No more junk in the trunk

MCT

Eau Claire resident Julie Bollinger has been helping her son package his old Beanie Babies and list them on eBay for some time now. Her son is 16 years old, working and driving a car.

“Now, those Beanie Babies mean a lot less to him than gas money,” she said. “He’s all excited about all the money he’s making.”

eBay is an online marketplace where members are able to buy and sell items through an auction-style bidding process.

“You can get deals off of it,” said junior Jacob Board, who has been using eBay for about two years. “If you have something you don’t want anymore, you can make money off of it.”

Board said he has bought and sold an iPod, video games, movies and concert tickets on the Web site. He said people can find good deals on items like couches and specific textbooks for classes that can’t be found elsewhere, adding purchasing items from eBay eliminates the need to pay full price.

Sophomore Josh Lindell agreed. He said he uses eBay to gain easy access to items that can’t be found around town, adding he often saves money doing so.

“College kids that want to clean out closets, or get rid of things or have outgrown collections and are now looking for money to supplement their education, eBay would be a great way,” Bollinger said. “eBay is a great place to turn your extra items into cash. Extra things you’re no longer wearing or using.”

Bollinger, manager of the Western Dairyland Women’s Business Center, is currently teaching eBay classes in an effort to make eBay accessible to others,

“To be honest, we kind of thought there was a big need for (the classes),” Bollinger said. “We felt that people could clean out their closets and sell items to help pay their bills.”

The Wisconsin Dairyland Women’s Business Center is a non-profit organization aimed at providing assistance for small business start-ups and expansions.

“We target veterans, the disabled, minorities and anybody that’s socially or economically disadvantaged,” Bollinger said.

In 2005, Bollinger became an Education Specialist trained by eBay. She said to teach the classes, she had to meet “stringent criteria,” obtain a feedback rating of 98 percent and a minimum number of eBay sales along with completion of an online course followed by an exam.

Users obtain feedback whenever they sell a product to a buyer, Lindell said. Buyers are encouraged to leave feedback when they make purchases on eBay, including comments on promptness and smoothness of the transaction, among other things.

Currently, classes are in the middle of a session. However, another session will begin in January.

Bollinger said students will learn how to do business transactions on eBay safely.

“Due to there being so many scams out there, I go into depth on how to recognize scams and protect people from identity theft,” she said. “Not one of my students has been taken from scams.”

Bollinger said they offer three different classes. The first, “eBay Buying Basics,” describes different types of auctions, such as Buy It Now and eBay Express, and pricing. It is designed for those who are inexperienced with eBay, especially those who have yet to buy or sell anything. Participants of this class are taught how to register on eBay and how to search for items and place bids. This class includes one two-hour session and costs $20.

The second class, “eBay Selling Basics,” discusses what it takes to get something ready to list on eBay. It teaches participants how to price, set up items for shipping, take pictures of their items and deal with fees, said Bollinger. “eBay Selling Basics” consists of two two-and-a-half hour sessions. The fee for this class is $50, which includes an eBay Student Guide book.

In the final course, “eBay Hands-On,” Bollinger teaches people how to set up their eBay account by using a real item and putting it on eBay in front of the class. The “eBay Hands-On” class is especially beneficial for those who like to learn visually, Bollinger said, adding they’re more inclined to step in and have somebody show them the process. This hands on course includes one two-hour session and costs $30.

The Wisconsin Dairyland Women’s Business Center doesn’t charge for any of their other services. The eBay classes, however, were not considered to be a necessity, Bollinger said, adding the profit from the classes goes toward supplementing the other free services offered.

“eBay is really set up so you can teach yourself how to do it,” Bollinger said. “But the classes shorten the learning time. You’re going to get selling on eBay much quicker by taking the class.”

The capacity for the classes used to be 20 people, Bollinger said, adding that due to popularity they’ve expanded them to hold closer to 30 people.

Once the class ends, Bollinger said she welcomes people to call her with further questions concerning their eBay use.

Board said most people would probably not be able to figure out how to use eBay on their own, adding they’d probably need somebody to walk them through it.

“Sometimes people try to scam you,” he said. “You have to know what to look for and how to be careful about that. If you’re not internet savvy, I’d say get help.”

Those attempting to learn how to use eBay on their own would need to be pretty careful with what they buy and who they buy it from, Lindell said.

“It’s very easy to get ripped off,” he said. “You have to make sure you’re buying from a secure person, someone who has a lot of feedback.”

Board said he thinks the classes are a good idea.

“I would probably be interested in going even though I already know how to use eBay,” he said. “I think a lot of people would and should go.”

The classes take place at the Western Dairyland Community Action Agency, 418 Wisconsin St. Participants can register online at www.Successful-Business.org. or by calling (715) 836-7511, ext. 171.