Back in 1996, gf-attic registered on eBay, one of the earliest people in the UK to do so. He soon became the UK’s first powerseller, and he still trades on the site today. eBay celebrated his achievement with a birthday cake. Here he reflects on his ten years’ trading.
Things were pretty tough in the UK antique trade a decade ago. The mainstay of most British dealers, the foreign trade, had stopped coming and it was clear that the nostalgia boom of the 1980s was well and truly over.
I’d already lived on fat for a couple of years and it was almost in desperation that I signed up for eBay’s new fangled auction-on-line service.
Ten years later I’m still there.
And it’s been an easy ride with my customers.
I reasoned early on that asking a buyer to send money to a foreign country to someone they didn’t know for something they hadn’t seen wasn’t going to work without building some trust. I started taking part in collector groups, especially for sewing related subjects and soon started dedicated forums where I could field questions about sewing machines.
It’s worked. In those 10 years I’ve not had a single negative feedback and, more importantly not a single non-paying buyer. Got my first neutral last week just in time for my 10th anniversary.
This isn’t all due to my business practices â€“ a lot is a result of my customers being in that middle age to senior comfort range that insurance companies love so much. But this does mean that are not always too savvy in the ways of e-commerce and a lot of hand holding is required.
Most customers are American and so I list on the US site and in US dollars and am happy to take personal checks. The prospect of paying for international shipping is solved by simply not charging for it. OK, FREE shipping isn’t really free, it’s built into the reserve/starting price but it’s a real attraction to Mr and Mrs Middle America.
And there’s nothing ambiguous about my terms and conditions. There can’t be — I haven’t got any. They pay, I send. It’s as simple at that.
Graham Forsdyke aka gf-attic