Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Oct 8 2020 20:20:11

Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

By: Ina Steiner

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This morning we came across an old eBay press release from September 1999. "Today, the site has over 3.7 million items and many eBay users are taking the opportunity to find terrific bargains or those special items they are looking for," eBay had announced. 

The milestone of 3.7 million listings was impressive at the time. Compare that to today's 1.5 billion listings on eBay.

What's more striking is that today, 91% of listings on eBay are fixed-price format. In 1999, eBay only had auction listings. (It launched a Buy It Now option for auctions in late 2000, and fixed-price format in 2002.)

It's also interesting to look at the auction listings eBay found noteworthy in 1999. At the time, sellers listed high-value items at low starting prices (99 cents was often preferred), confident they would be bid up to satisfactory prices. We wish we could tell you what the items featured in the press release below ended up selling for, and what they might go for today.

eBay issued the announcement after it had held a free listing day on September 9, 1999, which obviously helped boost the number of listings on the site. Does anyone remember how cherished free listing days were by sellers at the time? (And imagine if eBay held a free listing day for auctions today.)

Here's the September 1999 Press Release - enjoy this blast from the past:

eBay Site Hits Record Number of Auction Listings
Users Flock to the eBay Site to Find Bargains and Unique Items

WHAT:  Now is a better time than ever to visit eBay, the world's largest person-to-person trading community http://www.ebay.com .

After its free listing day event on September 9, eBay hit a record number of over 4.2 million items up for auction, offering visitors even greater selection and value.  Today, the site has over 3.7 million items and many eBay users are taking the opportunity to find terrific bargains or those special items they are looking for.

"The record number of items is a tribute to the support of the eBay community," said Brian Swette, senior vice president and general manager of eBay U.S. operations.  "The community is the heart of what eBay does, and we are happy that the free listing day has been so well received by the community."

eBay's free listing day event ran for 24 hours on September 9.  eBay typically receives over 400,000 item listings daily.  On September 9, the number of listings added to the site jumped to over 1.4 million.

Here's a sampling of just some of the items available:

- Ladies Tag Watch 1000 two-tone, item #162361040, current bid $25.00

- 1995 Cadillac Limousine, item #162451448, current bid $8,000

- 1980 Harley Davidson Sportster, item 16114700, current bid $3,058

- Adult Pirate Halloween Costume, item #159453487, current bid $4.99

- Three Pounds World Coins, item #160329629, current bid $3.25

- 1977 Charlie's Angel Jaclyn Smith Doll-MIP, item #161846191, current bid $30.00

- Sony Mavica Digital Camera MVC-DF73 New, item #161931107, current bid $10.00

- 1958 American Character Toni Doll Booklet, item #162037602, current bid $7.00

WHERE:  http://www.ebay.com .

WHEN:  Now!

CONTACTS:  Kristin Seuell, +1 408-558-7431, or kristin@ebay.com, or Jennifer Chu, +1 408-558-7432, or jchu@ebay.com, both of eBay Inc.

SOURCE  eBay Inc.
Web site:  http://www.ebay.com

Feel free to share your early memories of the site.

Comments (40) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: COVID-19 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 8 21:02:37 2020

1.5 billion listings on eBay today?  And what percentage of that is actually generic junk / counterfeits / bootlegs?  You know, the same mass produced throwaways that anyone can find on Amazon?  Today's eBay is a joke compared to 20 years ago.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: lessthanthreerecords This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 8 21:20:32 2020

"Feel free to share your early memories of the site."

It worked.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: Carl This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 8 23:03:52 2020

Remember The Main Page from 1999
https://web.archive.org/web/19991005000741/http://ebay.co.uk/<
BR>
Shows
How Much It Has Grown: CDs
https://web.archive.org/web/19991012180425/http://local-listing
s.uk.ebay.com/aw/listings/list/category1049/index.html

Remember
when they used to put 10 Years Of Announcements on 1 page!
2007 - 2017
https://web.archive.org/web/20170702181823/www2.ebay.com/aw/ma
rketing-uk.shtml

How
things have changed :(

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Fri Oct 9 00:54:05 2020

eBay up until about 2010 eBay worked very well and we all made a lot of money. Now it is crap!!!

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 9 03:16:22 2020

Buy it now destroyed the sale of collectibles on the site period.. when there were auctions only was when the money was made period. Now you got idiots hitting up thrift stores and yard sales buying stuff for a few bucks excited to flip it for double or triple their money when they could have auctioned it off for far more.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Oct 9 06:02:05 2020

Listings weren't hidden, search worked, I made a lot of money, and eBay appeared to love, appreciate and embrace their sellers back then. Now it is one lashing after another, sporadic sales at best, capped sales, and never ending busy work. (i.e., the never ending item specifics updates). You can list an item on Poshmark in a little over a minute.  Listing on eBay these days is like writing War and Peace.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Fri Oct 9 06:13:30 2020

I have a screen print out from 1999 of the item I won, now worth twice what I paid.
The page was very eye appealing, simple, fun-looking, easy to navigate, and you could Quickly : See the item description, contact the seller, see the price and  place a bid. ANY method of payment was accepted.
The Original "ebay" logo gave it that "C'mon in and have fun !" appearance.

Today's page looks anal retentive, cold and uninviting. Ads from others don't belong on the page. There is no choice of payment method.
And the cost to engage with Ebay is repulsive.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 9 07:34:18 2020

Here’s an interesting thought exercise to engage in during the copious free time you as a seller now have while waiting (too often now fruitlessly) for one of your listings to be seen, much less actually sell (‘defect’ free). Take your time - there’ll be even more now as you wait to get paid for it...

Try to name one thing - just one - that has been ‘improved’ or enhanced over the past two decades that makes it even more enticing to successfully sell on that ‘venue.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: Michael in BC This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 9 11:24:09 2020

When I joined in December '96, there were just over 2,000 registered sellers.  The 1st thing I sold (a royalty medallion that I couldn't sell at all locally), went for $25.  I panicked thinking someone made a mistake - it couldn't be worth that much !   For the 1st couple of years, I didn't even own a scanner, as there was no requirement to show images.   Until around 2002, my sell-through rate was 100% - every single thing sold, and it was in the mid to high 90s % range for years after that.  Auctions were great - I even took personal checks from England - no problems !  10c to list, then 5% on the first $25, then 3% on anything above that.  That was it - no payment processing fees, no defects, free T-shirts, and everything worked well

Any sense of "community" is long gone - now we work for a massive corporation whose idea of customer service is outsourced folks in distant lands who read nonsense off screens and tell us someone will call us back within 24-48 hours.

Yes, I still list a few things from time to time, but my days as a gold powerseller are a distant memory..

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Fri Oct 9 17:17:45 2020

All I remember are the 5% selling fee and shipping a 2 lb. box for a flat rate of $3.95 to all 50 states.  

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Fri Oct 9 17:43:53 2020

I started sometime in 1998, when the old Usenet alt.toys.transformers.marketplace was on hiatus.  Back then, you could go through all 200-300 TransFormers listings in about 10 minutes (dialup was slow).  Though I was mostly a toy collector, I often bought exotic computer components and software as well.  Selling was a breeze.  You never really worried about the 25c listing fee because almost everything sold the first time around and the first relist was free if it didn't.  I would think nothing of buying from Canada, Japan, western Europe, or Australia.  Some of the most interesting stuff in my collection came from outside of the country.  eBay was the best thing ever.

They've just kept chipping away at it though.  By the time I started selling in 2012, it was too late.  Too many rules and fees and taxes and bugs and fraudsters to really build anything.  I really tried but nothing worked for long and everything worsened with each passing year.  I rarely buy for the same reasons it's so hard to sell.  Mangled payments is the end of the road.  It's just not worth it for ~$50 a month.  Once conventions open back up next summer, I won't miss it.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Fri Oct 9 21:34:37 2020

Buying on eBay was so much fun in 2000

I would send a check (4-5 days)

Seller would wait for check to clear (10-15 days)

Seller would ship whenever they felt like it.

30 days after I bought the item it arrived. . . . .

As for being a seller back then, I was in 100% control, I could rip off any buyer I wanted to with little or no repercussions (besides a pesky negative). . . .

Oh yea, those were the days! LOL

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sat Oct 10 05:11:00 2020

Never had a problem.
Always smooth transactions.
Always.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sat Oct 10 05:15:00 2020

toolguy = Donahoe

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sat Oct 10 09:03:31 2020

Strange how toolguy only shows up when we recall the Greats Days of Ebay only to trash us.
He's not a component of a Healthy Ebay.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sat Oct 10 13:44:37 2020

@The End

I became a eBay member Jan 1998

I became a IPO stock holder in Oct. 1998

I became a full time seller in June 2000

One thing for sure is I was there and I'm still here. . . . I know the TRUTH

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sat Oct 10 13:49:35 2020

@ebayout

I remember gasoline at .79 a gallon

Prices on everything have gone up, including eBay fee's and postage.

The world changes daily. . . . . .

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: aris 2 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Oct 10 18:21:53 2020

Yeah, I was there in Sep 1999.
Most people preferred the 99 cent starting price because the listing fee jumped (if my memory serves me well...which it doesn't anymore) a good $1.25 maybe even more if your starting price was over a dollar.
On twenty items, that was a good $25 higher.

It was a different animal then - much more civil. No sniping and the like and starting at 99 cents (for me anyway, selling vinyl records) was very lucrative. Some of my items would sell well over $100 each. Final value fee, of course, was much lower too.

I also remember the very first night of 'buy it now's'. Starting right at 3am (midnight on the West Coast) I tried to put about 10 items up and it wouldn't work at all.
Took them a couple hours to get it straightened out - much better than today when glitchy stuff NEVER gets fixed.

A few days ago I laughed at the memory about how Ebay also used to shut down at midnight every Thursday night for 6 hours for 'maintenance'. Just try and imagine that today.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Sat Oct 10 23:39:23 2020

and so concludes tonight's episode of "tripping Down Memory Lane" nighty night

There's no do overs.

Perminate Link for Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999   Blast from the Past: eBay Auctions in September 1999

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 11 04:30:37 2020

“ I remember gasoline at .79 a gallon...”

Which adjusted for inflation from around 1978 when that was true is over $2.50 in 2020.

I used to tell folks seeking to consign gold items and concerned about ‘timing’ that an oz of it in the late 19th century was around $15. Which would buy you a good horse and a nice steak dinner at a 5-star restaurant. Fast forward 125 years or so, and it’s ‘worth’ about 100 times more now. Which will buy you a good horse and a nice steak dinner....Unless they’re charging too much (over value) for the horse, of course. Maybe you get the idea there.

Yes, everything ‘changes’. Everything ‘evolves’. But when the basis of that change is rotten instead of nourishing, especially when contrived vice natural, (eBay being a man made contrivance that too often defies natural reason and of late, way outpaces inflation) that change usually leads to extinction, or starvation, or at minimum, stagnation.

Perhaps your memories of past blasts also recalls ‘new’ Coke? How’d that particular contrived ‘change’ work out?

You know the truth? You can’t handle the truth.

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