The Story of My eBay Debacle – Part I

Have you noticed my absence from the site this week?  I hope not, but if you have, I blame it all on eBay!

I started my eBay business four years ago.  My son was two, and I desperately wanted to stay home with him.  My husband was pursuing his Ph.D. and was ABD (all but dissertation).  He was making money as a graduate assistant, but I supplied the vast majority of our income with my full time job.

That year I found a few Gap holiday sweaters on sale for a great price.  I bought several of them and put them up for sale the next year right before the holidays.  I must have priced them too low because they were all snatched up within a day of the listing going live.  From that moment on I thought an eBay business would be the answer.  (Seriously, looking back 4 years later, I don’t know what I was thinking!)

I conversed with a woman who had an eBay store with over 10,000 kids’ clothing items.  She was my role model.  I wasn’t content with growing my business slowly; I wanted to have thousands of items NOW so the money would come rolling in.  I found great sales, and I bought, and I bought, and I bought.  Let me just tell you that buying, keeping an inventory of, taking pictures of, listing, and shipping over 2,500 items that are all different is VERY time consuming.  While it worked okay when I had one child, as our family grew, my shaky business became an albatross.

Late in my third pregnancy I stopped buying any inventory for the eBay business, but by then I had fallen behind in listing.  Now I still have 5 tubs of unlisted items, and my baby is almost 11 months old.  I also have residual debt from my desire four years ago to grow my business as quickly as I could.  I still have over 1,600 items in my store despite my attempts over the last 9 months to clear out inventory.

My cousin is an accountant, and she is helping me with my books.  She said I have to do a physical inventory, so I have been spending all of my time while the girls are napping and when the kids are asleep at night going through endless tubs of inventory, trying to recall line names, and matching the item up with my inventory sheet.  It is a very LONG process.

So, why am I telling you this?  Not to reveal my stupidity, although that certainly is apparent through my poor business skills, but to admit that I got in this eBay business in the first place because I had a lack of confidence in myself.  I love to write; four years ago I should have found a side job writing, but I didn’t have the confidence for that, so I started this eBay business that has gone no where in four years.  If I could give advice to myself from four years ago, I would say, “Follow your passion and trust in yourself and your abilities.  Don’t get side tracked.”

To be continued. ..

(Read part two here.)

Have you ever had a bad business experience or made a poor decision because of a lack of confidence in yourself?


  1. My husband has tried a few ebay businesses, but we just couldn’t ever commit to them whole-heartedly. They are time consuming and can be quite expensive since you have to pay for the inventory up front. Good luck in your inventory and hopefully you can sell your remaining 1,600 items quickly! It will allow you more time to work on what you really want to; writing. 😉

  2. Oh no, you are not the only one. Years and years ago, when my now 17 year old son was a toddler and I was expecting my second, I signed up for one of those multi-level marketing businesses that were all the rage in the 90’s — this particular one for children’s books. They were very good children’s books, and I really could believe in the product — and I really did mean well, wanting to stay home with my precious kiddos yet still contribute monetarily. Still, I’m not a born salesperson, and have the slightest shy streak as well, so the whole thing really just didn’t jive with my personality at all! Having to go to those home parties to demonstrate and sell those books, and try to get other people selling under me — while it was working for some people, it just wasn’t my thing. I mean there were some women I knew really making a killing with their little book businesses, but I was definitely not one of them! Then my family moved out of state, effectively killing what little business I had so tortuously conjured up — and then shortly after that the whole entire company pulled up stakes and left the home-party business, leaving all those home sellers who had signed on in a lurch. Just a disaster all around. So while I don’t know that I necessarily lost money on the whole venture, I certainly didn’t bring in very much. However, I can at least say I did have a very nice home library of kid books for my children growing up — plus I learned some very valuable lessons along the way….!

  3. I went into an MLM business because one of the doctors I work with invited me to a presentation and I was too embarassed to say no. $1000 later I finally found that voice. I actually enjoy my eBay selling because it is so small scale that it gives me a small amount of wiggle room in my budget and I don’t feel overwhelmed. Of course I never list more than 4 things at a time:)

    • What is a MLM business? At least you found your voice before you lost a lot.

      I think I will be paying stupid tax as Dave Ramsey says when this is all said and done. After my whole huge store is closed, I might like selling things here and there on eBay, but right now it is taking up way too much time and space.

  4. KELLEY OTTO says:

    Hi, would you mind sharing with your ebay store name or member name? I love to see what you have listed! Thank you!

  5. I can’t relate to a bad business experience but have made numerous bad personal decisions in the past because of lack of confidence. Gosh, if I could go back and change a few things. I have learned some very important lessons on this journey. I can say with confidence that when I follow my passion and heart I am not disappointed. Since building up my confidence the last few years, I am making much better decisions.

  6. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I think eBay businesses are tempting for a lot of people because they seem easy. But, like any other business, it is still hard work (albeit, offering more flexibility in time than some other options). I know how overwhelmed I would get if I tried to sell enough items to make a lot of money on eBay… I just don’t have the patience! Can’t wait to read part 2!

  7. Thank you for sharing–my mother one time had an idea to go into an ebay business, but she never researched it or anything (this is a woman who doesn’t own a computer!).

    Anyway, it was great that you admitted your insecurities–I can relate. I have wanted to be a writer since 2nd grade when I began composing short stories. But it always seemed to be an impossible dream, and so I just about discluded it until several years ago! I am so happy I gave it a shot.

    • Yes, it wasn’t easy to admit this colossal failure. My poor husband advised against it the whole time while trying to encourage me to focus on writing instead.

  8. I have been selling on eBay for a good 12 years now…and buying as well. I sold a lot, and didn’t sell a lot as well. You just have to feel the territory here an there. One thing I found that just about always sells are 501 Levi’s Blue Jeans. I go to the thrift stores, where there are a lot of hidden treasures, and look. I got a pair of 501 Levi’s a few weeks ago for $3.00, and sold them for $26.00!!! I always start the listing at $5.01, and the shipping for $7.50. You cant get rich off of this, but, there is a little bit of a profit to be made. Another thing you want to look for are rare vinyl records…Again, you need to be educated on what is rare. My friend found Etta James “At Last” on 12″ Vinyl LP for $.50, and sold it for $75!!! It was in great condition, and right after Etta James passed away. Good Luck everyone!!!

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