Hello and welcome to my ramblings on my life as an Ebay seller. Today I thought I would talk a little bit about sourcing and where I find items to sell. As you may already know this can be a very touchy subject with some sellers as they like to keep their sources closely guarded. Perhaps if I had an exclusive source I would protect it too. But the sources I have are pretty widely available and to be honest the jury is still out on how great they are. I have been fortunate that I have been able to sell some items from every source that I have purchased from but I have yet to find that "thing" that flies right out my door the minute I list it.
First of all if you know anything about my Ebay store you will already know that I am a small seller and I sell primarily clothing. I do try to make enough on a sale of an item to make it worth my while to photograph, list and ship the item which can be a challenge when you are listing one of a kind items that you find at the thrift store. Having said that I still have to admit that the second hand shops are where I get the majority of my merchandise to sell.
I also try to find warehouse and sample sales that are going on in my area. These can be a little tricky to find and if you miss them in most cases it will be a year before you have another chance. There are two ways that I try to follow these sales. The first one is by "liking" the companies facebook page or subscribing to their blog if they have one. This of course is a little tricky if you don't know what companies are local. One way to find them is to subscribe to google alerts. For example I have a google alert set up for "warehouse sales denver." Be prepared to sift through a lot of information that isn't relevant to find what you are looking for and experiment with different alert settings to help refine your notifications. With my "warehouse sales denver" alert I get a lot more notifications about warehouses that are for sale than places that are having warehouse sales but I have learned how quickly to sift through the alerts that are not relevant.
I also try to keep up with store closings and sales for the opportunity to purchase items at a good discount. In my area there is a website called mile high on the cheap. This site often has listings for store closings and sales that are going on in the Denver area. Again there is a lot of stuff that does not pertain to finding inventory for my Ebay store but often there is something and again I have learned to quickly scroll through the information. Here is a link to the living on the cheap network for their other locations. I am sure that there are many other sites that provide this kind of information but this is the one I am most familiar with.
In the spirit of experimentation I have also ventured into the world of on-line buying. If you have ever tried it you know that it is one big rabbit hole. You can spend hours searching and it can be difficult to find items that you can mark up, sell and still make a profit on after all your fees and initial investment. Here are two things that I have learned in my very limited experience.
1) The items are usually "cheaper looking" when you actually see them than they looked in the picture.
2) Shipping can make or break that great deal you found. Look for free shipping or places that tell you their shipping costs up front.
Having said this I have had some luck with re-selling items that I have purchased on line. It is good to have some products with multiple units. I can afford to take a lower margin than on the one-of-a-kind items since my time invested in listing is much lower.
It can also be a little intimidating to purchase on line if you ar not sure who to trust. These are the only sites that I have actually purchased from but I have found them to be reputable.
1) Dollar Days - They have a lot of stuff and it can take hours to look through their inventory. They do have some decent sort features to help you find what you are looking for but it still takes some time. The items that I have purchased from them are not high end but they are re-sell-able. From my dealings with them they have very good customer support and they offer free shipping from time to time on orders over a certain amount. They also now take Pay Pal payments.
2) Spring Import - I made one purchase from them a year or two ago and I was able to sell the cute tops that I purchased at a decent margin. They have a much smaller selection than dollar days but they might be worth a look if you are in the market for apparel items. I got free shipping on my order over $300.00 but I am not sure what their shipping terms are now.
3) Kohl's - Sometimes you can find some really good deals at the on-line department stores. Again watch the shipping costs and try to make sure you can get a good enough mark up. There are several advantages if you find something at an on-line department store. First you know you are working with a company you can trust. Secondly, you often have a recognizable brand name that will help shoppers find your item and want and to purchase it. And lastly with many of them such as, Ann Taylor, Chico's, Best Buy, Staples, Macy's, Nordstrom, Lands End and Old Navy, just to name a few, you can use Ebates to get cash back.
Now I am going to warn you that I am doing a self serving plug here for Ebates because if you click the link in my right sidebar at the top of the page, sign up and make a qualifying purchase I do get a $5.00 referral bonus. So with all my cards on the table let me continue with why you might want to sign up with them. It is free to sign up. They have hundreds of stores working with them. The stores all offer different percentages back usually from 2% to 6%. Whether you are shopping for merchandise to sell or for personal items you might find this to be a nice deal for you. You do have to remember to go through Ebates when you shop to get your cash back and they only distribute cash 4 times per year but it is still a nice little free bonus. You can also refer your friends and get your own bonuses.
Ok enough of that. To summarize, I have found that no matter where you look for your merchandise it takes time. You need careful consideration coupled with your best educated guess on what to buy and how much to pay for it.
I hope you were able to find some helpful information here. Thanks for stopping by.