Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Final Straw Of An eBay Seller

After three years of service, I am sad to say that my eBay store is finally going to close.

I have endured policy changes that seemed designed to destroy the very product that I sold, sports cards. Every year there would come a new restriction that further hindered my business plan. My sales dwindled. Sometimes the store was just operating to sustain itself and nothing of a profit was seen.

First, the geniuses at ebay took away store items for under a dollar. My business was made by adding commons to a few higher purchased items. It was usually between 5 and 50 cents, but I added the allure of combined shipping and cards flew out the door. These initial changes were something that I almost did not recover from.

Then, optional insurance was taken away. You were supposed to increase your already high prices or increase the shipping to include things like insurance. Either you offered it or you didn't. Choice was taken away. Already overpriced commons priced at one dollar, with a low shipping price of $1.75 and the allure of combined shipping, sat there even longer.

What made me stay? Well, eBay lowered the insertion fees, which helped my bottom line a little more. I was able to offer a few more cards and not worry about unsold product chipping away at my small profit.

Now, comes word that on March 30, eBay is requiring basic stores (which I have) to have fixed inventory at 20 cents per month per item. That is a jump of 17 cents per listing per month! Part of the attraction of having the basic store was the reduced listing fees for store inventory. By paying the fees for a basic store, I was able to list each store item for 3 cents per month. This luxury is now vanished. It is replaced by greed and manipulation.

I have no doubt that this will decrease the overall listings and sales on eBay. Why would a company founded on the consumer getting the best deal, shoot itself in the foot at almost every opportunity in the past two years? I haven't been able to offer the best deal on some items for two years. Now, I can't even afford to keep the good fight going.

Here's where you can help me, dear readers and friends. I would like to open an online store where I can price items for any price that I see fit. This way I can offer a bunch of commons, along with the higher priced cards. Basically, something for the set/team builders and player collectors, etc...

I would prefer to have no insertion fees, if possible. I would like to keep the inventory up until it's sold. In essence, very low overhead. Operating my eBay store has been one of the great pleasures of the last few years for me. It's hard for me to accept that this experience has to end, but my time with eBay as a store option is forced to a premature end.

Any suggestions?


Sooz said...

I understand how you feel. I've thought doing the same, having my own store.

Have you looked at or I don't know what it's like to sell there.

Steve Gierman said...

I have a SportsBuy store, but I have never sold a single item there. Plus, they lost every image I uploaded on the site.

I would try, but I love being hands on with my store items. may be the best option, but I'm not crazy about it since there are no pictures. It might be good to unload my bulk commons, but I hope to find a more permanent solution.

Thanks, Sooz!

cynicalbuddha said...

Sounds like you need to start your own site. Being lazy I know that would be hard. I have no idea how. I would have to befriend a nerd but I think a site set up to offer sellers a cheap place to offer there wares and a place where buyers can go and get great deals (ie being able to buy cheap commons to fill sets) as well as a place to get cool cards ect. And be able to offer reasonable combine shipping would be well met. Today it's all company profit oriented. Don't worry dinosaurs will die and if Ebay keeps alienating their profit base, and by this I mean both buyers who have to use Paypal and sellers who have to use paypal then I can see a compeditor coming along. It's what's happing to Microsoft. No one big giant taking on another giant. It's little and medium size companies chipping away.

Doc said...

If you want your own online store with no insertion fees AND control of your inventory, you almost have to build your own site.

That may seem daunting, but not as much as you'd think.

Liferay ( offers a free shareware website creating program that we had to learn for work. All you would need is a host server and a url (big daddy, etc.). The Liferay program has a great document storage library and easy functionality.

If you go down this road, drop me a line and I'll see if I can help.

And trust me, I've had my fair share of woes with eBay trying to sell old toys. At least Amazon is pretty easy to use to sell books, dvds, cds and video games, but they kill you on commission fees. Not a good option for cards, unless you want to sell late 80s complete sets fro $15 to $20.

Good Luck!

PatsCards said...

I'm selling on and I too haven't sold a thing on Sportslots, and have had mild success with checkoutmycards (probably because I list mostly hockey cards). Checkoutmycards would be good for your high end cards, while Sportslots would be good for your base and other cheap-o cards, since they don't have insertion fees. Sportslots will also be able to transfer your existing eBay feedback to their site. Definetly worth checking out.

Steve Gierman said...

I'll probably try to open up an online store through a url. HTML code is no problem for me (I could do that in my sleep), but I've been perplexed as how to integrate something for e-commerce. I'll check out liferay soon and see if that's the option for me.

In the meantime, I'll probably look further into (whose shipping prices are ridiculous as the cards pile up) and

Thanks for all the help everyone! If anyone has further suggestions, please leave them in this comments section.

Matthew Glidden said...

Thanks for writing this up, sir--sorry to hear about the trouble of moving your store elsewhere.

eBay cast the situation very differently for casual sellers like me. I added their note and some of your details to a new weekly poll.

Should I check off "Leaving eBay" for you in advance? :-)

Anonymous said...

You can add pics on SportLots... Last I knew anyway. At least, I've bought older stuff by looking at the pics.

Steve Gierman said...

Doing a little more investigating on Sportlots, yes you can use images, but many users don't use this option for store items, which is why I initially thought it was only used for auctions.

I'm not crazy about the cumbersome search features, but this may be the best option available until I could open a dedicated online store.

Anonymous said...

I feel you because I have my own ebay store with a ton of $1-$3 cards. It looks like I am going to be forced to pay the $50 and open the mid-level store and just list more singles to make it worth it.

I'd use the other sites mentioned, or open my own, BUT they don't get the exposure of ebay

Steve Gierman said...

Normally, I would do that too, but most of my singles just sit there, renewing every 30 days. I always get plenty of traffic and watchers, but only a small fraction of those actually pull the trigger and purchase.

I'm hoping that there is enough outrage with these latest changes to warrant a retraction to these newly proposed ideas.

Todd Uncommon said...

Realistically, I still don't see any alternative to eBay. Nothing else out there has the same volume of selection or traffic.

Traffic is the biggest factor. I have seen a large share of "last straw" events with fellow sellers, only to see them still end up making a whole lot fewer sales through all other means combined:

- tables at shows that still exist
- paper catalogs in the mail
- set up their own website
- alternative sites to eBay, hobby or otherwise

Previous posts at the Etopps In-Hand Marketwatch ( have covered this topic of alternative secondary markets in the hobby, to some extent.

He has a very handy sidebar of links of sales venues to investigate.

He always has been very upbeat about the possibilities, but I remain skeptical of their efficacy to that of eBay, even after the upcoming fee structure changes, and the additional PayPal fees that add the company's take regularly to well over 10%.

Steve Gierman said...

If the pricing structure changes, I will have to close up the eBay shop. There's no way around that. Based on my current monthly average, I will lose a lot of money if I keep it open. If I was a higher volume seller, I would have no beef.

Other present avenues are not viable. Even Beckett charges hundreds of dollars to become a seller in their marketplace. There is no good alternative, that I am aware of, for low volume sellers.

I am currently looking into the cheapest way to open my own online store. That seems the best available option at the moment.

Frederico said...

I'm sorry to hear that.

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