Cindy Hallsted of Some Silver Some Gold
It all began with a set of sterling silver bonbon spoons, muses Cindy Hallsted of her first foray into e-commerce. "I didn't even know what bonbon spoons were," she laughs.
A little research and some eBay University courses later, she was off and running as owner of Some Silver Some Gold, which has recently expanded into a multichannel business, specializing in antiques and collectibles.
In just two years on eBay, she's come across all sorts of other treasures she'd never given a thought to before, like salt cellars, depression glass, music CDs and even comic books. Hallsted has learned so much in a short time, she could easily be mistaken for an old pro, if she herself saw it that way. But to her, selling online is just something she does for enjoyment.
"It's my fun money," she says of the $250 or so a month she makes on eBay. "I use some of it to send gifts to my grandkids in Eastern Europe, where my son and daughter-in-law are medical missionaries, and I like to take some of the women at my church out for coffee. I don't really think of it as an 'income,' even though it is full-time work."
Despite being a relative newcomer to online selling, visitors to Hallsted's eBay listings or Auctiva Commerce Store get an immediate sense that she's been at this a while—from the consistency she creates by coordinating listing templates with the themes of her stores, to her attention to detail and emphasis on customer service.
I ship really quickly, and I wrap items special so when a customer receives their package it's like a gift—because they've had to wait for it
"I ship really quickly, and I wrap items special so when a customer receives their package it's like a gift—because they've had to wait for it," she explains. "When you go into a store, you can pick up an item and hold it and then you pay for it and walk out with it in a nice bag and some tissue paper. When you shop online, you pay for it and then you sit there and twiddle your thumbs, hoping you get it. So I try to ship the same day I get paid. I'll even drive to the post office and drop it off."
Through the Auctiva community, she's picked up some helpful pointers on customizing various aspects of her storefronts—and got some hands-on assistance from one very supportive member, who also operates a store on Auctiva Commerce. One recent addition Hallsted is proud of is a link to her eBay listings on the navigation bar of her Auctiva Commerce Store and an invitation in her welcome message to "walk across the street" to see her eBay auctions. On eBay, she uses her ME page to invite customers to read her Auctiva Store blog, where she promotes her Auctiva Commerce site.
Hallsted never planned on being an online merchant—it just happened. After sorting through boxes and boxes of silver and china she and her husband inherited from their parents, she decided to try selling the less sentimental pieces at an antique mall. She rented a display case for $100 a month, but never sold a thing.
"I called it my 'very nice storage unit,'" she laughs.
When the shop went out of business, Hallsted suddenly found herself with a lot of stuff and no place to put it.
"I knew eBay was out there, but I was scared," she recalls. "But I jumped in with both feet and started listing.
"When I first started listing on eBay, I made a deal with myself: I would never start an item at a price less than I would be comfortable letting it go for, and I would never look to see if someone bought an item to resell at a higher price. And as long as I've stuck to that, I've been blown away at how much fun I'm having," she says.
Once Hallsted started using Auctiva's eBay listing tools, she was hooked.
"What I love most about Auctiva is the scheduling, because I can sit there one day and put a bunch of products in and schedule them for when I want them to start, and they don't charge extra for that," she explains. "That really helps me, because if I'm doing something at 1 a.m. and, oh gosh, now I'm done, I don't have to wait until I've posted that one to start listing anything else."
Make new friends, but keep the old
I kept refining my keywords and my descriptions until I am now showing up on Google, usually on the front page
Though it's the thrill of auctions that keeps Hallsted motivated, the idea of having a place to offer items at a set price intrigues her. Having learned quite a bit about collectibles through research, she's begun acquiring pieces specifically to list at fixed prices. So when Auctiva Commerce launched in January, she signed up. What sold her on Auctiva Commerce, she says, was the feature set.
"You get so much for the price," Hallsted explains. "I've concentrated on learning how to do the feeds to Google using some Belleek china I bought at an estate sale, because it's highly searchable. So I kept refining my keywords and my descriptions until I am now showing up on Google, usually on the front page.
"My goal for the next couple of weeks is to learn how to do automatic e-mails and market my store a little better," she adds.
"My plan is to always try items at auction first," she explains. "If something is unique and searchable, I'll put it on a seven-day auction. If it doesn't sell but it had watchers, I might try it again. Other items, I'll put into Commerce and really promote them using Google Base, blogs and e-mail.
"There's just so much to do and so little time. Mainly I just want to sell, but I know that you have to do these other things," she says. "I think 'keep it simple, stupid' is a real good motto to live by. That's what I try to do. Keep it simple and still have fun."
Visit Hallsted's Auctiva Commerce store, Some Silver Some Gold, or check out her eBay Store.