My Story: Selling at Auctions

contributed by Kate


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For packaging items, newspaper is heavy. It is also incredibly "dirty" as the ink rubs off on things. If you must use it for packing material, make sure to wrap the auction item in something else first.

Better still, don't use it at all unless it's for a very small item and won't add substantially to the shipping cost. In today's very competitive eBay market, the shipping cost can clinch a sale, or lose one. Here is a frugal alternative that served me well. Instead of buying peanuts and styrofoam, find them free in your own town! Stores like Big Lots get in thousands of fragile, breakable items, most of which come wrapped in bubble wrap. I've pulled sheets full of clean, useable bubble wrap out of their dumpsters.

For styrofoam, check the dumpsters behind stores selling new furniture. Many pieces of furniture that must be put together at the store come in boxes and are "padded" with sheets of pristine styrofoam. It's easily cut to size. Because it takes up so much room in their dumpsters, most storeowners are more than happy for you to take as much as you can haul away!

To take pictures, a digital camera will make your eBay experience much easier, but you needn't fall victim to marketing and buy the latest, "coolest" camera with all kinds of features if most of what you'll be using it for is online auctions. On eBay, I bought a new 1.3 megapixel older model Olympus that takes terrific photos (more than satisfactory for eBay) and also produces very nice photos when you use the drugstore digital to hard copy service.

Another option for pictures is your scanner! If buying a digital camera isn't in the immediate budget, you can still have decent images for your auctions with a flatbed scanner. It's not just for books, magazines and other flat items, but all sorts of things that fit on the bed of the scanner can be scanned. I've used a scanner to take "pictures" of toys, beads, jewelry, small ceramics, dishes, Barbie and G.I. Joe dolls, etc.

When using your scanner to "photograph" items that don't permit the scanner lid to close all the way, use a piece of clean fabric (or a nice towel) to cover the entire surface. It keeps the light from giving odd effects, and also provides your items with an attractive "background." A piece of black or blue velvet looks great over jewelry.

You can also use a customized cardboard box to replace the scanner lid when scanning thicker items. Find a box that fits the top of your scanner. Spray the inside black. Set this over your item before scanning.


"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com

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