Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

Finding People With Products You Can Sell On EBay

I wrote a few weeks ago about the importance of selecting products based on groups of people. Today, I am going to turn this around, and discuss finding people with products.

When we start by looking for people with products we can sell, we are more likely to find items with low competition. Even better, by creating our own opportunities, we lower the chances others can copy our efforts.

If we find products through wholesale lists, it's easy for others to start copying us; all they need is the list.

Before I explain how this works, I'll give you a few examples of going from people to products so you can see this in action:

  • Shortly after I first started selling on eBay, I began selling trains and toys belonging to people who were also members of a local train club. This is how I started my eBay consignment business.
  • I know a woman who manages a thrift store. She calls me every time old toys come in. I give her pricing advice and usually either buy the items for cash or sell them on consignment. I also leveraged my relationship with her to get into other thrift stores.
  • My sister did consignment sales for people at her church. Her clients see her every week during the services. Rarely a week goes by that someone doesn't approach her at church and ask about her consignment services.

    Note: I love consignment selling because I don't have any risk. If the stuff doesn't bring any money, I don't lose anything. Whereas when I pay cash for something, I risk my money.
  • One of my friends (I know a lot of people, as I'm sure you do!) knows someone who works at a large manufacturing company. He buys excess materials. For example, the company made umbrellas for a while. These weren't big sellers, and they canceled production, so he bought all the left-over cloth.
  • Another friend of mine worked for a software company. He no longer works there but still knows people who do. This company provides many of its employees with laptops. When the laptops break, they issue their employees new ones. My friend buys boxes of these broken laptops, repairs them, and sells them on eBay.
  • One of my students recently told me a great story about how he found unique products to sell on eBay. His wife forced him to attend a local home-and-garden show. While he was walking around, bored stiff, he saw a display set up by a local manufacturer. Spotting an item he thought might sell on eBay, he bought one. It did, and the rest is history.
  • A few years ago, one of my friends was moving his office. I offered to help out in exchange for the items he didn't want to move. I ended up hauling off a truck load of toner cartridges, computer accessories, fax machines and other goodies I then sold on eBay.
  • Another one of my friends started a business years ago. He never promoted the products because his other businesses took all his time. He had cases of these products made for him. I buy them from him for just over his cost and then sell them on eBay. I've been slowly cleaning out his garage one or two boxes at a time for three years.

In all of these examples, the people with the products are either busy running other businesses, no longer running a business, concentrating on other sales avenues -- or they just plain don't have the time or knowledge to sell their items on eBay. These are the kinds of people you want to find: people who will see the money you earn for them as extra income that requires little or no effort on their part.

It's almost like getting something for nothing.

In the case of obsolete products, you're converting boxes into cash. For manufacturers, you're creating additional sales they wouldn't get otherwise.

Read the last paragraph again.

That's the value you provide to people with products.

Now Let's Talk About Finding People...

To find people with products you can sell on eBay, just answer these questions:

  • Whom do you know?
    Friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, etc. . .
  • Whom do they know?
    Their friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, etc. . .
  • Who is close to you?
    Local stores, wholesalers, manufacturers etc. . .
  • What is close to you?
    Trade shows, events, clubs and organizations, etc. . .

Once you've identified people who may have products, you simply contact them and tell them you can clear out their unsold merchandise.

This sounds really simple because it is simple.

When you first start out, you should work with people close to you. This will make it easier because you won't have trust issues.

Remember, there are lots of people running around who are all talk and no action. They can suck up huge amounts of time, so people with products may be reluctant to meet with you unless you can demonstrate prior success.

Starting with people you know will allow you to develop a track record you can point to when you approach people you don't know well. Your experience will open many doors.

Once you've gotten someone interested enough to talk with you, you have three options:

You can:

  1. Train the business owner to sell on eBay.
  2. Sell items on consignment.
  3. Buy items for cash

The first option -- teaching people to sell on eBay -- is the least profitable because there is no continuing stream of money. The good thing is, few people will take you up on this offer. Remember, this whole concept works because you are offering people sales for no work. If they had the time or ambition to sell their excess inventory on their own, they would be doing it themselves.

The second option -- selling the items on consignment -- is a great, no-risk way to handle these deals. You just charge a percentage -- I charge 30 to 35 percent -- of the eBay selling price, and if the items don't sell, you return them.

The last option -- paying cash for the items -- is more risky but can be more profitable. If you know what the items will bring on eBay, this is the option for you. For example, my friend who buys the laptops knows that for every ten broken laptops he buys, he'll end up with seven working laptops to sell. He can look at a pile of laptops and make a good guess concerning their value.

If you are unfamiliar with the merchandise, do consignment sales to get started; later, when you've learned the ropes, you can start buying items for cash.

There is another option when you're paying cash. This applies more to manufacturers, but you might also do it with store owners or people who used to own businesses:

Remember the example of the home-and-garden show I mentioned? After my friend had successfully sold the items for a few months, he talked the company into shipping them directly to his buyers. Each time he sells one, he makes a phone call, and the company ships the item and charges his credit card.


This man has created the perfect scenario. He runs new auctions every week, never handles any products, and gets paid up front!

Warning: This could backfire if the products aren't in stock or the company doesn't ship them in a timely manner. If you are setting up this type of arrangement, you need to know and trust the people you're dealing with, so don't jump in too fast.

In fact, you should move slowly in almost all these situations. The only time I don't is when I'm doing train and toy consignments. Then I take all the expensive stuff the first time so I can lock in the profits even if the relationship later goes south. (This also helps me wow the owner by returning with a big check for the first week's effort.)

By starting out slowly, you'll be able to stay on top of any problems that come up and build trust both ways.

Now get out there and start networking with the people you know.


PS If you're interested in learning more about eBay consignment selling, I offer a complete package that explains how to find and sign up sellers. The package also contains the inventory and consignment contracts I use in my business. Learn more at:

Start An eBay Consignment Business

PPS Finding profitable products doesn't ensure your eBay success. To be successful, you need a really good understanding of eBay. You need to know exactly how to sell anything on eBay for the highest possible price. If your eBay selling skills aren't up to par, you'll lose money and never know it.

Take the Free eBay Sellers Quiz,
and find out how much you really know about selling on eBay.

PPS Here's a list of all articles about products to resell on eBay.

"The IWantCollectibles Guide to Ebay Sales"
is now available for immediate download.

Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.

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