Read an Excerpt
Savvy eBay pioneer Diane Bingham rises to success.
Business Name: FromGlobalToYou.com
Type of Business: E-Commerce and Antiques
Location: Provo, UT
Adapted from: Millionaire Blueprints magazine article, 'Turn $20 Into $1 Million: Savvy eBay Pioneer Diane Bingham's Rise to Success,' May/June 2006
When destiny met Diane Bingham, she was just a girl in the coal mining town of Price, Utah. Bingham's stepfather, Charles Ferrero, owned an antique store. 'He taught me all about business,' she recalls. 'He would say, 'You buy something for twenty dollars; you sell it for forty-five dollars. If you can get sixty dollars, go ahead. Always ask for more; settle for a bit less. You can go down, but you can't go up.''
Bingham learned valuable tips about bartering and successful business practices from her stepfather and his friends. She had no idea these tips would transform her life years later. In 1998, Bingham and her husband, Michael, were struggling to support their family of five children on one income.
'Michael would hand me just ten dollars a day or twenty dollars a day to buy dinner,' Bingham says. 'One day, he handed me an extra twenty dollars and said, 'Why don't you see what you can do with this?'' Bingham took the opportunity. She visited a local thrift store, Deseret Industries in Price, Utah, and used the twenty dollars to buy antiques. She then went to a local antique store and sold the items for a profit. 'I probably made a couple hundred dollars out of that twenty,' Bingham says. 'I bought fifty dollars worth of groceries and took the rest and put it back into the company.'
In just a day, Bingham had started a business. The skills her stepfather taught her as a young girl quickly came into play. Within a few years, she would transform this new antique business into a million-dollar success. Her story and her business know-how will help anyone seeking to start or improve a business on eBay.
How did you pick items to resell the first day you visited the thrift store?
I knew a little bit because my stepfather owned an antique store. I found glassware, porcelain, and books. In the antique world, they call them 'smalls.' I went to a local antique store, sold them, and turned a profit.
How did you know what to purchase?
I'd watch HGTV and look at the trends. I learned a lot just watching what people were paying the big bucks for. I looked for things that were beautifulthings that didn't have chips or cracks. After a while, I took some of my money and bought books to learn about antiques. I learned what was valuable, how to age it, date it, and that kind of thing.
How did you sell the items you had bought?
For the first four months, I drove my little truck everywhere to sell all my goods. I'd go everywhere from 100 to 200 miles away with my boxes. I'd unpack my boxes, show the antique stores my goods, and then drive home.
When did you get a computer?
In 1998, I asked my stepfather for a loan so I could buy a computer. I needed $3,000, and that was a lot of money. He cosigned the loan. I knew the Internet was the future, and I was a pioneer on eBay. They didn't even have a million items on yet when I joined. For the first six months, I did nothing but buy off eBay. And all I was buying were antiquesjust the small things that I could ship real easily.
Were you still finding items to sell on eBay at thrift stores?
Thrift stores, yard sales, and garage salesI was buying everything I saw. I was at the yard sale before the yard sale opened. My strategy was to get there first.
What type of items did you find at garage sales?
Most people don't know what they have. I was buying gorgeous brooches for twenty-five cents with Schiaparelli on the back. We're talking a thousand bucks for a Schiaparelli brooch. I'd look these people square in the eye and say, 'Are you sure you want to sell this for twenty-five cents? This is valuable.' And they'd say, 'Oh yeah, I don't need it.'
How do you run so many auctions on eBay at once?
I hire people to run my auctions. I give them pictures and a template, and they set it up and send it in. We upload it from the office.
Who do you employ to run your eBay auctions?
I employ as many single mothers as I can. I train single moms to set up my auctions and do research. They sign a noncompete, nondisclosure for two years. (See resource page.) I also hire addicts and alcoholics who are in recovery. Your state can give you an employee who's been out of recovery for six months, and the state will pay half their wages if you train them.
THE OVERSEAS BUSINESS
Is it important to have personal contacts if you want to buy from people overseas?
If you think you're just going to find someone in Europe with a webpage and they want money up-front, you're going to get duped. Don't do it.
When you found an antique seller in Europe, what was your next step?
I said, 'Hey, listen, you're in the antique business now. This is what you're going to do. You're going to go to these markets and fairs, you're going to buy everything you can, and I'm going to send you money.'
Did you keep everything in your home or somewhere else?
We rented a warehouse for $600 a month. We filled the warehouse and built two stagesone black and one whiteso we could have a contrast with our pictures.
Are pictures important on eBay?
Oh, huge. If your pictures aren't good, you've got a problem. You won't sell anything without good pictures.
The business lessons Bingham learned as a girl in her stepfather's antique store paved the way for her success. Today, she strives to give back what she's been given. The first item she sold on eBay was given to her by a woman who appreciated her determination to set her life right after alcoholism. In the years since this act of kindness, Bingham has reached out to others in a similar way. She has hired people in need and helped them get back on their feet.
'You just keep helping people, keep doing right by people, and everything falls into place,' she says. 'There are little miracles around you all day, every day, and you can see them if you just open your eyes.'
How do you determine what your antique dealer will buy for you?
With as many people as there are in this world, it doesn't matter what I buy. It will sell, ninety-eight cents, no reserve. You can't make a mistake. It is foolproof.
Are you telling me that no matter what you sell, you put it at ninety-eight cents, no reserve?
I can't believe I am telling you this, but that is what I do for everything. I normally get bids that exceed the price I want.
What one piece of business advice do you believe is most important?
Never accept the word, 'No.' If somebody says, 'No, it can't be done,' just turn 'No' into 'On,' and go forward.
THE PLAN TO FOLLOW
Seek out items in all possible outlets, including thrift stores and garage sales. Make a high offer, and then compromise down.
NOTE: Bingham strives to be the first person to arrive at a garage sale. She plans and maps out garage sale days in advance.
Turning a profit on eBay takes tenacity and lots of research. Compare bidding trends, patterns, and bidders to learn new tactics.
NOTE: Bingham advises that you not put a reserve on an item for sale on eBay.
Learn strategy from other eBay sellers. Research current market values, and progressively narrow your search when you find a new item.
NOTE: Bingham advises that you refer to completed auctions for comparison.
Take good quality pictures of your items for sale on eBay.
NOTE: Bingham warns that without good pictures, nothing will sell. Once you can afford it, hire a photographer.
When importing furniture from Europe, try to use your network for referrals. You have to learn how to get a broker, deal with customs, and get shipping containers.
Here's how it usually works: First, the overseas shipping line takes the container to the person selling you the goods. You pay for the warehouse. Then it's loaded into the container, and you've got to pay the trucker to take the container to the steam line so it can be shipped overseas. Then it goes to Union Pacific and is put on the train from a regional port. Then you've got to pay another trucker to take it from there to wherever you live. You're looking at $5,000 to ship a $10,000 container to your door. And then you have to find a customs broker.
NOTE: Bingham points out that you have to trust people sooner than later, but do not ever send money up-front to the person scouting your goods overseas. To find an antique dealer, you may need to go overseas yourself to meet people at a furniture trade show. There are trade shows in China, Egypt, and Europe, as well as in High Point, North Carolina, and Las Vegas. Just do an Internet search on 'furniture trade shows.' (See resource page for more details.) Bingham points out that antique dealers frequent trade shows and will import from just about any country.
You can find a customs broker by going to Google, searching for 'customs broker,' and putting your state in the search. (See resource page for more details.)
NOTE: For an overseas shipping line, Bingham uses Maersk (www.maersk sealand.com) or APL (www.apl.com). Bingham also says that if you need an interpreter for your overseas trip, consider contacting the Mormon Church in Utah (www.lds.org) and telling them you want to hire a returning missionary who is looking for a job. A returning missionary will speak the language fluently and will usually know the area.
• Price an item to sell by always asking for more than you paid and by compromising the price down.
• After turning a profit, always put a percentage back into your business.
• Buy anythingvaluables are to be found at the most common garage sale and thrift store.
• Do your research, and learn from other sellers on eBay. Review completed auctions for market values and bidding trends.
• Be forward and decisive in your actions when bidding and importing.
©2008.Tom Spinks, Kimberly Spinks-Burleson, and Lindsay Spinks-Shepherd. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Prepare to Be a Millionaire. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.