Online Auction Site Wensy Calls It Quits
By Ina Steiner
After a 6-year run, online auction site Wensy has called it quits. Darren Bock started out selling coins and stamps on eBay, then switched to Yahoo Auctions before deciding to start his own auction site that would be free for sellers to list their items.
Bock confirmed that he closed Wensy.com last Thursday after experiencing what became insurmountable technical issues coupled with the loss of Google ad revenue. The site was geared toward collectors, and the most popular categories included stamps, baseball cards and coins.
In a profile published in EcommerceBytes in 2008, Bock explained he had a full-time job, with Wensy being more a labor of love than an attempt to compete with eBay. On Tuesday, he explained that the expenses of the site outgrew the revenue.
Bock, who used auction software Rainworx to power Wensy, said he kept running into a disk-space issue. He upgraded servers several times, seeing costs rise from $20/month to $400/month, but the problem remained. Over the years, he spent $10,000 in modifications, and he spent $2000 to acquire Stamp Offers.
In the meantime, after participating in Google AdSense ad program for 5 years, Google expelled him from the program for reasons that weren't clear to him. Bock said he was unable to talk to anyone at Google to try and resolve the issue.
In addition to Google ad revenue, Bock said users had contributed donations, but said he had no intentions of cashing the checks he's received since April.
Wensy users said they had not been notified of the site's closure. One Wensy seller wrote to EcommerceBytes, "I have been trying to get on the Wensy.com site for about a week now and check my listings and they seem to have closed down. Do you know anything about it? I have not received any email from them saying so. I have tried from my bookmark everyday and today I did a search and tried several links and nothing. Just redirections."
Bock said he sent an email to users last week notifying them of the site's closure, but he said he wasn't sure if the emails got through because he received error messages.
AtomicMall made an offer to attract Wensy users. When contacted, founder Mike Shannon said he didn't know what happened to the Wensy site. "Once it was fairly clear that Wensy was gone, I decided to offer a "transition" special to all previous Wensy sellers who are looking for a new home, with two months of free selling. So far the response to that promotion has been surprisingly good, so it would appear that our new signups are confident in Wensy's demise as well."
Bock said Wensy.com had 14,000 registered users, with 8,000 of them being regular users, and 6,000 of them being active sellers. He's disappointed in having to close the site - it was a valued service and people enjoyed it, he said, and he got many emails over the years from customers happy with the site.
After 6 years, how do you get to the point of being a successful competitor to eBay? "There's no way to do it financially over time," Bock said.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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