Ebay Surprise: Making Extra Money with Other People’s Stuff

I love spending money. I would eagerly waste my hard-earned money on clothes, bag, shoes, makeup and more. After years of this unfortunate habit, I reached a point where I couldn’t deal with the guilt. I could’ve saved enough for a house by now — or at least a nice condo. I NEEDED to be smarter with my cash.

Like many other people who want to unload their unwanted stuff, I lugged my precious items to consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange and Beacon’s Closet in the hopes of cashing-in. Unfortunately, consignment shops are extremely picky, and will only choose a few select items from your giant pile. Trust me, I’ve witnessed irate sellers attempting to reason with stuck-up buyers, who robotically reply, “It’s just not in season right now,” or “we’re not really looking for jackets at the moment.” Uh, yeah, sure, but I just saw an entire rack of ugly, boxy jackets circa 1975 near the door.

Eventually I got fed up with consignment shops and decided to take matters into my own hands. I decided to start an eBay store, and not a moment too soon; my tiny Brooklyn closet was bursting. I literally had no more space.

Being a bargain shopper, I was very familiar with eBay and had sold a few items before. I chose the lowest monthly subscription for $15 a month and $0.20 a listing. It sounds cheap, but keep in mind, eBay takes a percentage of your profit, as does PayPal. My average fees from eBay total roughly $220 a month.

The first day I posted items, they sold immediately. It was an incredible feeling, especially because I was not expecting it. The first month, I grossed over $3,000!

With many of my items flying off the digital racks, I had to figure out if I wanted to buy more stuff and sell it in the hopes of growing my business. The caveat to doing this would mean compiling more stuff that may not even sell.

The solution to this quickly presented itself. Luckily for me, my friends like to shop, and have tons of expensive items they no longer want. After telling them about my eBay side gig, they expressed their desire to sell those new pair of shoes they never wore, or that expensive bag that they purchased on a whim.

Low and behold, the next phase of my selling began! I started selling things for friends (and friends of friends) and charge a small fee. If it doesn’t sell in 30 days, they can relist it and get charged another small fee, or they can take it back. If they live close by, I retrieve the item directly. If they are out of state, I either have them take pictures and email it to me, or they could send the item to me — they cover the cost of shipping.

It always amazes me how lazy people are — my friends are all Internet savvy and could easily sell their own items, but simply don’t want to do it because they’re simply short on time. Also, some people are not familiar with eBay (gasp!) and believe it’s a hassle to learn how the site works and what their policies are. It’s true, there is a special culture to eBay, and because I am a recovering shopaholic, I have spent countless hours browsing and shopping. For the most part, I know what people want, and I know what sells.

I take photos, write the description and post it. I also use my social media channels like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to help promote new items. So far, it’s worked out well, and I anticipate growing this part of my side gig.

Claire Tak is owner of eBay store Claire’s Closet NYC. By day, she is a news editor for a finance website. She resides in Brooklyn.