Thursday, July 31, 2014

Profiles of Successful eBay Pickers - David Dean and Rhonda Conner

I'm starting a new series on my blog to showcase eBay sellers who are making it work. eBay is getting a lot of bad press lately about not being a sustainable business, losing traction as a trusted marketplace, or being inferior to Amazon. I reached out to sellers on my eBay seller Facebook group, which is now approaching 16,000 members, to find sellers who have a proven track record of selling on eBay and maintaining a sustainable eBay business over time.

My hope is that we can see similar characteristics across these profiles and define the qualities of a successful seller, then work to achieve those qualities and reach success.

The criteria I set for participating in this series:

1. Full time eBay seller for at least 3 years. (To show sustainability.)

2. Does not sell on Amazon. (Because they were doing so well on eBay, they didn't need to go to another platform.)

3. Sells inventory purchased at thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, auctions, consignment sales or any combination of those sources. Does not purchase inventory wholesale, from liquidators, retail stores, from China, or drop ship. Must be a "picker."

4. Is an "at home" seller.

5. Must be willing to share eBay ID. (Keeping it real.)

We'll start with David Dean Conner.

When did you start selling on eBay?

May 2010

Why did you start selling on eBay?

I purchased a bunch of Thomas wooden trains for my son for $30 on Craigslist. We had so much that at that time he didn’t need all of it so I gave him half and sold the other half for around $90 making a large profit and having trains for my son. After that I started buying and selling all the trains I could get my hands on.

What is your store name? 


Do you specialize in a certain niche, or are you open to selling anything?

We are open to selling anything and are expanding our knowledge everyday. I specialize in  toy trains, vintage electrics/appliances, vintage rollers/curlers and my wife specializes in plush,  and vintage dolls.

If you specialize in a certain niche, why?

The more products and categories you know allows you to stream line your business, less time at the store figuring out what to buy or what you have in your cart, less time researching online for what you have and what it is worth. You can buy more items, list more items and  benefit of slowly building your store as a place to come to find certain items.

How many items do you typically have in your store?

We generally have upwards of 1000 listings with a goal of raising that 10% each following month.

What is your average monthly profit? 
(We are focusing on profit here because that's what you get to keep!)

We average between $2200.00 and $2800.00  per month for a normal month.

How many hours do you typically work a week on your eBay business?

Between the two of us about 30 hours a week on average.

Many eBay sellers are being shamed into selling on Amazon, as if it is a superior platform. Why have you never sold on Amazon?

Actually we have sold on Amazon before, I played the retail arbitrage game for awhile, we currently do not sell on Amazon. That is because Amazon does not currently fit into our business model. I am not anti-Amazon but I am also not a big cheerleader of Amazon either. Any platform that also sells what it merchants are selling is a scary thing. I feel that Amazon sellers are research drones for Amazon and once a new product has been discovered by a Amazon seller it is only a matter of time before Amazon will also be selling the same product usually at a lower price.

4th quarter can be a lucrative time of year for many online sellers. Have you typically seen an increase in sales during 4th quarter in past years?

Yes sales do increase during the 4th quarter but on the flip side returns also increase during 4th quarter and into the first quarter of the next year.

Do you sell anything different for holiday selling season, or just sell more of the same kinds of things you normally sell all year?

We sell more Holiday themed items and toys, plush, electronics all see a sales spike.

Do you list more items in anticipation of holiday sales? If so, when do you start this process?

We try to list as many items as we can regardless of the season. It is true we make a large amount of sales and profits in 4th quarter but we also try to  list just as many items in other months as well.

Do you have any hired help for your business?

No currently we do not have any hired help. I do anticipate that to change in the coming months as we ramp up our expansion. They will do routine tasks, cleaning of items, packing and shipping, inventory, etc.

What is one piece of advice you would give to new sellers who want to transition to eBay full time?

If you want to make a real income that you depend on having a eBay business then treat it like a business, a dedicated workspace, proper equipment and tools, and keep proper records, hold yourself and your business accountable.

Anything else unique about you or your eBay business you would like to share?

We started this on a whim with some trains, and now we have a successful online business and are branching into the offline area. This business has allowed us to stay home and care for our son with Autism and still make a living. It hasn’t always been easy but we wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

David and his wife Rhonda are also in the process of opening a brick and mortar store. Find out more about their venture here. 

Be sure to follow this series here on my blog, and make sure you have subscribed to my newsletter  as I have a special 4th quarter related offer coming out this week.

More successful pickers:

Michelle Farmer

Antique Chic

Nicole Bilbao

Kathy Bradley


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