As the new year begins, time to think about fall clean up. You know the clean up you said you would do to be ready for the holiday season. Oh yeah, now you remember. That one. Time to evaluate the 1980 toaster oven instruction manual and the -. Wait what’s that? You said the manual is garbage? Well have I got a story for you. Anything to procrastinate the clean up right?

In a previous Techlife, “Freecycle – Give, Get, Save I highlighted Freecycle, a service for getting rid of items to local community members. Many readers still refer to that column but add “their” items have value; like the gold plated fondue set, never opened? Or the slightly used collection of every MAD magazine that has Star Wars on the cover?  Easy answer, use Ebay or Craigslist depending on the item. Raise your hand if you have?

A Simple Ebay How To

Ebay and Craigslist both are 17 years old. Yes, really. Here’s the primer for a seller. Ebay gives your item view to a worldwide audience and handles the financial transaction smoothly while taking about 10% of the final sales price. The seller handles shipping.  Craigslist offers a sales tool with a more local focus and charges nothing for listing and selling relying on the two parties to meet and exchange cash and goods.

A friend had some Nintendo DS games which sell well on Ebay, so we collected the inventory. My friend had smartly kept the instruction books and boxes too. While reviewing things he realized he sadly had lost a game.

“Guess this instruction book and box are garbage.”

My simple reply was, “It costs nothing to list on Ebay.”

“C’mon this is garbage. The game is missing. I’m not going to list it. Waste of time.”

“Let me try.”

“Fine, have at it.”

We took a simple, clear photo of each game and the box and instructions, figured out a fair cost for shipping and clicked “sell” on Ebay. We built the listing page of each item by adding our photo and a clear easy to understand description. By starting  the listing price at a penny we hoped to generate some excitement and take what the market would bear. And yes we did this for the “garbage” too. We listed the box and instructions only, highlighting no game was included. The auctions began. It was fun and entertaining watching page views climb, seeing more and more people watch our auctions. (Watching is Ebay’s way of letting a shopper keep an eye on an auction without committing.)

Everything was getting bids except the “garbage.” I took my lumps and ribbing, always pointing out there were people watching the box and instructions so maybe a last minute bid. And then all the auctions ended. My friend was right. We did not get a single bid for the garbage. So I asked, if I might re-list the garbage. The laughing increased five fold, and the joking increased too.

Except suddenly it was I who was laughing with a few days to go someone had bid the minimum .01. Game on. When  the auction came to an end – $7.00 for garbage. Laughing turned to thank you.

Ready, set, get cleaning. Share with Techlife  your best Ebay and Craigslist stories in the comments. Good or bad, weird or zany, let’s hear it.