Doing it for the fun of it. Or not.

Question
This is so cool! I have spent the last couple hours perusing your web site and I am blown away. I read about myself and my ideas 10 times over in your articles. I am a stay at home mother that spends all her time looking through the consignment stores and the department stores, I also idealized e-bay signs in my eyes to think that if I could find other ways to find designer merchandise that is quicker and new, I could sell on e-bay.

Here’s the deal. I mostly love consigning and stuff because I’m really good at it and it’s fun. I’m not looking to get rich or even make a living doing this stuff. I would just like to do what I wind up spending my time doing anyway, and be able to make some money doing it too, (if only that it gives me a good excuse to spend my time doing it). I planned on selectively buying the merchandise myself at a reduce price because I’m a great shopper. I know that takes a lot more time but I do it anyway and this way I won’t be buying everything for me and gifts, etc.

I think it would be great fun to be able to supplement my family’s income this way. It would certainly make all the tons and tons of hours I spend shopping worthwhile, huh?

Answer

eBay is a great place to start. If you’re new, there is probably no better place to get your “on the job training” than eBay. Most of my commentary is directed towards people who think they will make a killing on eBay OR people who have been selling there long after they should have either moved on or diversified.

If this is what you want to do, do it. But don’t think that just because you HAVE some time, you should USE it doing things like this. The mistake SAHMs make is putting too much time into their selling, with respect to their earnings because they NEED something to do. It gets tired and they get burned out.

This business is a business, you really can’t do it for fun and expect it to stay that way. If you’re not close to your supplier and using one that lets you pick and choose items in person (only a few do), then you have to “buy blind.” NO ONE that buys blind likes every thing they get.

Sometimes people in your position are better off sticking with clearance racks and outlet stores because they are accustomed to a certain level of selectivity AND have unrealistic expectations of the off-price market that make them difficult to deal with as customers.

When I was brokering, I remember one lady that got mad about an order and sent it back (nearly all jobbers do not allow returns). She was mad because the styles were all past season. And I was a little shocked, did she really think she was going to get current season merchandise for a fraction of the retail price? I mean retail stores didn’t even mark it down yet. Sometimes you do get current season merchandise in the off price market, but it is not such a regular occurrence that you should expect it.

That experience was bizarre because I had taken for granted that people understood that off price was off price for a reason. No store would job out current merchandise that is sitting on their racks. If they need to sell it, they will actually hold it until the season is done. No manufacturer wants to shoot themselves in the foot by selling current season merchandise to jobbers. So if they do, it’s with EXTREME restrictions on where it is sold, or sometimes they make the company hold it until the season is over.

Anyhow, people who are used to buying from stores (and have the ability to return damaged items for a refund) are often difficult to convert to off price buying (with most jobbers a level of minor damage is part of the business and if you are nitpicky about little things, they won’t work with you again). And are often THE most frustrated off price buyers. The price you pay in the store covers the benefits you receive (returns, exchanges, extreme selectivity). The minute you want to come to off-price and get it cheaper, you have to give up those benefits.

Now, the reason I am writing this is because now that you understand how the business works, you can understand how people end up buying things that they do not like. And if you don’t like it, you won’t want to sell it. If you’re handpicking in a retail store, you don’t buy stuff you don’t like and don’t want to sell. So, what this means is that you will end up losing *some money* here and there. It happens to everybody, even the best. Maybe you didn’t see the damage on this piece, or this one was horribly ugly or something like that. Maybe you got a little too excited in a warehouse and picked up some things you should have left there. There are tons of reasons why, but EVERYONE ENDS UP WITH SOME AMOUNT OF MERCHANDISE THAT THEY CANNOT SELL.

Now, once you end up losing *some money* here and there, you BETTER be doing this as a business or it gets old quick. Most SAHMs end up buying a bad deal early on. Even if they buy from the best jobber with the best intentions the merchandise may not be what they expected (you’re used to shopping in a store, after all). Your husband is not going to think your “cute little hobby” is so cute if you blew $300 or $500 on merchandise that you couldn’t move. I can’t tell you how many emails I have gotten from SAHMs that were doing it for fun, asked the hubby for $300-500 dollars, blew it on merchandise that can’t move, he got mad, dissed the hobby, now she needs to find a way to actually make money (not have fun) to recoup the losses and prove to her husband that she isn’t crazy.

See where I’m going with this? If you like to do it for fun, stay in the store. If you want to do it for profit, do off price and think like a business.