Has Your eBay Business Grown too Large for your Home?
During the twelve years I have sold on eBay, I have often toyed with the idea of getting my eBay business out of my house! I guess the first time was six years ago when my brother was out visiting and he said, “This is starting to look like Grandma’s.” That scared me. My grandmother NEVER moved her business out of her home and she ran it very successfully for over 50 years.
However, after 50 years it would have probably been impossible to move it. Remember, it took us over two years to liquidate her estate and I still have many more boxes to go through. I think that proves just how impossible it would have been.
Here is a photo of my grandma in her living room sitting on her couch with a bunch of necklaces she had just strung to sell in the shop.
After eight years of living in our Palm Desert house, I began thinking that we needed a change. I like to move primary residences at least every 2 to 3 years. It helps me to stay organized and for some reason I love moving. I am a Cancer (astrological sign) and supposedly we don’t like to move but I am an anomaly and I really enjoy the process.
Then Auntie Suzi and Debbie V posted a link on the Queen’s Court to the Nightline piece about eBay turning 15 years old. I was impressed with Linda the Lawyer! She took her clothing consignment business from her home to a 7 million dollar a year gross eBay business. I thought to myself, if she can do it, so can I.
Yikes! What was I getting myself into? Carmen (my assistant) and Lori (my friend) had both been urging me for some time to move eBay out of my home. And with office/industrial space at an all time low, now was the time to start shopping around!
I called three different brokers and looked at about 25 different properties with Mo, Carmen, Deborah and my mom in tow. What a sight that was!
I finally decided on one of the properties last Friday. Here are some of the questions that I hope you ask yourself and decide if a move like this makes sense for you and your business.
1. Is your eBay business taking over your home and your life?
I think one of the first signs is when your dining room and living room look like this. (At least I have always been able to keep the eBay business out of the kitchen!)
When it does get like this and it is always staring you in the face, you really feel like you should always be working. It is not the healthiest way to live .
BTW, when I was thinking about moving the business and really growing it like Linda the Lawyer, I went in to the “official” eBay room to brainstorm with Carmen. I asked her to watch the Nightline piece and wondered what she thought. Carmen is really great to brainstorm with.
I said to Carmen, “I don’t EVER want to do consignment like Linda does…it just doesn’t work in 99% of the situations (as my grandmother taught me years ago and has been proven by the demise of all the “I Sold It” franchises). The fact that it is working for Linda is an exception (or an anomaly like me & my moving fetish). I did some research on Linda’s business and her average sales price is $63. My average sales price is about $16. That is one of our challenges. Carmen, do you think that we can find enough stuff to sell and make it work?”
She looked at me and said, “Are you kidding? Sourcing unique one-of-a-kind items is your forte. It will absolutely work! That is not going to be our problem.” Carmen is awesome!
And then we started looking at property. The ball had started to roll and there was no stopping it. Fun, scary and super exciting all at once!
2. Do you feel guilty just sitting on the couch and watching TV…Do you feel like you should be working?
As I write this, I am sitting on the couch and watching one of my favorite shows, 2 1/2 Men. You see, with the business in my house, I NEVER feel that I can NOT work. It is a really terrible affliction.
However, I realized when writing this article that one of my favorite things to do is work. My work is my passion. And my grandmother always taught me that if you follow your passion, the money would come. I will always continue to love my work and I hope you do also.
So, even though I do work a lot, I really really enjoy it. I also believe that by moving the clutter out of my home it will make me feel more peaceful and less stressed by all the merchandise that is piling up in my dining room, living room and foyer!
And Carmen had a great point. How can we unpack all the boxes of stuff in the garage and sort it without anywhere to organize it? We have reached our limits here!
I am sooo excited that my new office space has a room for plush (thanks Debbie Ybarra), a room for books/CDs/DVDs (thanks Sheila), a room for new clothing (thanks Mel & Steve) and specific shelves for dinnerware (eBook), flatware, coffee mugs etc. that other people will be able to list for me. These are specific niches that anybody can list. I am working on employee manuals (Thank you VICTORIA!) and other systems that I can put in place so that others can list successfully for me. It is a very exciting time here at the Queen of Auctions!
3. How do you know how much space to move into?
You may want to start out small by renting some storage unit space. That is what I did about five years ago. I got a 20 by 10 foot storage unit space that runs $189 per month. It worked for a while but no more!
Mo is still using storage unit space and it is working for her. When I started pricing office space, I realized that by saving almost $200 per month by getting rid of that space, it would allow me to stretch a little.
You can also put a small storage unit on your property. There are ones at Home Depot that you can build and put outside. They aren’t huge but I know they work for a lot of sellers. Debbie Ybarra has her plush in bins outside in one of these tiny units. My advice is this: start small and get your feet wet.
My feet are not wet but soaking. I have totally outgrown my garage, my storage unit and my 4,000 square foot house. What is taking up the majority of that space is unlisted and unpacked items. It is time to move on.
My good friend Dean Factor and I had a meeting about my reality show and he said to me, “Your fortune is in your garage!!!” Thank you, Dean. He also told me that I needed to get over my sentimentality towards my grandmother and get it all listed. Sounds like a great plan coming from a multi-millionaire who understands a little bit about selling on eBay. It really got me thinking. Always a good thing!
BTW, office/industrial space and storage unit space is at an all time low price. You can get incredible deals right now. Keep that in mind and get exactly what you want and need for the best deal. Cash is king! Wow, I am really starting to sound like my grandma.
Anyway, when we started looking, I called three brokers and asked about 2,000 square feet of warehouse space. What I quickly learned was that there are many different types of industrial warehouse space.
Some have more built-out office space than others. Most of the space we looked at was mainly industrial cement floor warehouse with roll up doors and tiny, tiny built-out offices.
When all of us (My mom, Carmen, Deborah, Mo and I) were out looking we realized that we wanted more built out space with carpets, lights, etc. so that our items would not be housed on shelves on a cement floor (earthquakes) and that there would be plenty of room to list and write up items.
One place that I loved was only 1500 square feet. I was about to take it but when we started talking and analyzing what size space we were already using we realized it would give us NO room to grow. I HIGHLY recommend that you analyze your space needs also.
When we got realistic and started adding up our current used space here is what we came up with:
600 square foot Rec Room (eBay room) used for storing eBay items, shipping eBay items, storing shipping items and housing Carmen and Deborah.
80 square feet in a wet bar (any old port in a storm) that we use to store some book products and Boot Camp in a Box.
600 square foot 3-bay garage, which is practically filled up wall to wall.200 square foot storage unit used to store unlisted eBay items and books.
160 square foot current home office for me that is housed in a guest bedroom. BTW, we may never move that office out of the house but I am starting to like the idea!
So, when we add up all that space, 600 + 80 + 600 + 200 + 160 we get 1640 square feet.
We all agreed that to make this new part of my life work, it would need to be more than 2000 sq feet and maybe even 2500 to 3000 square feet. With 1640 square feet already being utilized in my house & storage unit, we should look for larger space.
On the last day of looking (It is always the last day when you find the best stuff!) we came across a 3100 square foot property (quite the stretch). BUT, We were finally showed a property that was 70% built out and had upgraded office space. Newly painted white walls, new gray carpet, two bathrooms and a small kitchen. It was awesome. And my choice!!
It fits who we are and who we want to be. Wish us luck and hopefully we will move in right before Thanksgiving.
Don’t be afraid to grow, the marketplace is ripe for those with vision & fearlessness. Commercial owners are ready to deal. I encourage you to take baby steps but make a plan for growth. You can do it!!!! I can (and will) do it! Watch me in the next few months/years. It will be fun and exciting as we grow together!
An update, I signed lease papers today and got the keys. Here I am opening the front door. Houston and Indy took the photo and they are so excited also!
Life is great and we can’t wait to start this new chapter in our eBay business. Carmen made a commitment to me tonight, that we would start listing 300 new and unique items each week (now that we have this wonderful office space). I am ready to reach new heights and I hope you are also!