Top tips to sky-rocket your toy sale profits on eBay this Christmas

Limited edition items to make or buy cheap to resell on eBay…

Toys are always popular sellers on eBay and not just in the run up to Christmas.

What most people don’t realise is that just a few sneaky tricks and techniques can sky-rocket your profits, cut your overheads and turn your toys into phenomenal money-makers on eBay.

This is what you need to know…

  • Second-hand toys are always popular sellers on eBay, not just for buyers on a budget, but also because some second-hand toys are no longer available new or they are rare collectables.

So keep a close eye open for yesterday’s toys at car boot sales and flea markets, at jumble sales and in charity shops. Haggle and negotiate big discounts on items you can resell on eBay.

Spend those discounts on paint and cleaning materials and neat new packaging to improve the appearance and perceived value of your items. Once done, toys might look like new, but they are not new and you must make this very clear in your eBay listings.

  • When you buy second-hand, look for multiple identical items – some broken, some missing spare parts. Remove all the good parts and use them to create one perfect version of a popular toy. As before, your item is still second-hand and you must say so in your listing.

Here’s a good idea to lift the perceived value of used toys: rather than call them second-hand, call them ‘previously loved’, ‘previously owned’ or ‘cherished oldies’.

  • Vintage toys and games are popular sellers on eBay and you’ll often find them lurking alongside modern toys and games at boot sales and flea markets. But you must arrive early to grab the best deals for yourself. Once traders selling at the event or just visiting start looking around, your chance is gone.
  • At boot sales and flea markets, you’ll find knowledgeable sellers displaying their best toys and games (and other items) prominently on top of the table. Non-specialist sellers, usually families and private individuals, are more likely to pack everything into boxes – some boxes on the table, some beneath. Spend time searching those boxes and you may find really valuable stuff hidden at the bottom of the pile.
  • Instead of listing toys you know are popular sellers and facing heavy competition, look for unusual items and toys you haven’t been able to find on eBay. But don’t risk money buying items that might not actually sell; instead ask permission to use the sellers’ graphics in your eBay listings. Or buy just one item, photograph it, create your own description, sell it and see how many Second Chance offers ensue. Then rush in fast to replenish stock and make Second Chance offers to unsuccessful bidders.
  • Here’s a top toy sourcing tip from a U.S. eBay PowerSeller: visit shops and suppliers in less affluent areas – try corner shops and tiny market traders that often have toys priced way below their eBay equivalent and some have frequent sales where toys are priced lower still.
  • Make your own unique Christmas gift baskets and stockings. You might also offer to create baskets and stockings to order, based on the recipient’s favourite toys, cartoon characters, hobbies, and so on. But you must offer this bespoke service well before the Christmas rush, or you risk people getting concerned about delivery times and inundating you with questions that take you away from fulfilling your orders.
  • Be careful cleaning, repairing and repainting toys. Some paints and adhesives contain lead and other toxic substances and toys containing them are banned from sale in our country. Jutting nails, spelks in wood, tiny buttons and beads can all cause death or serious injury and will get you in hot water with the police and consumer trading authorities, and could get you expelled from eBay.
  • Do not auction your hot sellers all at once, or even in close proximity. Wait to see what Second Chance offers ensue from one listing and always wait for one auction to end before relisting the item. Auctioning two similar items concurrently will spread your bidders across your listings and reduce your likely finishing prices.
  • Place a leaflet promoting your shop listings inside fulfilment packages and invite customers to visit for more information. For multiple-purchase buyers add a gift voucher that can be redeemed on their next purchase. You could also join an affiliate program selling other items for children and highlight the website link on your compliments slip or thank you letters sent out with current orders.
  • Study eBay (.com, .co.uk, and other) in the run up to Christmas: see what others are selling successfully, make notes, print out or save other people’s listings and put all to one side until this year’s big spend season ends. Then in early January use your findings to plan your campaign for selling toys next Christmas, and the Christmas after that, and the Christmas after that…

Limited edition items to make or buy cheap to resell on eBay

Of course you already know that rarity sells. Offer something desirable, and unique, like a book that’s autographed by someone well known, and as far as prices go the sky can be the limit.

Much the same applies to items created in restricted numbers by major companies like Lladro (porcelain), Baccarat (glass), Waterford (crystal), Swarovski (crystal), Steiff (bears), where, usually, the lower the number of items produced the higher the price will be.

Most limited production items grow rarer and more valuable with time – as some get broken or pass through the family as heirlooms and are unlikely to re-enter the market.

But ‘limited edition’ is a term open to lots of different interpretations and the area is packed with scams.

From bona fide companies, limited production means only a specific number are produced or an unlimited number will be produced within a specified time scale. So you might find just 100 items produced, usually numbered 1 of 100, 2 of 100, and so on: these tend to be the rarest and potentially more valuable of all.

However, items for which production ends on a specific date might still reach mass-market production figures, especially with aggressive marketing during the production period. But there will come a time when all production stops and supplies begin to dry up and prices start to rise.

Alongside the good just mentioned, you’ll find firms selling ‘limited edition’ items which are limited only by numbers that can possibly be produced from now to forever. That means goods will never become rare and the only person making money will be the manufacturer. Avoid this sort of ‘limited edition’ at all costs.

But, although genuine limited edition products are good news for eBay sellers, they can also be expensive and won’t always make a profit.

Thankfully, you can cut most such risks by creating your own limited edition items and make big money for years to come, even where your production run has long sold out.

This is what you need to know:

  • On and off eBay you’ll see manufacturers offering 10, 100, or 1000 copies of their own creations, individually numbered, and sometimes signed. My first experience of genuine limited production items fetching fabulous prices in the short and long-term was about ten years ago, and featured artists and craftworkers selling through collectors’ magazines.

Among them was a teddy bear designer who created just ten copies of each new bear design, all of which sold out fast at £200 each or more. When those items re-enter the market they frequently fetch thousands of pounds, in most cases for the manufacturer who operates a buy back policy with customers.

Having looked closely at the limited edition market I discovered those bears were just one of many different items making high profits new and second-hand, encompassing such things as dolls, dolls’ furniture, hand-painted plates and ornaments, and much more besides. All have potential for others to study as a prelude to creating their own stable of products.

  • Choose something that’s collectible in its own right, like teddy bears, dolls, hand-painted depictions of famous buildings, prints of original oil paintings and watercolours. Let eBay help you choose products: go to ‘Advanced search’ (top-right of any eBay screen), then on the next page type in ‘limited edition’, tick ‘sold listings’, then next page study limited edition items that have already fetched high prices and use some as the basis of your own creations.
  • Look for items you can have created especially for you, such as dolls and teddies, paintings, and china ornaments. Here’s a good idea: look in very old magazines and newspapers, preferably published in the USA before 1923. They’re in the public domain – look for patterns and plans for products for you to create and sell.

Have craftworkers and artists create a limited number of copies for you or create these items yourself. Get makers to sign a contract of secrecy and exclusivity, meaning they can’t produce copies except for you and they must keep the instructions secret and hand them back when production ends.

  • Have each piece numbered, 1 of 10 or 1 of 1000, for example, and include artist signatures. Keep numbers as low as possible because ten items might be worth more cumulatively than 1,000 items. Once production ends, describe products as ‘retired’ which sounds much grander than ‘end-of-line’.
  • Add a certificate of authenticity for all items, giving artist details and individual production numbers. Create the certificate of authenticity in passport or birth certificate fashion to add novelty value to dolls and bears designed for collecting rather than for playing with.
  • Open a secondary market for limited edition items. This is where original items are resold after being discarded or passed on by their original owners. Secondary market values can be way higher than original prices, so it’s worth asking customers to give you first chance of buying items back later.

Now go use those ideas to explode your business on eBay…

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here