Monday, June 30, 2014

How to Make Money While on Vacation - The Scavenger Life Way

My friends Ryanne and Jay over at (formerly eBay Scavengers) took a very interesting "vacation" this summer, incorporating sourcing for eBay with budget travel and visiting family. I really like what these two creative people are doing with their eBay business. It isn't just about selling things online, it is a way of life. Here is an interview about their trip and how they planned ahead, took advantage of opportunities, and managed their eBay store while they were on the road for 3 weeks.

Did you take Amtrak the whole way on your trip?

We did a multi-city trip, so flew for the longer legs of the journey. Amtrak is really great along the East Coast: affordable and comfortable (with Wifi). We love stopping along the way, filling up duffel bags of inventory, then bringing them home on the train. There doesn't seem to be a strictly enforced bag limit so we've been known to carry four huge overfilled bags. I guess they assume if you can carry it, you can bring it. 
How much money did you spend on inventory during the entire trip?

We probably spent about $300 on inventory over three weeks. We're super frugal and hate spending more than $1-5 on any item because we like to make at least 10x profit vs what we pay. This is the fun of being a scavenger. If we spend the time, we can always find low-cost/high-profit items. It means we have to be creative and look in places other people ignore. It means we're always researching and learning about new items. We could never specialize because we'd pass up too many opportunities. We'll sell anything. 

That being said, our goal is to continue to raise the profit we make on each item. Lately we've been willing to spend up to $15-$40 on items that we hope to sell for $400-$600. Things like furniture, art, lamps. But then there are issues of difficult packing, higher expectation of quality, and really doing deep research to know the value. But isn't this the fun? We love problem solving. 
How much inventory did you ship home? Did you carry anything with you on the trip back?

We personally travel light so we ship much of our inventory home (except when taking the Amtrak). We've found that shipping through FedEx At Home is about $1/pound. Usually this means that future profit of one item in the box will pay for the shipping. We always travel with a roll of packing tape. Usually it's easy to find boxes and packing paper for free at local stores. On this trip, we mailed eight huge boxes home. Then we carried several bags on the train. Coming home and unpacking is like finding stuff for the first time again. 
What cities did you visit, and were you visiting family along the way?

We did Austin, Boston, and NYC on this trip. We still run another business (video production), but take the opportunity to scavenge in places we've never been before. Since we live in a rural area, scavenging trips to cities are an urban vacation for us. We usually rent rooms on Ryanne has family in NYC and Boston which is fun because they're all scavengers too. Ryanne's mom picked us up from the airport and we went straight to an estate sale. 
Where did you do thrift shopping, CL curb alerts, estate sales, scoping out trash night, etc.?

We love scavenging because it gets us into parts of a city that we would otherwise never visit. We go to auctions, estate sales, and yard sales. Usually avoid thrift stores these days because they're just too expensive with predictable, dull inventory. We're basically meeting the local scavengers at these events so it's like being with friends. City people should always check the "free stuff" on Craigslist. Looking through dumpsters behind apartment buildings and around universities is always a thrill.
How much time did you spend sourcing vs actually vacationing?

We aren't good at vacationing in the traditional sense. You'll never see us on a beach with a colorful cocktail. Our idea of fun is learning the public transportation of a city, finding cool places to eat, and meeting people. New experiences and problem solving. Scavenging for inventory allows us to do all these things. It's perfect because we're having a stress-free time while also earning a living. We aren't ever "on vacation" with the knowledge that we have to go back to a 9-5 job. Our time is always our own time, uninterrupted. Everyday is Saturday for us. 
How many items did you have to ship when you got home?

eBay allows you to put your store on vacation but continue to sell. A banner appears at the top of our store/item page that tells the buyer there will be a delay in shipping. Nine out of ten people are perfectly willing to wait. Over a period of three weeks away, we had about 90 items to ship when we came home. The key for us is constant communication which is easy since we use the eBay app on our iPhones. Every buyer is messaged about the delay and any question answered immediately. Imagine me eating a delicious taco in one hand and writing buyers on my phone in the other hand. 
How much profit did you make while on vacation away from your business?

We'll most likely temporarily lose our Top Rated Seller status because we aren't shipping next day, but we made about $5000 while "vacationing". We like to just keep selling.  The key for us is maintaining a large inventory (over 3400 items) with everything on "buy it now". We could stop listing for probably six months and have pretty consistent sales. This give us a a buffer if we want to travel, work on personal projects, or if one of us had an emergency that kept us from listing. Storage was a challenge at first, but just another problem to solve. Living in a rural area means we build another small outbuilding when we need to expand. Every sellers runs their store differently, but this works for our lifestyle. 
Thanks Ryanne and Jay for taking time to do this interview!
So there you have it. Don't let the scavenger name fool you - these 2 sellers are sharp clever people who have figured out how to refine an eBay business to a level where the business takes care of them if they want some time off.  Scavenger Life usually has a new podcast every week and so far they have over 120 podcasts to listen to. (I like listening to them while I list on eBay.) You can listen to  Scavenger Life podcasts at:



Monday, June 23, 2014

Money-Making Breakfast Cereal

Thanks to Jamie Lanier for sharing her success with finding one of the discontinued products on my latest list. She found the discontinued Honey Bunches of Oats cereal and made a profit of $18.99 on a lot of 4 boxes. Way to go, Jamie! (Check out Jamie's eBay store here to see what other goodies she has for sale.)

And if you want to make money selling discontinued grocery, baby, and health and beauty products, check out my list of 25 discontinued items that may be available in grocery stores, drug stores, or closeout stores (Big Lots) near you. Most of the items on the list can be purchased at local stores for under $10 and some sell on eBay and Amazon for over $50. I've been selling discontinued items on eBay and Amazon for many years, and the key is knowing what's discontinued - I've done all the work for you so all you have to do is download the list and start hitting the stores. Happy hunting!

Related Articles:

Discontinued Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip Frosting

Discontinued Aveeno Eczema Cream

Discontinued Today Sponges

Friday, June 20, 2014

25 Cent Coffee Mug Sells for $104 on eBay


I'll admit, I don't have the mug selling gene. I have tried over the years and mugs are not a niche I can get excited about. But I do get excited when I see other selles share their coffee mug scores. Buddy Huddleston, a member of my Facebook group posted this sale on our Money Making Mondays thread back in May.

He bought the mug for 25 cents at a thrift store because, "I knew it had some value based on the manufacturer, year, and character." It is a Fire King mug, and these are easily identified by the milky white glass material they are made of. The mug sold for $104.49 on auction with a starting price of 99 cents and 21 bids.

Congratulations, Buddy! Nice sale, and thanks for sharing!

See Buddy's listing here.

Do you have a great score to share? Send me an email at and I'll do my best to post it here on my blog.

Happy Selling!

Related Articles:

The Funniest eBay Fail Ever

eBay Seller Finds $355 Magazine in Home

Vintage Iron Maiden T-Shirt Sells for $812 on eBay

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Funniest eBay Fail Ever

My friend and fellow seller Catherine who lives in Atlanta near me, posted this in my Facebook Group. The post had 283 comments - and other sellers rolling in the floor laughing!

"So I found this beautiful deep red crushed velvet scarf at Goodwill and wore it to church and got so many compliments on it. I felt so pretty. When I got home and was putting it away I noticed a hem on one side of the scarf..the long side. It was a hem to slide a curtain rod through. I wore a valance to church." Below Catherine is wearing the scarf / valance as she wore it to church.

This little faux pas brings to mind the Carol Burnett skit about Scarlet O'Hara in Gone With the Wind wearing the curtains to see Rhett Butler in jail to ask for money. Everyone in the group had a good time with this incident - and bless Catherine's little Southern heart, she was a good sport!

The valance now hangs in Catherine's Mom's home, and they both laugh every time they look at that window. And "Frankly my dear, they don't give a damn."

What's the craziest item you have ever found at a thrift store or yard sale that you actually kept for yourself? Post in the comments section below. eBay is a lot of work, but we still manage to have fun with it!

Related Articles:

Money Making Mondays - See What Everyone is Selling on eBay

eBay Seller Shipping Fail

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Client Testimonials - How Suzanne Wells has Helped eBay Sellers

My goal as an eBay mentor is to help other sellers be successful. If you are not satisfied with my courses, downloads, or consultations, I will work with you until you are. I am genuinely interested in your success and everything I do is with the utmost integrity.

I have been selling on eBay since 2003, as a single mom who had been downsized out of a job. I was selling on eBay to fill the gaps while I looked for another job. After a few weeks, I recognized that I could earn a full-time living selling items from thrift stores and garage sales. I still sell from my original eBay store which you can see here.

Years later, other people started contacting me to help them learn how to make money on eBay. I started this blog, wrote a book, and started a YouTube channel to help other sellers learn.

I understand skepticism about eBay mentors on the internet - there are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there. I am not one of them. Here are are some unsolicited comments my students have made about me on Facebook. Feel free to reach out to them about my products and services if you would like references about my work and my character.