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Make Money on eBay with Stuff You Already Own

Tricks to find the right eBay inventory as you spring clean

Once again, it’s spring cleaning time, and that means you have a great opportunity to clear out your clutter and make money on eBay.

Spring is one of the best times of year to compile a nice inventory of eBay items and get started selling online. Here, we will look at where to find inventory as you do your spring cleaning, what to look for and how to get your things ready for effective selling.

Where to look

First and foremost, the No. 1 place to source for eBay inventory starts in your very own home, especially for those who are casual sellers or new to online selling in general.

After you’ve scoured your own home, ask your friends and family if they have stuff they’re getting rid of when they do their own spring cleaning

As you clean your home, follow tips from Lynn Dralle, The Queen of Auctions. She hosted an eBay workshop on the subject three years ago and the information is still very relevant.

Dralle reminds us to go through each room, one at a time. Search the attic, garage, kitchen, bedroom, toy boxes, bathrooms, bookshelves, china cabinets and record cabinets.

After you’ve scoured your own home, ask your friends and family if they have stuff they’re getting rid of when they do their own spring cleaning.

It might work more efficiently, in fact, if you work out a deal to help them clean their homes in exchange for their “thrift store” pile.

As your neighbors and community get in the spirit of spring cleaning, yard sales signs will pop up and thrift store donations will increase. This is the time to expand your boundaries and invest a little pocket change into your inventory.

Pick up interesting finds and add them to your eBay listings for a higher price. Shoppers will never know.

Make sure you’ll make a profit

When sorting through possible inventory, Dralle will not list something on eBay unless she thinks she can get at least $10 for it.

“I tell my students that I make my living selling 1,000 $9.99 items each month,” she says.

Dralle looks for things that are in good condition, brand name, signed and unique.

“Kitschy, unusual and strange often sells for more than authentic and antique”

“Kitschy, unusual and strange often sells for more than authentic and antique,” The Queen of Auctions notes.

Other buyers on eBay are looking for shabby chic and vintage items, she adds. It’s even better if it’s made in the USA, Europe or Japan.

Include original boxes when possible, and note when an item is signed or new with tags.

Inventory, room by room

As you go through each room in your house, be sure you don’t overlook certain things.

In the attic, look for antiques, old postcards and back issues of old magazines. Nostalgic buyers may seek out your childhood toys, mom’s vintage dresses and dad’s old record collection. While you’re up there, go through all your holiday supplies and make them available during the special seasons.

The garage is usually filled with all your family’s sports equipment and outdoor gear. Sort through outgrown baseball mitts and volleyball nets. Also, look for fishing and hunting equipment, old lures, sleeping bags, camping supplies, garden tools, etc. Car parts are also an often overlooked commodity that could bring in some nice vacation cash.

In the kitchen, you might be surprised to find table linens, dinnerware, china, silverware and even coffee mugs that could sell on eBay.

Sell them in sets, or try selling them as replacement pieces. High retail-priced brand name appliances are sought by the budget-minded, and mid-century gadgets are adored by those who prefer solid American-made products.

Sort through outgrown baseball mitts and volleyball nets. Also, look for fishing and hunting equipment, old lures, sleeping bags, camping supplies, garden tools, etc.

From the bedrooms, pull out quality bed sheets, and brand name clothing and accessories.

On eBay, offer stained neckties and linens as craft supplies. Themed bedspreads—like Justin Bieber and Barbie—in your child’s room are quickly outdated as they “grow up,” and their toy boxes are a treasure trove of forgotten items and stuffed animals.

Dust off those items

When you’re ready to list, here are a few tips for quick cleaning and marketable photography.

Use baby wipes for those items which need only a quick wipe down. When you need to remove old sticker residue, rubbing alcohol or Mr. Clean Magic Erasers should do the trick. A paste made from baking soda and water help clean discolored china.

Your dishwasher is a fabulous resource to clean a box full of items. Load up with baseball caps, shin guards, knee pads and plastic rain boots. Place plastic toys in a mesh bag, and if you wash any tools with metal handles, dry them with a towel to prevent rust.

It should go without saying that it’s a bad idea to put your actual eating dishes in with this load. Also, don’t put any wood or pesticide-laden items in the dishwasher and keep dolls with hair far away from this contraption.

Finally, not enough can be said about the Magic Erasers. You can use them on tennis shoes, tarnished silver, and plastics with mold and mildew. You can also polish gold jewelry, remove scuff marks from helmets, clean light-colored suede shoes and remove crayon marks with them. They should also be safe on most antiques and collectibles for a fresh shine.

Spring cleaning should be fun—at least as fun as you can possibly make it. Make a party of it, reward yourself

Get the right product photo

As you photograph your eBay inventory, use a de-cluttered background or, better yet, build a simple light box. Photograph the overall product and then take some detailed photos. Do not post any pictures that are blurry.

Spring cleaning should be fun—at least as fun as you can possibly make it. Make a party of it, reward yourself with a trip to the movies and don’t hassle too much with your eBay listings. Keep it quick and simple, and give yourself a date for donating any items that don’t sell after a time.

About the author

Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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