That One Time I Ran an eBay Empire

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That One Time I Ran an eBay Empire

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Ah, Miss Me Jeans.

For a clean one hundred dollars, you got a pair of pants with two inches of spiky metal, leather, and faux rocks glued to the butt pockets. Visible from at least a mile away, these jeans were the perfect status symbol to alert the teenaged world that you were in-style, and rolling in [your parents’] dough.

Who would have predicted that such a coveted wardrobe staple would become the ‘Crocs’ of the denim world? In 2018, many would agree that the standard purchaser of Miss Me jeans is the mom who sports a Kate Gosselin-style haircut, proclaims that she will be speaking with your manager, and occasionally attends PTO meetings wine-drunk.

I remember coming home during my first fall break of college and sitting on my closet floor; cringing at all the babysitting money wasted on bedazzled jeans. And it didn’t stop there- I had all kinds of unwanted things piled up in my closet that my middle and high school self had religiously saved up for. Had I just known that the college uniform was essentially pajamas, I would have never made such poor investments.

After lamenting all of the tacos and $2 pitchers missed out on due to my poor spending decisions, I got a wild little idea. Just because I didn’t want flashy mom jeans, hot pink track suits, and ‘C’ emblazoned bags, didn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t. But I had to find a way to advertise and sell my goods.

[Author’s note: It should be noted that my eighteen-year-old self had very little marketing experience. The only ‘sales’ I had ever transacted took place in the second grade, while my parents were napping. I recruited my younger brother as a business partner, and we searched the neighborhood for any small rocks we could find. After gathering a decent assortment, we magic-markered and glitter-glued the stones to meet our strict standards. Then, we took to the streets(roadsides of our neighborhood), to move some product. I crafted some custom signs to attract customers: “Magic Rocks for Sale! 30% of Proceeds Go to Hurricane Katrina Victims!”. We propped up a BB gun behind our lawn chairs in case a deal went awry, and then patiently waited for customers. David and I stayed in business a whole two hours. You can probably imagine how thrilled my parents were when they received a phone call from the police department concerning ‘two little kids of the the side of the road with a gun’. Our venture grossed a whole eight dollars, and my dad made us give every cent of it to the Katrina relief funds. I am sorry, David. Hindsight is 20/20]

The Magic Rock Fiasco of 2006 greatly influenced my decision to forgo a yard sale, and instead, opt for online retail. In half an hour, I created an eBay account and store. I listed that I “specialized” in second-hand, designer goods, and posted a few items. The photos included were carefully positioned and edited to make my teenage digs look as enticing as possible. I entered in the sizes and measurements and then closed my laptop and forgot about the store altogether.

Three days later, I received an email alerting me that I had sold two items. Initially, I figured it was a mistake or spam email, but PayPal does not lie- I had fifty dollars pending in my account and two Miss Me Jean listings, each marked with a bright, red, ‘SOLD’ alert. In the following weeks, I quickly liquidated the remaining stock I had in my closet. I also began purchasing underpriced items from thrift shops, and then reselling them in my store. In the following months, I sold around five hundred dollars worth of unwanted clothing on eBay.

So, my main pieces of advice are as follows:

1. Don’t sell painted rocks while your parents are napping, no matter how poor you may think you are. The story will be told at every family event you attend and as an adult, and you will still get judge-y side eyes from the your neighbors that you sold to.

2. If you have been consuming an alarming amount of ramen or blissfully ignoring emails about student loan payments, I would suggest objectively assessing any unwanted or unneeded items you may be hoarding. Almost anything can be reframed and creatively marketed with a little bit of time and effort. Recruit your fit, non-ramen consuming, pals as models, take some artsy~ product photos, and make some money!

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SPARKsouthSeptember 28, 2018
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