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6/27/2004

Using eBay, your junk will find home

By Kevin King
Special to the Times-Call

Summer! After months of warm sweaters and dozing by the fireplace, the time has once again come to dig out the fishing gear, pack up the tent and head out for a fun-filled weekend away from civilization.

Oh, if only it were that easy. While I’m reasonably confident our fun stuff is somewhere in the garage, any more detail would require a GPS and a homing beacon.

Over the cold months, our garage becomes something of a Purgatory for garage sale fodder. It starts out innocently enough — an old picture here, some old clothes there — but it takes only a few months to add up to a mess.

We need to have a summer garage sale, but with all this stuff, there’s never the time or energy to identify and price everything, set up the tables, make the signs, get the ad in the paper, tear down the tables, figure out what to do with the stuff that didn’t sell, and on and on.

Enter eBay — www.ebay.com — often touted as the “world’s biggest garage sale.” With an Internet connection, a person can sell nearly anything to anyone else with a connection.

As the leader among Web auction sites, eBay is remarkably simple: You have something to sell, and there’s probably someone somewhere who has an interest in buying it. And with a global buying audience, you may find someone interested in that circa-1970 electric back-hair trimmer.

Getting started on eBay is a snap. When you first connect to the site, you’ll see a “Sell” button near the top. Click that button, and you can register as a seller. It’s fast and free to register, even if you never sell anything. Once you start selling, however, you’ll pay a little for each item you list for sale and a small fee based on the final sale value.

Listing items for sale on eBay is also straightforward and simple, but understand that a bit of effort put into your listing can go a long way toward a successful sale. Take a few moments to understand the item you’re selling and the person you think would be most interested in it, then link the two with your description. Remember, if you don’t find the description interesting, potential buyers probably won’t, either.

Also, whenever possible, charge actual shipping costs for the items you sell. Savvy eBay shoppers can sense inflated shipping charges, which may be the difference between perpetuating the garage clutter or pocketing a few bucks. Local shippers (and the post office) are very helpful in giving estimates.

Also, it’s important to understand that feedback is king on eBay. Most buyers look for an established seller with ample positive feedback before they’ll bid on expensive items. So don’t expect to list that customized Ferrari first; list a few dozen inexpensive items, treat your customers impeccably to build up positive feedback and then move up to the more expensive items. With enough positive feedback, over time you’ll be free to sell just about anything.

Selling online can be both fun and much more convenient than the traditional garage sale. In the end, everyone gets what they need, and with reduced clutter, your garage will thank you!

Kevin King is a technology consultant with Precision Solutions Inc. in Longmont. He can be reached at kevin@precisonline.com.