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Thirty Ways to Source for eBay Selling

Ideas for finding things to sell on eBay as a small fish in a big pond


Thirty Ways to Source for eBay Selling

State fairs are a great way to find local goods ready for the world and the producers that make them, in search of wider distribution.

Photo: Pancaketom / Dreamstime

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Thrift stores. A similar thing can be said about thrift stores, 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 VeRO trouble.
  5. 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 drop shippers.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 frequency.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
Getting the idea? This is only half the list. Read on for the rest.

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