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Want to get away—and source too?

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News Team
News Team
Last Edited 08:51:15 AM

 

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In the ’80s, my mom owned a local women’s clothing store (this was pre-eBay). When I was ten years old, she took me and her business partner to Mexico for some sun and fun. We spent the last day shopping in Puerto Vallarta, and in one shop, we found the cutest perforated, Mary Jane-style sandals. My mother bought the entire lot, all the colors and sizes, brought them home to San Jose, and ended up turning quite a profit on those shoes. (P.S. to this story: how I miss those sandals!)

 

Good business is all about spotting an opportunity and acting on it. So why not you use a trip—be it a family road trip across the US, an overseas adventure, or even a week at Grandma’s—as a chance to source some new goods?

 

If you’re planning a trip, we’ve collected some tips from fellow eBay sellers who’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt to prove it.

 

Tip #1: Takin’ care of (your) business. Before you set out on the open road for treasure hunting, be sure to put your eBay store on vacation mode. Here’s how.

 

Tip #2: Scout your location. Do some online research to understand what sort of suppliers, stores, or merchandise might be available.

  • Good ol’ Google Maps can give you a sense of location and distances between shopping stops, and the streetview feature can give you a sense of the where you’ll be shopping.
  • Check Craigslist or local websites to find antique shows and merchandise expos.
  • Check seller facebook groups in that area for tips.
  • Use AuctionZip, FleaMarketZone and EstateSales to find local sales events by state or zip code.

 

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Tip #3: Take a local with you. Whether you’re traveling stateside or heading overseas, try to get a local (a relative, friend, fellow seller, or eBay Meetup leader) to check out new goods with you. If language is an issue, a local speaker may help in negotiations. Seller Terry M. advises, “Be sure to get contact info and form relationships if there is any possibility that you might want to have an insider help you once you leave.”

 

Tip #4: Take an (informed) risk. Let’s say you spot a lot of items you are really interested in, but not sure if they are winners. To buy or not to buy – how do you decide? First, check the eBay mobile app for similar sold items. Did they go at a decent price? How long ago did they sell – recently or years ago? Next, do the math. What is your all-in cost (item cost, taxes, import costs, etc.)? What can you expect to get for them? What are your selling costs (final value fees, marketing costs, etc). Weigh the costs; if the numbers work and the demand exists on eBay, go for it!

 

Tip #5: Find a way to get your merch home. Depending on what you buy, you may be able to bring it home with you in your bags. Mandy K. uses the suitcase-in-a-suitcase trick. “I managed to find an old suitcase at a thrift store that fit exactly into my main suitcase. So, I travel to my destination with ONE case, and come home with two suitcases! I also pack very lightly to fit as much as possible in a suitcase or two.”

 

Seller Stephanie A. offers two bits of advice: First, research the checked bag pricing of your airline. Sometimes paying extra for two suitcases on one airline might justify paying more on another airline with no fee for checked bags. Do the math and weigh your costs. Second, pack your soft merchandise in vacuum seal bags that suck out all the air and conserve space in your luggage. Stephanie asks the hotel housekeeping staff if she can use the vacuum for a few minutes. So far, no one has said no.

 

Tip #6: Write it off, if you can. Of course, please consult a professional tax advisor, but you may be able to write off some of your travel expenses if you can demonstrate they were spent in pursuit of merchandise.

 

From what I know of the eBay seller community, you all love to travel, so tell us in the comments: what other tips have you learned while sourcing in a new place?

 

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4 Comments
by pirate_snoopy · Scout | Updated

What I've learned is to never buy an expensive item that you are unsure about, and if you are at an estate sale, they usually have looked everything up on eBay before putting it in the sale. I rarely find items to 'flip' at estate sales.

 

Good luck to everyone in your search for goods to re-sell!

prairieprimitives
Adventurer

I go to estate sales fairly regularly, and some have more flippable items than others. The hard part is finding the fine line between going early to get the best dibs and waiting until prices drop mid-way thru the sale. 

 

Last week I got 3 things for $3 a few hours after the sale started! Any one of the items was easily worth more than $3, but it was a one-day sale and they HAD to get rid of everything! Two of the items will probably get flipped (one potentially for $5-ish and the other should get at least $10, so not Big Bucks, but the sale was nearby. Oh, the 3rd item is a keeper (a 48-star flag!). 

by dublinkim · Adventurer
dublinkim
Adventurer

Pirate Snoopy - estate sales are an excellent place to source high-end items and you can get great deal on the last day. Yes, they look up the items and price them accordingly - and that's for the auction dealers and designers that hit those sales first. However, by the last day, most items are 50% off or more and I was at 2 estate sales this weekend that started giving away all remaining items for FREE to get rid of them.  Remember that estate sale companies do not have any  connection to the items, so they are more than willing to discount to get rid of them - especially if the family is not interested in keeping them. I source almost exclusively at estate sales and business is booming!

heidisseekandfind
Rising Star

@pirate_snoopy Pirate Snoopy-its not just the estate sale pros looking items up on ebay these days. Most thrift shops, starting with Goodwill have full time staffers pricing at the warehouse! It has become a true hunt to source anything interesting/profitable. Now that spring and summer are here garage sales are where I find Deals!! Just got to be one of the first shoppers to arrive, and have lots of cash in small bills!

@audrey_tracy

I have a friend who lives in Mexico that could potentially introduce me to locals to source from! 

Thank you very much for the article, it has inspired me to start thinking about the possibilities!