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SUNDAY, JULY 15, 2007
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Debbie Hill, left, and Brandon Bibb prepare a package for shipping.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith
Debbie Hill, left, and Brandon Bibb prepare a package for shipping.

eBay without
the hassle

Decatur store does hard work to sell Valley residents’ items online

By Eric Fleischauer
eric@decaturdaily.com · 340-2435

Is the mold growing on your bass boat? Did your daughter give up the saxophone, leaving you with an attractive but useless hunk of brass?

Brandon Bibb, owner of We eBay It!, wants to meet you.

His Beltline Road Southwest store, which opened two months ago, does exactly what it says: eBay. Take an item in that you want converted to cash, and We eBay It! will try to meet your needs.

Behind Bibb’s concept is the phenomenal success of eBay. Last year, eBay generated 610 million listings.

That’s a lot of potential buyers, even compared to the most successful garage sale.

Goal of less risk, trouble

Bibb’s goal — aside from making a profit — is to take the hassle and risk out of selling on the online eBay auction site.

“It was great,” said customer Stacey Nelson of Decatur.

“We had just moved, so I didn’t have time to do the postings and take the pictures and answer the e-mails. I liked the fact they handled all the shipping. I was really surprised at the low cost.”

Nelson had been trying to sell a used trumpet and saxophone, but no one was interested. With Bibb’s help, she peddled the merchandise to eBay’s millions. The result: She pocketed about $1,000 for the two instruments.

We eBay It! charges $2 plus 1 percent of the selling price. The seller also must pay standard eBay costs — about 5 percent of the selling price — and PayPal fees, which tack on about the same amount.

PayPal, owned by eBay, is the normal method for financial transactions on eBay.

For customers already planning to sell on eBay, the eBay and PayPal fees are a given,
so Bibb’s customers are looking at an additional 1 percent, plus $2.

“When something comes in, we take pictures of it (and upload those pictures to eBay), describe it (for the online eBay listing), list it, put the item number on it, box it and put it in our storage,” Bibb explained.

Nelson said the most convenient part of the service was the shipping. Finding the right box for a saxophone takes time, as does labeling it and shipping it. We eBay It! boxes items as soon as they come in, reducing the effort and hassle by virtue of its volume.

“We handle everything from taking the pictures of your item, boxing it up, shipping it, collecting the payment, answering the questions,” Bibb said. “We take all of the hassle out of it. It’s a one-stop deal. You just bring it in.”

And, hopefully, receive a check.

Bibb’s eBay gig is a part-time deal, although he has two employees manning the store. He’s a 13-year employee at Solutia, rehabs houses and in his extra time enjoys spending time with his wife and 3-month-old daughter.

His idea for We eBay It! came from his decade of experience buying and selling on eBay.

“It came out of frustration, thinking of all the time it took,” Bibb said. “I had all these electronics to sell but didn’t have the time to do it, and they became outdated and worthless.”

By making the selling process quick and painless, he figured, he could carve out a profitable niche.

“We can do anything from cars to collectibles to baby clothing,” he said. “Anything that’s legal.”

Feedback

eBayers know that “feedback” is everything. Every buyer has the option of posting feedback on his or her level of satisfaction. Positive feedback ratings are the life-blood of an eBay seller. Minimal or negative feedback steers buyers away.

That’s a major selling point for We eBay It! to its customers. If you are selling a trumpet, potential buyers may hesitate if they see you have no feedback because it’s your first sale. By selling through Bibb’s store, though, you inherit his more favorable feedback numbers.

Occasionally, Bibb acknowledged, that creates friction with his customers.

“Just because you come in and tell me it’s new, I’m not going to jeopardize our eBay feedback, if it doesn’t look new to me,” Bibb said.

Bibb’s business and future customers depend on positive eBay feedback, so he has no interest in exaggerating the benefits of what a customer is selling. He wants his brick-and-mortar customer happy, but he needs the eBay buyer to be happy as well.

The eBay buyer also contributes to Bibb’s bottom line. The buyer pays “shipping and handling,” and Bibb sets that amount high enough to recoup some of his labor and material costs.

Bibb was active on eBay long before he opened the store, at times having as many as 200 items concurrently for sale.

His introduction to eBay came through his mania for Kiss collectibles. He still has a stable of Kiss guitars, and even a limousine he bought from Kiss performer Ace Frehley.

“I bid on it joking around, because it was such a low price,” Bibb said. But he won with his $1,200 bid.

“Next thing I know we’re packing up and going to New Jersey and meeting Ace on the side of the road and picking his car up,” Bibb laughs. “He even signed it.” Tattoos, lipstick and wild hair? “No, he actually looked halfway normal.”

Main thrust

Avoiding the hassle of posting their own eBay listings may be Bibb’s main marketing thrust, but his customers also enjoy the benefit of having an eBay old-timer — he’s only 34 years old, but we’re talking cyberspace — negotiating the ever-present eBay risks.

“You’ve got so much fraud out there right now. A lot of people are selling items they don’t own,” Bibb said.

“They’ll sell something at an irresistible price, and we’re all a sucker for a good deal. Once they’ve got your money, you’re hooked. There’s nothing you can do about it. A lot of them operate out of different countries.”

Bibb cautions people to avoid transactions that don’t use PayPal. Never log-on to your eBay or PayPal accounts through an e-mail link, he warns, because you may be giving your password to a crook.

If you receive an e-mail that appears to be from the companies, close the e-mail and log on to the site. If it’s a legitimate warning, Bibb said, it will appear on your account.

Old folks may end up being the best customers for We eBay It! Some have not mastered the Internet intricacies involved in posting for-sale items to eBay, but they have heard of the riches to be had.

“I see people at work in their 50s and 60s that are buying things off of eBay. Everybody’s looking at it now,” Bibb said. “The first time I told somebody that what they bought for $80 at Wal-Mart I bought for $50 on eBay, everyone got interested. So I figure eventually everyone is going to want to sell on there, too.”

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