I'm a diehard thrifter and garage sale addict! I love the thrill of the hunt! And I love making CASH from trash so I also resell on eBay and Etsy. I share my successes to inspire you ... and my failures so you learn from my mistakes. Please join me on this wild and crazy ride of making cash from trash!

Friday, October 16, 2015

All Good Things Must Come to an End …

…and it’s time to say goodbye.  Pretty sure this is not a big surprise to the few of you who may still follow this blog (are you still out there?).

Life is full of surprises with many highs and lows.  And during the past year, my life has had many changes.  I’m still selling on eBay but my sales are almost non-existent, maybe 1 or 2 a month.  I also tried my hand selling on Amazon, but have now closed that account.


Instead I’m focusing more on my family, especially since my DD and 2 GDs have come to live with me.  This has been the biggest change in my life and I am thrilled to have them back in California.  It’s been 10 years since they moved out-of-state.  My GDs are now teenagers and we have been spending as much time as we can together and getting to know each other.

I started this blog over 6 years ago with the goal of sharing my experiences selling online.  And, hopefully, in the process help others as well as learn from other sellers.  I met many great folks in the process and learned so much.  Sadly, since my online business has become dormant, I don’t have much fodder for this blog.

As much as I will miss blogging about eBay and the trials and tribulations of online selling, I am thrilled to be able to have more time to spend with my family and get back to my quilting.  I have pretty much neglected my quilting blog  (Quiltpiecer) for the past five years and look forward to blogging about my quilting adventures.

I will continue selling on eBay – after all, it’s been a part of my life since 1999 – but nowhere near the volume of the past 6 years.  And if there is anything exciting to write about, I will post it on my quilting blog.

It’s been great fun, but it’s time to say goodbye.  I wish you all the best in your business endeavors and much success!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Returns and Loss of TRS

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NERF N-Strike Magstrike Dart Gun Blaster with Clip 2007 – Sold $85.49 – November 2014

In my previous post, I shared with you my January sales.  Well, along with those sales, I also had quite a few sales that I had to refund.  Six may not sound like a lot, but, when you average 0-1 per month, 6 in January was quite a bit.  Even though I opted in to the 90-Day Holiday Return option, none of these refunds were due to buyer’s remorse and not one left me negative FB.

It’s depressing that all these refunds were due to my own negligence.  Three items had flaws I overlooked; 1 item was damaged in shipping; and 1 item had an error in the description.  Another item was lost somewhere in my inventory so I had to refund the money and cancel the transaction.

The one that hurt the most was the refund for the NERF Magstrike (pictured above) that went to a buyer in the United Kingdom.  The mom purchased this as a Christmas gift for her son.  She contacted me right after Christmas and said the gun did not work very well.  Ugh!  I always test the guns before listing them, but I certainly am not an expert.  We exchanged a few messages and in the end I agreed to refund her money.  I imagined her son opening his gift on Christmas day only to discover it does not work right.  I’ve been in her shoes and felt bad for the boy.  Anyway, I did not ask her to return the gun as I certainly did not want to pay $50 for the shipping, especially if it didn’t work.  I just won’t be doing international shipping on NERF guns.


And then I lost my Top-Rated Status with it’s 20% discount.  Not because of any defects, but because I failed to meet the 90% TRS qualification for 1-day shipping.  Bah humbug!

Truth is, I just wasn’t focused on my eBay business and knew it was suffering so I put my store on vacation for the last 2 weeks in January.  I needed to take a step back to get myself together and refocus on where I’m going with eBay.

After getting rid of some old inventory and re-pricing my active listings, I am down to about 100 items.  I plan to do more 99-cent auctions soon to purge more old inventory. I have my store active again, but I haven’t been getting many sales. As soon as I can, I’m downgrading from Premium to the Basic Store; but not sure if I’ll go with the annual subscription or the monthly one. 

In the meantime, I’m still working on that extra bedroom and will post an update soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cash for Trash: January Sales

January was a busy month for me.  Every January I get the itch to do some “spring cleaning”.  And, I have been busy cleaning, organizing and painting. 

That also includes getting rid of old inventory that’s been hanging around too long.  I donated a bunch of stuff to the thrift store; and I also listed/relisted many more items at auction with a starting bid of 99 cents.

I had 89 sales last month, and 21 of those were 99-cent auctions.  It wasn’t a huge revenue-producing month, but I’m glad to get rid of that old stuff. 

Here are my best January sales:

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Cuisinart DLC-8S Pro Custom Food Processor Work Bowl with Handle Only – Paid $0.97 @ GWO – Sold for $28.81 – Net Margin 78%

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Cuisinart DLC-8S Pro Custom Food Processor Stainless Steel Chopping Blade – Paid $0.97 @GWO – Sold for $16.15 – Net Margin 66%

When the bin with a Cuisinart food processor rolled out, I was standing next to a young woman; and I knew she was itching to grab it as much as I was.  At the word “Go”, we both reached for it but I was just a little quicker.  I could hardly believe it when she tried to grab it from me! There ensued a small tug-of-war, but it was over as quickly as it started.  I realize how silly this was since we didn’t even know if it worked.  I really wanted it for my personal use; but I knew if it didn’t work that I could sell the parts.  Sure enough, it didn’t work so the parts were listed on eBay.  These two parts went to buyers in Nevada and Texas.

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MASTER MIND Vintage 1972 Original Mastermind Game by Invicta #3016 – Paid $0.59 @GWO – Sold for $29.95 – Net Margin 76%

Another vintage game found at the outlet!  These are really great sellers, especially if they have all the game pieces.  This one went to a buyer here in California.

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Butterick 3648 Dickens Era Scrooge Christmas Costumes Vintage Sewing Pattern – Paid $0.60 @GWO – Sold for $29.99 – Net Margin 78%

Most patterns are not big sellers, even when they are new; but there are exceptions.  I will usually pick up costume patterns, which tend to sell for a bit more – again, with some exceptions.  And I never buy patterns that are used and cut.  This pattern went to a buyer in California.

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Schoeller Skifans Stretch Black Ski Pants Women's Size 10 Long NEW – Paid $0.75 @GWO – Sold for $44.95 – Net Margin 74%

Ski pants are another item I will usually pick up.  They’re not particularly fast sellers, but they can sell for some good money.  This pair was really nice, in excellent like-new condition.  This was my very first sale of 2015 and went to a buyer in Oklahoma.

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Thomas the Train Wooden Sodor Deluxe Fire Station – Paid $1.00 @GWO – Sold for $47.80 – Net Margin 74%

Thomas and Friends train items are another of my favorites to sell.  They can be great sellers.  This fire station was in good condition, except for the water tower.  Not only did it have this flaw but there was also a recall on some of these stations.  Fortunately, this one did not fall within the recall; and both issues were noted.  It took over 9 months to sell so I was glad when it finally sold to a buyer in California.

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Wells Fargo Rose Parade Legendary Horse Black AL Stuffed Plush 2009 – Paid $0.62 each @GWO – Sold for $60.98 each – Total $121.96 – Net Margin 77%

These were two crazy sales!  I listed these Wells Fargo Rose Parade horses in 2 separate auctions with a starting bid of $0.99 and was thrilled – rather shocked – when they sold for over $50 each.  The crazy part is these had been in my store for 9 months at $24.99.  The right buyer from Louisiana finally came along and won both horses.

Wells Fargo offers these plush horses every year in commemoration of the Pasadena Rose Parade.  I found these at the outlet but I have picked up others at garage sales.  I usually sell them for $19.99-$24.99, so I’m not sure why these sold for so much.  I have 2 different ones listed that I just can’t seem to give away.  Go figure!

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TDK D90 New Blank Sealed Cassette Tapes High Output Type I Lot of 16 – Paid $3.59 @GW – Sold for $24.99 – Net Margin 63%

Does anyone really still have cassette players?  Even CDs are becoming a thing of the past.  While cassette players still exist (I still have mine from high school), the cassettes in brand new condition are not always easy to find; I found these at a regular GW store.  This was an Amazon sale and went to a buyer in Illinois.

luigis flying tire

Disney Cars Luigi's Flying Tires Souvenir Tire Hat Plush Tire – Paid $1.79 @GW – Sold for $19.44 – Net Margin 46%

I was looking for Amazon inventory when I ran across a carton of 8 of these silly hats – brand new with tags – at a GW store.  This was one of those purchases that, after awhile, makes you wonder “What was I thinking?”  There was only one other seller on Amazon, and I couldn’t decide if this was good or not. 

By the end of December – 3 months after my purchase – the box was still in my garage.  I didn’t want to ship them to Amazon because I thought they would sit in their warehouse with no buyers.  I came very close to just chucking them to the thrift store, but decided to first list them on Amazon as merchant-fulfilled. 

They sat for awhile, then suddenly, bam!  They started flying out the door.  These were the first 2 to sell and went to buyers here in California.  I guess someone was planning a trip to Disneyland!

Here is a breakdown of my January Sales:

# of Sales: 89

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): $94.76

Percent of Revenue: 7.52%

Average Price of COGS: $1.06

Total Revenue: $1,260.95 (includes shipping revenue)

Avg. Sales Price: $14.17

Net Margin: 47%

Highest Sold Item: $60.98

Lowest Sold Item: $2.74

Number and Percent of Items Sold:

  • Plush and Toys: 20 – 22%
  • Jeans: 8 – 9%
  • Sewing Pattern: 13 - 15%
  • Everything Else: 48 – 54%

Now that’s cash for trash!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

PayPal Working Capital and a Major Hack


Back in September, I noticed a blurb on my PayPal home page inviting me to apply for their Working Capital loan.  I’d seen it before but ignored it.  This time, however, I decided to look into it.

I did some research and found other sellers who have used the PayPal Working Capital loan to buy inventory – some more than once.  Once I felt comfortable that it was on the up and up, I decided to apply.  Within minutes, I had $2,000 in my PayPal account! 

It was a great opportunity because I’d just started selling on Amazon and thought it would allow me to buy merchandise in bulk for the upcoming holidays. 

Some benefits of the Working Capital loan:

  • No interest rates, but you do pay a single fixed fee.
  • The fee is based upon the loan amount and the length of the loan.
  • You get to choose the loan plan that works best for you.
  • Merchants can repay the loan via a share of the sales they process through PayPal (you can also make additional payments).
  • No credit check - merchants are selected based upon their PayPal sales history.

Click for more information: working capital

I did use some of the funds to buy merchandise for Amazon and eBay, but not in the amount I thought I would.  By the end of 2014, I had not used all the money, so I “paid back” the leftover balance.  This worked out really well for me, with no problems.


About a couple weeks after I received the loan funds, my PayPal account was hacked – and almost ALL my funds were wiped out!  This included the $2,000 loan I had just gotten from PayPal.  I really freaked out when I saw my balance was a little more than $100.  I quickly reviewed my transactions and discovered several major withdrawals that were clearly fraudulent – all in October within days of one another.  I was sick to my stomach!

I immediately called PayPal; and with the help of their rep, we identified 7 fraudulent transactions, totaling over $4,500!  One withdrawal was well over $3,000.  They even wrote little notes to themselves, pretending to be me.  Here are a couple, exactly as written:

Hi bro . Im sorry of i cant go to ur party okay ? im too busy for that . But here is my gift . Love you

Here's your allowance . Take good care there in Philippines okay . I love you .

The PayPal rep was very helpful and quickly reversed all the withdrawals.  By the end of my phone call, all the money was back in my account.  Once I got over the initial shock and anxiety, I got angry and just wanted to lash out at whomever was behind this.  But there was no point to that so I quickly put that behind me.

I believe this happened to me because I was using the same password as the one I had been using for eBay.  When eBay was compromised, I changed my eBay password but never changed my PayPal password.  Now, I use different passwords for my eBay and PayPal accounts.  I also try to check my account every day and have an email alert when payments are made.

I have to give kudos to PayPal for being part of the solution and really assisting me with this difficult situation – very quickly and without hassle.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 Year-End Review


Now that we’re well into January 2015, I have been busy de-cluttering – not just my personal stuff but also my eBay inventory.  I’ve also been working on my eBay “numbers”, getting them ready for the tax-lady.  So, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my 2014 business and how well it did – or did not do – compared with the previous year.

I started selling jeans in 2013 and they became my main product.  The SA was a great source to get inventory because, twice a week, they sold their jeans for $2.  A couple times a month, I would load up, usually buying between 40-80 pairs per trip.


It was a lot of work; but with the help of DH and DS#1, we sold over 700 pairs of jeans.  All this time and effort definitely paid off because my revenue for 2013 was 30% above that of 2012.  But we were burned out; and we had to take a break from selling jeans.

When 2014 rolled around, I knew I had to look for new ways and other sources of product to increase my profits.  That’s when I discovered the GW outlet stores.  I found some great stuff at the outlet, but it didn’t sell as quickly as the jeans, which would “fly out the door”.

When I decided to get back into selling jeans, I discovered that the SA thrift had a new regional manager and they no longer sold their jeans for $2.  That was a real bummer since I really needed to increase my profits. 

And then, there was that whole Cassini thing on eBay and sales were taking a major dive.  Not good!  That’s about the time I started looking at selling on Amazon.

Of course, by the end of 2014, our financial situation had improved and I no longer needed to depend on my online sales.  By December, my online business came to a screeching halt as I took a break from all this nonsense.

So, what was the bottom line?  My 2014 revenue was about $6,000 less than 2013 – or about 22% less and over 500 fewer items.  This would have been unfortunate had our financial situation not changed.  In the end, everything worked out just fine.

Here is a breakdown of my 2014 sales:

Number of sales:  1,025

  • eBay – 976
  • Amazon – 30
  • Bonanza – 12
  • Craigslist – 7

By category (top 4):

  • Jeans – 246
  • Toys_Games – 194
  • Miscellaneous – 173
  • Sewing Patterns – 109

By revenue (top 12 highest to lowest):

  • Toys_Games
  • Miscellaneous
  • Jeans
  • Shirts
  • Craigslist
  • Sewing Patterns
  • Pants
  • Sewing Machines
  • Housewares
  • Shoes_Accessories
  • Sportswear
  • Linens_Quilting

I was surprised to see that jeans continued to be my top selling item; but it was no surprise that jeans were not the big revenue-producers.  Their average price was just over $18 with a net profit margin of just 44%.

Another surprise was that toys and games were my highest revenue producers, with an average sales price of $25.88 and an average net profit margin of 50%.

The sewing patterns were part of my personal collection that I have been selling off.  With some exceptions, they’re not big sellers, with an average price of $10 FS.  Just glad to see them all gone.

2015 is definitely going to be a different ball game when it comes to my online business. 

I mentioned earlier that I was clearing out my old 2014 inventory so I’ve been listing many items at auction for 99-cents.  At this point, I’m more interested in seeing items go out the door; and what doesn’t sell will be donated to the thrift store. 

I’m taking another break from online selling, so I’ve put my store on vacation, again, through the end of the month.  I’d like to convert my “eBay room” back into my sewing/crafting room so I – we – have been busy reorganizing and painting instead of listing!  I’ve also been spending a lot of time on Pinterest looking at ideas.  I think I’m obsessed LOL!


Wishing everyone a great 2015!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Cash for Trash: December Sales

Well, it’s a new year!  I hope that 2014 was good to you and my best wishes that 2015 will be even better.  As much as I love the holidays, I also dread them and am always glad when the new year rolls around. I don’t think I’m alone in this, right?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I put my store on vacation for most of December so I had very few sales – only 21 – 14 sales from eBay and 7 from Amazon & Bonanza.  Total revenue from these sales was $449.48 with a net margin of 52%.

Here are a few sales worth mentioning:

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Pek Preservo Wine Steward Preserver Silver NEW – Paid $2.75 @ GWO – Sold for $32.82 – Net Margin 62%

This is one of those items that I thought would sell for more.  Because it was in new condition in original packing, I considered listing it on Amazon; but I ended up listing it on eBay (my comfort zone) in October.  It finally sold to a buyer in Nevada.

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Genuine Army Woodland BDU Camo Trousers Men's M65 Field Pants Small-Regular NEW – Paid $4.75 @ Savers – Sold for $39.95 – Net Margin 62%

I don’t like to pay more than $2 for pants, but these were really nice in brand-new condition.  I really hoped they would sell for more; but after almost 3 months, they finally sold to a buyer in Florida.

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RARE Vintage 1944-47 Monopoly Game with Board Wood Buildings and Metal Tokens – Paid $1.24 @ GWO – Sold for $70 – Net Margin 73%

In a previous post I wrote about a vintage Ouija game that I sold for $50 on eBay.  Here is another vintage board game that I bought from the outlet and sold for $70!  The good thing for me is that the other folks don’t bother with this type of game because it is old, and they look for newer games they can sell at the swap meet or flea market.  I’m just glad most of the pieces were still there.  This sat in my store about 9 months waiting for the right buyer.  It finally sold to someone in Texas.

neat-oh lego

Neat-Oh! LEGO Friends ZipBin Heartlake Place Transforming Toy Box NEW – Paid $20.94 for 3 @ TRU – Sold for $68.85 on Amazon – Net Margin 43%

Since I started selling on Amazon, I’ve been researching and reading blogs on the topic of arbitrage.  I know there are many folks who are having great success with this, but I am not finding this very easy.  For one thing, you really do have to drive around to many places to find merchandise.  I prefer one-stop shopping, like the GW outlet, where I can find many different things to sell at one time.  But, like anything, I’m sure once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier.  

So, back in September, I made a stop at my local Toys R Us and found these LEGO ZipBins on clearance for $5+.  There were only 3 left so that’s what I got.  I quickly shipped them out to Amazon, where they sat until December.  Then bam!  All 3 quickly sold – 1,2,3 – one right after the other.  The best part – I didn’t have to do the packing and shipping!!  I love that!  My net margin was only 43%, but my net profit was almost $30.

Now that’s cash for trash!

On a personal note:

In my previous post, I mentioned that we were refinancing our mortgage to get a lower interest rate.  After 60 days, the loan was finally funded just before Christmas and the funds were disbursed on Christmas Eve.  So, yes, we had a wonderful Christmas!  We were able pull out some extra funds to replace our old and failing kitchen appliances and do a few minor repairs around the house.

With this new situation, I have been thinking about what I want to do with eBay and Amazon.  I know I want to spend less time with online selling and more time with my quilting and reading hobbies, which I have sorely missed these past few years. 

My original thought was to just totally get out of online selling, but I do enjoy the thrill of the sale.  So I will continue with eBay but on a MUCH smaller scale – maybe no more than 100 items.  I’ve already started marking down many of my items to move them out.  And when my year comes due, I am going to downsize my store.

As for Amazon, when I started selling there in September, our financial status was much bleaker.  But with our new situation, I’m not sure I will continue.  I’m still on the fence with Amazon.

It’s a new year and a new adventure begins ….

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cash for Trash: November Sales

With the holidays upon us, sales in November were nice and steady.  I had a total of 92 sales, including 6 from Amazon.  Yea!  Okay, so it was only 6, but I’m still learning how to swim those Amazon waters LOL.

Here are my best sales for November:

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The Wig Company TWC Perfect Image Synthetic Wig Wavy Short Bob Layered – Paid $0.84 @ GWO – Sold for $35.99 – Net Margin 79%

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Disney Park Marie Aristocats Long Boa Tail Plush – Paid $0.77 @ GWO – Sold for $36 – Net Margin 65%

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Dazey Coffee Soup & Beverage Warmer Mug Cup Heater CW-10 NOS NEW – Paid $1.50 @ Savers – Sold for $38 – Net Margin 74%

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Dakin Elephant Gray Floral Print Ears Vintage Plush Stuffed Animal Toy 1971 – Paid $0.60 @ GWO – Sold for $39.99 – Net Margin 78%

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Biddeford Electric Heated Micro Plush Twin Blanket with Control – Paid $2.98 @ GWO – Sold for $39.99 – Net Margin 40%

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Pantera World Tour T-Shirt Men's XL Black Vintage 1994 – Paid $0.75 @ GWO – Sold for $39.99 – Net Margin 79%

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Tori Richard Hawaiian Christmas Shirt Size Medium Santa Mrs Claus Beach Hammock – Paid $0.95 @ GWO – Sold for $50 – Net Margin 81%

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CTC Pasta Express Model X2000 Pasta Maker with Videotape New – Paid $17.99 @ GW – Sold for $97.74 – Net Margin 34%

I bought this pasta maker as part of an “experiment” to pay more for inventory that I hope will sell for more.  This sold for $70 plus shipping.  Unfortunately, this was a heavy item and I ended up paying $5 more for shipping than what I charged.  I still netted over $35, even though my net margin was only 34%.  This sat in my store for about 6 months so I was happy to finally send this to a buyer in Iowa.

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Remington Tight Curls Pageant Spiral Hot Rollers Set 21 Wax Core Clips & Box – Paid $5.99 @ GW – Sold for $99.54 – Net Margin 76%

I couldn’t believe it when I found this set of Remington curlers in a regular GW store – my first ever!  It was Labor Day; and DH joined me for a day of thrift store shopping.  After looking at the knickknacks and housewares, I headed over to the health & beauty area.  And THERE it was!  The heavens opened up and the angels started singing when I spotted those beautiful blue curlers.  I grabbed that box as fast as I could; and I was pretty much done shopping LOL.  I didn’t list them until October and thought they would sell quickly.  But they sat in my store for over a month until they sold to a buyer in Arizona.

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NERF N-Strike Electronic Talking Tech Target Scoreboard Practice Dart Board

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Lot of 4 Nerf Vortex Disc Gun Blasters Vigilon Praxis and Proton

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NERF Swarmfire Dart Tag Automatic 20 Shot Blaster 2010

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NERF N-Strike Magstrike Dart Gun Blaster with Clip 2007

More NERFs!  I bought all of these at the GWO for about $8.45 (not all at the same time).  These sold for a total of $184.26 and I netted just over $79 (my net margin was only 43%).  The 2007 Magstrike gun sold to a buyer in England for $85.49, including $50 in shipping.

Here is a breakdown of my November Sales:

   # of Sales: 92

  Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): $137.35

  Percent of Revenue: 6.15%

  Average Price of COGS: $1.49

  Total Revenue: $2,232.70 (includes revenue from shipping)

  Avg. Sales Price: $24.27

  Net Margin: 52%

  Highest Sold Item: $165.00 (Petzl climbing ascender, personal item)

  Lowest Sold Item: $5.00 (sewing patterns)

  Number and Percent of Items Sold:

  •    Plush and Toys: 27 – 29%
  • Jeans: 11 – 12%
  • Sweaters: 6 - 7%
  • Everything Else: 48 – 52%

Now that’s cash for trash!

On a personal note:

About 3 months ago, DH’s bank contacted us about refinancing our mortgage at a much lower interest rate.  We hesitated because I was now on fixed income and DH’s business had taken a major dive – which, of course, is why I am selling online.  But the bank rep seemed to think he could help us and encouraged us to apply. 

What really prompted us to move forward was the extra house payment we have to make twice a year.  When I was working, we refinanced our home with an “express” loan.  Basically, you make extra payments per year which helps pay-off the loan much faster.  That was great when I was working and business was good; but things changed and that extra payment was coming due.  After the major car expense (I posted about previously), this extra payment was going to be extremely difficult to make.  Quite a few of our neighbors had already lost their homes, and I certainly did not want to join their group.

So in October we submitted the application; and last month, the bank officially told us we were approved for a new loan at a much lower interest rate.  We were ecstatic!  Not only do we no longer have to worry about those extra payments, but our new monthly payment will be about HALF of what we were paying!

In addition to the obvious, this also means I don’t HAVE TO DO eBay!  This gives me a huge sense of freedom and relief.  I am literally jumping for joy!  I retired 6 years ago; and for the past 5 years, eBay had taken over my life.  Now, I can take it or leave it.  I still plan to sell online – whether it be eBay or even Amazon – but on a much smaller scale.  And now the funds I make from online selling will go into savings – for a special project or even a vacation.

The loan should be funding any day now – hopefully before Christmas – and I am putting my store on vacation for the rest of the month of December.  What a relief not to have to worry about deadlines and mailings and buyer questions.  I am free at last!