News

Taking stock of the economy via eBay

Jan Norman
The Orange County Register (MCT)

The stock market may have plunged 15 percent in October and other indicators may be pointing at a severe recession. But not every business is down.

"August was my best month ever. September was up 60 percent over a year earlier and October was up 30 percent," said Scott Brown.

He owns an iSold It franchise in Fullerton, Calif., that sells on eBay auction Web site items brought in by individuals and businesses.

Recent economic turmoil seems to have motivated a lot of people to clean out the garage or company store room.

"Many of my customers are selling things off, cleaning out closets, downsizing and moving," Brown said. "They need cash, not to meet the mortgage but maybe for Christmas presents or gas."

Also, a growing number of businesses have brought in products in bulk.

Brown has auctioned 20 cell phones for a company that wanted to get a newer model and eyeglass frames for a retailer who had too much inventory.

In the third quarter, eBay listings increased 26 percent, but the value of the merchandise sold dropped 1 percent.

But it's too early to tell if that is some sort of economic barometer, said eBay spokesman Jim Griffith.

DealTree Inc., an Irvine, Calif., online auction manager for big companies, has seen an increase in business as well, said partner Paul Fletcher. The company sells about half its 90,000 to 130,000 monthly transactions on eBay, but also sells on Amazon, Overstock.com and its proprietary site.

"September was our best month ever, and November through January are usually good months for us," he said. "Recently, Circuit City was looking to offload a boatload of product because its credit with lenders was so restricted."

Griffith said that one factor unrelated to the economy that might have increased listings is a decrease in eBay listing fees for certain categories.

However, Griffith, who talks to thousands of eBay sellers, said anecdotal evidence is that online selling habits are changing because of economic trends.

"A lot of sellers have readjusted their thinking. They're much more targeted on things more likely to sell," he said. "Buyers are looking for quality and value. High-quality electronics are always a good category. Collectables are suffering."

Brown agreed.

"I recently sold a signed, Sidney Crosby jersey for $375," he said, referring to the captain of the National Hockey League's Pittsburgh Penguins. "Would it have sold for $500 a few months ago? Maybe. However, eBay is still the place to go for laptop computers."

Brown won't accept items that won't sell for at least $50. He's turning away as much as 15 percent of what people want him to put up for auction.

"People are bringing in more, but more of it is garage sale stuff."

Jim Burden, owner of Acorn Paper Co. in Irvine, recently gathered up 50 to 60 items in his Fullerton home and took them to iSold It to auction.

"I had things like a Montblanc pen set," Burden said. "We had a couple of garage sales. People dicker for a nickel. This was an easy way to get rid of it."

Brown has had several women bring in their extra Coach, Louis Vuitton and Gucci purses. One customer sold 16 designer handbags to pay for a kitchen remodeling.

"This helps them maintain their lifestyle or pay for extras," he said.



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Prof. Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.