EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 884 - November 04, 2004     2 of 3

eBay Powerseller Uses Loch Ness to Make Monster Profit

By Mark O'Neill

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It's often said that to succeed on eBay these days, you need a niche. One Scottish PowerSeller has heeded that advice and found a profitable niche with definite world-wide appeal.

Aberdeenshire-based Brian Ball (eBay ID: brainuk), who works as a shop department manager by day, has found a profitable sideline by selling genuine water from Loch Ness on eBay UK. Bottled up and labelled with a Loch Ness Monster sticker (along with a warning not to drink the water!), the loch's water is finding customers from all over the world including the United States.

It all started when an American friend of Brian's asked him to bring her some water from Loch Ness as a souvenir. When Brian discovered that the Loch's Visitor Center didn't sell any of the water, he filled up an empty bottle and took it over to his friend in the US. He came home from his holiday with more orders and it went from there.

"There may not be any advantages to owning some water," Brian told AuctionBytes, "but the buyers are happy they are able to have some of the famous water, and a lot of overseas Scottish buyers feel like they have something from home when they have a bottle."

Each bottle is sealed in a zipped bag and then in bubble-wrap before finally being sealed in a padded envelope. So far, there has been no damage or leaks in transit. But being a Scotsman myself, I can remember one of my trips to Loch Ness and the water was very dirty. "The water looks clean until you get close up," answered Brian. "There are quite a few things floating and swimming around in it. It does look fairly clean, which is one of the reasons I have to put the warning label on it (not to drink the water)."

Future expansion plans include approaching a local shop to sell the water, and Brian tells us that a U.S. company is considering a distribution deal in the States. But Brian said water from other lochs "wouldn't have the same kind of appeal."

eBay has so far not objected to the bottled-water auctions, and the local council is happy as long as each bottle is labelled and the land next to the loch isn't damaged while the water is being collected. "I know eBay is careful about a few things they sell," said Brian, "but they have never stopped my sales or said they are unhappy with any part of my items."

Does Brian believe in Nessie, the Loch Ness monster? "Yes, I do believe in the monster," he said. "I never disbelieve something that cannot be proved either way!"


About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, MakeUseOf.com. He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'Neill.org.


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