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ISSUE 5: February 11, 2003

Yard Salers and eBayers: Issue 5! 1.5 - February 11, 2003

Greetings all!

I do enjoy many things about the winter, but I must say I miss the feeling of excitement of starting off on a crisp Saturday morning for another adventure of yard and estate sale-ing, a strong cup of coffee in my hand; that feeling of not knowing what you will find, but hoping for the best. Here in the D.C. area there are not many estate sales, and hardly any yard sales, this time of year.

If you live in a warmer climate, you probably don't experience this seasonal dearth. I'd love to hear from those of you who are out and about, at yard and estate sales, and even flea markets and thrift shops. What are you finding? What have been your biggest triumphs and worst debacles? Let me know and I'll share them with everyone in the next issue.

This month I have a lot of stuff to talk about. I've been reading a lot about buying trends that I want to share with you.

I also want to welcome all our new subscribers! The list has grown quite a bit in the past few weeks.

So let's get right to it!

**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) We Do Love Our Luxuries: Harnessing the Middle Class Upscale Itch to Maximize Your Own Profits
2) Mapping It: Who Is Buying Maps, and Why?
3) Mental Tricks for Moving (and Selling) Your Clutter
4) More on the Book Biz: Amazon Reselling: Can it Be Any Easier?
5) The Strange Tale of the Boomerang Evan-Picone Shoes
6) Reader Mail
7) Coming: Secrets of the (High-Margin!) Powersellers; The Real Deal on Wholesalers, and What Else Do You Want to See?
8) Quick Recommended Reading

1) We Do Love Our Luxuries: Harnessing the Middle Class Upscale Itch to Maximize Your Own Profits

There was a great article on the front page of USA Today last weekend, in the Fri/Sat/Sun (Jan 31 - Feb 2) issue (and don't you love a newspaper that has the chutzpah to simply say, 'to heck with y'all, I'm taking the weekend off '- deal with it!' Though thank goodness for my Saturday Washington Post).

It was about how luxury ain't just for Thurston and Lovey Howell types anymore. The middle class is making room for luxury items in their lives, and there is a big demand for these things. A few examples:

- JetBlue airline sports leather seats and private 24-channel tvs, and has been doing very well.

- Coach has a popular line of $120 handbags (I was not even aware of this, and Coach is my handbag of choice. Probably because I don't go to brick-and-mortar stores much anymore).

- Callaway Golf 'markets $500 golf clubs to average golfers.'

They cite the stressed-out modern existence as being one of the drivers of this trend. People need those little luxuries; the affordable ones like a chichi cup of coffee. And the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have accentuated the trend.

Emotionally, people are weary and feel battered by the combination of an extended bear market, September 11, and now the spectre of war with Iraq. They'll be gosh darned if they can't have their few luxuries, and as long as they can afford it, who can blame them?

I for one do not plan on giving up my expensive Godiva Chocolate Crème coffee habit (to take out on aforementioned Saturday morning excursions). My husband has complained when he sees the guilty little box arrive at the door, but I finally fended him off and got my point across that it was not optional.

Personally, I've noticed people doing a lot of nesting in my own area. Almost everyone in my immediate circle of acquaintances has done some kind of major remodeling of their kitchen or bathroom. When they pick new countertops, they are almost always granite. Floors are hardwood or solid tile.

But that doesn't mean people don't love a bargain. They want the good stuff, but they also like to be able to say they got it at a good price. To me, this is a lot of what drives eBay; people looking for good stuff at a great price. (Or unusual stuff at the best price they can get!).

So what does all this moderately conspicuous consumption mean to you, as a seller? And how does news of this trend help you?

Well, let's talk about a few ways.

1) the types of stuff you offer. We all sell all kinds of different stuff; some of you specialize; others don't. But whatever you sell, it means looking for the 'high end' of that type of item, and writing compelling descriptions to speak to the buyer and pull them in.

Basically, don't feel you need to shy away from selling expensive stuff to make profits. (In fact, in my experience, offering high-end items will net you a better profit per item than selling a bunch of low-end items).

OK, I just HAVE to mention Michael Jackson's spending spree on the recent 20/20 broadcast here; can you imagine being the manager of the Las Vegas store where the Gloved One dropped a cool mill on rococo/Louis XIV style sculptures, columns, and art? Remember there are some very wealthy buyers out there for your high-end stuff! (OK, so maybe there are very few Michael Jacksons).

But, remember too that people are looking for a bargain, so if it's a contemporary item, they will want it below retail (unless it's rare or sold out, in some cases). (Even Herr Jackson felt he needed to dicker with the manager. Or so they said).

A tip to acquiring some good stuff for cheap: Terry of iwantcollectibles.com suggests that the listing deals on fixed price/Buy It Now (BIN) can get you some good stuff at low prices when you find a BIN item that the seller set too low a price for. But, you have to get to that stuff soon, because those Buy It Nows go quickly. (Terry sets up bookmarks for his searches to check for them quickly).

2) How you describe your stuff.

Let's say you sell Pez dispensers (yes there's a whole subculture of folks out there who do). You found a rare Pez dispenser that should bring a high price. Appeal to the buyer's emotions; to their want to own the best of the best; 'a must-have for the serious Pez collector! No ultimate Pez collection should be without this!' I have done this with Princess Diana memorabilia.

Any other ideas or thoughts you have on this topic of luxury? Send 'em my way! Email me at juliawilk@aol.com.

2) Mapping It: Who Is Buying Maps, and Why?

If you read my newsletter regularly, you probably know I live in the Washington, D.C. area. (Yes I'm one of those odd birds in this transient town known as a 'D.C. Native.')

Hence when I come across good stuff in The Washington Post I may throw it your way. Well, they ran a great piece recently on old maps.

It talks about how people are buying old maps and framing them, in large numbers. I've noticed this trend myself in various people's homes. Why? They may want an old map of their current neighborhood for their walls. They may want an old map of where they were born, for sentimental reasons. Or they may just collect old maps and like to look at how the world looked before World War II, World War I, or what have you.

Want to talk about the perfect inexpensive-but-looks expensive little gift? I have a friend who lives in a cute little historical Georgetown brownstone (you know, one of those 'cute little' brownstones that sell for a million dollars and more!). She has many old maps of Georgetown framed on her walls.

One day at an estate sale, I came across an old book from the Dept. of the Interior with old maps of the Georgetown waterfront. It was marked down to $1. I gave it to her as a hostess gift (along with a bottle of wine; I'm not that cheap!) at her last party, and she was thrilled! All that for $1!

Maps are also great for some people who 'have everything.' It's a sentimental, often hard-to-find item that may remind them of days of yore. For example, my in-laws are such people, and I never know what to get them for Christmas. They recently bought a beach house on the northern shore of New Jersey. Well, I found a map on eBay of this town, from the late 1800's. A great find! I plan to frame it and give it to them as a gift. (I bet they'll like it more than a lot of the other, more expensive gifts we guessed at!).

In fact, you could probably buy a map for most or all of the people on your list this Christmas. (As one who spends lots of time agonizing over what to buy people, the Oprah Winfrey concept of going with a 'theme' gift or getting the same thing for everyone sounds good to me!).

Where do you find old maps? Same place you find your other stuff: yard sales, estate sales, thrift shops..and my personal favorite, your own books and personal inventory. (I tend to notice maps at estate sales in out-of-the-way places' like stacked up in the den or basement of the house..often they are inconspicuous booty unnoticed by other shoppers. Though I have also seen buyers grab up the whole lot of maps and buy them unsifted through). D.C. map seller Jim Tam got his own original stock, dating as far back as the early 1800s, from atlases and encyclopedias inherited from his grandfather, according to the Post piece: 'Always a collector, he says he decided to start selling antique maps (and comic books and baseball memorabilia) a few years ago when the local comedy business dried up. Some of his original stock, pages taken from old books, are called 'disbound extracts,' says Tam.'

(Isn't 'disbound extract' a great name for page ripped out of a book?

'I keep telling my father they have been doing this for hundreds of years, but now I am doing it outdoors in this fun, festive atmosphere.' [outdoor flea markets]. He adds to his inventory, most of which he sells between $5 and $100, at estate sales, flea markets and the Salvation Army; he also keeps a list of clients' requests.;

The reasons the buyers give for wanting the old maps are varied: one woman wanted one of her old neighborhood. Another collects maps and hunts for them on his travels, a favorite being; a 1660 Blaeu map of the Caribbean in confectionery greens and Bermuda pinks, tall black-edged ships overtaking the ocean. "Florida is much too fat, the Yucatan is much too skinny; It's a very pretty map."

"I retrace my own travels and think about exotic places I still long to visit, like the islands in the South Pacific or North Africa," says another shopper. "It makes me realize there is a whole other world to explore."

One man's map of Western Pennsylvania reminds him of his roots in Allegheny County.

To read the whole article, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59959-2003Jan29.html.


I haven't tried selling maps myself, but I plan to try. I have bought a few...including a great tourist map of Austria for research on an article I was writing. I will be looking for old maps of the current neighborhood I live in.

I have a great 1961 Atlas which I dearly love..it's the one I always looked at as a kid. I don't know if I'd have the heart to take it apart, though. I'll keep you posted of my map adventures.

Have a map selling or buying experience you care to share? Email me!

3) Mental Tricks for Moving (and Selling) Your Clutter

One of the things I'm trying to accomplish during this period of winter doldrums is to get rid of much of the clutter I've been in denial about. I plan to round up and sell the largest lots I can put together of the following: craft beads (mine and the kids) that are driving me crazy loose around the house; old videos the kids no longer watch; the last pack of record albums (yes Virginia there is such a thing as vinyl, though our kids may never know it!); clothes I or Nick or the kids no longer wear; books, books, books; etc.

I came across a great book about getting rid of clutter which I recommend (no they are not paying me). It goes into the various 'clutter types' ..but the main thing I want to share with you is some mental strategies for getting rid of stuff. [book info at end of this piece].

Not to say that you should unload everything. One of the key questions the book raises is to ask yourself 'Do I love it?' You may never wear that old MIT t-shirt, but if it reminds you of your first boyfriend, who gave it to you, then you might want to keep it. (OK I confess; I did have such a t-shirt but I actually did get finally rid of it. Just an example. Sorry, John.).

Probably my favorite tip so far is that if there's something you are having a hard time parting with, but you just frankly don't use it and haven't for years, try putting it in an intermediary box. Stash it somewhere safe, where you know it is, and then revisit it in a few to six months. Haven't missed it? Out it goes. Or list it if you can. (I'm not talking about sentimental things you keep but may never look at for years, that you may want to keep for other reasons, like passing down to your kids, such as diplomas, etc.).

A quick look at some clutter personality types:

- the Concealer - accumulates a lot of stuff, but keeps it all neatly stored and hidden away in myriad containers. [hidden danger: masks indecisiveness, even neatly stacked boxes can start to take over your life]

- the Accumulator; pack rat. Just keeps stuff. 'doesn't think she needs less stuff, just more space.'

- The Tosser; Out it goes. Not sentimental, does not save things from childhood.

There are also combinations of these types.

So, again, I will be making nice little (or big, hopefully) lots of these things and selling 'em off. Got clutter? Give it a try too. 

Book Info: 'Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff -- The Q.U.I.C.K. Way to Bring Lasting Order to Household Chaos' by Lori Baird; Rodale Books; www.rodalestore.com or 800-848-4735. (No they are not paying me). ;)

4) More on the Book Biz: Amazon Reselling: Can it Be Any Easier?

In the last newsletter, I wrote about how one man thought half.com, eBay's sister site, was much easier to sell books on than eBay. This time around I'm going to write about using Amazon.com to sell books. In my personal experience so far, this site is not only the easiest but also the most lucrative place to sell books.

This is because:

1) I believe more people who buy books shop at amazon first. I also bet that more and more people are buying used books there before they consider buying a new book (unless they need it as a gift). But even many of the used books are billed as 'like new.'

2) listing books is even easier than selling on half.com. You don't even have to enter the ISBN #; you simply type in the name of the book you want to sell, find it in the search, then look for the 'have one to sell?' button, click it, and enter the condition and price. That's it! (Of course, you first do need to set up a seller's account, but that's not hard).

As with half.com, as stated in the last issue of YAB: - Your books can sit there, for FREE, until the right buyer comes along. - You don't have to send emails back and forth with buyers requesting payment, confirming shipping, etc. - You can access an itemized list of everything you sell, at what price, less what fees. A friend of mine said she listed a bunch of her books on amazon and sold 4 within a couple days. Inspired, I listed a bunch of my books (another confession this issue: I do tend to buy a lot of books, both used and new) and I also sold 4 within the next few days. (In fact, last night I just got an email that I sold another book). One of my friend's books sold for around $35 (it was an out-of-print writer's research book). I've talked about this before, but to reiterate, I think sites like amazon are best for relatively contemporary books, or not too contemporary books that may be hard to find but not necessarily super old or collectible. If you have a signed, first-edition Hemingway, I'd look to eBay, abebooks or Sotheby's, etc. Food for thought.

5) The Strange Tale of the Boomerang Evan-Picone Shoes

I'm gonna keep this piece short 'cause it's kinda odd. In short, I feel the need to share this strange little tale, and for you, I hope it will offer some comic relief, if any is needed in your day.

If you sell on eBay regularly, you probably have one or more 'odd sale' stories to share. We almost all have vents about the irresponsible buyers who don't pay, disappear off the face of the earth, or do other annoying things like ask 'hmm' I'm not sure..what exactly is your book about?; after they've already AGREED TO BUY it!

I think my one of my flakiest sellers of all time is the woman who agreed to buy a pair of Evan-Picone shoes from me. Nothing fancy; just a nice brand name and a basic pair of pumps in a neutral color.

The following is my best recollection of the subsequent sequence of events:

Auction ends. Closing email goes out to her from me. She does not respond.

I send followup email. No response.

I send 2nd followup..get a little firmer..invoke the Scary Name of eBay if she does not pay. (I know; are you just quaking in your shoes? Well, you've got to try something!).

I hear from Ms. Flaky. 'Sorry, I've been so busy' how much were they again? Blah blah blah.; OK, at least she responded. I've given payment specifics three times already, but I dig it up and send it again.

No response.

Email again. No response. Get contact info from eBay. Phone her. (Mind you, she lives in California, which is about as far away from my home in the lower 48 States you can get).

'Sorry..I meant to pay..just been so busy..how much were they again?' Am I trapped in a bad episode of Nietzschean eternal recurrence or what? Or is it simply Ground Hog Day?

Send total a fifth time.

Will wonders never cease: Ms. Flaky then pays!

Great. Pack up shoes lovingly in tissue paper, then bubble wrap. Secure snugly in cute little Godiva coffee packing box (see first article for my Godiva coffee addiction).

Send shoes out.

A few weeks go by. The universe continues apace.

One fine day, a cute little parcel arrives at my door. It's a Godiva coffee box with a handmade label attached. Well, lo and behold. It's the same package I sent out to Ms. Flaky. Stamped 'Unclaimed.' And, above that: 'Return to Sender.'

Now, I don't make judgments. Maybe Ms. Fl. Has been going through a particularly difficult time. Hey, I've been there. Maybe her mother is dying of cancer.

I mean, she paid for the shoes. But I have invested enough time in these shoes. If she wants to contact me and get them, I may send them to her. I'll keep them in my closet, where they've been since Oct. of last year. No word from La F.

All in all, it was just odd.

Yes, she did finally pay; but, I think I will never list another pair of Evan Picone shoes again.

6) Reader Mail

Here is some select correspondence between you, my fabulous readers, and me. Auction Info Followup; Power Selling and Time Management. In our last newsletter, Robert asked me about how he was trying to make Powerseller, and not sure how he could manage 100 auctions per week. I responded that time management was a big issue and that although I didn't have a great answer for him now, I would continue to research time-management techniques and offer them to my readers.

Well, I recently wrote a piece for AuctionBytes that deals with the time management issue. It doesn't offer One Big Answer, but it gives a few ideas. If you want to read it, check it out here:


[In general I highly recommend AuctionBytes, the site. OK, so I do write for them regularly..but that is because I do like them so much!]


Important question/wholesaling

"Hi Julia, I was referred to you from David and Ina Steiner [of AuctionBytes fame].

I have some questions before I start purchasing wholesale as I am a little nervous about investing money into something I am unsure of.

There is a truthful saying about on-line auction business: "The way to succeed is to purchase wholesale items that people are bidding on frantically." My number one question for you is: Once I find what people are bidding on frantically, or an item I know will sell well, how do I find a wholesale source for that particular product? What are the best methods for researching manufacturers and wholesalers for a particular product? It's different if you're going off a list of wholesalers where you can just choose what product they are selling for wholesale and then sell that product, but it is another thing when it comes to finding a wholesale source of a certain product you want to sell.

Anyway, I don't mean to be too skeptical, but I want to make sure I am doing the right thing before purchasing from a wholesaler. Is it highly recommendable? I am a novice at this and have never purchased wholesale, but I just want to know if I am doing the right thing before I dig myself any deeper.

I have been told numerous times "If you, as a seller, can purchase wholesale online, then your buyers can as well, or in the very least, your competition sellers can use the same resource, and therefore become a huge competition". What is your input on this thought?

When I go on e-bay, the things that sell well are odd, rare things, or name brand items. Do you know of such wholesalers that sell such items? Common items don't sell as well. That is what I get concerned about when buying wholesale lists. They just sell common items that people can get anywhere anyways. What is your input on this thought?

I am excited but apprehensive. Please reply to my questions if you are willing. I thank you for taking the time for reading my e-mail. I'll look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks Julia. Have a great week :-)



Hey Aaron,

Are you subscribed to my newsletter, Yard Salers and eBayers? If not, you may find it helpful.

Your questions are very good, and the very questions I am grappling with myself. I plan to write a piece on wholesaling soon, and then expand it into a wholesale book. I may include it in my next newsletter...which is why I asked if you'd subscribed. [note to readers from Julia: it is not in this issue but I plan it for next issue].

I'd be skeptical too...before you buy anything I'd be very careful and check out the reputation of the wholesaler, and what you'd be getting exactly. There was a great piece about the hazards of buying wholesale clothing pallets..I'm going to refer to it in the piece I write. Things like, they throw in things they can't sell, etc.

And your question about, why wouldn't buyers just buy a thing themselves wholesale is good too; unless it was strictly a bulk-buying question. [e.g., a buyer who doesn't want 100 of an item, but one]. There's the concern of competitors too; e.g. if you can buy a great bunch of items wholesale, then other sellers can too; so where's your unique selling point in that?

I'm not "sold" on wholesalers yet but I haven't started researching it yet. I bought a couple wholesale guides from eBay but so far been very underwhelmed. They seem to just list wholesalers or wholesale sites will-nilly with no explanations, examples or context. When I write a wholesale book I plan on it being much more detailed and comprehensive, as well as cautious.

Well, I don't know if this helps at all. Watch my newsletter for more. Meantime let me see if I can dig up that piece.

-- Julia

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

I'm working on an updated version of What Sells on eBay, because I think it is sorely needed and because I eventually would like the book to cover most major eBay categories.

Right now I'm working on a section about Electronics, and I would dearly love your feedback. What subcategories of electronics interest you the most? Do you sell electronics? If so, why, and if not, any reason why? Lack of knowledge? What knowledge would you like about it?

BTW, every subscriber to this newsletter will get emailed a FREE copy of the electronics update when I am done!


The following is a repeat from last issue but still valid: In future issues, I plan to carefully examine powersellers, especially the high-margin powersellers who make tidy profits per item (not the ones who spend all day and night listing penny items, since I don't want you or me to have to live like that!). I'm going to see if any of them will share their secrets, and if not, well, we'll just see what we can learn from their listings as to how they do it.

I also plan to take a look at wholesalers in a coming issue.

I'd love your feedback on these two topix, as well as other topix you'd like to see me address.

8) Quick Recommended Reading

I don't have any quick recommended reading this issue other than the Rodale Clutter book mentioned above. However, I am waiting on what I think will be a very exciting book about turning your yard sale finds into resellable treasures. I look forward to sharing the secrets contained within to you all next time.

Wait, I take that back. I have a 'Recommended Watching': the most excellent tv show featuring flea-market and antique gurus Ralph and Terry Kovel:

HGTV's 'Flea Market Finds with the Kovels.' Home and Garden Television, Wednesday evenings, 8 pm EST.

I only just started watching the show but I plan to be a regular. The last show I watched had the excellent piece on Pez dispensers (and did you know that Pez dispensers started as candy for truck drivers, so they could easily pop 'em in their mouth while driving?).


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).

Julia Classic:

What Sells on eBay for What: http://www.aolmemorabilia.com/clkbnksales.html

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

Copyright 2003-4 Julia L. Wilkinson



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