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The eBay store, is it worth it?

Lorainfurniture

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This could be quite possibly the most boring entry I ever write.   The exciting world of the eBay store.   

 

So, you have a shit-ton of appliance parts, you want to turn that in to cash. How?  Sell it on eBay!  So lets start with the very basics.  You need the following:

1.internet

2. computer with printer

3. a "smart" device i.e.. tablet, iPhone, etc

4. shipping supplies, tape, boxes 

5. shipping scale

6. shelving. 

7. a fancy table with good lighting, preferably on a grid 

 

This is the BASIC set up.  No need to drop 10 grand on an operation that is making you ZERO dollars.   You can start off on eBay as a basic seller, and upgrade your membership as your business grows.   Great, so you signed up, got your fancy table, and you want to list that enormous pile of direct drive washer motors you've been looking at for ever.   First you have to sort the 2 speeds from the 3 speeds. Any that are too chipped or corroded looking, don't bother. It will turn in to a return. (more on that later) 

 

Now you have to find the most relevant part#, add that to the listing.  Take your pictures, and add any other relevant part #'s you can find.  How much to sell it for?  Just remember this: people on eBay are shopping on eBay because they are cheap.  If you are not going to list it a penny cheaper than the cheapest one currently listed, just throw it away. (there are exceptions).  Believe it or not, DD motors don't sell for much.  Worse yet, they cost a lot to ship.  A part that sells for $30 dollars will cost you $15 to ship, and eBay takes 10% off the top ($3).  Paypal will pinch off another 3% So in the end, that $30 sale really only put about a $10 bill in your pocket.  Why bother listing it? Well, if you have 10 of them, thats $100.  And that is sure as hell more than you will get at the scrap yard.  Plus, shipping costs vary, you might get a sale going one state over and the ship cost might be $6.  You really just don't know.   I send everything out free shipping. 

NLA parts: The exception.  If you have it, and no one else, you can ask whatever you want, even double, triple retail.  I found a stash of these old amana fridge power boards, NOS. I sell them for around $450, which is at least double retail.  They sell slowly, but they sell.  On the other hand, sometimes the customer can be just as rare as the part.  use your judgement . 

As the volume increases, it becomes more "worth it".  When I first started the eBay store 2 years ago, I quite literally started it myself, on my iPhone, using a 20 dollar scale and my home printer.  once I realized the money, I quickly moved the operation in to my store, and hired a guy.   Now I have 2 dedicated eBay employees, almost 3,200 listings, and dozens of packages going out every day. 

I currently average about $300 a day in sales, 7 days a week. More recently it has been $200, but before its been about $500.   At $300/day I'm sending out about 10-20 packages. 

 

So here are the numbers, these are this year, YTD. 

Gross sales= $69,000

Expense= - $40,000 (this is eBay fees, shipping, paypal , returns

shipping supplies= -$1,800 ( i still have plenty of these shipping supplies, likely 6months +) 

labor/payroll=    - $16,400. 

 

Total profit this year is about $10,500.   I feel like this number could have been a lot better, however, I hired a person who was basically incompetent.  Out of my 3200 listings I would gamble that 1/2 of them are fucked up.  Nobody will buy your stuff if it has a bad picture, incomplete part #, etc.  Still, That works out to about $1300/ month, and Im not doing anything other than parting out the appliance when I condemn it.  This whole operation takes up about 600 sq feet of my shop.  

Returns: 

They suck, the people suck, and they are fucking liars.  Inevitably you will have some fucktard buy a "timer switch" because their washer wouldn't advance in to spin.  Just give them a full refund. Do it immediately.  If you don't, they will ship the part back to you at your expense, and you will end up giving them a full refund anyway.  Fuck it.  just give them a refund right away and try not to think about it anymore.  

Shipping:

Almost as bad as returns.  Its expensive, and if you actually want to sell shit on eBay, it should be on your dime.  Save yourself the complications.  Offer free slow poke shipping, offer an expedited upgrade for several dollars more.  There will be some packages that you will actually LOSE money on.  Take it to the chin like a man and move on. 

There are a couple of side benefits to this business. 

a. extra "paid for" employees. (last week I sent the eBay guy on the delivery truck because one driver called off)

b. once in a while you will actually use/need a part that you actually have, and would have never saved otherwise. (not as often as you would think though!)

c. builds value in your business via inventory and daily cash sales. 

d. You can brag about being Green, saving many tons from landfill 

e. You will get more foot traffic for parts sales, once the word gets out. 

In conclusion:

I was surprised on how small the bottom line was, I'm sure you are too.  As i write this, I consider the benefit of having that space empty, filled up with more new/ used appliances.  Is $1300/ month worth it?  I really don't have the answer for that.  Im going to continue my eBay store, at least for one more year.  Once I get all my listings corrected, then I can make a judgement on the cost / benefit.  

For those of you thinking about doing it, I say go for it.  It isn't easy, and you won't actually make any real money for about 6 months.  Its a pretty hands off operation, so it becomes like a passive income.  You can try it for a year, if its not for you, can can simply stop listing.  The stuff that you have listed will still sell, so you can still make money even after you stop working your store.  All you will have to do is ship. 

Learning everything the hard way, I would advise the following:

Don't list anything worth less than $20, unless you have a lot of quantity. 

Try and keep it to one or 2 employees, and try and get them to do other things at your store, like answer phones, clean etc.  

I feel like the sweet spot is bout 2,000 listings, with 1 employee.  Its manageable, not too much space, and you can still make nearly as much as you would make with 3000 mediocre listings.  Right now I have one full time lister, and 1 part time guy that basically just does shipping. 

 

You are not going to get rich , but if you have some dead space in your warehouse, and need someone to answer your phone, this might be a win-win.  

 

Any questions comments criticism ? 

 

 



17 Comments


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Much appreciated info. I've got just about everything I need to start my store. I'm just weighing the idea of rededicating some hours from current help vs bring in someone new. How much do you pay your Ebay person?

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Lorainfurniture

Posted

Minimum wage job. The shipper gets paid much more

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Why not ship with USPS flat rate boxes? They provide them and your shipping costs are known on the front end. No scale or printer required.

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Lorainfurniture

Posted

28 minutes ago, Thirstytech said:

Why not ship with USPS flat rate boxes? They provide them and your shipping costs are known on the front end. No scale or printer required.

Those flat rate boxes don't hold much. Most small parts under 16oz will ship first class, which is under $4.  We do use the flat rate boxes/ envelopes, but rarely. 

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applianceman97

Posted

Great Post! I was contemplating on starting an ebay store with all my parts that I have. The bottom line is just a little low for me. I think I'll clear my space, scrap the junk. I'll keep the NOS parts and just mess with them on Ebay.

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Lorainfurniture

Posted

On September 10, 2016 at 3:54 PM, applianceman97 said:

Great Post! I was contemplating on starting an ebay store with all my parts that I have. The bottom line is just a little low for me. I think I'll clear my space, scrap the junk. I'll keep the NOS parts and just mess with them on Ebay.

If you have a NOS part, likely it will beneficial to sell on eBay vs. just scrapping it. 

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The "NLA" stuff is where it's at for big profits. It's tough to slug it out with current parts amongst all the big guys and others selling aftermarket parts on the bay.

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Great post once again!

If my wife wasn't pregnant with our second baby, and taking care of our first, I'd have her start on this today!

Maybe in 6 years or so when they're both in school I'll get to this.

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applianceman97

Posted

On 9/12/2016 at 5:16 PM, Lorainfurniture said:

If you have a NOS part, likely it will beneficial to sell on eBay vs. just scrapping it. 

That was my plan. Found a few old school oven manual clock/timers, frigidaire burners (wide ones), and some modern maid parts. All sorts of fun stuff. 

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Lorainfurniture

Posted

I had a bunch of those mono tube? frigidaire elements, they sell really well.  

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BearsFan4Eva

Posted

I had an online parts store for 5 years.  At its peak I was doing $2000 a month but when I closed it down I was down to around $12-$1300 a month. I was drop shipping new parts and also selling used parts off scrap machines. In the end it just wasn't worth it to me. People misdiagnosed all the time, returns, installed new parts and claiming they didn't, charge backs, lost packages by the shipping companies and the massive amount of time for website part/pricing updates and data entry was just a nightmare. Don't miss it at all. 

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mikeyjd

Posted (edited)

We've approached the eBay thing as a 3 headed monster. I have an in-house employee that I have sell my verified working control boards ($15 hourly employee who is also my marketing director and a sales staff). I have a friend from church with a 3 stall garage that does a 50/50 split on all sales (we do about $200 profit per day here to split, so $100 per person). He takes all my smalls (valves, lid locks, pumps etc..) and I throw him some nicer stuff: verified motors, controls, new parts to make it worth his time. I also wholesale parts to a parts refurbisher which nets another $500+- per week cash. Overall we're generating $1500-$2k per week in additional profit for the company with this approach.

Edited by mikeyjd

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Lighthouse

Posted

2 years ago I bought some stock from a gut that retired after 40 years in the business. He passed away shortly thereafter. His wife told me that he had "some stuff" in his shop and was wanting to clean it out. I stopped by there yesterday and was shocked at all that he had. There are lot of old parts but  a lot of stuff that can still be used. I am trying to make a deal with her and will be starting a eBay store ASAP. 

Has much changed since you originally wrote this blog or anything you would like to add to it?

Right off I saw 3 blue agitators. When has anyone last seen these?

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Well I cut a deal with her and bought all the stuff. There are enough IM's to cover what I paid for the lot. There are a bunch of timers, some which I am sure are NLA. he had a lot of old Gemline parts. I didn't even count the bake & broil elements yet but there are a bunch. My wife & I spent the day yesterday unloading the parts that are in boxes. We still have 18 boxes of small parts to go through. We hauled off 6 garbage cans junk & probably have several more to go. I will probably ditch all of the old DW parts. We still have the big job of typing up an inventory list so we can see what we want to put on eBay. I also got a few tools that are NLA, even got an Agi-Tamer.

On 7/7/2018 at 7:41 AM, Lighthouse said:

Has much changed since you originally wrote this blog or anything you would like to add to it?

Still wonder about this @Lorainfurniture

Have you noticed any parts that move better than others?

If I have a part that anyone on this site needs then I will offer them a deal.

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Lorainfurniture

Posted

So 1.5 years later I’m still doing the eBay store.  I basically scrapped most of the original setup and now I have one great guy that works for $250/ week salary and 10% of the gross sales.  I currently have about 2300 GREAT listings and still selling north of 10 items a day. 

Long story short I’m pulling in about $4,000 a month net. My guy is making about $2k a month but barely works 20 hours a week. 

Everything sells eventually, but the more recent machines tend to move quickly.  The really old stuff is slow to sell but is basically a home run every time it sells. 

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I'm going to start working on getting set up to see what I can move. Just going to take some time getting stuff set up.

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Are you still doing the ebay store? 

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