Profile: Treasured Together

Couple grows yard-saling hobby into serious business.

by staff writer
- Jul 20, 2010
Monique & Fred Hinds, My Thrifty Treasures

Opening an eBay Store was a major turning point for longtime sellers Monique and Fred Hinds, owners of My Thrifty Treasures. Not only did it elevate their eBay sales to a new level, but it drastically improved their quality of life.

Monique has been selling various yard- and estate-sale finds on eBay since 1999. It was a fun pastime that kept her busy while Fred was away on extended business trips. But the couple eventually tired of those long separations.

About a year and a half ago, Fred decided to reduce his hours to work from home—which meant they'd need to find a way to supplement their income.

"We wanted something we could do together," Monique explains. "I'd been selling on eBay for years but was never really a serious seller. So we decided to open a store and see how it worked out."

From the looks of it, it's working out quite well. Though they spend only 20 to 30 hours a week on eBay, the Hinds average $1,500 a month in sales, and as much as $150 a day during the holiday season.

"Then there are days when you only sell two things," Monique laughs. "It's cyclical, for sure.

"We have about 340 items in the store now. Our goal this year is to have 500 things in the store, but it's been hard to get there because we find the more we list, the more we sell," she adds.

I've always loved garage sales, so it doesn't seem like work to me

'Not casual at all'

My Thrifty Treasures focuses on pre-owned women's clothing and older, hard-to-find kitchen items—two niches Monique settled on after a lot of trial and error.

"I used to just throw anything up there and see what stuck," she says. "That's how I learned what people like, and what sells the best."

The Hinds now spend their Saturdays at garage sales in search of potential inventory.

"It's very time consuming. You have to go every week. We usually start at 6 a.m. and we're out until 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon," she explains. "It's not casual at all. But I've always loved garage sales, anyway, so it doesn't seem like work to me."

On Sundays, they have what Monique calls a "list-a-thon." "We list items, from morning to night," she says.

Having an eBay Store has given the Hinds more freedom to buy whatever great finds they come across without worrying whether the items will sell in a week, or if they'll fetch a reasonable price at auction, she notes. Instead, they can invest in items they know have value, list them as Good 'Til Cancelled and wait until the right buyer comes along.

The couple also lists on Bonanzle. While sales on the site are few and far between, Monique says they like giving customers an alternative buying channel.

"A little competition for eBay is healthy," she laughs.

It's reassuring to have a listing service you can count on to help you stay up to speed

More efficient selling

The Hinds have used Auctiva to list their eBay items since long before opening their eBay Store, having found the tools and eBay listing templates easier to use than other third-party software they'd tried. And with frequent changes occurring on eBay, it's been reassuring to have a listing service they could always count on to help them stay up to speed, Fred notes.

There was also the convenience factor.

"Seven or eight years ago, if you wanted to put more than one image on your listing, you had to upload the pictures to GeoCities. Then you had to learn HTML to put in the URL so you could upload your pictures," he explains. "Auctiva made it a lot faster and easier."

eBay's image hosting capability has improved since then, but the Hinds find they still significantly reduce their selling fees by using Auctiva's image hosting, which allows up to 24 images per listing—including supersizing—for no additional cost.

They've also become more efficient by using Auctiva's profiles to quickly load recurring information into their listings, and the automatic feedback feature to reduce the amount of time spent online.

Happy to keep going

At one time, the Hinds considered opening a brick-and-mortar shop, but the varied nature of their inventory—not to mention the cost of rent—put them off that idea.

"We're happy to keep selling online. It just seems like this format is better for us," Monique says. "Whenever you make a sale you get a little rush. I love it when a customer says, 'I love the skirt.'

"We like being independent. We don't mind working hard," she continues. "I just keep thinking, at some point, we'll get to where we have 2,000 things listed. If we can maintain it at 2,000, we won't have to kill ourselves [to keep growing].

"And it's nice for Fred to be home, so we keep doing it."

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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