard Salers and eBayers, whether or not such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or any other cause.



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