View Full Version : making money with auctions

JP Sauve
12-10-2001, 05:28 PM
Anyone here ever tried to make money buying and reselling products at online auctions? Seems like an interesting idea, and I hear good money can be made, but I don't know anyone who's ever tried it.

I'd love to try it out, but I think the biggest problem would be to find stuff to sell. Where do you look? Most of the garage sales I've even been to sell junk.

12-10-2001, 05:38 PM
I would stick to items that somehow relate to your site (for your site that has the PS2 contest you might try videogames). Look at prices at garage sales and small stores as well as prices on discount websites that you can trust. If you find something that appears to be underpriced, see if you can buy several of them. Then list them on eBay and advertise the link to the auction on your site(s). I know there are many people that have mastered this technique, and they can make thousands every month. I think that right now it is a more profitable approach than website advertising. You just have to try to buy in bulk to make lots of money because shipping and listing costs will cut into your profit and it takes a lot of time to search around for the best deals on items.

Robert from SI
12-10-2001, 05:40 PM

I had a cousin who was doing this very successfully for a while.

She was buying "b" goods watch winders and reselling them on e-bay. She was selling one or 2 a week and making about $100.00 profit each.

The problem seems to be two fold: a) it's hard to find a niche that isn't being exploited this way. b) once you do find the niche 50 other people try to do the same thing.

My lone bit of advice would be to try and find a high dollar item to work with. On eBay there seems to be just as many questions and problems with $10.00 items *** with $100.00 items.

JP Sauve
12-10-2001, 05:51 PM
Thanks for the replies guys. I never really thought of finding a niche. I just assumed these big ebay sellers simply found and bought bulk quantities of items of no typical matching theme, and resold them. Like a crate of CDs bought for a couple of dollars each and resold for ten bucks. The same seller might have got his hands on 50 VCRs cheap and resold them. Etc...

David, I thought about just looking in stores, but I think to make any half decent profit you need to get repo'd, unsold, surplus items and work in bulk. At least so I think.

The question is where do you find the stuff to sell in such cases?

I also guessed many big sellers don't actually have any stock in hand, but just sell various items on commission and get whatever company producing the item to drop ship the product directly to the end buyer, while the ebay seller keeps the profit.

The question then is where do you find companies who'll drop ship? I know companies can be contacted individually, but I cannot believe there's no central listing somewhere of such companies.

12-10-2001, 06:17 PM
I've been thinking about selling on ebay for a while now. I'm gearing up to start in January.

I just had lunch today with a guy who's been selling on ebay now for about a year. I wanted to pick his brain to get some of the benefits of his experience. He sells about 50 - 75 items per week. It takes him about 12-15 hours a week in total (about half of that is packing and shipping the items). He makes a living out of it.

Much of what he sells he buys ay CashConverters (a second hand store/pawnshop). He also buys at close-out sales, garage sales, etc.

If you chose your items wisely, you can make some pretty good money at it. The key is to go to the closed auction section on ebay and research which types of items get multiple bids. Also look to sell items that are not mainstream.

Examples of what this guy bought and sold recently:

1. Travelling Wilbury CD(hard to find): bought for $15, sold for $95
2. Old sheet music books from John Denver: bought for $6, sold for $40
3. 1950's Diner style set of soup bowls: bought for $8, sold for $110!
4. Old Beatles vinyl record (I forget which one) unopened: bought for $20, sold for $70

The point is you'd be surprised what sells, and for how much. Alot of people collect the wierdest things. You just have to look at past auctions and get a feel for what items get alot of interest.

It even comes down to what time of day you start an auction. If you start a 7 day auction at 3:00AM, it'll end at 3:00 AM. Not the best idea. You want it to end when alot of people are online to get the best response in the final moments of the auction. Best time to have an auction end is a Saturday afternoon (around 3-4:00 PST), or a Sunday evening (around 6-7:00 PST).

You'll also want to use an auction manager like www.auctionwatch.com to organize all your listing. A real time saver.

I could go on and on. You can really get this whole auction thing down to a science.

Making good money at it is possible, but like everything else, you've got to research it well, then work hard at it.

12-10-2001, 07:19 PM

One of the best things to sell on eBay is tickets to events. In the UK for example, many of the events in London sell out very quickly. If you're smart enough then you can buy a load of tickets and then auction them on eBay. In the UK this is legal, providing a) they are not football tickets b) you make sure they buyer knows the original ticket price.

I personally haven't tried this as I make enough from "normal" internet activities - but apparently people make a fair buck!



Did you know that Coca-cola invented Santa's suit?!

C. Stark
12-10-2001, 08:25 PM
I don't do this, but I know people who make money doing this.

One notorious villain that I am friends with had a store and closed it down just to focus on the web. He was doing $500,000 per month. Now he is doing a few million per month. But he did have 20 years in the industry, an established name, connections to get the latest and greatest at low prices, inventory, warehouse etc.

Another guy I know was making a few hundred dollars a day with an attic operation selling rare original rock concert t-shirts on E-bay. His supplier just cut him off though (they got wise and decided to do it themselves and keep the spread).

This one blows my mind. Someone I know just launched an e-bay store 3 weeks ago. And she made $500 so far selling clothing that she cuts and sews herself at almost no cost.

JP Sauve
12-10-2001, 09:56 PM
I found an interesting site for bulk wholesale prices, but you really need to be selling bigtime to compete. around $5-10K minimum purchases. Living in the USA would help too.


12-10-2001, 10:28 PM
i know this is supposed to be "making money on the internet", but this is closely related.

I've heard of people buying cheap on ebay, and then reselling those items, but not online. They just sell stuff to people they know, or do advertising for free throughout the community. That way it doesn't cost anything for shipping, to post the auction, etc.

I suppose your best bet would to be a combination of both, or ony resort to selling locally if you can't sell something online.

12-10-2001, 11:12 PM
It really depends on what you are selling as to whether it sells higher on eBay or in your local community. For instance, I believe cars selling on eBay generally go for far less than they would if they were sold in your community. But certain items that lots of people collect will definately sell higher on eBay, because there are more people out there (on the internet) looking for that item. When I said "stores" in my previous post I was talking about discount stores and consignment shops. Obviously you're not going to be able to make a profit reselling items from Wal-Mart. And to really make a lot of money with this I think you really have to find your niche. As you begin to sell more items each week you will quickly learn where you can find the best deals and buy the most products and you will perfect your auction selling technique. I think most of the big-time sellers on eBay are actually working multiple-employee operations, with people in charge of buying, listing, shipping, and all the other clerical work that is required to run a profitable auction business. You'd need a lot of people helping you to move massive bulk quantities like they have on that site you (suave) posted. Probably a warehouse too!

JP Sauve
12-10-2001, 11:41 PM
That site I mentioned is definitely too big for what I had in mind, probably too big for any ebay sellers. I mean how long would it take to get a ROI for 4000 blank VHS cassettes at ebay?!? I just mentioned it as an interesting link showing bulk prices. By the way, I compared the prices of the items on that site with the going prices at ebay, and prices on ebay were significantly lower.

And looking to sell products in your community is way too small for what I had in mind (and too time consuming).

What I had in mind was having enough rotating inventory or preferably drop-ship-allowed items listed at auctions for up to 20 sales per day. Reasonably I would expect this to come from at least 10-20 various items for sale, hopefully listing pretty much the same stuff over and over, and occasionally removing one item to update it with another. That's manageable enough to handle myself or with my wife, and big enough to make enough profit to make it all worth while. I'd hope to make $5-$20 profit per item.

The problem is still in finding enough reasonably quick selling items at low enough prices to make a profit.

12-10-2001, 11:48 PM
I have been looking into this as well for the past month or so, some sites that I came across that sell at closeout prices are:

So far the only things that I have sold on ebay so far were a few domain names with little success, but maybe in the future I'll look into it some more.

JP Sauve
12-11-2001, 08:31 AM
I spent an hour surfing through liquidation.com. There's lots of stuff there available cheap, but in almost every case it's either sold cheaper at ebay or not generating any sales at all at ebay. It would be a good resource for a dollar store, but that's about it.

I think Robert is right about needing a niche. These mass items are too commonplace at ebay.

Robert from SI
12-11-2001, 09:13 AM
Someone had mentioned cars on eBay and that is an area that I think is waiting to be exploited.

I am friends with a gentleman who sells only high line repossesed cars (Mercedes, Ferrari, Porsche, BMW & Land Rover). He is older and not internet savvy and he frequently calls me to look up prices that the cars are actually selling for on the net (not "blue book" prices but actual transactions.)

I would say that there is a solid 12% discount to what vehicles sell for on the net as opposed to the exact same vehicles selling locally. On many of his cars it's a $5k to $15k difference. Same exact cars, just different sales places.

I think this could be translated to normal, fast turnover vehicles for the right person. In the USA it's very easy to sell Ford or Chevy pickup trucks. I doubt the 12% price difference would still hold true on mass produced vehicles, but even a 5 or 6% price difference between eBay and local could generate a meaningful profit.

Of course, like any business, it will take research, effort, capital, and time. :)

12-11-2001, 02:01 PM

It's been awhile but I've seen books that deal with this subject at Borders in the past. If I remember correctly, one of them was even written by Ebay. It might be worth it to visit the bookstore and check it out...


12-11-2001, 02:06 PM
I'm learning a great deal from a book I'm reading:

Title: eBay The Smart Way (2nd Edition)
Author: Joseph T. Sinclair
Publisher: Amacom

JP Sauve
12-11-2001, 06:01 PM
Not sure if it's an urban legend or not, but I've heard told of a man who made a mint buying stuff from dollar stores and reselling them on ebay. Anyone else hear the same story?

Well I did some homework and went to the dollar store, wrote down some of the better items and prices (got some funny looks while I was at it) and checked ebay to see if the same items were selling.

In almost all cases, identical items were listed but without any bids. For SOME items, there were SOME sales, but most of the auctions ended without bids, and those that were bid on were sold at the same price the dollar store was selling them at.

12-12-2001, 02:08 AM
I've been researching eBay sales since July of this year to see if there was a product that could be bought cheaply and resold easily on eBay for a nice profit. What I have found is there is no easy solution to this. Below is some of my thoughts from researching eBay sales. I'm sure there are many more people with more knowledge than me in this area and I'd love to hear from them. Anyway, here we go:

First, I looked into drop shipping. I've contacted about 15 merchants who are listed in drop ship directories and offer drop shipping on brand name items. The biggest problem with drop shipping is that you usually aren't going to receive bulk discounts and there probably is a $1-$5 drop shipping fee (which can definitely cut into your margins). What I concluded was that drop shipping just wouldn't be very effective on eBay (or the profits wouldn't be worth the time).

So, I realized that I had to stock the merchandise myself and send it out myself if I wanted to be effective with eBay sales. I found several places where I could buy wholesale products in bulk quantities (no idea if these were the cheapest though), but I've yet to find any place where I could buy items at a wholesale cost that would be profitable on eBay. eBay's prices for most items was so close to what I would be buying the merchandise for that it wasn't worth it.

I have no personal experience with what works on eBay, but from what I have read, the "one-time" deals seem to be the most lucrative. For example, you go to your local neighboorhood thrift store/flea market and pick up something that you can resell on eBay for 2 times what you buy it for there. This is usually not reproducable and probably won't appeal to most members of this board (I know it is does not appeal to me). For an example of this posted to our own boards, read this thread: http://www.geekvillage.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=9632&highlight=ebay (SearchNerd's post)

What also works well is deals you set up with a manufacturer that are not offered to the public. Of course, the big manufacturers will not care to deal with you. But, if you find a product that seems to be produced by a small company, you may be able to set up a special deal.

The best book I have found on Internet Auction selling is SiteSell's Make your Net Auction Sell (http://mynas.sitesell.com -- Not an affiliate link). The author gives a very good background to selling on eBay. However, if you are looking for a quick product source, don't turn to this book. It does discuss the best way to find companies to buy from though (I haven't put any of their suggestions to the test yet).

To summarize, here's what I've found with eBay:

- There is no fast way to find a product to sell. If there is a source of goods that is easy to get in, chances are the margins are pitiful on the item since other sellers can just as easily buy it. Unless you value money more than your time, this isn't worthwhile.
- If you plan to buy from a wholesaler, buying in bulk is a must to keep your margins reasonable. Thus, you will need a lot in start up cash.
- The biggest money seems to be in "one-time" deals. For example, buying up a box of old records at a garage sale for $20 and reselling it on eBay for $40. This type of situation does NOT appeal to me at all. I'm all about long term revenue that can be reproduced. However, to many people, this can be a lot of fun.

What's my idea of the best strategy?
Don't concentrate too much on eBay and Internet Auction selling. Set up an online store selling your products and you don't have to deal with eBay like margins. If you don't have a supplier, you may even be able to buy up eBay products and resell them on your own online store (before you find a better supplier). If you do use eBay, be certain you have an online store as you can use your eBay selling to promote your store (maybe include a piece of paper with discounts at your online store in any eBay package you send out).

JP Sauve
12-12-2001, 12:58 PM
I've pretty much come up with the same conclusions as Jack, except for opening a store. Lots of people are doing it and making profit, but it's a whole different beast to tackle. I was just hoping to take advantage of the free traffic ebay would send to my auctions.

Final thoughts....

Selling a niche product on ebay could probably do well. Some information products do OK, so if you can develop one, ebay might be an avenue for you to sell it on. Otherwise the only hope is find reasonably rare items at garage sales, auctions, flea markets, etc, and resell them at a profit on eBay.

I couldn't find hope in bulk buying low/selling high overstock products. The wholesale sites I've surfed (and spent several hours doing so) are selling junk either not even ebay surfers would want, or some few might want but the supply listed at ebay FAR outpaces the demand. So much so that it would be a losing proposition.

This leads to me to believe lots of people are losing money on ebay. One of the bulk items I found for sale while surfing was nice looking gift chopsticks with a matching case corresponding this ebay search....


...not a single sale, and this was repeated over and over with various of these wholesale items. Some items had hundreds of ebay listings with only a couple of sales at prices lower than even the bulk price I would be paying. I'm pretty sure ebay charges the seller a listing fee regardless if the item gets sold, so it's a losing proposition.

Too bad I wasn't independantly wealthy. Combing through flea markets looking for good finds seems like a fun hobby, might even be an OK business, but is just too time consuming. I'd have to give up my other websites. :(

12-13-2001, 04:14 AM
I would love to open an online store right now... It's the Holiday Season... people buy everything... and lots of it!!!

JP Sauve
12-13-2001, 02:30 PM
Opening a store is not a bad idea at all, just it becomes a huge venture in it's own. You need traffic, so reasonably you need an affiliate program. You'll need to accept credit cards, so you need merchant accounts and fraud prevention. You need inventory, delivery solutions, etc.

It is a good way to make money, and absolutely a venture to take pride in, it's just a BIG venture. That's all I meant.

I know I'm getting repetitive but it still blows my mind to see all the ebay auctions that close without any bids. People must be losing their shirts paying ebay fees trying to sell **** that no one wants. There's literally thousands of such no-bid listings ending everyday.

12-13-2001, 02:42 PM
There is an inital listing fee based on the price of the item (I believe the maximum is around $3) but if the item does not sell, it can be relisted without having to pay that fee again (and continue to be until it sells). If the item does actually sell, there is an additional fee based on the final bid price. So, those who aren't selling aren't losing money as at some point they will likely sell it.

Of course, there are extras that can be added in such as making it a featured item, bolded, highlighted, etc. which are not refunded.

JP Sauve
12-13-2001, 02:45 PM
Are you sure it's not a single re-list of your auction if there's no bids?

12-13-2001, 02:52 PM
You'd almost think that eBay makes more money on the half a buck charged for listings that don't sell, than commissions on listings that do...

Jack, you're able to re-list for free, but not over and over again. I think you're allowed one free re-listing.

If you set up a store, there's alot more work on the front end setting up shopping cart, merchant account, shipping, developing a list of products and stocking up, making a few drop-shipment arrangements( hard to find willing suppliers), an affiliate program etc.

Then you have to keep finding new products to introduce so that you keep the fresh, and so that you get more repeat business.
Once set up, you also have to calculate the time it takes to pack and ship orders.

It's alot more labor-intensive than affiliate sites. I'm looking forward to the new year when I'm planning to launch a few affiliate sites.

12-13-2001, 10:09 PM
Is there a way to see what people are search for at auction sites?
like most wanted items

12-13-2001, 11:59 PM

I think the only people that make serious money out of eBay are eBay,lol. Having said that,i have sold things at a nice profit that i have picked up at local car-boot sales (garage-sales),usually out of the norm things that i know i would be interested in myself and like myself.I'm not convinced at all people are doing well selling "clearance items"on eBay but eBay has it's "power sellers" and they seem to just sell a vast amount of "interesting" things.

I spend an hour or so a day scouring the eBay pages,just being nosey and seeing what things are fetching,this payed off recently when i saw a 1970's Paddington Bear sell for £80.00+,being surprised by that price but not taking to much notice a couple of days later i managed to pick up the same Bear for £2.00 at a car-boot sale! (guess where he's going after Xmas:D ) so the scouring DOES pay.


12-14-2001, 12:53 AM
Two years ago we were profiting over 5k per month with ebay.

The secret isn't available on the web. Well okay it is now but it's not going to be found at any website especially the ones listed like liquidation.com.

The secret is to buy whole semi truck loads of liquidated items and not just one but you need to contract for dozens of them. If you do you are able to get whole loads for 3-5000 dollars and up.

What happens is you get a load of mixed merchandise. This may include notebook computers (sold some for 1200 and up on a $4k load), other good stuff and lots of garbage.

I paid $10.00 for a bowflex and sold it for $700 :)

You need to have a lot of room to store things, a forklift to unload semis etc.

It is a lot of hassle but what other business can you start for under 10k and make instant profits?

Ebay fell slow these days and I wouldn't want to consider going to that extreme these days as you may loose big time.

PS we are no longer in that business because there are never ending negotiations and squables with suppliers. Someone always finds and contacts your supplier with a higher price.

12-14-2001, 02:39 AM
from my experiences...

when you first list an item you pay a listing fee.
if the item does not sell you can relist it.
eBay charges you for the second listing,
but will refund the second listing charges
if the item sells on the second auction.
If it doesn't sell, you are charged for both listings.


JP Sauve
01-10-2002, 11:57 AM
I just wanted to add to this post that I have found some niches to make some cash. After a fair bit of reading and research, I can now see how people can make good money on Ebay. It does require a good eye though, and some luck, but mostly research and time.

I won't share where or what my niches are (sorry!) but money can be made.

01-10-2002, 12:20 PM
I know of a few people that do really well selling autographed pictures of celebrities and athletes on eBay.

01-10-2002, 07:34 PM
eBay definitely works...

One of my best friend's brother owned a clock shop for about 15 years and was making a decent living for his family. Almost 2 years ago he started selling his clocks on eBay and now makes about ten times as much money a month selling them online than the shop was making.

Another friend used to work a Play It Again Sports and was a buyer for a local vintage clothing resellers shop. He quit both jobs and started auctioning vintage clothes on eBay that he finds at garage sales and stores silmilar to where he worked. Last year he cleared over $40 grand working very part-time and this year he says he is going to triple that! Not bad money! :)

Just thought I would pass it on...

Much Success!

01-24-2002, 05:25 AM
I knew someone who was able to get wholesale prices with sony. Basically, what he would do would be to check bestbuy.com and see what their lowest price was. A lot of the time he was able to get the product for $100+ cheaper through sony (digital camera's were his number one seller last time i spoke to him). Then in his auction, the main selling point would be how his product was so and so dollars less then bestbuy.com. He would also post a lot of notices at the local colleges for his products and sell the products locally/privately.

Raging Affiliate
01-24-2002, 06:25 AM
hello again suave!
ive always done well with auctions and the only time i didnt sell my product was with domain names!
you have not only ebay, but i did super good over at amazons auctions and yahoo used to have some too~

youre smart to search and see what does and doesnt sell!

here are some links for you that i found, for closeouts and stuff, hope it helps :) youll probably want to search for salvage goods, closeouts, etc




one word of advice, you may want to avoid any company that has catalog of their merchandise and claim it is a close out or wholesale, people like SMC. i used to be a furniture broker and know wholesale prices and their prices are actually higher than retail!

maybe youll get lucky and find someone that drop ships, meaning, you never see the product, but the company will ship directly to your customer!

01-25-2002, 05:49 AM
I know someone that makes $250-$400 a week selling complete runs of old cartoons on VHS tape copies. He is able to sell certain complete runs like Transformers and He-man regularly because these series have not made it to DVD yet. Since the series is like 100 episodes, he very often can easily get a starting bid of $50, sometimes he says that he has luck with the bid reaching $80 or more!
I'm thinking of getting another VCR and trying this out for myself :)

JP Sauve
01-25-2002, 10:09 AM
I'm quite positive copying and selling videos is against copyright laws.

01-25-2002, 11:52 AM
One of my students when I was a TA in college was making money hand-over-fist on eBay. Somehow he was able to buy stereo components in bulk at a low price and then resell them on eBay. For instance, he'd buy 10 stereo receivers and then sell them individually. Seems like he was making at least $50-100 per item. I have no idea who his source was and searched the net myself trying to find wholesale distributors of such items without results.

Does anyone know what it takes to become a wholesale receiver of items like stereo components or even smaller things like DVDs or CDs?

- KentyMac

Raging Affiliate
01-25-2002, 01:08 PM
i can tell you!

i used to be a furniture broker and this was in arizona.

all you need to buy wholesale is a resellers permit and usually a tax ID number from the IRS.

the easiest place to get a resellers permit is in Arizona. the cost was only $10.00 and you can do it by mail.

once you have that, you can go online and find all types of wholesalers and buy direct from them. in my experience, real wholesalers dont require bulk purchases usually only salvagers and surplus places require that.

it is a lot easier than you think to buy wholesale. and as a matter of fact, MOST of the wholesalers didnt even ASK me for my resellers number. ALSO you dont have to pay taxes on it either (im referring to sales tax) that is reported monthly when you do your reseller statement to the state.

the place to get the permit in arizona, where i got mine, is in Tempe. if i recall, it is the department of revenue or taxation.

you can also buy a trademark in arizona thru the secretary of state by mail for like $5-$10. not sure of the price now :) it is good for 5 years!

Now paying $75 per referral!

01-25-2002, 01:38 PM
Hi Raging,

You were able to register your wholesalers license in AZ when you lived there. Can others who live out-of-state do that or do they need to live in the state they register in. (AZ sounds very inexpensive).

01-25-2002, 01:41 PM
Please move my original post to the "making money with auctions" thread. I accidentally hit "New Thread" instead of "Post Reply." Sorry.....

01-25-2002, 03:36 PM
After reading this topic I looked at Ebay to find products related to my old business in Italy as an importer and i can report that It's easy find products at cheap prices to sell on Ebay.
For example I found an Ebay seller that sell a total 150/200 pieces a week of 4 products at 3.99 I can find the same product at 0.20 /0.40 $ from a manufacter outside U.S. plus the shipping cost that can be around 0.10/0.30 depending of quantitity the minimum order is around 1000 pieces each product.
This is just an example to find brand products look at wholesalers in France,Germany,Spain,Hong Kong you can find some products that in U.S. sell well, but don't in Europe ,so the wholesaler can liquidate the same products you pay at high price.Some years ago I imported from France 500 pieces of a product manufactered in Japan at 5 $ when the same product was at 50$ from Hong Kong wholesalers or in Japan the country of origin and 70/80 $ in store in U.S. I sold all the 500 pieces in 3 months at 30$.

For non brand products look at Hong Kong,China,Indonesia, and Taiwan, most time you are required to buy 1000 pieces each product but if you look at products at 0.20/0.40 is not a big amount.

Thanks Suave for starting this topic, now I'm planning to move in the U.S. to start this business, I have already a company in U.S. so I already to start.

01-26-2002, 04:09 AM
Hi I am from India if any body wants any products from India I can send you.

You send me the list of product what you like to sell on EBay or .... .

I will search here for lowest price and send the price list to you and if you feel itís cheaper and you can buy.

I feel some products will be cheaper in India cause $1=Rs47:eek:


01-26-2002, 07:32 AM
If anyone needs any products from Austria or Germany I might do a search for you and provide you with business leads. ;)