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Collector Succeeds Selling on eBay, Bonanza

From hankies to dolls, glassware and more, multichannel seller is not done spreading her wings.
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Roxy Carper has been collecting vintage handkerchiefs for more than 20 years. She began selling on eBay more than 11 years ago, initially offering those hankies she’s so fond of. But today shoppers will notice she’s expanded her inventory to include an array of collectibles, from clothing, to glassware, to prints, to dolls and figurines. And she’s expanded her online business to selling on Bonanza as well.

The mother of three began selling on eBay to make extra money when her husband became ill and needed medicine.

“We had no medical or prescription insurance, so I thought perhaps [by] selling all my craft supplies and vintage hankies I could afford his prescriptions,” the owner of HankiesAndMore on Bonanza and eBay tells us.

Carper’s husband hoped she would eventually make a living off her online sales. “I had taken care of him for 10-plus years, so I had no other income,” she recalls. “He would be proud of me today. I did it!”

Giving buyers what they want

Despite the array of items she now offers, shoppers will definitely notice that dolls hold a special place in Carper’s heart—and her stores. Her profile picture on Bonanza is a doll, and the playthings are sprinkled throughout her listings—some of them made of porcelain, others of hard plastic, most of them collectibles from yesteryear.

“I have always loved dolls because as a child I had one doll,” she notes.

Buyers seem to like dolls, too. In fact, these items are one of her top sellers, though they’re becoming harder to find for resale, Carper admits.

“I research what things are selling for before buying, and try to get merchandise that I can sell for less than other sellers”

During her years of selling on eBay and Bonanza, Carper’s made a lot of buyers happy. In fact, with nearly 5,000 sales on Bonanza, the seller has been able to maintain more than a 99-percent positive feedback rating. On eBay, she’s done the same with more than 18,000 transactions in the bag.

The merchant says buyers look for bargains, and she gives them what they want by buying items at good prices and passing on the savings.

“I do research on what things are selling for before buying, and try to get merchandise that I know I can sell for less than other sellers,” she notes.

Spreading her wings

Carper says the best thing about selling online is being her own boss. For a person who has been self-employed for most of her adult life, that was important in a business venture. She admits that selling on eBay and Bonanza simultaneously can be challenging. She often spends more than 10 hours a day tending to her business.

But she likes deciding her own hours, and she’s not done spreading her wings. Carper notes that she’s thinking of selling on Amazon and auction site Proxbid to reach a more varied buying audience.

“As a business in today’s market, we all need to expand to keep up with the market’s wants and needs,” she explains.

eBay feedback system seems ‘unfair’

Carper adds that Bonanza has always been an affordable marketplace for people selling online. More merchants seem to be looking to that venue as some report that their eBay sales have dropped off. For her, feedback was one reason she looked for another marketplace while selling on eBay.

She says she gets between 13 percent and 20 percent of buyers who don’t pay for items, or who pay very late.

“I appreciate every buyer I have because without them I would have no business”

“But I cannot leave them negative feedback [on eBay], so I am looking for different venues where I can have more freedom of speech!” she continues. “I [have gotten] negative feedback for brand new merchandise. That is why I am frustrated with eBay’s feedback system. It isn’t fair for sellers.”

You can’t please everybody

Carper’s learned a lot during her 11 years of selling on eBay. One of those things has been that no matter how detailed her descriptions are and how many photos she provides in her listings, some buyers don’t read all the details and some are impossible to please.

How does she cope? By simply accepting that fact.

“There are buyers who are never happy with what they buy,” she admits.

Attracting repeat buyers has also proven challenging. Since Carper does not have multiples of her items, once buyers purchase something from her to complete their collections, they often don’t come back.

That’s why, in order to be successful, “it is key to find new customers all the time,” she says.

Still, she believes in providing shoppers with the a good buying experience, so she regularly sends thank you notes after purchases and emails past customers to let them know about upcoming sales in case they want to check out what else she has.

She adds that running an online business isn’t always easy, “nor is it always fun!” But she loves her job.

“I appreciate every buyer I have because without them I would have no business!” she adds.

Visit HankiesandMore on Bonanza and eBay.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.