EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 132 - December 05, 2004 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 8

Tracking Down Stuff to Sell on eBay? Look to Librarians for Help

By Brad and Debra Schepp

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It's the number one question on the mind of eBay entrepreneurs: How do you find sources of products to sell on eBay, or on other auction sites? In this second article of our three-part series for AuctionBytes, we're again tackling this age-old question, and hopefully providing some fresh insights along the way.

In your never-ending quest for little known and unharvested sources of products to sell, start with your local librarian. Say what? Yes, librarians are sometimes maligned these days. With the Internet at everyone's fingertips, and seemingly the world's knowledge as a result, who needs librarians?

You do. You may be a whiz when it comes to creating great auctions, but when it comes to ferreting out facts, your librarian surely has you beat. Librarians are trained researchers after all, and are more than happy to help you research a topic related to your eBay business. In fact, librarians like when they're asked questions - answering them is what they're trained to do.

There are three ways to get in touch with a librarian: live chat (offered 24/7 at some of the larger libraries), email, and in person. To use the first two, visit your local public library's website and click on Ask-a-Librarian, or some derivation of this term. To really dig deep, though, it's smart to stop by the library at an off-hour when the reference librarian may not be too busy with other patrons.

Introduce yourself, and get to know each other. Ask for an overview of all the electronic and print resources for researching market trends and products. The hottest database, available only through a public library, is called Reference U.S.A. This monster source of 12 million U.S. companies will help you locate wholesalers and manufacturers or any other list of companies you can think of such as local associations and organizations of businesses, auctioneers, and estate planners.

Other free library databases will give you product trends, demographic household spending patterns, and e-marketing tips with access to full-text business magazines and national newspapers. Be sure to ask which databases have "remote access" so that you can get to them from your office computer using your library card number.

Librarians are gurus at "deep-Web" searching and can help you with search strategies and specific Internet sites that Google doesn't hit. Once you learn some of their tricks, you'll see that the Internet searching you then do on your own is much more effective and time-efficient.

"I spend hundreds of hours online searching for new sources," a PowerSeller who sells only new products told us. Just as this PowerSeller devotes time every week to the search, you will too. Be persistent, and don't allow yourself to get discouraged. Most of the PowerSellers who are now successful on eBay had to do this same thing for themselves. Your distribution channels won't appear overnight, and the task is never really ended. You'll continue to refine your sources and explore new opportunities for as long as you operate your business.

About the author:

Brad and Debra Schepp have written about cutting-edge technologies for more than 20 years. Their most recent book is eBay PowerSeller Million Dollar Ideas: Innovative Strategies to Make Your eBay Sales Soar, published by McGraw-Hill. The 2nd edition of eBay PowerSeller Secrets will be published November 27, and be available through retailers such as Amazon. Visit Brad and Deb's website at

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