Power Seller lights up eBay

Tuesday, May 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:24 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

EBay has taken the world by storm, and Mary Ruppert is going along for the ride.

She and her husband, Bogdan Stroescu, have started an innovative business that makes it easier for the public to experience eBay.

Their new company, We Sell 4 You Online, does just what the name implies. Ruppert and Stroescu sell goods on eBay for those who either don’t know how, don’t have the time or just plain don’t want to.

“What is attractive to people that want to have us eBay for them is you stay anonymous. No one knows your phone number; no one knows your email address, your physical address or anything,” Ruppert said. “So we’re the front for you, in a way.”

The idea to sell for the public was taken from similar companies out of California.

“There are a couple of companies out of the West coast that have got mega venture capital — I mean, you know, millions — that have got stores and have developed Web sites,” Ruppert said.

The couple opened for public sale on March 16 and have been happy with the level of consumer interest. Ruppert was particularly pleased with the results when she set up a booth at the Business and Conference Showcase hosted by the Chamber of Commerce in the Holiday Inn Expo Center.

“Seems like eBay’s the magic word. Every single person that walked by had something to say to me about eBay,” she said. “They’ve either bought on it, or sold on it or heard about it.”

The eBay store wasn’t always a dream for the couple. In fact they began using eBay by accident. Literally.

One year, Ruppert fell while using in-line skates and broke both her arms, leaving her with just enough mobility to use a computer mouse. At the time, Stroescu had an antique collectables store on the corner of Range Line Street and Business Loop 70. To help pass the time, Ruppert took a tube radio from the store that had been there for about a year and a half and figured out how to put it on eBay. The radio, which was priced at $50 in the store, sold in a week to man in Japan for $900.

Building on this success, the couple became so active that they were able to sell the other business and live off of what they made through eBay. The Internet allows for a much larger venue to sell goods.

“The world is your marketplace. There are people from around the world that look for stuff,” Ruppert said. “For example, one guy in Canada has been buying from us for about four years.”

On their own, the couple ranks in eBay’s elite Platinum Power Sellers, a group of people that sell more than $25,000 worth of merchandise a month. Because of their seller status, the couple was eligible to become eBay trading assistants.

“The first steps were to develop our policies and procedures,” Ruppert said. “That was a pretty long and involved process. To be sure that we’re being fair to people, and to be sure that we covered all of our bases, we had to kind of figure out what it costs us to do it.”

The company charges a fee on a sliding scale with the highest charge at 20 percent for items that sell for less than $150. They say that their service is worth the price for the amount of effort they put into selling the product.

We Sell 4 You Online takes digital pictures of the items, and then uploads them onto their computer to adjust the photo before it is listed on eBay. The auctions last for seven days, and if the item doesn’t sell, the company will try a second time. If it never sells, they charge a $5.75 indemnity fee for their services. When things do sell, We Sell 4 You ships them wherever they need to go. Sometimes it’s as far away as Korea.

“I had to package a pallet of 700 pounds of LPs that went to South Korea,” Ruppert said. “This guy in Seoul bought them. So I had to palletize them up and have them sent to his freight forwarder in New York, and then they were sent on to South Korea.”

Ruppert said the selling process is fairly safe.

“If someone doesn’t pay, then you report them to eBay as a non-paying bidder, and if you get three non-paying bidder strikes, then eBay kicks you off forever,” she said.

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