Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I have an idea....

So I had this idea and I thought I'd throw it out there for discussion....

What if we opened an ebay-based virtual thrift store for the support of at least one Pastor of Vintage Fellowship and his family? This would be a our bread and butter until Robb could be paid by VF. Lots of people are living on what they make on ebay and my 5 years of experience selling has basically proved that you get out of it what you put into it. My idea gets nuttier...what if people could donate (like they do to Goodwill or the Salvation Army) their household goods and such to Vintage Fellowship? Couldn't we provide them with a tax write-off? Whatever we can't sell (or don't want to sell) we could just go ahead and take to the various thrift stores. I see this as a short-term thing of two or three years.

Here's the list of what we would need that we've thought of so far:

Mac compatible bulk listing tool (Ebay only supports PC users...how much does that suck?) These tools do exist for subscription prices of about 20 dollars a month.

Storage Unit

A clear-cut division of labor so we don't kill each other.

Store subscription fees

Tax information nailed down (where do you start exactly?)

Weekly ad in the paper or other form of donation solicitation.

Purchase our own health insurance.

Here are some of the plusses:

I can't see myself working for someone else.

I don't do 9-5.

Robb and I could work together (we've done it before).

Would actually free Robb up to have more time to work at Vintage Stuff, which ultimately aids the strength of the launch

Flexibility. Of course you have to put in the time, but it's more on your terms.

SOoooooooo.....that's something we are batting around. Thoughts?


klasieprof said...

Hey..Remember that "tool" we talked about...To Remove yourself from the situation a little bit.?? INstead of asking..What Should "I" do..ask..Hey I wonder if Vanessa would do this....
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands, taking pictures and listing .
She riseth also while it is yet night, to find the spot of the sale

and a
portion to her maidens, and those in need.She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid ...VANESSA IS NOT AFRAID ..to try something "out of the box"

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: WOW this is really good sh*t..at a great price I can resell this!!

She maketh fine linen, and sells
it; and delivereth girdles and teapots, and tupperware unto the merchants and buyers ( DANG>>>GIRDLES!! A New Niche).

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and she will be blessed.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness....Can You look better to the "ways of your household" by being home? YES.

One thought is..what's to lose. IF it doesn't work..Robb can do something else.
Would God have put this "thought" in your head if he didn't want you to follow through with it..."I desire good for you, and not evil".

A said...

Not to be the cup of "cold water" dousing creativity, but here are some practical details to throw in the hopper.

Firstly, from the previous comment:
"Would God have put this "thought" in your head if he didn't want you to follow through with it.. ."

Yikes, if I used that logic most of the time I'd have rationalized a LOT of BAD behavior throughout my life.

As far as people donating things to Vintage and then you guys selling them, I think that would be a pretty serious conflict with our NON-PROFIT status. Collecting or purchasing items on your own and selling them or re-selling them isn't a problem, but it would get sticky if we took donations, gave out tax break receipts, and then sold the stuff on Ebay. Strictly verbotten.

If you go down this road, you'll put yourselves in an entirely self employed category for taxes. That could translate into increased tax burden, to the tune of up to 30% of your profit/income depending on several factors that probably don't need to be listed here.

Have you priced independant health insurance? Whoa Nelly! I have recently for an entirely unrelated circumstance and it is pretty ugly out there on your own. It is bad enough for a company, which many employees don't realize (BCS spends a ton of money providing health insurance for its employees, you'd be shocked).

All that is to say, before you take that last step off the bungee platform, make sure you really know what your tax and insurance expenses will be and that you'd potentially really be able to survive on what's left over.

On the positive side of things, I think both my brother (& his wife) and my sister (& her hubby) are interested in having you sell some things on Ebay for them (they've asked me in the last month or so if you'd do such a thing and I keep forgetting to mention it.)

I think there are a lot of people out there like them, who have stuff that is more valuable than what they could get in a garage sale, but they don't know how or don't have time to list on Ebay. I think you'd have more success, and more profit generating ability if you provided a "service" to others by listing their items on Ebay for them and take a % of the proceeds. This doesn't limit you to junque other people are willing to just give away, but broadens your market to items that really have value, but the current owners are either incapable or impatient enough not to sell it themselves. Much better business model. This could make quite a nice income for soemone skilled in Ebay commerce.

That could also provide your division of labor/responsbility. You could continue to focus on the procuring of vintage items for re-sale and Robb could focus on being the broker for people who have something to sell but know not how to get it sold.

OK, that's my .02.

Heidi said...

A, you beat me to it.

I think selling things for people is a great idea. Now that I have a little experience (emphasis on little) selling things on the bay friends and family are asking me to sell stuff for them. In the next few days I will be listing a wedding dress. I charge them 20% of the final price and selling fees. I made almost $100 on three auctions by doing that.

I'm sure if you put an add in the paper or started something word of mouth you would find yourself with lots of stuff to sell for people.

Wouldn't it be nice having some of the stuff come to you rather than having to go look for it = )

A said...

And another perk of this idea is that you might not need the storage space. If you're selling other people's stuff, it can stay at their house until it sells. You go take pics and list it online. Offer different levels of service with different percentage for you based on how much work you have to do. 15% if they keep it and handle shipping it themselves once it sells. 20% if you ship it after the sale. 25% if you have to store it until it sells and ship it. You get the idea.

ness said...

What you guys are talking about is being a Trading Assistant. This is a program already in place on ebay. It's also the basic model behind Ebay drop sites like the one listed in the paper in Bentonville. Places like this will be springing up all over very soon and once I run through the short list of people I know who want to sell things, I will run out of stock. What I need is a niche in the market. What I know and what I love is thrift merchandise and the best way to get that is by donation.

(btw: I am not opposed to selling for people. I'm willing to give it a shot, but I just don't have a lot of passion for it.)

This is not a new concept: virtual thrift stores are running from places all over the country and thrift store are for the benefit of all kinds of things: Battered Women, Council of the Blind, Animal Shelter, St. Vincent De Paul and the granddaddy of them all, Salvation Army. How do church-run thrift stores operate?

Also, lots of not-for-profit associations have paid employees. That's what I'm talking about.

It's time to think outside the box. The inside of the box is not working. We have to make some kind of move to get ourselves into a situtation where Robb can devote his best energies to Vintage while still earning a living. I need to be at home with my kids. There has to be a way to "bank on our bliss."

ness said...

also, we've bought our own insurance before, so we know that gig.

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