published Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Phillips: Alternatives to eBay let you sell wares online


by Ellen Phillips

OK, you've culled and collected your unneeded junk (er, I mean treasures), photographed them from all angles and written clear scrupulous descriptions.

Now it's time to make some money. Ready, set, go.

Etsy.com probably is one of the least expensive fee-based auctions, though its merchandise categories contain far fewer varieties than eBay or Amazon.com. The three item categories consist of handmade -- handmade by the seller only; vintage -- items 20 years or older; and supplies -- commercial and handmade crafting supplies. When you list an item, pay only 20 cent listing fee. This covers an item listing period of four months.

If I list a hand-smocked baby dress and there's only one in stock, it'll cost 20 cents for four months. If, however, I have three dresses to list, the fee would cost 60 cents (still a really cheap fee, especially for that length of time).

Onlineauction.com competes strongly in that its monthly membership fee is only $8, which covers a variety of perks not usually found elsewhere.

For example: 1. no listing or relisting fees; 2. no final value fees (sales commissions); 3. the freedom to post personal Web site information with each listing; and 4. truly competitive bidding.

Onlineaution.com's philosophy is to keep fees low and invoices easy, thus allowing sellers to collect more money and buyers obtain better deals.

Bonanzle.com is a unique site. If a buyer sees one of your items, he'll also see up to 10 others prominently featured. Sellers sell faster and buyers find what they want more quickly.

Bonanzle keeps overhead low by using open source technology and grassroots marketing, and passes savings on to you. The site promises that an average seller pays between one-half and one-third of what they're used to if they've sold elsewhere.

Sell.com is another distinctive online sales site. The biggest difference among sell.com and these others? Sell.com runs more like classified ads and up to 30 days (unlike auctions that typically run for only seven-10 days). In fact, you can disable and re-enable your classified ad at any time during this period at no additional charge.

Even better, when you list an item for sale, you're not required to sell to the highest bidder.

Not only do you decide the customer with whom you conduct business, you can decline buyers' offers for any reason. When a buyer makes an offer you find reasonable and you accept the deal, the transaction occurs.

Tax Tip: Even if not on active duty, many brave men and women in uniform may tap a travel deduction. If members of the National Guard or the Reserves travel to drills or meetings more than 100 miles from home and stay at least one night, you don't even need to itemize to deduct the cost of lodging and half your meals.

Furthermore, if you drive your own car, you also deduct 55 cents per mile and parking fees and tolls.

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business. E-mail her at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com.

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.

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