Relist for Success

Don't worry, just hit 'Relist', sit back, and relax

If there is one thing that season after season of finishing at the bottom of my fantasy baseball league standings has taught me, it is that past performance is no guarantee of future performance. What's true in make-believe sports team management is often true in selling on eBay. Just because something has sold for big bucks in previously completed eBay auctions, that doesn't promise a repeat performance. Fortunately, the opposite is also true.

This was illustrated pretty dramatically when I recently auctioned off pack after pack of unopened, but expired Polaroid 600 instant film. As I've posted about before, Polaroid film frequently fetches $20 per pack, so when I was listing a pack on eBay every week for 6 weeks in a row, I expected to have grossed around $120 bucks when all was said and done.

I started each auction at $9.50, a price I thought would be low enough to get a good deal of 'watchers', but high enough that I would still make a profit if it went for only the opening bid. Week One's auction closed at $22, right on target. But the next week the same pack of film only brought me $13. What gives?

Even more curious, no one bid on the film pack the next week. Not a single bid. Had the market for Polaroid film crashed? Was somebody else offering the same item much cheaper? Was my computer malfunctioning? I couldn't figure it out.

My head really started to spin when, the following week, that same pack that had not garnered one bid the previous week sold for $35! The remaining three packs of film sold for $18, $25, and $22.50 (averaging $22.58 for all six packs). So the prices I was fetching varied by over 20 bucks from week to week.

This statistics-filled tale is an illustration that prices can fluctuate without much reasoning. With that in mind, it is always best to set your listing price at a comfortable level, making sure you are assured the profit you need for that item. It is better to not sell an item than sell it for too little.

Sometimes items will sometimes go from no bids at all to a bidding war after a quick relist.

Similarly, items that don't seem to interest anybody in an auction format can sell like hotcakes with 'Buy It Now' pricing. Certainly there are a great deal of people who want to purchase that item right now and are willing to perhaps surpass a deal for the immediacy of a purchase guarantee. Some folks don't want to wait days to see if they may or may not have won an auction... they literally want to buy it now.

And I won't even begin to launch into the fact that certain items fetch much higher prices in different venues. I know several sellers who purchase vintage things on eBay just to turn around and flip them for profits on Etsy. Remind me to write about that later.

So don't be discouraged if nobody seems interested in your treasure. Click that 'Relist' button and be patient. Try a 'Buy It Now' price. Maybe change a few words in your subject line. Good things come to those who wait, so don't sell your pickings short.


  1. This is really appropriate for me. I have just gotten back into Ebay again after 6-8 months of selling very little on there. Amazon has been making money but slowed down so I went back to Ebay. I used to be able to sell anything I put on for nice money. But lately it's just nothing. I'm so frustrated. I try buy it now then I switch to auctions. nothing is moving. Of course I lost my top seller status so maybe that is it. That's all I have to say. Thanks for the blog.

    1. Thanks for the comment.
      I've been doing more eBay lately, but mostly because I'm not finding as many great picks for Amazon as much (books, DVDs). I've had a few items that recently benefited from a switch to BIN after a few weeks with no action as an auction. Sometimes things just don't sell well for no reason I can decode, so keep at it and things will eventually pick up.