The Sad Case of the Sucky eBay Auction + What We Can Do About It.

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

One of my silliest 'bragging rights' is that I have been selling on eBay since it was called AuctionWeb! Back in 1995 eBay was a completely different animal than it is today. It was a heaven for collectors, but even better for thrift rats like me.

I convinced my BFF to go into the eBay biz together so we could raise money to be mobile DJs! It was fun to have a goal, an EXCUSE to HAVE to thrift! You know how it is.

The plus side of us doing an eBay hustle back in 95 was that no one else was in on it yet. We would spend a day scouring the thrift stores for anything nostalgic. We snapped up toys, metal lunchboxes, vintage (then!) clothing, kitschy things + anything with famous characters on it. I still have dreams some nights (actually sleepytime dreams) of the old days of thrifting. Most everything we ever bought was under $2.

Auctions were different then because their main focus in those early years was really about hooking up collectors with people who have the things the collectors are collecting.

There were a lot less sellers back then, so the sellers that were smart/lucky enough to be there with the goodies did VERY WELL for themselves. We once sold a .60 plastic California Raisins lunchbox for $60. Make money moneyyyy!

And make money money we did. We raised enough to buy our gear! Hoorah!

We started hustling that side-gig around. We convinced this awesome (now defunct?) cd/book/gift shop called Media Play to let us set up our DJ equipment and entertain their customers one Friday night and had a blast. The next day we got a call to do a 13 year old's birthday party. And this was when we learned that DJing was NOT for us. We almost ditched the entire setup on GA-400 on the way home, that's how bad it was.

We sort of stopped doing eBay for awhile then, but the next time I had a big money goal in mind, I enlisted my then boyfriend to do photos + shipping stuff while I got to thrift, research and write descriptions. We pretty quickly made a few thousand dollars which funded our whole move to a state hours away.

Anyway, it's important to understand that eBay didn't introduce Buy It Now as an option until the Year 2000.

Since most of my experience has been AUCTION STYLE listings, I hadn't even considered using Buy It Now. I figured that for the rarer items, auctions would be the way to go every time. And while they probably ARE, you have to start them at your lowest acceptable price or you risk big time sad feels. I speak from personal experience.

I'd been saving this very rare Cure raglan for either: 1) if I got skinny enough to fit into it again or 2) I needed money most desperately. I will let you guess which came first. (I like dessert.)

Anyway, favorite band (blah blah blah), rare tee from 1980-something, never found another just like it. I fully expected it to sell for at least $500 for the scarcity considering that this is a pretty world famous 41 year old band with a kazillion fans. To increase my odds, I also posted about the auction in a Cure fan group on Facebook. Even though the group has 30k members, barely anyone even saw it and/or cared enough to even mash that react button! LOOK!

At the end of the auction, you know those last PRECIOUS SEVEN SECONDS, we held our breath hoping it would jump from the $31 it was at. Those last seven seconds are when the sniped bids come in. That means people set 'bots' to bid at the last possible milisecond which increases their chances of being high bidder. It's not at all uncommon for things to get sniped. We've had lots of random things jump more than 6x during those last seconds.

It did jump once or twice but in the end it only sold for $67. And now I was $433 off my expectations AND I was down something really special to me. So yeah, that sucked. Especially this era of Cure, come on!! But I digress. The point is, it's heartbreaking. I don't want it to happen to anyone else.

Shortly after this disaster of an auction (in which I learned a lot, yeesh!) I started jotting down notes on what might make things more FUN for almost everyone. YES, EVERYONE!

For me, what would have been FUN was if even an iota of those 30k members of the FB group bid.

  1. They have incentive to own a rare shirt of their favorite band.

  2. They spend money on other Cure items

  3. They tend to brag about their rarities.

  4. Many seem to have $$ to spend on their collections

So why didn't they?

Winning rare memorabilia auctions is fun when you have the means for it, but maybe the audience I was counting on to show up COULDN'T? I would LOVE to be able to blast a few hundies at anything that makes my heart pitter patter but I cannot. I suspect many of my fellow Cure fans are in that same situation.

What would have been FUN for Cure fans/vintage t-shirt fans then?

Naturally, one assumes it would be fun to have a chance to win a rare, authentic vintage tour shirt for a small amount, knowing that a percentage is going to a charitable cause, ie something like a raffle.

The raffle in general is a noble concept but execution is everything. If you don't have enough interested buyers, your results may be disappointing. Worse than the worst eBay auction, even on a rare vintage tee.

First off, raffles aren't legal for just anyone to do. Non-profits only. You can't advertise any forms of gambling on Facebook or Instagram, so how do you even find interested entrants at all?


Since all raffles would benefit from having more eyes on them, wouldn't making a 'shoppable' marketplace of on-going raffles that accept online entries just make sense? I haven't really found anyone doing this. (Leave a note below if you do?)

But most raffles are super boring.

I'm not trying to be all hoity-toity but the raffles I've seen online were boring as all get out, as my cousin used to say. New stuff that you can snag at Target, bikes, vacations or gift certificates for local businesses, while all so generously donated, realistically are NEVER EVER EVER NOT IN 20 MILLION YEARS gonna get a bunch of entries, because there's nothing really special about most of it.

But imagine if, in your pocket, you had a daily catalog full of 100 fresh, rare, unusual or hard to find items in fun, HIGHLY curated themes that you were passionate about AND that you could win for less than .25 including shipping.

Highly curated, limited time events with live drawings, interesting podcasts about the things you could win and other fun give-aways will make our little app hard to put down!

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