Not all aspiring eBay sellers want to become the next top power seller or run a multi-million dollar operation of the sort that eBay seems to be emphasizing these days. Some simply want to start a small business and/or earn a second income on the side. For these sellers, finding something to sell can often be an important difficulty.
If this sounds like you, here are thirty ideas for sourcing products in a way that's small-business, mom-and-pop, local-friendly.
- Flea markets and swap meets. These little slices of Americana are
full of independent local sellers often trading in collectible, antique, or
otherwise interesting goods at very low prices. You may have to spend time
browsing, separate wheat from chaff, and also do a little cleaning/restoring
in some cases, but many eBay sellers have made a good sideline income as
weekend shoppers at flea markets and swap meets.
- Thrift stores. A similar thing can be said about
with part-time sellers developing a thrift store "circuit" and range of
goods in which they have expertise that they can check daily or at least
several times a week.
- On the street for free. In many of America's larger cities and
metropolitan areas, a surprising amount of furniture and technology is
simply discarded every week as trash. If you live in one of these major
metropolitan areas, consider curb cruising by apartment buildings in
upwardly mobile areas for furniture and technology goods.
- On the street from vendors. Street vendors in the largest
metropolitan areas often act as or work for sources of cheap import goods
that can be sold for a markup on eBay. Just be careful not to sell any kinds
of goods that can get you into counterfeit or
- From drop shippers. There are a lot of these around the web and
many sellers and retailers frown at their use. While it's true that as a
business model drop shipping is more difficult to make work, it's also true
that with a lot of diligence, some sellers have made a good living using
- From competing online retailers. Don't just think of Amazon.com,
Buy.com, Newegg.com, and other similar online retailers as "the
competition." Instead, keep an eye out for markdowns, deals, clearance
items, and similar price breaks, as these are often opportunities to make
good margins acting as a middleman. List on eBay and have them fulfill the
order, just as you would with a drop shipper.
- From small local independent/mom-and-pop businesses. Nearly every
locale, no matter how small, has at least one and usually several
"hand-made, right here in town" shops that deal in nonperishable goods.
These days, they may already have their own website to sell their goods, but
chances are that they don't work the eBay angle. Find them, talk to them,
and work the eBay angle for them.
- Around the house. For most Americans living a more-or-less
consumerist lifestyle, there is ample opportunity to periodically go
room-by-room through the house and identify things that can be sold off. For
many American families or households, this can be done with surprising
- Your existing retail or service business. If you already own and
operate a store or a service business, chances are there are goods, tools,
stock of various kind, or other things that you'd like to either upgrade or
liquidate. eBay is a great place to make this happen.
- Your inner creative self. Books and eBooks,
knowledge and information of all kinds, paintings, crafts, or anything else
that you do either for fun or for local profit can likely be sold on eBay if
the quality is good and the price is right. Just be sure to identify your
market and know what they desire.
- As a neighborhood consignment sller. Start a business as the eBay
seller for your neighborhood. Get some cheap business cards, hang a shingle
on the front of your house, and tell your neighbors you'll help them clear
out whatever is left after their garage sale (or even before it) on
consignment, for a cut
of the eBay takings.
- By having hobbies and frequenting related businesses. If you have
a hobby, you have an area of expertise and know something about a market
segment. You probably also frequent a set of businesses related to your
hobby (whether it's comic books, golf, reading, or classic car repair) and
know when you see a fabulous or rare deal at one of those businesses. Use
that expertise and series of potential sources to help you decide what to
acquire, stock, and sell on eBay.
- Using eBay itself. Buy goods in
lots of various kinds on eBay and
re-sell them piecemeal, or buy entire "for price" items (cars, computers,
appliances, etc.) and part them out on eBay. Or, find valuable goods on the
eBay marketplace that would do better on another eBay property (Half.com,
StubHub, etc.) and act as the middleman.
- Government surplus or auctions. Most government agencies, from
state and local executive, legislative, and judicial agencies to military
bases and state-supported schools at all level (K-12 and universities) have
surplus property divisions and auction agencies to help them liquidate old,
upgraded, off-lease, law-enforcement or tax-confiscated, or other similar
types of goods. Hit your local white pages and start calling state agencies
of all kinds to inquire about their surplus sales and auction sales.