Stephanie Frantz, Everything Vintage
Stephanie Frantz has been in education for more than 25 years. She began teaching in a second-grade classroom then moved on to junior high and then high school. Later, she became a librarian and helped run her school's annual benefit auction. As it turns out, the move sparked a new passion and gave her a new "subject matter," she says.
"I started going to local auctions and buying stuff for really cheap. I would buy stuff for myself, for my family, and eventually, I had so much stuff that I had to sell it somewhere," Frantz laughs.
That's when the Pennsylvania resident, known as librarianwca in the eBay world, looked to the online marketplace to unload some of the antiques she had acquired. Today Frantz is a full-time online seller, and she's spread her eBay knowledge to family and friends.
I thought about becoming an eBay education specialist, but that would take time away from listing
Sharing her eBay knowledge
She taught her daughter how to sell on eBay at the age of 15, and the teen used her mother's eBay ID—with Frantz's permission—to sell items on her own. Frantz also shared her self-taught eBay skills to four nieces and her daughter-in-law, whom she now enlists to help her photograph and measure items.
"I thought about becoming an eBay education specialist, but that would take time away from listing," she remarks.
And boy has Frantz been listing. Now retired, her business has grown to include an Bay Store, Everything Vintage, which offers—as the name suggests—a wide variety of vintage items, including print art, books, jewelry, pottery, linens and clothing.
She also sells books on Half.com, a site that specializes in books, CDs and DVDs, gaming systems and other media.
"I like the idea of recycling old things," she notes.
Opening a new chapter
As a librarian of 15 years, Frantz always has a shelf of books she's no longer reading, which gives her plenty of inventory to sell on Half.com. After realizing how simple the site is, she was hooked, she says.
Listing on Half.com is as easy as entering a book's ISBN and PUC numbers. No descriptions are needed—and she doesn't have to pay listing fees. "You just pay final values fees," Frantz explains.
Like her eBay offerings, her books on Half.com include a little bit of everything.
"I don't specialize [in one genre]," she admits. "I look for books that sell!" Textbooks, for instance, go quickly on Half.com, but they can be hard to find. So while Frantz keeps her eye out for these, she also gets clues about what's selling, and for how much, by researching closed listings.
The best kind of 'homework'
Two of the biggest benefits Frantz enjoys from operating an online business are the flexible hours and the casual attire. "I can sit at my computer in my pajamas," she says. But she adds that selling online is not all fun and games; it does require a lot of discipline—something Frantz definitely has. In fact, the morning Auctiva EDU contacted the seller, she had just returned from a thrift store, where she scored 65 pieces of clothing at a dollar a piece, which she planned to resell on eBay.
"I got into clothing within the last year," she explains. "I started slow to see if [used clothing] would sell." The answer was yes!
"People don't mind if the pieces are used; sometimes it's better," Frantz adds. Brands names like Gap are always popular with buyers, and local thrift stores and church rummage sales are goldmines for items like these, she continues. This is a good thing because the seller tries to keep at least 300 items on eBay at any time, while simultaneouly maintaining close to 200 listings at a time on Half.com.
It's my job and my hobby. When you like something, you find time for it
Easing the workload
How does she manage it all? "Well, it's a full-time job, and I don't have kids at home and no animals to care for," she explains. "It's my job and my hobby. When you like something, you find time for it."
Auctiva's eBay listing tools have also helped lessen the load by reducing the time Frantz has to spend on the listing process. The One-Page Lister is especially helpful, allowing her to create new listings in minutes.
"It's much easier than eBay's (listing page)," she says.
Add to this the fact that Auctiva saves all her closed listings so she can make minor updates to these when she wants to relist items or list similar products, and the software shaves precious time off the listing process.
Auto Feedback, a tool Frantz just started using, is another big help, as are the free scheduling and the "cute" listing templates.
"Anything to save time [is good]," she says.
Learning a few more tricks of the trade
But the sound business practices of offering fair prices and shipping within 24 hours of receiving payment have been at the core of Frantz's success. She's known for these, she says. Even when she sells at a local flea market, buyers often tell her, "You're stuff is the best and you have very fair prices," Frantz asserts.
"I price things to sell," she explains. "I'm here to sell. I'm not here to hold out. I know some people say, 'But it's worth so much more and I'm not willing to sell it for less.'"
That's not her philosophy. In Frantz's eyes, a profit is a profit and prompt shipping is a must. Not even heavy snowfall will get in her way of shipping items on time.
"I'm very persistent," the seller notes.
In fact, when 16 inches of snow fell in two days in her East Coast town, Frantz and her husband quickly got to shoveling the driveway and mailbox so the mailman could pick up Frantz's packages. Their efforts paid off and the seven packages got on their way as planned.
"It did not really affect any of my customers," she continues. "It affected me, but not my customers."
Frantz shared that experience on her blog, Everything Vintage/What is it Worth?. She started the blog after learning about the benefits of blogging from eBay expert Jim "Griff" Griffith on eBay Radio.
"The people on Griff's show were talking about how setting up a blog could help your business, and how people like the content, and I always liked to write, so I tried it," she says.
Now she updates her blog at least once a week. She even uses the Auctiva Scrolling Gallery on her blog site to display the items she has listed on eBay. It's just one more way Frantz hopes to spread the word about her business so she can achieve her next goal of having 500 items on eBay at all times.
"I have the merchandise," she says. "I just have to get it out there!"
Visit Everything Vintage, and stop by to read Frantz's blog, Everything Vintage/What is it Worth?.