Web Yields Selling Opportunities

Web Yields Selling Opportunities

Snappy Auctions offers internet savvy.

When Marc Parsont and Heidi Bulow became engaged, Parsont realized that he needed to clear out some of the things he had accumulated to make room for the two of them.

“I have to admit, I collect a lot,” he said. “I realized I needed to make room for my [future] wife.”

It was easy for him to figure out how to unload the merchandise. In his case, he walked across the street to the Snappy Auctions located near Trader Joe’s. This latest franchise of eBay consignment services is owned and operated by Ellen Radigan, a former sales rep for Eastman Kodak Company.

Radigan believes that customer service is the number one priority for a company, and hated how customers were treated at the telecommunications company she worked for after her division of Eastman Kodak was sold. Radigan also had an antique business on the side, and when she came across Snappy Auctions at a franchise show, she knew it was a perfect match.

“I wanted something I could own,” she said. “I always did well in sales and was used to what [customers] needed. I had a bunch of collectibles and thought that this business covers everything.”

Radigan consolidated the items she had in her antique store, saving some of the things for sale on eBay. She experimented with her own items, learning along the way — what sold the best, best way to take photographs, etc.

She opened her business at the end of last year and has been busy ever since. They have so much business that they are having a hard time staying ahead of things.

“I’m having a blast,” she said. “It’s a good experience.”

Helping her is another former Eastman Kodak employee, Kris Bell. Radigan’s niece, Lindsay Radigan, is also helping out.

SNAPPY AUCTIONS serves as a clearinghouse for people who want to sell items, but are not interested in taking the time to sell on eBay themselves. Instead, they bring the items into the store and Radigan or one of the other employees evaluates the item. If they don’t think the item will sell, they will inform the customer. Otherwise, they will explain the fee structure: 35 percent up to $500; 25 percent of the amount above $500 and up to $2,000; and 15 percent of the remaining amount above $2,000. An agreement is signed and then Snappy Auctions researches the item; writes a description; takes photographs and posts it on the Web site. They also handle payment and shipping of the items after they’re sold.

When the item is posted customers receive an email with the link, so that they can track the progress of the item. After the item sells and has been shipped, received and confirmed, the customer will receive a check for the selling price minus the fees. If the item does not sell the first time, Snappy Auctions will list the item again for no charge and if it does not sell at all, the customer can pick it up. Radigan said that very few people question the fees; they’re just glad to have an alternative.

“The fee is not the issue,” Parsont said. “You have to ask, ‘are you going to do this yourself?’ The fees aren’t excessive — you get a service from start to finish. Ellen has a great business sense — she investigates the worth or value. Unless you’re a full-time person doing eBay, this is the easiest and simplest way to go.”

SO FAR, Parsont and Bulow have done well. They sold a 1950’s popcorn machine for $540 and a discarded wine bottle opener for $60. Bulow had a piece of modern art that she describes as “god-awful.” When Radigan researched it, she realized the artists had died two years ago; the item sold for $1,025.

Another exciting sale was the vase that Bulow picked up at a yard sale for less than $5. Radigan researched it and realized it was Carnival glass. The item sold for $687.

“It was one of the most amazing things, it was up to $280 the first day,” Bulow said. “We’ve sold so much stuff. Ellen has done a great job of taking pictures and writing descriptions, very accommodating. She is very knowledgeable, and if it weren’t for her, I would have listed Carnival glass for five bucks. Somebody would have brought it and resold it.”

Radigan is already thinking of opening other stores in North Arlington and Washington, D.C.