129: Start the New Year Right with These 9 Selling Tips – Michelle Perkins

Michelle has been an eBay seller since 1999 selling mostly vintage clothing, designer fashion and resale clothes. She became a full-time seller after her son was diagnosed with autism. This allowed her to care for her son and help earn an income for the household.

Interesting Notes

  • Michelle's mother took her to thrift stores her whole life. That has created her passion. But she went to school to learn and educate herself about antiques and vintage.
  • She was in her clinical as part of her nursing degree when her son was diagnosed with Autism. Her whole life had changed then.
  • Her neighbor referred her to the eBay website telling her that it is fun. She tried to see what eBay has to offer her. In the first week, she killed it and wanted more.
  • She started with vintage clothing from the early 1800s to 1950s fashion. Vintage clothing has high dollar demands on eBay 20 years ago.
  • Her first major source is her own closet. She did modeling and acting when she was 12 years old. She was a union actress and she had a lot of clothes left over from the sets. She sold those first.
  • Later, she finds vintage clothing through networking. She talks to anybody who sells clothes. Every single yard sale she goes to, she takes her business card with her phone number. She gives it to every person she meets saying “This is what I do. If you need anything, call me!”
  • eBay has been pretty much her life since 1999. Back then, everything is on auction. Shipping also took as long as one week, yet buyers are patient to wait as long as they get their purchases. Payments are sent by post mail. Sometimes, the money got lost in the mail.
  • Sellers before used to lose their money whenever there is a customer complaint. Now, sellers have a chance to prove their ground with their evidence. It is like saying, “Look, they (buyers) are trying to dupe me!”
  • Michelle had lost so much in the beginning from the not so kind buyers. Today, getting paid is so much safer. The security as a seller is much greater now than it was then. She loves the security eBay provides to her as a seller. She also loves the international shipping.
  • She mentioned eBay's new program called Authentication for High End. eBay's move is to get more into the luxury brands for jewelry, bags, and clothes. This is a big help to people. Now they can sell with confidence and shop with confidence.
  • She has seen the downflow on eBay though. Vintage clothing is not in demand as it was 20 years ago. The economy is not as good. People make a bargain so you have got to sell fast. So, she switched to the fast moving products.
  • She is a one-woman work on her eBay business.
  • In her eBay years, she lived in three different states and met amazing people. Detroit was amazing to her. She worked for Carl Caskey, an HDTV personality. She worked at many vintage clothing stores. She has been a personal shopper too. She has done different things and got so many opportunities to introduce her eBay business.
  • Michelle feels that she works full-time, part-time. She has four days a week where her husband works and is gone 12 hours a day. So, she has to make it work for her children. She gets their oldest off to school and makes breakfast for the little ones left. When lunchtime comes, she and the little ones get to the backyard and play. She can watch her child playing while taking photographs.She photographs right behind the sliding glass doors. When her husband gets home, they run to the post office and send the shipments. After dinner, Michelle works until two in the morning.
  • She sources when her husband is at home and it is during Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. She goes to all the thrift stores she can get. If she is in her hometown sourcing, she can go to 12 thrift stores in one day.
  • She has buckets labeled Mens, Womens, Summer, Fall and then she sorts. Whatever season is in, that is the bucket she lists first.
  • She also has the other side of their garage as the Done Stuff. She has numbers 1 to 200 with a corresponding entry in an excel sheet. If she is done with the listing, the item goes to the numbered bucket. When she sells the item, she searches for the word, pulls the item and ships it.
  • Michelle gives 100% Free Shipping. She believes that as a seller she has to give something to her buyers. It could be a freebie or a free shipping. There is a 50% increase in her sales when she switched to free shipping a couple of years ago.
  • She uses Promoted Listings weekly. She runs a promotion during payday, from Friday to Monday night with a 10% off.
  • Michelle's oldest son who is autistic is 13 years old now. For her to get care for him weekly is $300 to $400 a week. She might not make as much as others do, but she is not paying $300 to $400 a week to have her son get cared for either.
  • With her children being older and having support from her husband Bill is the first time she can do what she has always wanted to do. The encouragement makes her grow as a person and makes her feel so alive.
  • Her primary focus has always been quality and relationships with customers. She plans to grow and become so much more than she is now. She plans to do eBay until she retires.

Advice, Tips, and Tricks

  • Hang out with people doing what you do and start to build friendships and connections.
  • To be able to keep up with the trend, pay attention to everything. She is a people-watcher. When she goes to the mall, she would walk through and see what is hanging on the racks. She would study what do people look at, what are they buying, what are they wearing. She gets a magazine once a month and sees what are the high-end stuff and what are they selling.
  • Join many Facebook groups if you want to get some feedback.
  • Use every tool you can find to get your job well.
  • Before sourcing, get a map and put a star on the best selling thrift stores. Two stars on the okay ones. Three stars on the expensive ones. Then go and look around and get to them as much as you can in one day.
  • Every time you go to a yard sale, take your business card with your phone number. Give it to every person you will meet saying “This is what I do. If you need anything, call me!”
  • If free shipping sells your product, then add the free box to the price.
  • Give something free to your buyers. It could be a freebie or a free shipping.
  • Create a promotion and offer 5% to 10% off or whatever you want. You can manage the time and the day you want to run the promotion. When she is listing her price and she wants $20 profit, she will put $29.95. So that when she puts 10% off, she still gets her $20 after deducting shipping and other fees.


  • “You've got to push quality over the special wear things.”
  • “Get a team on your side to help you decide if you are not sure!”
  • “If you want to get rid of your merch, you've got to do it (Free Shipping). Just bump your prices up!”
  • “I am making more money by making less!”
  • “Don't take the tags in your clothes until you wear them!”
  • “eBay has proven statistics that Free Shipping makes you get better more sales.” – Ali Young

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