Profile: Hobby 4 Them

Husband and wife discover fun and profit selling online.

by staff writer
- Nov 21, 2008
Dave and Maribell Borcherding

When Dave and Maribell Borcherding joined eBay in 2003, their online activity mainly supported Dave's penchant for vintage Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. Out of that love grew autohobby4me, which in those days was focused on buying and selling collectible model cars.

But it wasn't long before the couple discovered that, by trading in toys for the real deal, their pastime could drive a true business and provide a reasonable stream of supplemental income.

Today, the Borcherdings specialize in selling used parts for full-sized vehicles, as well as car accessories, owners' manuals and other automotive items. In his profession as an automotive salvage dealer, Dave comes across many quality items he buys to resell on eBay. And the couple often purchases junk cars to strip for inventory.

"We do this on the side to make extra money for vacations, Christmas or school needs," Maribell says. "We average a few hundred dollars in monthly sales. It's not a lot, but it makes a big difference for us."

Having an automotive background, Dave usually writes the descriptions for their listings. But the day-to-day operations are run by Maribell, who is also busy home schooling two children and caring for a 1-year-old, while the Borcherdings' other two children attend parochial school.

"We want to grow our sales so much more; it's just hard to make time to promote the business," she says. "We've talked about opening an eBay Store, but we don't have enough time to devote to it to justify the expense."

That's one reason the Borcherdings started using Auctiva's listing management software. With the easy One-Page Lister, image uploader and wide variety of templates, preparing and scheduling professional-looking listings is not only quick—it's also free. Auctiva has a host of features that make it easier for sellers to build good buyer relationships and bond with other merchants.

The Borcherdings hope to use their Auctiva Commerce Store as a way to expand the focus of autohobby4me

"I love that Auctiva automatically sends a 'thank you' message to all our buyers. It's such a nice touch," Maribell says. "I really enjoy the forums and using the blog on our Auctiva Store to keep the community informed about new products we're listing and what we're doing outside of eBay."

New roads

She's also excited about the recently announced Auctiva Commerce platform, and was among the first to join the product's beta test group. "I've been playing around with all the features and checking it out—I like it!" she exclaims. "There's a really neat feature called 'kitting,' where you can combine related items from your inventory—like diapers, a baby sling and maybe a diaper pail—and sell them as a bundle. I'm so excited. I can't wait until it goes live."

If the price of the new platform is right, the Borcherdings hope to use their Auctiva Commerce Store as a way to expand the focus of autohobby4me to sell a wider range of household items.

In the meantime, the couple is exploring other channels that don't charge the high selling fees eBay has become associated with. Currently, they operate autohobby4us on—where Dave can again focus on selling diecast toy cars. Maribell is working on developing a variety store on the site called Nifty Nook. They're optimistic the new ventures will eventually grow to the point that they can reduce their activities on eBay. "It's just taking time," she says.

"It's tricky treading the eBay waters these days," she explains. "eBay has turned into a micromanager, and it makes sellers want to branch out. I don't blame eBay. I accept the reasons for a lot of the changes, but sometimes it drives me crazy."

When you love what you do and what you sell, that positive attitude makes buyers feel welcome

The Borcherdings have worked hard to keep their eBay feedback at 100 percent positive and their Detailed Seller Ratings to "raised" status—sometimes even taking a loss on shipping fees to keep prices down. Surprisingly, offering free shipping or priority delivery had little effect on customer satisfaction, Maribell says. Instead, she notes, buyers are often more pleased by simple things, such as personalized attention and shipping an item the same day it's paid for.

But overall, she's found that quality products and reasonable prices are the best ways to attract and retain a customer following. And when you love what you do and what you sell, that positive attitude makes buyers feel welcome, Maribell adds.

"We're just so glad we can make a little extra money for our family while helping others save money and selling to those who enjoy what we enjoy," she says.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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