Friday, May 30, 2008

How to find hidden eBay and Craigslist deals on misspelled items

Items for sale on eBay with misspellings in their listing titles or descriptions are likely to receive fewer bids -- and sell for less -- because they're more difficult to find. The WSJ reviews free online services that can help uncoverthose hidden treasures by searching eBay and Craigslist for misspelled item listings

Auction Bloopers, Missing-Auctions and Typo Buddy all provide free services that offer bidders the competitive advantage of searching out listings with common misspellings.

These sites probably help sellers who can't spell as much as the bargain-hunting buyers by increasing the audience so that that their items will get at least some exposure.

read more | digg story

Thrift store shopping more for the common man (or woman) these days

At one time, thrift and consignment store shopping was much considered a resource for low income people to help make ends meets. Or alternatively, a way for eclectic and bohemian fashion followers to pick up unusual and vintage styles. Now, more and more often, it’s everyday people who are frequenting these stores.

With rising costs of fuel and food, buying secondhand clothing and household items makes sense as a way to stretch the dollar. Thrift stores are busier than ever.

Check out Sharma Howard’s story in today’s Norwich Bulletin:
Thrift: It's how to survive in tough economy

Helpful Tips:

Some of these stores will not accept credit cards. Have cash on hand or take your checkbook.

Know the specials. Many thrift stores offer special sale days with discounts of 50%, 75%, or even more off regular daily prices. Salvation Army stores use a color tag system and many consignment stores regularly markdown items the longer they remain on the sales floor.

Check out some of the lesser-known, locally-run thrift and consignment stores too. Frequently they’ll have a smaller selection, but the inventory is less picked over.

Give back. Don’t forget to drop off the things you no longer use or need when you’re at the thrift store! Most of us have a pile of stuff to give away “someday” — old clothes, an unused piece of furniture, a box of books pulled from the shelf to make more room. When making a trip to the thrift store, pack it up and take it with you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When haggling, don’t overlook small locally owned stores

Today’s Norwich Bulletin features my report on haggling. I conducted a shopping experiment last week at stores in Lisbon Landing and in Putnam, CT. My focus was on those stores because most people assume large stores like Home Depot and Walmart would be less open to bargaining.

However, it’s important to realize that dealing with small store owners just might allow for greater opportunity in negotiating.

Jim Kuper, owner of Freeman Sales and Service in Putnam, emailed me this morning, as he felt concerned that I was giving undeserved attention to big box stores. I later phoned him to learn more about his point-of-view.

Jim Says, “We try to give the customer the best bang for the buck. Especially if they’ll use cash; we can avoid the credit card fees. Everything is negotiable.”

Small stores are struggling. Jim said. “We never charged for delivery before. Now we have a $50 delivery charge in place because of increasing fuel prices.”

However, Jim added, “If the delivery location is nearby, that can be waived.”

Freeman Sales and Service is located on Route 171, close to the Putnam, Thompson and Woodstock line (near the Xtra Mart convenience store and Dunkin Donuts). They’ve been in business for 24 years. Big stores like Tractor Supply Company and Lowes have recently moved into the area, and Jim admits feeling the squeeze.

With only three employees, Jim can’t afford the increased payroll costs to be open more hours to more effectively compete with the larger stores.

But it’s in service that Freeman Sales and Service has the advantage.

“We provide service for MTD - Riding Mowers (Cub Cadet and Troy Built), no matter if the tractor came from their store or a big box location.

Freeman Sales & Services Inc
42 Woodstock Ave W, Putnam

Tel. (860) 928-1313

My haggling story focused on large stores where buyers most often consider bargaining off-limits.
Independently owned establishments may be better positioned to negotiate in some cases.

Photo by John Shishmanian of The Norwich Bulletin

Read my report on haggling: Sometimes, price tag is only a starting point in today’s Norwich Bulletin.
Below are a few tips from the report that I compiled for better luck at bargaining.

In general:

- Compare prices before shopping. Look online and print out pages featuring the lowest prices for what you want to buy. Also check competitive store offers.

- Always be polite.

- If you get nowhere with a clerk, ask to speak with the manager.

- Simply ask, "What's your best price?"

- Independently owned stores may have more flexibility with their pricing.

- Regular customers may have better luck. The store won't want to lose the business.

- There's more bargaining room with big-ticket items.

- Check for imperfect goods. Look for loose threads and missing buttons on clothing, scratches and dents, damaged packaging, etc.

- Ask about upcoming sales. Request the sale price, especially if it's just before or after a sale.

- Propose a volume discount.

- Don't act like you want the item too badly. Be prepared to walk away.

- If you can't get up the nerve up to haggle in person, try e-mail. It's easier not dealing face-to-face.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Some jokes aren't funny: Mother puts crying baby on eBay

My son, Sean, is 14 years old. Growing taller by the minute, he towers over me now, but for years he was "the baby" of the family. Sean was the youngest of four, that lasted for a whole decade — until Katie was born. Growing up in the shadow of older siblings, he was often the butt of good-hearted practical jokes.

There was the Easter egg hunt when I asked my oldest son, Jeff (who as a teenager was too old to participate) if he would hide the colorful plastic eggs around the back yard for the younger ones. He enjoyed the task almost too much, so it seemed to reason he was up to something!

Afterwards, it turned out that he removed the goodies from one of the eggs and replaced the candy with a piece of dried dog poop. He then encouraged Sean in his hunting strategy towards the prized egg. I can still remember the perplexed expression on Sean's face when he opened that egg. Even now, recalling that moment, I chuckle aloud. Good thing Sean didn't take it for a chunk of chocolate!

Then, there was the time when our big furry dog was retrieved from the groomers just prior to Sean being picked up from school. Sean was in first grade then. The dog looked entirely different — trimmed neatly with just puffs of fur remaining on his head and paws and so much smaller! I thought it might be funny to tell Sean it was a brand new dog in the car with us.

Surprisingly, Sean totally believed it, and he spent about 10 minutes of the ride looking him over, petting him, and coming up with suggestions on what to name him! I let it go just long enough before I suggested the name of our old dog -- at which time, Sean figured it out!

Childhood innocence can be fun to revisit. Recalling experiences of growing up together builds shared memories and serves to reinforce family ties.

My five kids today. Sean is the one wearing the glasses.

An unusual eBay story came out in the news over the weekend which demonstrates a joke gone too far, and their family experience probably won't evoke the same warmth in the retelling.

It did stir up a related memory for me...

Again, Sean was about 7 years old. In a conversation about new babies, his big brother tried to convince him that we bought him on eBay. I stopped that talk immediately, reassuring Sean he was always ours.

Although I cut the topic of conversation short way back then, the initial suggestion was heard by all. Even now, when the kids get together, it's occasionally brought up, and everyone laughs. These things are amusing to this day because it's understood that it was done in good fun.

But obviously, some jokes can go too far... And this one in the news has definitely crossed that line.

A 23-year-old mother in Germany actually put her 7-month-old son on eBay!

The listing stated that she was offering the baby for sale because he cried too much. Local pick up only. The listing was online for approximately two hours before it was removed.

The woman told the German newspaper The Bild that the whole thing was a joke.

She said, "It was only a joke. I just wanted to see if someone would make an offer. They’ve taken my son to hospital and I’ve got to take psychiatric tests next week."

The child has been taken into state care and the mother will have to undergo tests to determine if she is fit to continue parenting her son.

The auction received no bids at the starting price of 1 euro (US $1.57).

I'm guessing she's thinking it's not too funny now.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Swingset or playscape wanted

There are times when secondhand is best and since kids grow up so quickly, it’s worth saving on the cost of new for many items. Now that Katie is four-years-old, she loves to play outdoors. I'm looking for a swingset, metal or wood for the backyard. If anyone has one available in good condition for a reasonable price, please email me. I'm also considering a sandbox. I can pick up either in eastern CT or RI.

Are you on the lookout for something secondhand? Let me know and I’ll help to spread the word!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Do some people really run out of gas all the time??

Something unusual happened yesterday. It illustrates how high gas prices are affecting the lives of all of us on an individual level.

Jeff and I, along with our four-year-old daughter, Katie, spent time in Rhode Island yesterday visiting Roger Williams Park Zoo. Rhode Island is my hometown (Yup — all of it!) and we stopped at Gregg’s Restaurant in Warwick for dinner on our way back, since it offers the most incredible desserts you can imagine, and it also brings up childhood memories for me. (I often ate there with my family when growing up.) The extra reason for stopping there was to pick up a special dessert to take along to a cookout.

As we left the restaurant I was getting Katie into her safety seat, and a woman approached, almost in tears. She said she ran out of gas, and she was so embarrassed... but could we please give her a few dollars for gas.

I don’t know... but I was immediately suspicious. I quietly nudged Jeff, and suggested caution. I remember hearing of a recent scam in the news where this this scenario was played out.

Well, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a few dollars. As we settled into our seats, I saw the woman cross the street and open her rear passenger door. She reached inside and pulled out a gas can.

I thought that was odd. For someone who unexpectedly ran out of gas, she already had a handy gas can. Plus, there was a gas station right there too.

Now, I don’t know... maybe she can’t make ends meet, and she runs out of gas all the time.

Or maybe she approaches 16 people a day in that parking lot and fills her tank? Anyway, I’ll give her the benefit of doubt.

Just as a side note, I saw the highest gas prices yet over at the Plainfield Shell station on Friday -- $4.29 a gallon for regular!! At least in RI, you can get a little more for the money. Most places there are still just under the $4.00 mark.

To compare gas prices at various stations, check out

Enjoy your Memorial Day activities, and remember and honor all those who have died in American wars!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Don't miss the Gaspee Days Arts and Crafts Festival this weekend!

This weekend has something to offer that I enjoy year after year: The Annual Gaspee Days Arts & Crafts Festival in Warwick, RI.

If you haven’t been, it’s well worth the ride. If you have, you want to make it an annual outing.

The scenery is lovely, as Narragansett Parkway is a picturesque tree-lined street alongside the ocean. At this time of year, the sun pokes through the shade here and there, and the breeze is gentle off the water. Patriotic red, white and blue painted street lines mark your path, where canopied tables display craftsmanship of all makes and kinds. Mothers with strollers, neighbors and old friends mix in among people walking dogs and kids holding balloons.

The Annual Gaspee Days Arts & Crafts Festival is held every Memorial Day Weekend. It attracts approximately 50,000 people for a three-day span. The wares of the 150-200 craft exhibitors are yours for the browsing or buying — lined along both sides of the Parkway.

Additionally, there is a wonderful food court (typically serving giant sausage and pepper sandwiches, pizza and burgers, hotdogs and fries, blooming onions, Asian fried vegetables, apple pie with ice cream, strawberry shortcakes, and more!), free family music entertainment, and slides and rides for children to enjoy. This all happens in Pawtuxet Park, which is down a side street just off the Parkway and offers a water view.

The proceeds of the annual Arts and Crafts fair benefit the running of the annual Gaspee Days Parade.

2008 Gaspee Days Arts & Crafts Festival

Saturday, May 24th — Sunday, May 25th — Monday, May 26th (Memorial Day)

Starting each day at 10:00 am to 5 pm
Narragansett Parkway, Pawtuxet Village, Warwick, RI

Map of festival


• From Connecticut, take Route 6 into Rhode Island, hop onto Rt. 295 towards Warwick and then to Route 37 East. Exit onto US 1/Post Road North. Travel 3.0 miles straight on Post Road northbound to the very end, which will be at the beginning of the Arts & Craft Festival, along Narragansett Parkway.

• From I-95 Northbound: take Exit 14, (Route 37/Warwick). Travel 0.2 miles East on Route 37, exit onto US 1/Post Road North. Travel 3.0 miles straight on Post Road northbound to the very end, which will be at the beginning of the Arts & Craft Festival, along Narragansett Parkway.

• From I-95 Southbound: Take Exit 16/Route 12 (Park Ave.). Turn Left onto Park Avenue, travel East 1.2 miles to end at Broad Street. Turn Right onto Broad Street. Arts & Craft Festival will be 1/2 mile ahead.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wow! Dayville Stop and Shop sells off entire store contents at $5 a bag!

Absolutely amazing! If you stopped to get groceries today over at Super Stop & Shop in Dayville, it was a bargain shopper’s dream-come-true between 2:00 and 6:00 pm. According to Tonya in customer service, there was an incredible shopping frenzy like she’s never seen before as they sold off everything in the store in 4 hours!

In preparation for their move into Killingly Commons Shopping Center — with no advance notice what-so-ever — management decided the easiest way to empty out the old store was to sell it all off at $5 a bag. It wasn’t just produce and perishables, as I had first heard... It was EVERYTHING!

The store at 1046 North Main St in Dayville closed at 6 pm today when there was nothing left to sell. Tomorrow morning at 7 am, the new store at Killingly Commons will open. There will be extra special sales offered at that location only. Flyers with sale information will be available in the new store.

Here are some of the Grand Opening Specials:
  • Corn on the cob: 12 for $1.88
  • Breyers ice cream - $1.99 (limit 3)
  • Lots and lots more items will be $1 off.

— Check it out! —

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dead moose in yard finds way to Craigslist

When a 300-pound yearling moose stumbled into a yard and died earlier this month, the home owner called the Department of Fish and Game expecting the carcass would get hauled away. Instead he found out he was on his own. So Hay, 46, posted an ad for a "dead moose" on Craigslist.

"You could use it for dog food, or stuff it and put it (in) your front yard, bear bait, whatever," says the ad. "If you live in the Lower 48, this might be your best opportunity to get a free Alaska moose. I don't really care; I just want it out of my yard."

read more | digg story

Saving money becomes an imperative: Tips to help make ends meet during hard times

With the economy tanking, people aren’t just spring cleaning. They are taking those old lawn mowers and leaf blowers and sticking price tags on them. The big trend now is people selling off their prized possessions, heirlooms, and household treasures on online sites such as Craigslist — where used and new goods are sold at affordable prices.

In fact, Craigslist sales have jumped 70 percent since last summer, and the number of listings has topped 15 million.

Susan Reinhardt, a columnist for The Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina, has put together a helpful list of savvy ways to save money during hard times.

1. When something non-perishable is on sale at the store, buy tons of it.

2. Yogurt is perfectly safe to consume a few days after the expiration date.

3. Stridex or other acne pads can be used twice, as can Swiffer dusting and mopping pads.

4. Cut off the heat or air during the day and run the fan or open the doors.

5. Drive with the AC off unless one is having a major hot flash.

6. Eat beans and pasta. Both are cheap and good for you, especially whole-wheat pasta.

7. Visit stores such as Go Grocery, Amazing Savings and Aldi.

8. Good makeup is essential. But cheap lipstick and blush are fine.

9. Shop at thrift stores. I bought two end tables for $8 each.

10. Don’t just clip and forget coupons. Use them.

I'd like to add a tip of my own: When you must hit a drive-thru for lunch, order only from the dollar menu. Forget about the soft drinks, it's better to pour a cup from your own bottle, or better yet -- drink water. And, when it comes to treating the family to ice cream, don't overlook McDonald's vanilla soft-serve cones. They cost just about $1 each and they aren't too damaging to dieters. One of those tasty treats is just about 150 calories, with 3.5 grams of fat. ; )

If you have any money-saving tips to share, please email me.

read more | digg story

Monday, May 19, 2008

The new Putnam Flea Market: It didn't quite happen... But it will!

On Thursday I announced the opening of a brand new flea market happening in Putnam. Turns out, it didn’t happen.

I caught up with Greg Renshaw, the brain behind this unique concept this morning. What makes his flea market idea unique? Well, it will be nothing like the dusty stretches of junk-strewn tables you might imagine. Greg envisions Putnam’s downtown as a destination in itself, for tourists and locals alike. The new flea market will be part of an expansion of the footprint of the current downtown area — replicating a small village theme — indoors and out.

The flea market is but one part of a larger development. Set on 7 acres, the project includes 20,000 sq. feet devoted to showcasing classic and collectible cars (planes and boats too!), and another 20,000 sq. feet to displaying props and architectural elements -- in addition to indoor and outdoor vendor space.

Set alongside the historic Cargill Falls, Greg is currently building a gazebo which will serve as the focal point for the display area. That construction, and the unexpected death of a family member, temporarily delayed the flea market’s grand opening. The new date is set for June 22nd.

Greg Renshaw grew up in Canterbury, Connecticut. He later moved to Westport, and he has lived in Manhattan as well. Almost twenty years ago, Greg’s father suffered an illness, which brought him back to eastern Connecticut.

With a strong passion for antiques, art and collectibles, Greg has experience in the workings of numerous creative ventures. He’s been involved with Country Living’s Antique Shows, focusing on folk art and Americana. Additionally, Greg has owned and operated his own art and antique shops — not only in Putnam — but also Branford, CT and Newport, RI, among other places. He’s been written about in The New York Times and various magazines.

Greg’s ties to the movie industry — supplying movie props and offering site rentals — adds yet another facet to his growing vision for Putnam. With a 30% Connecticut Digital Media & Motion Picture Tax Credit in effect, there’s incentive for movie-makers to do business here.

When this project comes alive, Putnam will be a one-stop-shop for movie-makers, offering real estate sites, cars, airplanes, lighting, antiques, art, architectural elements, specialized garments... and oddities of all kinds. He claims, “If we don't have it, we will find it.”

And it doesn’t stop there.

Putnam Green Power is another venture Greg Renshaw is involved with. According to Greg, renewable energy generation at the Cargill Falls Mill property is expected to be a reality within 2 to 3 years time.

The Cargill Falls Mill in Putnam was the first cotton mill in Connecticut, and it is the oldest of its kind in the nation. With rolling waters ever-present in the background, the scene is set for a unique and attractive business environment. The launch of Putnam’s new flea market is the kick-off for more growth and opportunity ahead.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A few photos from weekend events

Here are a few photos from our weekend events...

On Saturday, it was the Townwide Pomfret Tag Sale.

On Sunday, I set up at Danny’s Auction flea market.

Now I’m exhausted!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Setting up to sell at the flea market Sunday

Being that I frequent auctions, flea markets and tag sales so often, I have accumulated way too much stuff! My attic is overflowing... So, I decided to give it a try selling at the flea market tomorrow. As difficult as it will be to get up and going at 4:30 am on a weekend morning, I’ll be pulling in at Danny’s with an assortment of our overflowing too-good-to-pass-up deals! Come on by and do say hello. I’ll have everything from new-in-the-box sneakers to unique one-of-a-kind finds for your home and garden. If you tell me you saw this blog posting, I’ll give you a dollar off the final price of whatever you’ve collected from my table!

Danny’s Flea Market is located on Route 6 in Foster, Rhode Island , just about 5 minutes from the CT/RI state line.

Last night's food auction / Tomorrow's field auction in Sterling

Last night’s food auction turned out to be a big success. Danny’s Auction Barn was packed full, and many new faces showed up. A wide assortment of food products — colorful boxes and cans — were arranged on multiple tables up front. Items went up for bid one-by-one. To give you an idea of final prices, cans of tuna went for $1 each, and extra large bottles of olive oil were sold at $6 a piece. Graham cracker pie crusts in the tins were passed out at two for a dollar.

When there were multiple bidders, the winning bidder was given choice of how many they wanted to buy. For example, one man purchased ten boxes of 100-count freeze pops last night — he took them all — and no more were available. However, in most cases, after the winning bidder received what they wanted, more of each product was offered to back bidders. Once all back bidders were served, items were offered to all at the winning bid price.

Many people brought there own cardboard boxes and bags to easily carry it all out. They were smart to think ahead!


In my previous post, I spread the news about multiple events going on this weekend here in eastern Connecticut — mostly in the Pomfret/Putnam area. I overlooked a big one a little further south off Route 395 — Glass’s Famous Field Auction will be held in Sterling tomorrow (Sunday, May 18th). Preview starts at 8:00 am and the auction begins at 10 am.

Glass field auctions are somewhat unique in that all merchandise is lined up in multiple rows on a huge grass field. The auctioneer starts at one row and moves from item-to-item, box lot-to-box lot, up and down all the rows. The bidders follow in a huddle to hear the auctioneer as bidding takes place. In this fashion, it goes on all day. It’s different, but that’s what makes it a Glass Field Auction! This event happens every third Sunday of the month, from April to November.

Directions to the field:

Route 14, 289 Sterling Road, Sterling, CT
Exit 89, I-395. 4 miles off the exit.

Plenty of Parking. Caterer on Premises. Portojohns. Horseshoes.

Tables and chairs are available under tents for shade, eating, and small estate collectibles.
No pets. No bare feet. No smoking. No alcohol. Be a buyer or a seller.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jam-packed weekend ahead: First-of-its-kind food auction, town-wide tag sales & book sale, and the launch of a brand new flea market in Putnam

Spend the upcoming weekend in and around our treasured Quiet Corner. From Friday to Sunday -- all happening within 20 minutes of Putnam -- you’ll find unique bargain buying opportunities.

On Friday, Danny’s Auction Barn in Foster, Rhode Island will hold their first-of-its-kind Food Auction. If you’re tired of high prices in grocery stores, it should be worth checking it out. You’ll find an assortment of non-perishable food items and dry goods like paper towels and kitchen linens. Danny’s Auction is located on Route 6, just 5 minutes from the RI/CT state line. The auction starts at 6 pm. See for more information.

On Saturday, the lovely town of Pomfret, Connecticut will hold it’s 2nd Annual Townwide Tag Sale. There will be yard sales all over at individual homes and businesses. Also, the Pomfret Community School will be hosting a used book sale from 7 am until noon, benefiting Friends of the Pomfret Public Library. Proceeds will support library programs. Current fiction, non-fiction, children's books, biographies, and older books will be available for sale. Most books will be priced at just $1 for hardcover, and fifty cents for paperbacks. There will also be a $2 a bag sale (bags provided) from 11 a.m. to noon. Also at the school on Saturday morning, area Girl Scouts will be holding a fundraiser tag sale.

A handy guide map is available at the Pomfret Community School for just $1 (with drive-thru convenience if you prefer not to exit your vehicle) making it super easy to find tag sale locations.

More details are available at

Another unique buying opportunity is happening in Ashford on Saturday. There will be a Quilt Show from 10 am to 4 pm at Knowlton Hall, 25 Pompey Hollow Road. Proceeds will benefit Friends of the Babcock Library and Heart and Hand Quilt Club. Vendors, quilt drawing, and silent auctions as well as a display of antique and modern quilts will round out the show. For information or to schedule an appointment to have your quilt appraised, call 429-7995.

Then, on Sunday, Putnam is launching a brand new flea market. Organized by Greg Renshaw, the flea market will be open from 8 am To 3 pm.

Greg is a collector and antiques enthusiast, having been in business for 25 plus years. He recognized the need for a good show venue in the northeast corner of the state. The new venture is called, "Putnam Flea Market & Show Place".

Located at the historic Cargill Falls Mill in downtown Putnam, the grand opening is slated for Sunday, May 18th. Hours are 8:00 am - 3:00 pm.

Beyond your typical flea market experience, the Putnam Flea Market & Show Place is stated to be the only flea market in the USA with a "Classic Motorcar Division". Anyone with an old car or anything that could be categorized as “petroliana”, “automobilia” -- even a boat, etc. -- is invited to come to Putnam on Sunday morning to set up to show and/or sell.

Vendor spots are available for $20.00 for those interested in setting up to display, sell, and show their wares.

To register as a vendor or for more info: click here

To register by phone, contact Greg Renshaw at 860-428-3439.

58 Pomfret St.
Putnam CT, 06260

AND, just in case you haven’t had enough by then...
Don't forget that Danny’s Auction in Foster, RI also has a flea market running on Sundays too! Check it out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Surprisingly, quality can be found at auction

I have a 17 year old daughter. Kayla has a sophisticated palette when it comes to deciding which products are worth using and which are not. She has great taste and strong opinions — especially when it comes to clothing and shoes, cosmetics, and health and beauty aids. Generic or store brands just don’t cut it.

So when I gave her a gift pack of Nexxus hair care products (among other things) for Christmas last year, I thought she would at least try them. I know this brand is sold at better hair salons. But for months, the gift pack sat unopened.

Until this week.

It took Kayla 5 months to get to it, but she finally broke down and tried the conditioner. Apparently, she ran out of whatever she was using previously.

The first thing she asked me was, “Did you get that at the auction?”


At $4, it was a bargain I couldn’t pass up. In fact, there were two packages available, and I bid on and won both. I kept one for myself.

I am well-aware of Kayla’s aversion to auction goods. But you know, I think she realized something when she saw the very same conditioner I got for cheap at the auction (in a gift pack with other hair products too!) priced at $17 alone at her favorite hair salon.

“You know, Mom...”, she continued... “that conditioner is really nice. It doesn’t feel like it sticks onto your hair like some other brands I’ve tried. My hair feels really clean, and soft.”

Many people make assumptions that merchandise at auction is flawed, out-of-date, or somehow of lower quality than what can be bought at the stores. While that’s sometimes true, more often than not, what you’ll find at most merchandise auctions is fine. Sometimes products are sold with damaged packaging, or it’s a slow-seller that stores want moved off the shelves. There are varied reasons why stuff winds up at auction.

It’s always a good idea to check over what’s being sold at preview time before an auction begins — and you can even ask a question once something is put up on the block. When bidding, there’s always an element of chance. That’s true. But if the price is right, more times than not, it’s worth the chance because the product is fine.

Now, there’s only one problem. Whatever comes through an auction isn’t likely to come through again and again. Now that Kayla has a new favorite hair conditioner, the only way to replenish her supply is to go to the salon and pick up a new bottle at $17.

The photo above is Kayla posing for a photo before her Junior Prom last month.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A new approach: Wholesaler gives away gas to build blog readership

I generally shy away from doing business with marketers who use blaring ‘in-your-face’ selling tactics, but I have to admit, with today’s economy, this is a great approach. Joe Richey of Wholesaler Wholesaler sells products to eBay sellers to resell. With his newest marketing approach, he is offering free gas as a reward in an online contest to build readership of his blog.

Joe is asking for tips on optimizing his blog. He’ll be giving away a tank of gasoline every day for a month for the best suggestions.

Here are my suggestions for Joe:

-- It does look like you could use a writer. Proof-read your copy.

-- Consider the viewer’s perspective when filming a video.

-- Avoid being ‘too casual’ in your appearance in videos.

-- Make use of social media sites like MySpace and Facebook. Regularly post bits of valuable information and special offers on those sites, linking to your regular blog and product pages.

-- Use widgets (small photo slideshows) on your sidebar to highlight strong performing products.

-- Write more from your own knowledge and personal experience in what sells best and why.

-- Use visuals in the blog to break up long stretches of text.

-- Your Web site could use better navigation and less ‘in-your-face’ urgency.

-- Your email address should be in-sync with your primary Web site.

-- A professional appearance lends a lot to credibility.

-- Offer lots of valuable information and less hype.

For full details on how to participate, proceed to

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Selling on eBay? Postage increase adds to the burden

Along with increases we’re forced to face on the costs everyday essentials -- like gas and food — we are slapped with yet another. Postage is going up AGAIN as of May 12.

Pay your bills online and send your friends notes and birthday greetings through email. But for eBay sellers, it’s something we have no choice but to deal with.

For sellers who have been quoting flat rate shipping numbers in your listings, will you continue doing business as usual? Or will you now use the shipping calculator? From what I understand, items listed with calculated shipping, won't rank in a price search.

Flat rate had always worked out okay for me in the past. You make out on some and lose a little on others.

Looking at the USPS rate chart, living in zone 1, it will cost $4.80 to ship a priority item under 1 pound 13 ounces to a buyer in this area. However, the same package will cost $8.25 to ship out to the west coast. Not wanting to risk negative feedback or be penalized in eBay searches for excessive shipping and handling charges, sellers have much to consider in stating s&h for each item posted.

You may not want to overcharge, but can you afford to eat $2.50 to $3.45 on a good percentage of your sales?

Other factors come into play as well. A handling fee is fair to apply, but how much is reasonable? Packing supplies such as bubble wrap and tape are expensive. Gas — obviously! And the occasional unscrupulous buyer who will hold the seller hostage (by threatening negative feedback) for a refund. There has to be a way to absorb the costs.

Low starting bids generate interest and encourage bidding in the online auction format, but the risk is obvious. Sellers will have to charge more — but where should it apply?

It's commonly understood that postage costs are passed onto buyers, but with the economy tightening at a quickening pace, I wonder how much more customers will be willing to pay to get an item mailed to them that’s more likely a want and not a need. It seems reasonable to assume that the pool of buyers with money to spend on “extras” like collectibles and one-of-a-kind gifts is shrinking.

I’m betting that second-hand shopping locally will pick-up big time. Thrift stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill have already reported a big increase in sales. New flea markets have popped up this year here in Connecticut — in Moosup and Putnam and in nearby Foster, Rhode Island.

While we love shopping online too, how many can afford to pay even more than the cost of an item to have it delivered?

Some may. A lot more buyers overseas are keeping US eBay sellers busier than ever. If you’ve been hesitant to offer shipping to other countries because of the headaches in filling out customs forms — don’t be. With the shrinking US dollar, overseas buyers are finding bargains in buying US items on eBay.

It's amazed me to see that one of my buyers paid $74 to have an old record player sent to their country — when the cost of the item was just $24. The fact is, $74 in US dollars isn’t so much to them because their money has more buying power.

Market conditions will always be ever-changing. Like it or not, changing with the tides is something we’ll always have to do.

Read more about the new postage rate increase:

From The Norwich Bulletin:
Postage rates rising Monday. Stock up on those 41-cent Forever Stamps today if you can.

Friday, May 9, 2008

eBay mulls PayPal only payments

eBay is exploring whether to require customers to use only its online payment service PayPal, a move that has angered users and prompted antitrust scrutiny in Australia, where a PayPal-only rule takes effect next month.

Because eBay sellers are commonly independent merchants who don't accept credit cards, PayPal acts as a go-between. Buyers use their credit cards and bank account information to make payments, and PayPal relays the funds to sellers' PayPal accounts, charging them 30 cents plus a commission -- up to 4.4 percent in Australia. The second-most common method of payment on eBay Australia, bank transfers, cost 20 cents each.

read more | digg story

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ebay incorporates further changes with feedback system to take effect May 19

More details regarding eBay’s upcoming feedback changes were released on Wednesday.

We’ve known for a while now that sellers will no longer be able to give buyers negative or neutral feedback. Yesterday’s announcement brought on even more changes sellers won’t like too much.

The mutual feedback withdrawal process is going to be eliminated. It allowed a buyer and seller to retract their feedback ratings with mutual agreement. Added to that, Square Trade’s dispute resolution service will no longer be an option. Poor feedback given to sellers will stay.

Not surprisingly, sellers are in strong opposition to the new changes. The new rules deny them any opportunity to report on transactions with unscrupulous buyers on the site.

Read more:

ALSO: A clarification about eBay Bucks

Check out what eBay’s own in-house blogger, Richard Brewer-Hay (, has to say about the workings of their 'invitation-only' seller rewards program.

Pomfret offers tag sale deals, baked goods and books on May 17

Back by popular demand, Pomfret will hold its Second Annual TOWN-WIDE TAG SALE on May 17th from 8 a.m. to the afternoon. Sales are at homes and businesses around the community, and this event is held rain or shine. Visitors will flock to Pomfret from all over Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, to partake in the concentration of fabulous tag sales that will happen that day

All Pomfret residents, businesses and organizations may participate. A map will be available the morning of the sale for $1, identifying all participating locations. Maps can be purchased at Pomfret Community School (20 Pomfret Street, intersection of Routes 169 & 101) starting at 7:00 AM on May 17th.

Sponsored by the Pomfret Proprietors Association, the Town Wide Tag Sale was a great success last year and improved this year by moving map sales to a more convenient and accessible "drive-through" location. All profits from Tag Sale registrations will benefit a Pomfret Proprietors Scholarship. For more information go to

In conjunction with the Town Wide Tag Sale, the Friends of the Pomfret Public Library will hold a USED BOOK SALE from 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Pomfret Community School cafeteria. Current fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, biographies, and some older books (attic discoveries removed from circulation some time ago) will be available. Most books are priced at $1.00 for a hardcover and 50 cents for paperbacks. There will be a $2.00 a Bag Sale (bags provided) from 11:00 to 12:00 (excluding individually priced books).

To donate books for this sale, drop them off at the Pomfret Community School cafeteria from 3:00 – 5:00 on Thursday, May 15 and from 1:30 – 5:30 on Friday, May 16. No encyclopedias, condensed books or textbooks, please!!

The Friends of the Pomfret Public Library is a volunteer group established in 2007 dedicated to enhancing the relationship between the library and the community it serves. All monies generated from this sale will be used by the Friends to support Pomfret Public Library programs. For more information visit or call 860-928-3475.

And if you need a snack & a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to fuel your shopping, the Pomfret and Thompson Girl Scout Cadet Troops will have a bake sale and flea market, also at Pomfret Community School starting at 7AM. Funds raised will help send the girls to the Girl Scout Program Center in Savannah, GA.

While you're there, stay for lunch, check out local shops & galleries and enjoy a drive on scenic roads or a walk on nature trails! Go to for ideas on what to see & do while you’re in town.

The Vanilla Bean Restaurant offers outside seating.

Location: Located in the Northeastern corner of Connecticut, Pomfret is a 50-minute drive from the state capitol of Hartford; 40 minutes from Providence, Rhode Island; 45 minutes from Worcester, Massachusetts; 90 minutes from Boston Massachusetts; and approximately one hour from the shoreline. Pomfret is accessible from Routes 395, 44, 101, 97 and National Scenic Byway Route 169.

DATE: Saturday, May 17th

TIME: 8:00 a.m. – afternoon

MAP DISTRIBUTION: Early birds take note: Maps of the various locations can be purchased for $1 at the Pomfret Community School parking lot (corner of RT 169 & RT 101) starting at 7:00 AM on Saturday, MAY 17th.

The maps will be printed in the large 11 x 17 format and will list all tag sales in town on private property, business, churches, etc – a great way to plan your tag sale route. The ads will direct you to sales of particular interest to you.

HOW TO BE LISTED ON THE TAG SALE MAP: Send $10.00 payable to The Pomfret Proprietors with the executed form to Ann Bedard, 286 Deerfield Road, Pomfret Center CT 06259. A PDF form is downloadable here or on the home page (scroll to bottom) of

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

eBayBucks: eBay moves from buyer coupons to rebate program

You're one of a select few invited to try out a new program we're testing to reward loyal eBay shoppers. ..

Hmmm. Note to buyers: sign up today before eBay realizes this program is wide open!

read more | digg story

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The amazing strengths of tiny tools: using widgets in social marketing

If you're doing business online, you may have noticed there's been a slew of articles produced recently about tapping into social networking sites. A presence on sites such as Facebook and MySpace can be effective in sparking interest in your product or service, and ultimately have a positive effect on sales.

Many small business owners erroneously believe that marketing campaigns on these Web sites fail to produce measurable results. The biggest hurdle: the territory is relatively new vs. traditional marketing avenues. Since social media marketing is still in its infancy, the most common reason for failure is that most marketing ‘experts’ are inexperienced in connecting with these audiences. published this list of the top 25 social networks by traffic in February 2008.

Rather than pushing ads, the key is to reach out and interact with the community on a regular basis. Simple exposure will reinforce branding. Regular visitors returning to your site over and over will become more familiar with who you are and what you have to offer — promoting a sense of trust. This communication process creates a fertile environment with a receptive audience.

With the groundwork established, you’ll want to be sure the path is clear to your goods and services. Special offers and product visibility are important considerations.

So, what's a widget and how can
a widget help with online marketing??

Here's an excellent definition of widgets:

"Widgets are small applications that provide functionality and content online, distributed through a potentially limitless number of websites. They also represent an entirely new way of looking at advertising. Unlike almost all other online ads, widgets are uploaded onto sites (personal sites, profile pages, blogs) by consumers themselves. They are pulled by their audience, instead of pushed by marketers. And the publishers (largely personal publishers) who upload them are far more than affiliates: owing to these publishers’ personal dynamic and voice, they become advocates for the marketers whose widgets they help distribute. Widget Marketing is exciting because it allows advertisers to swim with the current, not against it. Now advertisers can be invited into conversations they might not otherwise have access to. It means a whole new way of thinking about marketing, but one that marketers will have to move towards if they want to continue connecting with their customers."

How to find a widget you can use...

Widgets for eBay Sellers:

For those who sell on eBay, you may have noticed a message that now shows up during the listing process, inviting you to place your listings on Facebook.

----- Here's what eBay has to say about using the Facebook widget -----

Sharing Your Items with Other Websites

Sharing your eBay items for sale with social networking sites and your community of friends on those sites is free and a powerful way to drive traffic to your eBay items for sale. To purchase one of your items, your friends can click the listing link and then view the item on eBay.

eBay doesn’t charge a fee for this service.

All selling formats are supported for sharing listings. However, if you want your online friends to buy your shared items, you’ll need to offer one of these payment options:

* Buy It Now
* Fixed Price

Important: It’s still okay to offer auction-style bidding on your items. But your online friends aren’t allowed to bid. That’s because eBay’s shill bidding policy doesn’t allow anyone who has more access to your item information than the general eBay Community to place bids.

We recommend that you block bids from their eBay accounts. They can buy your items through methods that don't involve bidding, such as Buy It Now.

Although not as easy to find, there are other site widgets eBay makes available which you can use to display your eBay listings on MySpace, a blog, or any 3rd party Web site.

Check out the various formats here:

Lots of opportunity for creative marketing!

Flickr also has a neat slideshow feature that allows you to place a tiny mix of photos from a Flickr photo set onto the sidebar of any other Web site. This simple tool can integrate product photos (or company-sponsored event photos, happy customer photos, etc.) into a neat visual package that will fit compactly onto the sidebar of your Web site. Something like this can be used to generate interest in visitors who will want to get to know you (or your company) better and find out more about what you have to offer.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tag sale will help needy animals

Spring is here, and you all know what that means, right? No, not kittens -- not fleas -- but one of the other rites of spring: yard sales. Because fundraising is a constant need with any rescue group, and adoption donations never cover the vet bills, group members started to look at treasures they have collected as a means of supporting their cause.

Animal rescue groups from Berlin, Enfield, Griswold and more will host a giant tag sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2046, 608 E. Center St., Manchester on May 10th.

Read Rene Knapps' column on the Norwich Bulletin Web site for more information.

read more | digg story

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Weekend Picks: Lumber Auction & Annual 4-H Auction and Tag Sale

Today at noon there will be a lumber and building materials auction at Danny’s Auction Barn on Route 6 in Foster, RI.

Also, the 54th Annual 4-H Auction and Tag Sale will be held at 326 Taft Pond Road in Pomfret Center today. Admission is free and all proceeds benefit the Windham Tolland 4-H Camp.

Date: May 2, 2008 - May 3, 2008
Time: Tag sale 12-6, auction 7 p.m.
Description: Furniture, antiques, plants, gift certificates, silent auction, books, toys, household goods and more.