This week’s installment of your Chicago Treasure Hunting Examiner’s eBay tips is actually focused on buying, the flip side of selling. An old investor saying goes something like this: It takes money to make money. Truer words were never spoken.
As a general rule, it’s about 10 times harder to find a good deal on eBay than it is to unload one. This guesstimate may be even more skewed today than it used to be. In eBay’s infancy, it was comparatively much easier to reel in fantastic finds. There were more of them and, prompted by a media frenzy over internet auction prices, the sellers typically had absolutely no idea what they were offering. You simply conducted a broad search and picked off your prey.
Today’s more educated eBay sellers aren’t that much smarter about selling. But thanks to eBay’s step-by step listing process, they're generally able to determine the right categories for listing their garage sale finds. On newer items with bar codes, eBay’s system will go so far as to fill in the listing fields for them.
Still, your general search would commence something like this. If you’re after 1/32nd scale slot cars from the 1960s, type ‘slot car’ into the main search bar and select the ‘ending soonest’ option on the ‘sort by’ box. Never, ever do a search for ‘best match’. Spending even a second looking at this abominable list is like staring at Medusa’s head, although the end results just kills your appetite for buying rather than killing you directly.
Scroll down the ‘ending soonest’ list of auctions, quickly bypassing anything ending in less than a minute. You won’t have enough time to determine whether a last-second strike is worthwhile, so don’t even bother. Refine your search with manufacturer names such as Strombecker, Marx, Cox, and Aurora. Write down or save in your browser's favorites file the targeted auctions and just as they’re winding down to the last second, submit your bid.
Don’t use any of eBay’s fancy bid timing software apps, or anyone else's. Go analog with your one and only bid. You’ll need a DSL line (or equivalent) to accomplish this but this rule of thumb will prevent you from foolishly increasing your bid. Pre-determine what the item’s worth to you and make your move. Don’t fall victim to competitiveness and/or stupidity.
The thing about eBay is, there’s always another day, another auction and another dollar. If you need to satisfy your competitive nature, go to bed knowing that you raised some poor sap’s bid to his or her maximum. Just don’t end up being that sap. Next week, we’ll talk about what eBay site feature to use and which are best left ignored.