Thursday, June 29, 2006

Another day, another lot...

OKay - so I was going to wait until the first lot or Magic cards came in, and I saw if it was profitable, before I bought another one...

But then I noticed this one up for sale today, and the seller lives in Vienna, VA - a (relatively) short subway ride away from here...and when I contacted him he was amenable to meeting me there so I could avoid the shipping charges....

So, I won a large batch of non-basic land cards for $99 (no one else bid on this lot), and went down tonight to pick it up. The seller was a very nice guy who is selling off large chunks of his overlarge collection to make room and appease his girlfriend. I can relate!

Some of the cards are not in as good a condition as I might have hoped - in fact the bigger ticket items are in the worst shape. That's disappointing...but I still believe that I can turn a profit on this one.

I will keep separate track of this lot's sales (as I will the first lot, which I don't have in hand yet) and see: 1) if I make a profit; 2) how much of a profit is made; 3) how long it takes to make said profit. I will, of course, keep you posted!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

MtG: Elvish Hunter or Elvish Scout?

Oh, what a goof up this is!

That nice large(ish) order from Italy yesterday included three copies of the card Elvish Hunter from the Fallen Empires set. When I went to pull the cards I discovered I only had one copy of the card (not a BIG deal - they only sold for $0.15 each).

When I went to investigate how this could have happened, I discovered my mistake. You see, in Fallen Empires, Wizards of the Coast tried an experiment. To make the common cards of the set more "collectible", they included three or four different versions of each card in the set (same text, different artwork). When I inventoried my collection, accidentally lumped in the Elvish Scout card with the Elvish Hunter card - I managed to do it when I photographed them and again when I wrote up the descriptions - I thought nothing of the different pictures because this set had multiple artworks for each common card. I only had one copy of the Elvish Hunter and 5 copies of the same picture of the Elvish Scout - similar names, of course, didn't help.

So, anyway, I have offered the customer his choice of:
  1. two copies of the Elvish Scout shown in the picture;
  2. up to 4 cards totaling up to $0.50 (a little extra to make up for the mistake); or
  3. a partial refund of $0.50 (again, a little extra for the error).

Hopefully he will be understanding and not too ticked off at me. Oy! And now I need to create a new listing for the Elvish Scout on top of it all!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Two in one day?! Can you handle it?

Well, I decided to bite the bullet and roll the dice (and mix the metaphors)....

I have bought a large lot of Magic cards - 300+ - for $23 total.

The lot was up for auction with less than an hour left. The person seems to not know completely what they have (it seems they, like me, were into Magic years ago and, based on their description they have no clue about the more recent sets). So, there may be gems in there. Hopefully so. The lot had been bid up to $13.50, with shipping at $7.50. I figured I was willing to go to $30 total, or ~$0.10 per card. So, I waited until there was a minute left, bid $22.50 and waited. I won it for $15.50. Woo-hoo!

Now I wait for the cards to arrive and see if I came up with a royal flush or a lousy pair of twos (more metaphors! Yippee! Are you keeping count?).

I figure even if I come out with 300+ commons, the worst I'm out is ~$13 bucks, as I ought to be able to sell them for $0.05 each or so. But I'm not TOO concerned - this person sold a 400+ card lot a little bit ago and the person who left feedback seemed pleased with what they got.

If this turns out well, I will probably look into doing more of this. This is how you make money on Magic on eBay - you buy large lots from people who don't know what they have, or who are just trying to dump their cards, then pick the lots apart and sell the cards individually.

I will, of course, keep you posted here on the results!

It's been a while...

But frankly there's not been too much exciting to report. There have been a couple of 200+ card orders, which was very nice. And a couple other multi-card orders (not that large), including a return customer (which is a compliment in itself).

Last week was the first time my Dad's audiobook auctions took a loss. Only one audiobook sold, for $3, and it cost $3.50 to list them all. What a bummer! Of course, to underscore the vagaries of eBay, the current batch had a bid on one of them for $9.99 within an hour of its being listed - go figure!

My Global Priority Mail boxes from the USPS finally arrived today. Now if anyone from outside the US buys comics from me, I can save some money on materials because the box is free!

Speaking of boxes, the last time I bought some for comic shipping over eBay they cost me ~$0.70 apiece, which was much more than the previous time I had purchased (that seller no longer has listings on eBay, I'm afraid). The boxes I bought have variable depth - they can be cut to be 6, 4, or 2 inches deep. I so far have not used anything but 2 inches, so I'm always cutting boxes, and wasting cardboard (not to mention money). The company I got the new boxes from, Uline, has a website and I checked them out. It turns out that 1) they have a box the same l/w, but only 2.75 inches deep for only ~$0.40 each, and 2) the boxes I bought I could have gotten for cheaper directly through them (I bought them through a middle-man on eBay). So, I ordered 100 of the 2.75 boxes, and will reserve what's left of the variable-depth ones for large orders (should I ever have any).

In other news, I had a customer buy a set of comics from me, then never pay! No email at all, no sign of life to speak of. I sent two friendly reminders, then filed an nonpaying bidder report with eBay. Today I filed for the final value fee credit, which gives the customer a strike, and left negative feedback for them. I hate to do it, but I've not much choice. Who buys something and then disappears?!?!

Also, I have dropped below 1950 items in the store - sales haven't been too horrible!

A potential customer from Germany wrote yesterday to ask how much shipping would be for 10 comics and 50 cards. Hopefully the quote ($21.50 for Global Priority) didn't chase him off!

ALERT! As I write this, someone in Italy is putting together a large(ish? - 27 cards for $4.35 so far) Magic order. VERY exciting...

Oh, and did I mention that I did indeed send off three comics to be graded by the CGC? I'll report when they arrive on how well they rated, and of course post links for the three items when they make it to the store.

Well, I think that's all the latest. More will follow - hopefully with not as large a gap as the last couple of times!

Friday, June 16, 2006


For two things, really. First, for not writing in such a long time, and second for leaving such a depressing post as my last one!

There's not been too terribly much to report, which is why I've not written. I did have an odd order today, however. A customer had emailed me yesterday asking how much postage would be for 75-100 cards, and asked if I had any other Unlimited lands besides the ones up in the store. I replied with the shipping quote (which I somehow screwed up and sent too small an amount - but I couldn't really back out on that since I sent it) and sent the links to my lands for sale (using the special code for the store referral credit).

This morning I awoke to 68 "eBay Store Item Sold" emails. Lovely!

Her total order came to 84 cards. But I noticed something odd. She ordered a single set of each land - then bought up the ones I had moved over to fixed price as a draw to the Store. She then bought a single copy from each of my single land items. Then I noticed that she bought two copies of some cards, but each of them were purchased one at a time.

It dawned on me that maybe she didn't understand that there was a "Quantity Available" field on these listings, and that she could order multiple copies of them if she wanted when she made a purchase. So, I emailed her back and let her know that (I was very careful to say "you may already know this, but..."). She wrote back very grateful for the information, and proceeded to buy 10 more sets of each of the lands as well as a few more cards she had apparently wanted multiples of. So, I did a good deed in teaching her something she didn't know about eBay, and got a larger sale in the bargain. Good for me!

As an additional upshot - her order is now large enough that I don't think I can any longer send it in a single puffy envelope, and will have to use a box, which means refiguring the shipping on it, so I can fix my mistake!

One other highlight - for a few days I actually exceeded the over $1000 in sales for the past 30 days mark. I'm back down to ~$900 now, but I was rather pleased at having hit this milestone. Maybe I can keep that Power Seller status for a while longer after all.

Speaking of which, the outfit which offered up that large lot of video games a while back now has up in the eBay reseller marketplace five large pallets full of store return consumer electronics - phones, game players, mp3 players, video game strategy guides, more...the shipping will be outrageous, I'm sure (and the buyer has to arrange that themselves) so I may not want to bother...but it is tempting. The last I checked the current bid was only like $3 for the whole shebang! The auctions end on the 19th so I'll keep an eye on them and ponder.

Well, that's all the news from Lake Wobegone (did I spell that right?). Hopefully it won't be so long 'till my next report...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

RIP Baby Bird

I'm afraid this post has next to nothing to do with being an eBay storekeep, but it's a story I need to share with my loyal readership (all 3 of you).

Yesterday, while I was working at my computer in the basement, my older son (age 6) came running in from the backyard saying, "Papa, you've HAVE to see this. It's orange, and has gray feathers, and claws and it's really freaking me out."

So, out I went to check out this horrible creature. Turns out that the horrible creature was, in fact, a VERY small baby bird - I almost think it was somehow prematurely hatched. Its two bulbous black orbs could not quite be called eyes yet, and it was blind. Very few puffy feathers adorned its otherwise naked orange body. At first I thought it was dead, surely - then its tiny legs (complete with "claws") twitched, and its feeble wings flapped, well, feebly.

What to do? Unlike now (posthumously educated in the care of baby birds) I believe the old wives' tale that if you touched a baby bird its mother would abandon it due to the scent of humans (completely false - birds have a VERY poor sense of smell). "Mama might now what to do - she has some experience with chickens" I told the boys, as I scooped up Baby Bird in an empty clean yogurt cup. It's mouth yawned open as if to receive food from its mother. My heart broke.

Mama, though, had not much more to offer. She concurred that it looked as though Baby Bird was too early from its shell. She gave it some water, although it was unclear whether any was being taken in. We were sure Baby Bird would not last the night, and we left the yogurt cup on out kitchen table so s/he would at least not freeze to death or be eaten by something.

Amazingly, Baby Bird clung to life through the night, and we again watered the poor thing this morning. However, when the younger son and I returned from our daily morning walk to the post office to mail off the latest eBay sales, Baby Bird had shuffled off this mortal coil.

The plan, constructed by older son and I, is to bury Baby Bird in the back yard with some flower seeds, his/her body to nourish the seeds as they grow. And a marker of some kind to remember the resting place of Baby Bird.

Sorry for the bummer of a post, all. Hopefully next time I'll have something more upbeat to share with you.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Oy, what a mess!

Sorry I haven't written anything new in a while - not much to report. Some nice sales, but nothing too spectacular...until yesterday.

I sold three copies of a card at $7.50 each. Not bad....but something seemed off to me. I quickly checked, and my instincts were right. I only had one copy of the card!

How could this have happened? I listed three, but I only had one. The last time something like this happened, I'm pretty sure it was because I copied the previous item and forgot to update the "number available" - but that couldn't have been the case here as I only had one copy of the previous item, so I know I entered "3" as the number available!

Okay...some investigating reveals that I had previously sold off two copies of that card, so I should have had only one left. Then it hit me - this was one of the items that renewed after 30 days...did the renewal reset the number available? And if so, did that mean that a ton of my inventory was now messed up? Would I have to take everything down from the store, reinventory my collection and update the files, then upload them all again? YEUCH!

I quickly checked another item that I knew I had sold a few copies of, and I knew had reset after 30 days. The number eBay showed available matched what I actually had in my collection - so not everything messed up. Was this card a fluke?

Then some more investigating (and a spark of memory) finally revealed the truth (as I believe it to be now). I believe that after the two copies sold, I put the remaining 1 up for auction one week, and it didn't sell. After that, I chose to "relist" the original store inventory item, which had been closed when I moved it over to auction. HOWEVER, when I chose to relist it, the number available was reset to the original amount, and I didn't notice. So, it was in fact my fault and not eBay's.

The story has a happy ending. The nice people in eBay's customer service told me how to file an unpaid item claim which indicates that the buyer and seller mutually agree to void the transaction, so I got my Final Value Fee returned, and neither of us get a "black mark" on our accounts. Then I relisted the one copy, and sent the specially coded URL to the buyer (hello Matthieu to in Belgium!) who proceeded to purchase and pay for the one remaining copy.

I also have used this method for that comic book that I couldn't find back in late April (remember that?). Hopefully that buyer will be equally as understanding as Matthieu has been, and I will get that Final Value Fee back as well. That would be nice.

The moral of the story - look carefully at your item when you relist before you hit that final "list item" button! And also: get more nice, understanding, Belgian customers. I think that's in there somewhere, too.