eBay opened its virtual doors in the UK in 1999 and that’s when I opened my first account, well I say that but it was all in my mothers name, you had to have a Credit Card and as I was only 16 I didn’t have one. That didn’t stop me, I knew that eBay was the way for me to make the extra cash I needed to spend on things that 16 year olds spend their money on. Computer Games and Music mainly, I was a bit of a geek.
I started off like most other people selling off things that I no longer needed or used, old toys, videos and books. I wasn’t a regular seller, just now and again when I needed some extra money. Paypal didn’t exist back then. It was cheques, postal orders and Billpoint came a little later. So things were a lot slower than they are now. If I sold a CD I would have to go through the following steps:
- Give the buyer my address
- Buyer would have to either write out a cheque or go to the post office and get a postal order
- Buyer would have to send cheque or postal order in the post
- When I received it I would have to cash the postal order or pay the cheque into my account
- When the cheque had cleared I could then send the item
A little after that I realised that it was possible to buy in bulk from China and sell in the UK for profits and promptly ordered about 50 pairs of “Oakey” sunglasses, that’s not a typo, they were actually Oakey instead of Oakley, similar styles and colours as the real thing but 99% less good. Still people seemed to like them and they sold quickly, prompting another order. We had few complaints as our listing made it clear that they weren’t the real deal and that we hadn’t just made a typo in the listing. eBay didn’t like it though, they thought we were selling fake Oakleys and we were warned under the VeRO program. That stands for Verified Rights Owner and for whatever reason it was deemed that we were breaching Oakleys copyright. Fair enough I suppose.
Remember Livestrong bands and the Nike Anti-racism wristbands? Well they were huge sellers on eBay and if you could find stocks in shops they were reselling for much, much more than their retail value. So We bought in bulk, wherever we could find them for sale. Nike wristbands that cost £1.50 were selling for £15 each. Around the time of the wristband boom I ordered 1,000 “DieHard” wristbands from China. They were a tongue in cheek nod at the Livestrong bands and initially they sold really well, but because we had bought so many we ended up flooding the market with our own product and the prices dropped to the point where it was no longer viable to sell them.