Friday, August 21, 2009

Selling my Glass on eBay

With the decline in the number of art shows and fairs that we have in my local area, the number of pieces I've made started accumulating around the house. With the boss starting to make noises about how much stuff was on tables, shelves, and in boxes everywhere, I decided I needed to try some alternative selling techniques.

The first thought was that monster - eBay. I been registered for a long time but really didn't buy much. A lot of reading and research went into what I wanted to do. I decided to put a few pieces up for auction. I started with a nice piece to see what would happen. That is when I learned even more.

Shipping turns out to be the real issue. I know how to pack pieces for shipping and I've sent items all around the U.S., including Hawaii, and never had an issue. Of course I double box everything. That means that the piece is packed full of bubble wrap and/or newspaper if it is a hollow vessel. Then its wrapped heavily in bubble wrap and put in a tight fitting cardboard box. This box is then in turn put inside a larger box and "suspended" in two inches of styrofoam - either sheets or peanuts, or bubble wrap. This means the piece is pretty well protected. I think most pieces break from movement within the packaging. They are bound to be dropped or rough handled but if they are packed correctly they can't move and all the packaging absorbs the impact. I guess it's kinda like an airbag for the glass. It can take 20-30 minutes to properly package a piece and ready it for shipment.

The real surprise is that UPS turns out to be pretty expensive to ship packages. My father worked at UPS for 30+ years so I used them by default. In the first case, the shipping was more than what the final price of the piece was sold for!! I then went to the US Post Office, and with their priority mail one-price packaging, I can get a good deal on the shipping and you even get tracking numbers. PayPal makes it easy to print shipping labels and process payments as well.

Many people complain about adding a few bucks ($3 - $5) for packaging. I try to save every bit of bubble wrap, cardboard, and packing peanuts for reuse but I still end up buying stuff for packaging. When people see the piece arrive safe and sound, the remarks usually are "great packaging" or similar, but they balked at paying a packaging fee. I watch with interest people who have no issue with buying the latest infomercial product and then paying $7.95 for "S&H" when it clearly didn't cost that much for sending a small product or DVD, as compared to shipping a piece of glass.

I really didn't get a lot of bids on some of the pieces. I sold a couple for $10-$15 that would have been listed at $100 or so at an art fair.

So I have a few questions - What do you think of buying glass on eBay? What is a fair way to cover the packaging costs? I welcome your comments.

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