We’ve all heard it said. Many of us have said it. Whether it’s that Roger Maris baseball card you’ve “needed” for 40 years or just a great deal on a DVD player – you’ll find it on eBay. And lately we’ve been discovering that it’s a great source for woodworking tools and materials.
If you haven’t been there, you may be surprised. Individual woodworkers are selling their “gently used” or “used only once” tools as they upgrade or move on to new hobbies. Both online entrepreneurs and traditional bricks and mortar retailers like Tool King of Denver have set up eBay “stores,” auctioning both familiar name brands like DeWalt and Delta, plus mysterious no-name, OEM equipment of obscure origin. Retail giants like Home Depot, Sears and Wickes Lumber are getting into the act? although on any given day, the number of items they auction can vary from the thousands to zero.
You’ll also find an amazing array of wood for sale on eBay (a hot topic discussed and debated on several woodworking forums)? everything from quilted and curly maple at buzzsaw-international to exotics like book matched Macacauba at Scipio Hardwoods.
Despite eBay’s remarkable success story, many still worry about buying — sight unseen — online. What are the risks? What are the advantages? To find out, we recently spoke with Bob Hebeler, eBay Vice-President for Category Development.
Why should woodworkers shop on eBay?
Bob: This is the place to check out before you buy. It depends on the item, but on average, you’ll see prices 10 to 20% below retail. If you’re looking for something in particular, you’re going to find a lot of them. We carry every brand — Black and Decker, Bosch, Craftsman, Porter Cable to name a few – and every product from a collectible planer to a new one. Need a new chuck for an older version of a drill? We have those! Type in any tool and you’ll get an amazing list of items that are both fun and something you need. And when you buy, you’re usually dealing with an individual who will probably tell you how much they enjoyed the item and thank you for your purchase.
When people buy — for instance — some exotic lumber, what protection do they have?
Bob: Anyone who sells receives feedback and is rated by buyers. Those with the best feedback — individuals or businesses — tend to be whom people buy from. Anyone getting more than four negative comments during a period of time is automatically pulled off. We also have over 400 people in Salt Lake City removing illegal items and investigating complaints. More than that, though, we have an open format for our community to tell us what they like and don’t like. We try to make improvements whenever we can.
Are the Home Depots the future of eBay?
Bob: There’s no doubt that brand-name stores add credibility?someone making their first transaction on the site might be more comfortable with a well-known retailer. But they represent only a small percentage of our total business, and the vast majority of transactions are between individuals or very small businesses. Our marketplace is open to all?individuals, small businesses, and big retailers alike.
eBay is definitely worth a visit. You may not always find a bargain, and you may not find exactly what you’re looking for, but you will find something – maybe that Roger Maris card?