Selling you project for tool money #1: e-bay sales

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Blog entry by Jeff posted 08-11-2007 10:25 AM 1171 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Has any one out there in ever done any selling of there project on e-bay, and if so how did you do. I am thinking about trying it out one day even if just for some extra cash for more wood and tools. On a side note I know of a consignment shop near by that deals in furniture, has and one ever tried consignment.

-- Jeff B.

9 comments so far

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4292 days

#1 posted 08-11-2007 02:36 PM

Dan has had a wee bit of luck on eBay

his blog about it

he also hosted a chat session recently:

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4370 days

#2 posted 08-11-2007 04:43 PM

I tried eBay once. Sold a cane I normally sell easily for $120, high bid was $45. Didn’t try it a 2nd time.

I’ve tried consignment many times, not much luck there either. I’ve had my product stolen, the owner’s not pay me when my stuff sold, and things that just draw dust and never sell.

If you want more horror stories than you can swallow, hang out with canvas painters awhile and bring up the “gallery consignment” question. I don’t know that I have heard of many consignment stories that had happy endings. Consignment commission was the lowest at 20%, the highest at 50%. The 20% stuff didn’t sell, and the 50% stuff I had to threaten collections to get my money. One guy just disappeared and I never got my product back, or money.

I like Thos. Angle’s new approach. If the place gets a reputation for decorators to go and get ideas and pick out products, that concept could really take off. If it gets to where it is just another place that vendors resell product they buy from somewhere, like China, I don’t give it much life. But, people will show up to see hand made work by artisans, especially local ones, and the more there are in one place, the bigger the draw, the more it works. The best part, he doesn’t have to be there all the time, or pay an employee to read Romance Books waiting for a shopper to come in.

I’ve watched the bunch in Berea, KY grow over the years, and I get the impression that the synergy is good for all of them. At least that is what they say in print. It is a destination vacation dream for me sometime to find out first hand.

Now, that being said, I always give the advice to try anything that you think will get people to notice your work, short of telemarketing, that is. My advice on consignment is to pick places that are close to you, or a friend, or a relative, so that the products can be checked on regularly. Did I say regularly? Ok, just check on them regularly.

If the owner’s know you going to walk in unannounced often, they take it more serious. I set some product out one time, gave the pricing, left the contract, and went on my way. Two months later I went back to get money, and the owner hadn’t even gotten the tags on my stuff yet. From then on, I put the tags on, and also train the store staff about how to sell it. Sometimes they even call me to ask for what to do, cut price, custom make something the person wants, alter the product some, etc.

Get a contract, all of the do’s and don’ts in writing. If you need a copy of what a contract looks like, email me and I’ll send a sample contract that I think is fair both ways, and covers almost all you could think of. It was written by a shop I had stuff in.

There are literally thousands of little shops that people run as small businesses, while another person in the family makes the money doing something else. Is that politically correct enough? Walk through them and look, observe, and check out the customers. If you like something you see, it might work. You’d be surpised how many shops are tax deductions and hobbies for someone else. My advice is to find someone that has to make money….it motivates them more.

Another thing I would recommend is to actually show your work yourself in person.

Here’s why: I learn so much from folks by listening to their comments and observing their body language. I learn what people like, don’t like, price pinch points, and what they think of me personally. I don’t get any feedback from consignment galleries. The clerks get all of the feedback, and only occasionally is that information given back to me in a form that I can learn anything from it.

I think the feedback to your work is probably more important than actually selling anything, as you get started. It helps you pick out things to make in the future, or things to give up on.

You can call it market research. If you have a business plan, which you should even for a hobby business, that section of your plan should be everything you have ever learned on your own about what customers think, and things you can glean from other folks doing what you do, from what they have learned from customers.

Your friends/family may give you good advice, but the folks writing checks are your real input to listen to. Notice, the term “market research” has a name that sounds like “research” which means it is information gathered. When I first started out 10 years ago my “research” was just my gut feelings about what I felt when I bought something. What I learned is that I don’t think the same as other people, especially people that buy art, but can’t build it.

My own gut feelings weren’t near as valuable, or as factual, as what I have learned from shows, and listening to why people buy my work. I ask them straight up, “why did you like this.” Sometimes the answers swell my head, but most of the time I learn something valuable. Like, “it was a great deal, I can sell it for three times this much.” That one will make you slap your forehead. Or this gem, “my husband can make these, and it will give him something to copy and sell and get him out of infront of the TV.”

At shows, you must have tough skin, and be cautious, but I learn a lot. A friend told me once that he did a show in California, and two nice gentlemen from China talked with him for an hour about his great product. They decided to buy one, assuring him that their business associates at home would want to start buying more from him. Well, you know the rest of the story, they went home and started producing what he invented. He was so angry about it 10 years later, that it crippled his ability to trust anyone about anything again. He told me that his own lust for money clouded his vision to see that one coming, and that he should have known it was too good to be true.

If you can learn about those things from eBay, then give it a try. I for one will enjoy hearing how it works for you, and then I can fill out more space in my market research section with more “research.”

pulling for you in Kansas,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4264 days

#3 posted 08-11-2007 06:11 PM

You should check out

You can list items free, & you can deal direct with your customers, & you won’t have to bother with shipping things.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4264 days

#4 posted 08-11-2007 09:09 PM


-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3927 days

#5 posted 08-11-2007 09:32 PM

Jeff, I have to concurr with Mark about selling your products on E-Bay. Most people are trying to buy something for nothing. Sometimes they are fools who don’t know what something is worth and pay too much. Usually everything brings less than it’s worth. You can set a reserve price and know you will either get your price or nothing. That doesn’t cost too much. You can also set the starting bid at your bottom dollar and hope someone bids. The problem is that most people have no idea how much hand made wood work is worth. They see something at Walmart and think that it is good quality. Then when they see the price of custom work they have a freak out. It doesn’t occur to them that we all are paying up to $65 per hour to get our cars and trucks worked on. They think we should work for $3 per hour. Sorry but it doesn’t work that way. Last summer I made a trip to Jackson, Wyoming to show a portfolio to the owner of a store. The store is pretty well known among the lodge owners and we thought they might do some business with us. The owner looked at the photos and asked the prices. She said thank you and we left. As we were walking out the back door they were loading a truck with furniture for someone’s home. Every piece was marked “made in China”. We’ve never heard back from them.
Mark, The HomeShow Daily may be alright but it has some drawbacks as well. They only allow three of each class of exhibitor. So there are only three furniture makers, three cabinet makers etc. Most of the place is devoted to contractors for remodels, log home builders, flooring, counter tops, lighting etc. There is an in-house architect-designer who will draw plans right there. We are wondering if the demogrphics are wrong for what I produce. A saleman friend of mine suggested that we are mainly providing free entertainment. I wonder if enough customers with a high enough income are coming through. I met with the management on Wed. and we came up with plan to have a special event for the interior designers on the area. Also one for the realtors. I guess time will tell.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Jeff's profile


91 posts in 3913 days

#6 posted 08-12-2007 07:32 PM

Thanks everyone for the head up and info, I will diffenely need to look at my opptions, but I think that I will be less likly to start selling with out some good research first.


-- Jeff B.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4126 days

#7 posted 08-13-2007 11:45 AM

and don’t forget to use—tag all your projects well. People searching online will come across the site. Make sure the keywords are used in your descriptions/blogs.. think about what words people would use in their search and make sure they are in your description and your tags.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Jeff's profile


91 posts in 3913 days

#8 posted 08-13-2007 06:05 PM

Thank you MsDebbieP not a bad idea

-- Jeff B.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4126 days

#9 posted 08-14-2007 01:04 PM

and.. don’t forget your profile page—- it is your own personal website related to woodworking… purchasers will want to know a little about you

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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