If I Sell Used Goods on eBay, Does That Make Me a Junk Dealer?

User merchandise including art, antiques and collectibles make up approximately 30% of eBay sales.

I saw a sales letter for an eBay learning product the other day that stressed they would teach you how to sell new merchandise including the latest hottest products –and you wouldn’t have to make a living selling other people’s junk.

Well selling the latest and hottest products is great if you can source them a large quantities to get your costs down and you want to be up against lots of competition which drives down your profit margins.  With all of the fees on eBay and PayPal plus competition from other eBay sellers and the proliferation of web shopping sites it is already difficult to make a consistent profit on eBay.  The trick is finding products to sell that aren’t being sold by dozens or hundreds of other sellers so you can keep your prices high enough to make a profit.

Of course you can do this with new goods –I do.  But selling used merchandise of all kinds often offers profit potential that far exceeds new good.  On most new merchandise, the standard wholesale cost is about ½ of the retail or MSRP price.  But very few items sell on eBay at or near MSRP.  Most goods sell for 10% to 20% less.  So this means you often only make a 25% to 35% margin on your selling price.  Now subtract about 8% in selling fees and you aren’t left with much.

On the other hand, there are tons of secondhand or used products that you can mark up 200% or 300% or more.  There are hundreds of examples of this on eBay and used merchandise represents about 30% of eBay’s $55 Billion annual sales volume. A few months ago I had a box of fishing lures that I knew were valuable but I didn’t really want to take the time to study them, photograph them and deal with shipping the individual items, so I sold them to another eBay seller as a lot for $75.  I watched his auctions for a while and although I didn’t see them all, what I saw showed me that he made over $400 on that $75 investment.  One mouse lure from the box sold for $90. 

Another person I met at eBay Live deals in nothing but old (vintage) Apple Macintosh computers.  He buys them at garage sales, flea markets and thrift shops and by advertising in classified ads.  He can buy an old computer for $20 and make over $200 selling the parts. The manager of my local Starbucks has a husband who is a mechanic. He buys old junked cars for between $50 and $200 and can make as much as $2000 or more selling the parts.

 There is a lady in my area who sells used books and jigsaw puzzles.  She and her husband who now works with her at home, just built a beautiful waterfront home that has to be worth over half a million dollars, so I suspect they are doing pretty well.  In my newsletter this month I wrote about a woman that makes huge amounts of money selling old postcards.  There is just no end to the items that people will collect or buy.

The point is that there are thousands of items you can buy at flea markets, thrift shops, garage sales and by advertising for them.  It is not uncommon to find things that you can buy for a couple of dollars and sell for $10, $20, $30 or more.

We now sell mostly new goods, but I sold mostly used goods for years and still do from time to time.  So call me a junk dealer if you want but I will take a 500% markup over a 50% markup any day of the week.

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