Specializing in postcards and antique photographs

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Pricing on eBay

It is not free to sell on eBay, and I don't consider it cheap.  It is cheaper than running a brick & mortar store down on main street, but it is not cheap.  But you get what you pay for, and it seems to be one of the more popular sites on the internet, so it is a good place to do some business.

eBay seems to fiddle with their fee structures every 12-18 months or so, we've only been selling on eBay a little over 3 years, so I'm not sure about that.  It had been awhile, so I guess it was due - and it was something of a bombshell when it was announced.

After the initial shock, we tried to figure out what the best route for us would be.  They sent us an email with their recommendations, and using their calculator and our activity level & the way we do business, we came to the same conclusion.  That doesn't mean we were happy about it.

Right now there are 3 ways to sell on eBay (at least postcards & photos), auctions, fixed price, and store inventory.   All things being equal, auction and fixed price will display first in search results and store inventory items have the least visibility.  Auctions and fixed price are much more expensive to list than store items, but the final value fee charged when they sell is less.   So, if two items sell at the same price, you'll pay less fees if it is an auction item, than if it is a store item.  However, it's cheap to list store items, (3 cents a month for items priced up to $24.99 I believe) and you can leave them out there for long periods of time. 

eBay is doing away with store inventory selling format - everything now will be auctions or fixed price.  We can still have a store - but the items will be converted to fixed price.  eBay did lower listing fees - but the new fixed price listing fee is still going to be higher than the current store inventory fee.  Also, and I have no idea how this will effect things, everything will have the same level of visibility in searches - they'll still have whatever criteria they used to determine "best match", but now millions of store inventory items which will be reclassified as fixed price will be thrown into the mix.  I'm not sure of the ramifications of that.

The fee structure you pay will be based on the type of store subscription you have with eBay.  Right now we have a basic subscription, at $15.95 a month - and we usually have 2300-2500 items in store inventory.  If we maintained the basic subscription, the fixed price listing fee would be 20 cents a month - enough to cause us to shut down our store.  At that rate we'd pretty much be working to pay eBay, and that aint gonna happen.

However, eBay has "graciously" provided us a way to keep being productive members of society.  We can upgrade to a premium subscription for $49.95 a month, and they'll throw in seller manager pro in the bargain.  If we do that, our fixed price listing fees will only be 5 cents a month, something we can handle.  For us, that 2 cent hike means about $40-$50.00 a month more in fees.   So, if we sold absolutely nothing, we'll be sending eBay about $160 or more a month in listing fees for store items alone. That is a very healthy increase.  In reality, we'll be sending eBay a lot more than that - we do sell stuff, and the final value fees on items that sell are a lot higher than the listing fees.

Since listing fees will be less for auctions, it's possible we may actually save $30 or so over the course of a month, and that would pay for the increased cost of the upgraded store subscription.  But we're going to pay more for our "fixed price" items - no way around it.  I can't see how our fees will do anything but increase.

So, to get ready for this, we reduced some inventory - over 400 items in the last couple of months, and made a few other tweeks.  We've not increased our shipping rates, and I'm trying to resist a major increase in pricing if I can - still have to compete.  eBay let us upgrade to a premium store early at no extra charge (more or less), so we did, and I gotta tell ya, I'm having a field day with that selling manager pro, yessir.  Best thing since cheese on pizza, and I don't like cheese. We've also looked into other avenues of selling, which havent really panned out yet, but it takes awhile.

The changes start in 5 days.  I'm holding my breath.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson

This is an underground exhibit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, located in Tucson, Arizona. It has been mailed and is postmarked 1970, but based on the clothing and hair styles, I'd say the picture is 10-15 years older than that.

I'm not sure why I like this postcard, I'm not sure anyone else besides me does.  Maybe I like it (and maybe no one else does) because it screams 1950s at you.  Or maybe it's because everybody is looking at an exhibit with an arm extended out on a railing, and I can imagine them moving from display to display with some unintended Kafka-esque alienation, relishing the cool of the tunnel while contemplating the reality of their pending mortality, personified by the blistering heat they walk into upon leaving the tunnel, way down there in the desert of southern Arizona, amongst the cacti, rattlesnakes and scorpions. 

You can click on the title to go to the listing, or click on the picture to make it bigger and search for the quirks. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cathryn at San Marco, Venice, Italy, Feb 2, 1930

This is an Italian RPPC  (Real Picture Postcard) of a well dressed woman standing in front of a monument, and surrounded by pigeons. 

Written on back, "To my Valentine, much love mother dear, Cathryn".  And below that, "Taken at St. Marks, Venice, Italy, Feb 2, 1930".

The scene, if not the era, is very familiar to me.  Approximately 52 years after this picture was taken, to the month, I found myself standing in San Marco's square in Venice, very close to or possibly right at the same spot this woman is standing, also surrounded by pigeons.   Italy is quite a bit warmer than Germany in February and March, and it was a good place to go for a week or so, just to remember what warmth was like.

Going to Venice was like going to a different planet.  I loved it.

Click on the picture to make it bigger, click on the title to go to the listing.

Update: SOLD!