For Buyers (For Example)There are many different kinds of hobbies in which the search for parts, components, or materials is a major part of the activity, whether for the pleasure of the search itself or for the end results that are desired. People have always thought about eBay in terms of collecting—things like stamps and coins, or baseballs and beanie babies—but the eBay hobby model can be carried much farther than that, even to the point of the serious hobbyist. Consider the following examples:
- Cycling: Build your own bike and equipment closet from the ground up. Purchase a mountain bike frame, suspension fork, crankset, shifters, derailleurs, wheels, tires and other parts you need for a complete bike with all your favorite top-end components and assemble it all yourself into your own personal dream machine. Don't forget a helmet and shoes while you're at it.
- Cars: Restore a classic car from start to finish. Start with a project car, then move on to a block, a head, a transmission, body panels, seats, a dash, front grille, and the garage full of other parts that you'll need. Maybe even buy the garage itself so that you have a place to work.
- Film Photography: Assemble your own camera system from bodies and viewfinders and focus screens to lenses, flashes, and winders. Don't forget about the consumables and their processing: things like film, development tanks and developer.
- Computers: Put together your own computer system. Start with a case and a mainboard and then pick up a processor, video card, hard drive, memory, and monitor. If you're a game player, don't forget a gaming keyboard and great sound system.
- Clockmaking: Even rare and "old-world" hobbies can be supported by eBay. Shop for mainsprings, hairsprings, bushing wire, gears, hands, chimes, even entire movements, whether electrical or mechanical.
- Fishing: Not just rods and reels, but rod parts, reel parts, lure and fly making materials, line, nets, and even bait.
eBay is also a great source for the tools needed in each of these cases to assemble the parts that you collect into finished, usable items. Everything from engine stands and clutch pilots to soldering irons and chain tools to fine tweezers and jeweler hammers.
Many hobbyists have never engaged with their hobby at this level because it has traditionally been difficult in many cases to buy anything other than finished goods. Certainly parts availability has often been an issue filled with complexities, special orders, and crawling through obscure mail-order catalogs for items that are often no longer stocked. eBay has changed all of that. If you are a skateboarder, for example, that has never built your own skateboard from scratch all the way down to selecting your own bearings, or a guitarist that has never assembled a guitar or built a tube amp, now may be the time to start.
Just remember to brush up on your advanced search techniques before you start!
For SellersObviously, there is a business opportunity here. Whether you are the bike shop or the clock repair shop just described, you probably have a back room full of old parts, unused spares, pulls of various varieties, special orders that were never picked up, and so on. With relatively little effort, these can be a nice side revenue stream on eBay. Yes, people will buy worn bicycle cranks and used frame-fork combos with nothing else bolted to them and shot headset bearings. Yes, people will buy boxes of "ten assorted clock hands of varying lenghts" and those old mainsprings that have been sitting, unused, for two decades on the rear shelf.
More to the point, if you run such shops, eBay offers not only the opportunity to sell off new old stock or for-disposal items, but also to enter an entire new market segment. When selling only through your bricks-and-mortar shop to customers in your local area, there generally isn't enough demand for components to warrant stocking or dealing in components, tools, and materials. But on eBay your market includes the entire world...and there may indeed be enough enthusiasts out there to keep you in business as an online parts supplier with an eBay storefront.
If you happen to be an airplane parts dealer—or anyone else, for that matter—the sky's the limit.