Afraid to eBay? Hire
an online auction service -- Page 2
If your item doesn't
sell, it is returned to you, no charge. If you don't pick it up within 15 days,
it is donated to charity.
its service to items that ship within the UPS 150-pound limit. That said, they
do make exceptions. They recently sold a 200-pound polished African rock. They
also sold Arnold Schwarzenegger's original Hummer for $70,000 as a drive-away
proposition to a West Coast buyer. But in general, bulky items such as sofas,
TVs, washers or dryers don't make for viable consignments.
a franchise should be able to sell 600 to 800 items a month, or roughly 20 to
30 per day, with ease.
"Right now, retailing is basically
a one-way proposition where products come from a manufacturer and go to an end-user,"
says Reynolds. "This is the first retail idea that brings items the other
way. I think you're going to see eBay drop-off stores on every corner."
eBay trading post
Brian Spindel has less lofty goals for the eBay drop-offs
at PostNet, who along with AuctionDrop has embarked in a pilot program as an official
eBay Trading Post. The CFO who co-founded the 850-store franchise in 1993 is shooting
to see one to two items per day through each of the 12 pilot drop-off stores by
the end of the first quarter.
The reason? PostNet relies on
its list of business services, from copying and computer rental to passport photos,
shipping, signs and banners, to keep the lights on.
good news is, we don't have to sell 40 items a day to make a business out of it.
If we do two or three items a day at each of our locations, we would be very pleased,"
PostNet partnered with MyEZsale in a 1999 pilot
program at its stores in Phoenix and Denver.
then, when eBay wasn't nearly as popular as it is now, we got some good traction
with customers," he says. "They liked the fact that they could come
into the store and drop an item off and receive a check 30 days later."
AuctionDrop, which sends its consigned items to a central location for listing
onto eBay, PostNet's franchises photograph and hold the item, but forward the
description electronically to PostNet headquarters in Henderson, Nev. From there,
its eBay experts create and launch listings once a day and handle all customer
service during the auction.
Spindel thinks the eBay Trading
Post designation, which allows PostNet to trade under a single seller account,
will give it a boost on the street.
"I think ultimately
once this program grows, it will mean something to the consumer, too, that the
item was taken in by a third party, that what you're looking at is actually the
item you will end up getting, and that it's in secured, safe storage and will
be packed and shipped professionally. All of those things, long term, will end
up meaning something to the consumer."
has plans to expand its eBay Trading Post service beyond its pilot stores in California,
Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. AuctionDrop, based in San Carlos, Calif., with five
stores in northern California, plans to expand into the New York tri-state area.
Ina Steiner, editor and publisher of the online auction
newsletter AuctionBytes, says it is too soon to tell if either drop-off model
will catch fire with a populace that is far more focused on acquiring new stuff
than disposing of used.
"It really gets down to the right
kind of inventory. You really want to shoot for items that are in the hundreds
of dollars. It really is a time-consuming business," she says.
"The advantage to the storefront is they are
there, they're convenient if they're located next to a bank or a business where
people might be coming anyway. The question is, if one suddenly popped up in my
hometown, would there be enough people interested to drop things off there? I
don't know. I think it helps that eBay has become more mainstream so people are
more familiar with the whole concept, but we're not convinced that the whole storefront
model will work."
What could lend the burgeoning drop-off
industry a helping hand is its natural fit with community fundraising of all sorts.
Bake sales, car washes and door-to-door candy sales could become passé
if schools, churches and charities seek the greater returns that their donated
items might bring when auctioned online, says Reynolds.
giant part of our business is charity fundraising, where people bring in an item
to raise money for a school or something of that nature. We get a lot more money
for stuff on eBay than most people. If you're an amateur, you're not going to
get near what you're going to get if you're experienced in doing this."
MacDonald is a contributing editor based in Mississippi.