Archive for Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Woman finds money can be made in cyberspace

October 11, 2000

Marilee Drennan decided it was time to get rid of the 1958 Barbie doll that had been taking up space in the closet.

So, she logged on to eBay.

Within a week, the doll sold for $150.

Since April, when Drennan launched her Internet-sales business, she's seen her income gradually grow.

"I'm making as much now working four hours a day as I did before, working eight hours a day," Drennan said.

What she does is this: She sells items for herself and for others on eBay. She charges a 30 percent commission, which covers eBay's charges.

eBay is an on-line auction service. Sellers who list their items can set a base bid. Potential bidders place their bids through the Internet. They can see what others are bidding and can increase their bids to compete. The seller sets the time limit of the bidding, which lasts no longer than eBay's 10-day maximum.

There's money to be made in cyberspace.

You just never know, Drennan says, what people will spend money on.

For instance, Drennan said a man in France made the high bid of $40 on a Robert Jones golf club that had a wooden shaft.

"When I went to the post office to ship it, shipping was $41," Drennan said. "He really wanted that golf club."

Buyers pay the shipping charges for purchases on eBay.

Then there was the Evil Knieval doll costume something that could have been easily thrown in the trash. What the heck: let's put it on eBay and see what happens, Drennan decided.

Within a week, it sold. The price: $3. The seller lived in Northern Ireland.

"He sent cash in U.S. dollars," she said.

The doll costume sold, she said, because it had a name associated with it, a trend she's noticed.

"It's easiest to sell things that are labeled or that have names on them," she said. "Also, themes, like horses, do well."

And on eBay, the worldwide audience potential might help sellers get the best price.

"The reason I'm offering this service is that a lot of people don't have time to sell things on eBay themselves," Drennan said. "Especially if they have a lot of things to sell or if they have a volume of items they want to move quickly."

Here's how it works.

The seller contacts Drennan, who takes digital photographs of the items to be sold. The seller tells Drennan what the base bid should be. The items remain with the seller until they are sold on eBay. Then Drennan picks up the items and ships them.

She uses Priority Mail to send most items, and other shipment for larger items can be arranged.

Sometimes, the Internet buyers know more about the value of the items to be sold than the sellers do.

Drennan said she listed a glass dome, such as used to be used in streetlights, and sold it for $3 to a man in California.

"But he said it was worth more than that, and he decided to pay me $50 for it," Drennan said. "On top of that, he paid $55 for shipping."

Joan Cronemeyer, who recently operated a family-owned antique store, is another Tonganoxie resident who's learning the ins and outs of eBay sales.

Cronemeyer, who is Drennan's aunt, said her niece helped her set up for Internet sales.

It's not as easy as it sounds, she said.

"You think you're computer-literate until you get to doing something like that and then you find out you're not as smart as you think you are," Cronemeyer said.

Since then, Cronemeyer has been learning more about Internet sales.

"I don't think some things sell for as much as you'd get out of them at an antique store," Cronemeyer said. "And other things do better than you think they will it's hard to read it."

Cronemeyer sets her base bid at about what she paid for the items, she said.

"And then usually it will go higher than that," she said.

She said so far she's been dabbling in the business, and plans to do a little more of it in the wintertime.

"I'm not looking to get rich doing this," Cronemeyer said. "I'm just having fun."

Part of the fun, she said, is finding a whole new marketplace.

"If you have a store, you have to sit and wait for people to come in," Cronemeyer said. "If you do it this way, you have people from across the United States shopping."

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