Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mind if I look in your shopping cart?

In addition to knowing your pop culture references, sometimes just plain, old spying on shoppers can sharpen your buying skills. I do it all the time when I am in the Goodwill Store or at garage sales. As people walk by me, I take a quick peak into their shopping cart to see what they are buying. My philosophy is this: If someone is buying it, then maybe other people want it too! It's really just a form of basic market research.

Sometimes you can even spot a fellow eBay seller and see what they are buying at the thrift store or garage sale. You can usually pick them out...they're the one's holding something that just doesn't seem to fit their demographic. (Like me buying a Disney toy castle at a garage sale-see previous blog) eBay buyers also move quickly through racks, only stopping to look
at an occasional clothes tag. If you spot a fellow eBayer, definitely look to see what's in their cart. Conversely, if you saw me at the thrift store you would have a hard time spotting what I am buying. I deliberately hold my "finds" down between my waist and the clothes rack. This makes it harder for my competition to see what I am buying. Am I being a little paranoid? Maybe, but hey, it's a "dog-eat-dog" world out there! Why should I show my hand to my competitors in the store? They can read about my finds later in this blog!

Here is good example of some market research I did at a local Goodwill. I was going through the racks when I noticed two young college guys shopping over in the next aisle. I had already been through that same aisle earlier and hadn't found anything. (Or so I thought) I watched as one of the college guys pulled out a "Members Only" jacket from the rack. He tried it on, then asked his buddy how it looked. Apparently it didn't fit and the kid hung the jacket back on the rack. It was at this point that I remembered "Members Only" jackets were kind of a big deal with the college crowd. After the boys moved on, I went right over to the rack and retrieved the jacket. It was in very nice condition and priced at $4.99. I figured if these college guys took the time to try it on, there would be interest from other college kids too, so I bought it.

Members Only jackets have the potential to do very well on eBay, especially if it's the right color. Look for unusual colors such as red, black or white. My jacket was a light brown color that looked like leather, which I thought would be a good selling point. I posted the jacket right away on eBay, eager to see if my Goodwill market research was on target.

Well, the boys did right by me! After a seven day auction my Members Only
jacket sold for $25... a nice 20 dollar profit! While other Members Only jackets may have seen even higher prices, I was happy with a twenty dollar bill in my pocket.
If it hadn't been for those college kids, I wouldn't have even made this sale. It pays to watch people shop!

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