July 2014

Pick Up a Copy!

What's that worth? Adventures in ebay.

By Emily Achenbaum Harris

Posted: Thursday, Jul. 21, 2011

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Emily Achenbaum Harris

Hi, I'm Emily and this is my blog about career-questioning, minimalism-seeking, gardening, earth-saving, pregnancy, parenthood, and my pathological ability to make the same mistakes over and over again. See more at littlehousesouthernprairie. wordpress.com.

I’ve been sucked into selling stuff on eBay.

Maybe sucked isn’t the right word. That implies (1) a large amount of time wasting and (2) helplessness.

What’s happened has been the opposite. I’ve been trying to work semi-part-time these past few weeks, like up to 4 hours a day, when not also chasing a toddler full-time. Amazingly, it’s working, and not only am I still brushing my hair on my regular monthly basis, but I managed to eat ice cream before 10 a.m. today, too. And they say no one can do it all! Wimps.

O.K., so what does this have to do with eBay. I have been freelance writing, and that is all good and fine and lovely, but recently have been wanting to spend the rest of 2011 squirreling away some extra cash. I am craving a cushion, even if it’s only a cushion big enough for my baby toe to nap on. Feeling very focused about this. A relative had some clothing she was planning on giving away, and very generously handed it over to me to sell on eBay instead. Never would have occurred to me to do that. So I started. And, well, goodness: There really is a buyer for everything out there.

It’s been funny because in the past two years I’ve gotten to a place where I have minimal value for almost all material goods, and buy next to nothing anyway. Which doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate, say, a pretty purse. But now I could care less whether that geometrical purse is from Pucci or Target, whether jeans are Sevens or Levis. Not that I ever really, really cared, but you know what I mean, some labels, some store names, etc., they give a little rush when you see those letters, that logo. They’re supposed to give a rush; that’s how the luxury industry makes money. I also no longer go to Nordstrom Rack, etc., like I did years ago, ‘just to see.’

I have been happy in this mindset. BUT, I forgot that just because these things no longer have monetary value to me (sentimental is still there) doesn’t mean lots of other people view stuff the same way. Or that everyone else gave up cheerful sport shopping/bargain hunting when I did.

Long story short: I have all this stuff people will pay money for!

I used to be a devoted Goodwill person. Gave, over a decade and several, several moves, probably a couple grand worth of furniture, clothes, housewares, books, etc. Don’t regret that. But now, as I ruthlessly declutter/minimalist(verb?) my house once again, I’m selling stuff. It even pleases my green-ness, as it means people are buying great stuff used rather than creating a demand for new things. Although I’m not headed in this direction, I can totally see how some folks make a full-time living selling things on eBay, either because they’re selling their old stuff at the right time or more likely, snapping up deals at garage sales and thrift stores and reselling online for more.

I’ve learned two good things about myself and about business, even on this very micro level, that I think I’ll be able to apply to My Future Life. (I don’t plan on going back to Regular Work until we’re done having kids and they’re in school, but I increasingly suspect that what’s next will involve some sort of entrepreneurial and/or self-employed effort).

(1) Just because something doesn’t have value to me doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value to someone else. And even if it does have value to me doesn’t mean someone else isn’t willing to value it even more than I do. Charge what they will pay, not what I’d pay. Lame but after a decade working in a field where I had zero to do with the biz side of things, those sort of concepts are like breakthroughs.

(2) Business with minimal emotional involvement suits me. I feel no personal sadness or rejection on eBay if something doesn’t sell; I’m willing to patiently relist and wait. I feel no guilt over holding firm on shipping prices etc.

Compare that to how I’d imagine myself as a seller of … I dunno, my art. If I made art. And sold it. I’d want to cut friends deals and feel weird about taking their money. I’d want to cut prices to lure in a buyer or encourage someone to buy more. I’d feel the need to throw in random extras. I’d feel sad/rejected if I wasn’t selling ‘enough.’ Basically, I’d make a lot of bad business decisions because my emotions were involved.

The scary conclusion to all this? Perhaps this particular chapter in frugal living is God’s way of telling me I am meant to be a corporate consultant.

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