Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Be aware of USPS restrictions when mailing out eBay packages in previously used boxes

I use Priority mail pouches and boxes whenever possible. (Priority packaging materials and labels are free from the post office, and delivery is generally within 2 or 3 days.) But this week, I had a few larger items that exceeded the capacity of any standard priority mail box.

For these instances, I’ve saved old boxes from moving or box lots I’ve won at auction. This was the case with one of the packages I brought to the post office recently.

I had been up pretty late the night before, preparing all of my orders from a week of eBay sales for mailing. My final item to wrap up was a ceramic base for a table lamp. I buried it deep within layers of cushy bubble wrap, securely taped it all around, and then rolled that inside cardboard made flat from a different box for further protection. It was all carefully positioned within a nest of crinkled newspaper.

(For those less creative types, here’s a great recycling tip: Outdated Norwich Bulletin issues DO have valuable uses beyond lining your puppy’s crate!)

The nest of crinkled paper was housed inside one of those recycled boxes. I slapped on the priority mail label, carried all of the packages downstairs and placed them by the back door, so that I would remember to take them out to my car in the morning. I was relieved to be done with that job so I could finally climb into my cozy bed. Whew!

Out the door early the next morning — with a four-year-old in tow — I loaded my car’s trunk. Upon my arrival at the post office, I made two trips bringing in arms-full of boxes and pouches over to the clerk’s counter. Box-by-box, everything went along in a routine fashion — until we reached the big white box.

The mail clerk stopped and looked at me. “We can’t take this one.”

I’m sure I had that weird, puzzled look on my face.

“What do you mean... why??” my enquiring mind wanted to know.

“You can’t send anything in a box for alcoholic beverages.” he replied matter-of-factly.

“Oh... Okay.” I carried the package back to my car.

I was dumbstruck. You’d think after selling on eBay for 10 years, I might have been aware of this... Well, I was... somewhat. Although I knew not to re-use beer crates, and those boxes with labels or graphics referencing explosives or hazardous chemicals, this specific issue was something I hadn’t dealt with before. Truth is, I hadn’t even taken note of the graphics on the side of that box.

But, really, what’s the problem with re-using a nice, clean, solid and sturdy white box that previously carried bottles?

Upon getting my big white carton home, I focused my energies on covering up all graphics and lettering on that box. I accomplished that with priority tape. (While you can no longer order Priority mail packaging tape free-of-charge online, you can still get it from your post office at no charge if you ask nicely.)

Back to the post office.

There! The clerk weighed it and gave me a shipping price of $26. I was shocked. It wasn’t THAT heavy, and the destination is within the continental USA.

I quickly figured out what I wasn’t informed of during my previous post office visit with that package. Being somewhat larger than most of my packages, it carried a balloon charge. Ugh!!

I asked the clerk who was helping me this time, “If I send this by parcel post rather than Priority mail, will the balloon charge apply?”

I was told, it will not.

Here I go again! This time, I’ll wrap my previously white box — that’s now red, white and blue — in plain brown paper. And, I’ll stick on a plain white mailing label. I hope it makes it through.

In case you didn’t know...
Here are some guidelines and restrictions
on the use of recycled boxes for USPS mailing.

-- United States postal regulations prohibit shipping alcoholic beverages through the mail.

-- However, you CAN reuse a cardboard box.

Exceptions include those with any kind of hazardous material graphics or lettering on the exterior of the box. For example, you cannot reuse a box that has a brand of liquor or toxic chemical on the outside of it.

Reusing Priority Mail Boxes

Even though USPS supplied Priority mail boxes feature a ‘recyclable’ graphic and even have “Please Recycle” printed on them, I guess that means you can place once-used boxes in with your old newspapers on pick-up day for the garbage man.

The USPS has a policy prohibiting the re-use of Priority mail boxes for any other method of mailing — unless it’s at the Priority rate. You cannot turn a priority mail box inside out and use it for mailing an item at the parcel post or first class rate.

Additionally, a flat rate Priority mail box can only be used to mail an item at the flat rate price. You cannot cover the flat rate insignia and send it at the regular Priority rate based upon its weight.

If you want to recycle a flat rate box in which something was mailed to you, you can not reuse it or modify the box to mail anything in it at a lower rate. If you use or reuse a flat rate box, you must pay to send it at the flat rate price. Yup... that’s right... even if you are recycling the box!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For Car & Truck Enthusiasts, a huge Automotive Swap Meet this weekend

An incredible span of cars and trucks — whole and in pieces — will be offered for sale this Sunday as The Connecticut Street Rod Association presents it's annual Spring Swap Meet. This annual event is in it's 39th year. It takes place at the Lake Compounce Amusement Park parking lot in Bristol, Connecticut.

For those of you who may want to set up to sell, Saturday set-ups are okay, but staying overnight is not allowed. The parking lot is lit and secure. Due to insurance regulations, no one is allowed to drive a vehicle inside of the swap meet area on Sunday, with the exception of approved CSRA people. CSRA will gladly assist anyone in removing parts from the swap meet area. They do this free of charge, but they will be accepting donations to support the CT Breast Cancer Research Fund.

I recommend getting there early, bringing along a cart or wagon and wearing warm clothes and gloves. It's still pretty cold at 6 and 7 a.m. these days! There is food available from various vendors. Oh... and bring along lots of cash too. I don't think there's an ATM around, and you'll be surprised at all you'll find!

WHEN: May 4th, 2008

WHERE: Lake Compounce parking lot in Bristol, Connecticut

HOURS are 6:00 AM - 3:00 PM, rain or shine

DIRECTIONS: I-84 to Exit 31, north on Rt 229, follow signs

CONTACT: Pat (203) 697-9113 or Pete (860) 635-4971, email


Monday, April 28, 2008

Yesterday's Spring Roundup livestock auction was a success

Here are a few photos from yesterday's Spring Roundup Auction in Foster, RI.

Television crews were filming a segment at the auction for WJAR TV (channel 10 in Rhode Island) which aired last night. The flea market at Danny's Auction Barn was also going on. It is growing bigger each week, and Danny has announced a new food auction to run every other Friday to start on May 16th.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

See what happens when a spouse sells something valuable for too little $$ at the garage sale

I received an interesting email last night. At a garage sale yesterday, a husband sold an antique dresser to a couple for a lot less money than his wife wanted for it. The buyers were not able to transport the dresser in their car, so they left to get a truck, taking only the mirror. Before they had time to return, the wife phoned the couple and told them her husband made a mistake in selling the dresser at that price. She wanted more money.

Read on...
Not sure if you can help. My husband sold an antique dresser of ours today without first consulting with me (wife). The dresser is an antique. I found one very similar on eBay for sale for $400.00. My husband suggested the price of $100.00 to the couple who immediately said yes. He took their money, gave them the mirror that attaches. They planned to return to pick up the dresser. Minutes later, he informed me of the sale. I was shocked and upset. I had planned to offer it for $250. I immediately called the couple and informed them of the error made on part of my husband and advised them that I could not accept anything less than $250. Needless to say, they were not happy. Was I in error to call them back to ask for more money? My husband apologized to them but they seem hell bent on holding us to the $100.00. Any advice?


My reply:

Hi Sheila,

You know what? I think it was your husband’s mistake, and he should cough up $150 to give to you to spend as you please.

The deal was done with the buyers. Had they initially come prepared with a truck to take the dresser and mirror at once, there would have been nothing else you could have done. Asking for more after the deal was sealed isn’t quite right.

Of course... If they knew for sure they had a dresser worth at least $400 — even at $250 — it would have been a great price.

So, if they wanted to be really super-nice about it — assuming they had enough money to spend — they could have paid you the difference (in a spirit of compassion for all married folks everywhere!) or maybe even negotiated for another figure somewhere in between. But that’s only if they REALLY, REALLY wanted the dresser AND wanted to be nice.

Did you allow them to take the dresser away at the $100 price?

-- Karen
Her reply:

First, thanks SO much for replying. You are right on with your response. They did not come back yesterday for the dresser. The last conversation with the wife of the buyer on the phone was “well, I have a very expensive mirror”. She said that she would have to discuss it with her husband as to what they would do. The garage sale in our neighborhood continues today at 9am. This is a Dutch community and I have been told very ‘tight’. I hope too that they will be soft hearted and will be understanding but I don’t have high hopes. This is the last garage sale that we will have. I plan to sell anything of value on eBay or Craig’slist.

Thank you again for your honest response.


What do you think about this situation?
Was the wife wrong to call the couple back to renegotiate the price?
Please comment below with your thoughts.

Between husbands and wives communication is very important. This is evident in every day life — certainly for the long-term health of any relationship — but never more-so than when money issues are involved.

Here’s your tip of the day:
If you having a garage or yard sale, be sure to discuss asking prices with your significant other before selling time!

Do you have a question about second-hand buying or selling?
I’ll be glad to offer my opinion. Email me at

Celebrities put baby hand-me-downs on eBay for charity

Famous parents (Mariska Hargitay, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and more!) have donated their used baby items to be auctioned off to benefit various charities such as March of Dimes, Save the Children, Zero to Three and Baby Buggy. The online auctions begin on April 29 and end May 9. Check it out on eBay now.

read more | digg story

Your old gold dental work could fetch big bucks

Dazzled by the bull market in gold, people are digging through drawers for old dental caps, fillings and bridgework they saved years ago and selling them at prices that would make the tooth fairy blush.

read more | digg story

Friday, April 25, 2008

A horse auction with no horses... but plenty of tack

Friday’s horse auction in Foster had no horses. But they did have a lama... That didn’t sell. However, they had lots of tack for sale.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Prom hair: The price of an updo has gone UP too!

We know everything that's a must-have for the prom is costly, so why do hairdressers raise their prices for updo services at this time too?

I suppose it’s because they can.

The last time I was in need of a fancy hair style (updo), it was $25 at the salon or $35 if the stylist came to my home. That was in 2005. Did I get a bargain, or have costs actually risen twice as much in 3 years??

My 17-year-old daughter is having her hair done at a local salon for Saturday night’s prom, along with 2 friends. Having called early enough in advance for appointments, they were fortunate to get their scheduled times together.

Each girl is paying $50 for an updo. Add on manicures and pedicures too!
Has anyone ever heard about the concept of a volume discount?

Since all the girls attending the prom from each town need hair styling done on the same day, salon services are in demand. I suppose most are happy just to be squeezed in for an appointment.


Below are a few links to Web sites on prom hair styles, news stories, and a couple of great columns on fashion trends for young adults by Norwich Bulletin columnist, Raquelle Nash. Read on about styles and trends in hair and formal dress, as well as how rising costs are affecting today's prom-goers. Enjoy!

See 100s of Gorgeous Prom Hairstyles for Prom 2008
"She tried to lock me in her store and FORCE me to pay 150 dollars for an Updo!"

A Valuable Tip:
Call around for price comparisons first.
Make your hair style appointments early.

Buyer Sued for Leaving a Neutral Feedback on eBay

The buyer purchased some coins, but they were not well packaged. As a result he left a neutral feedback and was promptly sued by the seller.

"This is neutral feedback, not even negative feedback, but neutral. He sued me for $10,000," he said.

See the video here:

read more | digg story

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Weird item of the week ~ Looks like Disney's "Doug" TV show's cartoon kid... on a stick

I know. I don’t post one of these EVERY week. But it’s not that often that you’ll find something odd enough to be worthy of the honor. How about this?

Unusual Boys Head & Shoulders
Mannequin on Heavy Stand

"Unique molded boy's head and shoulders mannequin on a very heavy adjustable metal stand. On the lowest setting it is 24 inches high, tallest setting makes him 33 inches high. There are a few dents and marks on the face, but all in all good condition."

Find out more about 'Doug', the kids' cartoon TV Show:

See this auction on eBay under "Partial-Body & Mannequin Parts"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Horse Lovers: This is your weekend!

This weekend offers TWO Horse and Tack Auctions in our area — one is Friday night and the other will be held on Saturday afternoon.

DANNY'S HORSE & TACK AUCTION takes place on Friday, April 25th.

Horses start at 6 p.m. The tack auction gets going at 7 p.m. Anyone interested in selling a horse at auction should know that papers are required. A $25 entry fee applies if the horse is sold.

Also, this Sunday Danny will hold a Spring Livestock Auction. All kinds of animals will be sold, in addition to tractors and lawn mowers. The new Flea Market will be happening on Sunday too!

Danny's Auction Barn is on Route 6 in Foster, RI.
Phone: (401) 647-2558

UCONN's HORSE AUCTION AND TAG SALE is happening on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

The University of Connecticut's Animal Science Department will hold its Spring Horse Auction at 1 p.m. on April 26 at the Horsebarn Hill Arena in Storrs. Preview begins at 10 a.m. For more
information, call 486-1009 or visit

The event is free and open to the public.

7 reasons to integrate eBay with your business

Although there are aspects of eBay's business practices that many sellers gripe about, if you have something to sell, tapping into the buying and selling activity on eBay is an obvious method of increasing business. You'd be hard pressed to find another way to acquire quality customers so easily, inexpensively and consistently.

1. It’s been reported that on average, eBay processes more searches per day than Google, and these searches are for qualified buyers, they are not just searching for free information as so many users of Google are.

2. Internet users spend far more time on eBay than any other e-commerce website, making it by far the most popular shopping destination on the Internet.

3. PayPal has become THE ‘currency’ of eBay. The best part is that PayPal funds are viewed as ‘free money’ by most eBayers, so it’s much easier to get them to spend it.

4. Stats from the independent research firm Nielsen/NetRatings show that eBay shoppers are NOT just searching out products for the lowest prices. The number one reason why people visit eBay is because of the availability of unique items.

5. The majority of eBay users are over 35 years of age with an annual income of at least $50k to more than $150k. They’re not freebie hunters, they’re quality buyers. Also, the demographic is nicely split evenly among male and female, so it really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, there’s sure to be a good match within the 220 million registered users of the site.

6. It’s easy to setup eBay and PayPal accounts. 1/3 of all U.S. Internet users have done it.

7. The ROI (return on investment) proposition for acquiring customers using eBay makes it a no brainer.

read more | digg story

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A new concept in food buying comes to Foster, RI

Here’s a novel idea: How about buying your groceries at auction?

Just getting by these days has become a day-to-day challenge for most of us. The prices for common necessities, such as food, gas, electricity, and medicine have sky-rocketed.

Thrift stores have seen a steady increase in business as consumers forego the mall for more economical ways of shopping. In response to the increased demand, now even thrift stores have increased their prices!

No question about it, money is tight these days.

Last night, Danny Calise of Danny’s Auction Barn in Foster, Rhode Island, announced his next endeavor. He plans to offer a food auction on a schedule of every other Friday night.

I’ve blogged about buying food at auction before. For the most part, food items have come into auction on Thursday and Saturday nights at Danny’s — farmers bringing in eggs and vegetables, and stores unloading extra bakery items nearing expiration dates. And then, there’s the Monday night wholesale auctions, when food items are sold in bulk lots. Those items go mostly to retailers for resale.

But here’s a concept that’s different. How about an entire auction dedicated to selling food items directly to consumers?

I’ve walked out of the food market with five bags hanging on my arms, having spent over $100, so I think Danny has a fantastic idea!


Danny’s Flea Market is now running! At last night’s auction, Danny also spoke about how with the closing of Rocky Hill Flea Market that was in East Greenwich for years, there are now only three ongoing flea markets operating in Rhode Island. Theirs is one. The other two are located in Providence and Charlestown. Information is below.

DANNY’S AUCTION FLEA MARKET: Every Sunday at daybreak
Rte. 6, Foster, RI
Phone: 647-2558

AMERICANA EXPO CENTER: Fri., 12-5, Sat.-Sun. 9-5
740 Plainfield St. Providence
Phone: 490-4000, 331-4473

GENERAL Stanton Inn Flea Market: Open April 26, Sat., Sun. and Mon. holidays, 8am to 3pm
Rt. 1, Charlestown
Phone: 401-364-8888

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ellis Tech Yard Sale a super success!

I stopped over at the Ellis Tech yard sale fundraiser this morning. The vendors were a good mix of antique dealers and yard sale people. It was super-busy and everyone was reveling the fantastic weather!

I picked up a couple of 1964 World's Fair Glass ice tea glasses, some cute dog outfits, a vintage alarm clock, a holiday table cloth, a pitcher with matching drinking glasses and a pile of great books. My four year-old daughter (as usual!) was given a few small toys from various vendors — including a pink “My Little Pony” horse that she really loves!

All in all, I’d say their event — including the car show — was a great success.

What’s that sign on the corner? This weekend’s top pick is at Ellis Tech

Harvard Ellis Tech High School is holding a benefit Car-Cruise / Yard Sale today from 9-4 pm at the school on Maple Street in Danielson, CT. There is no admission charge.
For more info call (860) 928-5635

Other events in our area:

SPRING RUMMAGE SALE, 9-11 a.m., Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, 294 Washington St., NORWICH. Items include clothing, linens, bedding, shoes, books, toys and attic treasures. Information: 887-5886.

SPRING TAG SALE, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Poquonnock Bridge Baptist Church, GROTON. Bake sale.

TAG SALE, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mystic Congregational Church, MYSTIC. Clothing, household goods, jewelry, toys and books. Proceeds go to local charities. Sponsored by the Women’s Fellowship.

TAG SALE, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Fair Oaks School, OAKDALE. Sponsored by the Montville Lions Club. All proceeds benefit blind and hearing impaired individuals and various local nonprofit groups. For information, call Sandie at 848-0836.

Don’t forget to check The Norwich Bulletin for this weekend’s garage and yard sales.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Book swap site ofers free books to sell or simply enjoy

A regular reader of my blog from Sterling, Connecticut recently sent me an email encouraging me to check out a book swap Web site he uses regularly. Tom Dubois told me about Paper Back Swap. The best thing about the site is that you can get free shipping when you order a book!

This online book club is a group of readers who share books with each other (NOT limited to only paperbacks) for nothing more than the cost of postage!

One you join, list 10 books with the club, and you are given 2 book credits to get started. Then you can request 2 free books right away from other members of the club. Books you list to swap must be in good condition, with no ripped covers or water damage.

When another member from the site wants one of your books, you’ll receive an email. Mail out the book at your expense — usually about $2, depending upon the weight and shipping distance. (If the book weighs less than 13 ounces, you won’t have to make a trip to the post office and it’s $2.13.)

We all know in the ‘real world’, books are incredibly expensive. Here’s an economical way to give and get fresh reading material. Getting a book requires only the cost of shipping out another.

However, some members just buy books on the site. A credit entitles you to a book, and credits can be purchased at $3.45 each. Where else can you buy a book for that price and get it shipped for free?

Tom told me about his biggest finds on the Paper Back Swap site.

Two books he bought for $3.45 each: Bobby Fischer and My 60 Most Memorable Games. Tom sold them on eBay for $53.00 and $25.00! He now makes it a regular practice to look for books on the Paperback Swap site to re-sell.

You can learn more about this site here:
Paper Back Swap online book club:

If you become a member, Tom asks for a favor in using his name as the referral on the sign-up form.
His user name: booktrader

In addition to the book swapping online club, members can also join CD and DVD swapping sister sites. The rules are the same and swapping across sites is possible.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Yankee Curse" Jersey up for bid on eBay — with copycats too!

A construction worker buried a Red Sox jersey at the new Yankee Stadium two weeks ago in an effort to "jinx that stadium". The worker — a devoted Red Sox fan — whose name is Gino Castignoli, placed the shirt behind home plate, two feet below the surface in wet concreate. He worked just one day.

Officials with the Yankees seemed unconcerned about the prospect of a curse at first, dismissing the news report as an April fool's prank. But sports fans can be superstitious. Yankee fans were upset, so they decided to alleviate concerns. They retrieved it!

So now, there's a really dirty shirt is up for bid on eBay. The jersey didn’t come out in such great shape after being underground. It's torn from jackhammers and heavily stained, and some of the letters spelling “Red Sox” on the front are falling off. But hopefully, it will be collectible enough to entice big spenders to bid, since the money raised is going to a wonderful charity - The Jimmy Fund.

Well, you know what? eBay is always interesting! Apparently there's a second Ortiz jersey up on eBay as well. And, more auctions for shirts kind of like it...

Plus, don't under-estimate all the creative thinkers out there!

Hmmmm... I thought there was only ONE jersey buried at Yankee Stadium?

eBay announces their "Best in Stores" contest finalists

eBay has announced the finalists in their "Best in Stores" contest promoting eBay Stores. They received over 12,000 entries. Now eBay members can vote for a winner in each of four categories:
  • Best Shopping Experience
  • Best Store Marketing
  • Best Looking Store, and
  • Best Simple Store

Voting is open until April 30, 2008. Winners receive a prize of $1,500 cash and a paid trip to the eBay Live conference in Chicago this June. Winners will be announced in May.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Prom Gown Exchange — A great idea, but would it work?

We’ve been out and about shopping for prom dresses for the last two weeks. The styles are stunning. But, wow... are they pricey!

The prom season is here and my 17 year-old daughter, Kayla is anxious and excited. Her primary focus this month has been to find the “perfect” dress. On Saturday, she bought a sleek and absolutely gorgeous off-white gown embellished with sequins.

The dress did not meet all of Kayla’s requirements, but to me, she did find the perfect dress. (She’s blonde and blue-eyed and a size 1, so how could anything not look fantastic on her?) She did not want a white dress (too bridal). And she was hoping for something showing more detail on back... But time was closing in on her. The prom is less than 2 weeks away, and we had to consider time for any necessary alterations. She bought the dress.

We made an appointment for alterations with Vivien of Vivian Alterations in North Scituate, RI. This lady is a super-talented dressmaker! She did the alterations for my wedding gown in 2005 and Kayla’s prom gown last year — she’s wonderful!

So while Kayla was changing, Vivian and I talked a little bit. I shared my opinion about how outrageously expensive dresses are these days, and of course, it was no surprise to her!

When Kayla first asked me about shopping around for a new prom dress, my initial response was “Why not wear last year’s dress?”

Kayla and her boyfriend, David,
in a photo taken before last year's prom

The words slipped out before I had a chance to consider her obvious reaction. As you might expect, Kayla was outraged!

“Mom, they’ve already seen me in that!”

(And I’m thinking... Yeah, for a whole 4 hours.)

Anyway, Vivien had an idea... Why not have a dress exchange at a local school?

I’ve tried selling once-worn prom, bridesmaid — and even my Wedding gown — on eBay with little success. If they sell, these dresses aren’t likely to bring very much.

I think the reason is that the girls really want to see the actual dress. The color and the details are extremely important. They want to try it on too and check it out in the mirror, from all angles. This kind of dress is especially special, and it isn’t something they want to take chances with — even if it saves money.

Boys can rent what they wear. That makes sense. But high school girls are expected to pay hundreds for a dress worn for only once. Add on the other expenses for hair and nails and invisible undergarments -- It’s crazy!

In today’s economy, we’re all on the watch for ways to save money. I bet lots of young women have a few once-worn gorgeous gowns hanging in their closets. Why not get together and have a dress exchange?

Vivian Alterations
(401) 934-3209
15 Village Plaza Way, North Scituate, RI 02857

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How to go about eBay product sourcing — after you're done with yard sales

Most people start on eBay by selling whatever they have in their attic or basement. After a while though, they’ve sold off everything and they need to find more to sell. So they begin going to every garage sale and flea market to find more. They spend a lot of time and money doing this and begin looking for products from wholesale suppliers.

read more | digg story

What’s this about Paypal's new payment hold policy on some eBay sales?

What's worse than being unable to leave a difficult buyer on eBay negative feedback?
How about not getting your money until you make them happy?

Check this out. Ebay owns Paypal and with that connection, they've decided to implement a new policy to hold back a seller’s access to their eBay auction payments — in certain cases.

DSRs ~ The Magical Mix

Detailed Seller Ratings add a new dimension to eBay's feedback system. Most sellers are probably aware by now that changes to eBay’s feedback system have taken place. More are just weeks away.

Starting in mid-May, sellers will no longer be able to leave buyers negative feedback.

However, buyers can rate transactions based on various aspects of the sale: item description, communication, shipping time, and shipping & handling charges. This works on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest rating. The average of all ratings is displayed on the seller’s feedback profile page.

As a seller, your Detailed Seller Ratings are too important to ignore. Poor DSRs are likely to have a real impact on your bottom line.


A buyer filed a dispute with me last month. It involved a claim of non-receipt.

I sent the padded manila envelope to Canada with a Shari Lewis Lamb Chop Hand Puppet inside on Feb-11th — within a day or so after receiving payment through Paypal. The package eventually arrived at its destination on April 8th.

Certainly, the buyer had every right to be upset. But the issue of slow-moving mail is not all that uncommon. While waiting for delivery, the buyer filed a complaint with eBay — even before making an attempt to commnuicate with me directly.

The recipient was very pleased and excited when the puppet finally arrived, And, although I was given glowing feedback, the buyer hasn’t yet taken the time to close the dispute.

The slow arrival of Lamb Chop wasn’t my fault. But the open dispute will affect my DSR.


One of the consequences a seller with a low DSR may have to deal with is “Big Brother” Paypal stepping in to mandate buyer satisfaction.

When PayPal temporarily holds a payment, the amounts held appear as pending in your PayPal account until they release the funds.

When will PayPal release the payment hold on an eBay item?

Your funds will be released after 21 days. Funds may be released earlier when one of the following occurs:

-- The buyer leaves you positive feedback on eBay
-- 3 days pass after they confirm the item was delivered

If you receive a dispute, claim, chargeback, or reversal on a transaction subject to the eBay item hold, Paypal may hold the payment until the problem is resolved, even if the claim, chargeback, or reversal occurs after the hold is released.

This is all part of an ongoing effort by eBay to “improve the buyer experience”.
But, this is where I believe the "buyer-comes-first" mentality goes too far.

By all means, to be successful in business you should treat your buyers fairly. If you make a error on an item description or fail to pack an item sufficiently for shipment, do the right thing and refund the buyer's money. However, it's my opinion that refunds should be issued at the seller's discretion and according to stated policies on the seller's eBay listing pages.

If eBay had any serious competitors online — comparable in traffic and sales — I’d feel safe to bet that a good chunk of their sellers would flee.

But the reality is that there is no other online selling environment in existence today that has anything close to eBay’s advantage. The fact is, they get far more traffic — and being on eBay results in more sales.

So what it all comes down to is this: If you want to play, you're going to have to play by their rules.

For more information on eBay's Detailed Seller Ratings:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Craigslist exchange over yard sale pricing

"I have a question about yard sales. I understand that there is alot of junk at yard sales and it should be priced at a dollar or 50 cents, but why do people think your supposed to sell everything for a dollar?

I had this ignorant lady at my yard sale try to buy a brand new version of Trivial Pursuit in the brand new shiny tin box. It goes for 39.99 at the store, and I told her it was $5. She yelled at me and told me how she wasn't paying that much. Then another lady didn't want to buy a $50 carseat for $10... Another guy told me I was stupid because my games were too expensive. I was selling Xbox 360 games that go for for $59.99 and $49.99 in the store for $15 and $30. They aren't even that cheap at the flea market. I don't understand. Am I doing something wrong? Can someone fill me in on yard sale etiquette please?"

A poster to Craigslist (Providence) shared this question (above) with other Craigslist readers over the weekend. Here are a couple of the responses:

"I have been on both ends of this. A lot of people are looking for deals when they go to yard sales. That's most of the fun of it. This can work to your benefit if you have a lot of clutter you are looking to get rid of. You make a little money and get rid of stuff all at the same time. If you sell 300 things for $1 that's $300 in your pocket and mounds of clutter out of your home. If you have things that will fetch a higher price selling another way (like consignment, selling single items on Craigslist, places like Gamestop and FYE that buy games, Ebay, etc.) don't put those items out if you aren't prepared for low offers. It will also help if you have a lot of items to sell in general. Don't focus on what you paid for the items. You won't get that price back. Focus more on what people are willing to spend. If someone is going lower on your asking price, try to throw similar items into the deal (like on a coffee maker maybe some cups and saucers or a sugar bowl or a creamer thing... things that you would only charge 50 cents-$1 for) to make the total price close to what you were asking for the coffee maker. It sweetens the deal (no pun intended) and you will sell all of it at once where they would normally not buy the cups or whatever. The other option — if you don't like the offers — is you can say no — or better yet — negotiate a price for something in between. Sometimes you have to be a little flexible. If buyers are ignorant to you and calling you names it's best that these people leave the same way they came. Empty handed."

Then, there is this point of view:

"If someone offers me a dollar for something worth more I just tell them I’ll give it to Big Sisters if i don’t get the price on the tag."

And this one....

"OKAY FOLKS, HERE IS THE LOW DOWN ON YARD SALES. IT IS NOT A STORE, NOR IS IT A FLEA MARKET (BOTH OF THOSE ARE SET UP TO MAKE A PROFIT AND DEMAND A HIGHER PRICE FOR A ITEM FOR SALE.) THE DEFINITION OF A YARD SALE OR GARAGE SALE OR JUNK SALE OR TAG SALE — CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT — IT IS WHAT IT IS — A SALE OF STUFF THAT PEOPLE WHO FREQUENT THESE SALES ARE OUT TO GET AS BARGAINS. PEOPLE DON'T GET IN THEIR CAR AT 7 IN THE MORNING AND DRIVE AROUND ALL DAY TO PAY ANYTHING CLOSE TO THE ACTUAL VALUE. THIS IS JUST COMMON SENSE. THE HIGHER THE PRICE,THE HARDER IT WILL BE TO SELL. Someone may pay your price, or they may not. It’s all supply and demand, and demand for a yard sale item is on the low end because you have more people wanting to pay very low for the items they buy. It's basic. As far as people being mean when you bargain with them at a yard sale, that is unfortunate. The buyer has the right to make whatever offer he wants to the seller, and the seller has the right to dictate their wanting price, and hopefully you get to deal with nice people. Because as I have learned, people are people, and that is so uncool. I have been on both ends, and I think anybody can offer what they want. And anybody can sell at the price they want. If you are mean because you don’t get what you want, that says a lot about you. Yard saleing should be fun for everyone.

So, the next time you get asked if you will take a dollar for an item, don’t get mad. Just say no.

Here is my opinion.

Yard sales are mutually beneficial. They are useful for the seller to unload and clean out their home or apartment. And, these sales are beneficial to buyers who may have a way to repurpose previously loved home items — no matter if they can use what they buy themselves, give it away to friends or relatives, or re-sell. Whatever the reason for buying, attending yard or garage sales is time well spent for the bargains that can be found. It benefits both parties.

Yard sale prices are low. That IS why the buyers come out.

As a seller, if yard sale prices are not acceptable to you, then take the extra effort required to place classified ads for individual items, set up at a flea market, or photograph and post each item on eBay and then ship it all out. If you are moving and don’t have the time, or if you aren’t computer savvy — or for any other reason — you aren’t willing or knowlegable enough to persue other avenues of selling your goods, then you may want to consider donating as an option.

Another option to look into is a buy-out. There are dealers who will make an appointment with you to go to your home (or storage unit) and negotiate a set price for everything. They’ll even clean it all out. (That’s how much of what is sold at auction gets there.) You’ll probably make less money than you would by having a yard sale — but you won’t need to advertise, set it all up, spend the time and effort, or clean up the leftovers.

It all comes down to finding the right avenue of selling to suit your immediate needs. How much money you make will depend upon how much effort and time you are willing or able to invest.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A few of my favorite things! Much loved home treasures found second-hand

Every day I carry with me a $2 pocketbook that I found a tag sale in Danielson over two years ago. My wristwatch is from a yard sale in Brooklyn and it was still boxed, brand new and unworn — a true bargain at just $1. One of my favorite jewelry items is a vintage necklace comprised of unusual looking old coins linked by chain.... It is something I've held on to for over 10 years now. I picked it up at a yard sale in Rhode Island. It cost me under $1. Who would have guessed?

My home is decorated with flea market, auction and yard sale finds. Here are some photos of things I love that have become part of my everyday surroundings -- just a few of my favorite things in my home!

Two auction finds...
The small porcelain floral basket (left) was among other items in a box lot —
and the blue carnival glass fruit bowl was a win at $5...

The strawberry pitcher was discovered at the annual Moosup neighborhood yard sale.

My husband was the lucky high bidder for this dining room set at $125
• from an auction

The braided rug was a $50 find from a Craigslist ad
— and there was a smaller rug with it too!

The chair pads match my dinnerware and were found on eBay for $5 each

Breyer is mostly known for making horses, but I found this wonderful
Deer family
for $12 (for all) at the Rocky Hill Flea Market last summer.

Tiffany style table lamp
• just $5 from Danny's Auction

An original original Henri Peeters painting, framed
• from an auction - $15 •

More art in my home / framed prints
• yard sale finds at $1 each

Katie's "Tigger" rocking chair
• $2 from the auction

You never know what you might find!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On eBay, A Little Less Conversation

Sometime in mid-May, the conversations behind each sale on eBay will become a lot more one-sided. The site will change one of its core features, the feedback system allowing buyers and sellers to judge one another, by cutting sellers out of part of that back-and-forth. Buyers will still be able to give a thumbs-down to a seller, in the form of a negative or neutral feedback rating — but the new rules will block sellers from returning the favor.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Quick tips for a super-successful garage sale!

As we look forward to warmer weather, Spring cleaning is a common activity these days. While you're at it, why not clear out clutter and freshen up your home? The most effective way to unload pre-owned home goods quickly is to have a yard or garage sale. With a little effort and planning, you can maximize the results of your efforts.

Pool resources with neighbors and friends to save on the cost of paid ads. (Having more stuff will also attract more buyers!) Don't overlook free ads. Craigslist is one resource. If your sale is planned for a Saturday, try to run your ad on Friday as well as Saturday's newspaper for those shoppers who like to plan ahead.

Also, I will gladly post news of upcoming yard and garage sales here in my blog – along with a listing of sale items – if you are located in the eastern Connecticut or Rhode Island areas. Send me an email with your information. Feel free to provide me with a listing of what you'll be selling and attach photos too.

Put out plenty of large signage! Bright, neon colored card stock boards are great. Use oversized, chunky lettering. Remember, you want drivers to be able to easily read your words from the road. Use big black arrows, pointing in the proper direction, and follow up with arrow signs at every turn.

Don't list items for sale on the signs. Simply announce the sale, days and hours, with the street address and arrows.

Have enough change! Remember to visit the bank before-hand and have your bills and coins sorted for quick access when the buying frenzy begins.

A gentle wiping may be all that's needed for most items that have been in storage for a while. A few minutes of preparation can make a big difference in how appealing an item will look to buyers.

Put some thought into how your items are presented.

Use sturdy tables and racks and group similar items together. Sort out clothing by size. Drape linens over tables so buyers easily see the detail in fabrics. Set books up on shelves, spine out. Separate hard covers from soft, adult material from children's books.

Don't leave miscellaneous boxes randomly sitting around -- especially boxes of mystery goods still wrapped in newspaper, or boxes of unsorted clothing. It's unlikely that many potential buyers will have the patience to hunt through it all.

Identify yourself as the seller.
A warm hello and pointing out where different things are placed will make buyers feel welcome. Nothing's worse than having a question about an item or wanting to check out, and not knowing who to see.

I've also been in the situation where it's near the end of the day and the tables are left out with goods for sale, but no one is around. At least leaving a sign out with instructions to ring the doorbell would give an interested party a way to inquire about buying!

Avoid confusion.
If you're selling from your garage, clearly separate what's for sale from what isn't.

Use EASILY REMOVABLE stickers to mark prices. Some sale-goers may not ask about a price if they see you busy with another customer, or they may assume the price is over their limit.

Let buyers know if you are open to offers or willing to negotiate.

Finally, don't price too high -- Remember, this is not a retail environment, and yard sale goers do not have the emotional connection you may have for your grandmother's table cloth or your old dolls. You could end up packing it all up and wondering what to do with it later.

If you have light fixtures or electronics for sale, buyers will want to be sure all is in working order. Have an outlet with an extension readily available.

Honest Selling
Let buyers know if an item is flawed. Maybe bowl is chipped on the underside or a stereo has a crackling sound going on -- whatever. If something is repairable, by all means, include it in the sale, but be sure to point out any flaws you may be aware of with an item.

Have bags and newspaper available.
Save your old shopping bags ahead of time and put them to new use at your checkout point. Newspaper is useful for wrapping breakables.

Helping hands
If possible, having a strong young man in the vicinity can be a huge plus for those who may need assistance in carrying heavy items to vehicles.

Donate your leftovers.
Plan in advance for a Salvation Army pick-up or helpers to lend a hand in clean-up and transporting whatever hasn't sold. If you end up pulling it all back into the house, you've defeated the purpose of cleaning up and clearing out.

Monday, April 7, 2008

How cute is this? My favorite find from a church sale in Plainfield

The weekend launched tag sale season, and I discovered a great find for just $1 at the Plainfield Congregational Church. This night light caught my eye as soon as we walked through the doors. It is a ceramic figurine depicting a small boy asleep in a comfy chair with a toy bear at his side. A small bulb fits inside from underneath. Could it be any sweeter? I cleaned it up a bit, as it was a little dirty. Certainly a wonderful find!

Katie searches out treasures at the weekend tag sale at the Plainfield Congregational Church.