Farewell to eBay

After years of selling hundreds of items, if not more, on eBay I have recently closed up the shop. Long time blog readers and podcast listeners know that eBay without exaggeration saved our lives. Why would I walk away from that? Therein lies the story. 

Years ago I found myself out of work. The place I was working at laid off a third of their staff in one shot and I was in that third. (They later laid off the second third, and then the third third, completely closed up and I think owed people money, but that’s a story for another day.) We had an infant at home and now I’m out of work. Unemployment was coming in but that is a finite amount and time frame. There was one temporary seasonal position but other than that brief respite it took me over a year to find a new job. My wife was working. We had people looking out for us and keeping us afloat, but just barely. In the middle of all of this I turned to eBay. 

We sold one or two things before but I was sure I could do more. I started looking in thrift stores and yard sales in my area for cheap items that could net a profit. The more I listed, and searched, and made many mistakes – the better I got. We had a few really good finds and really good sales that helped us do crazy things like pay bills on time during this unemployment period. eBay was keeping the lights on for us and I got good at it because it meant survival. 

After finding full time work I wanted to continue with eBay so we increased our account to a thousand item store. Totes filled up one of our rooms and I had a supply of bags, tape, printer ink, all of it. Some months were great and others barely worth it. But I had fun. Going out to stores, garage sales, wherever. Finding cool things, some to flip, some I ended up keeping. It became my hobby. 

Over the last year more and more of my sources dried up. The cool junk shop outside of town closed up. Our local thrift shop sends the good stuff to other stores. There were barely any yard sales in 2020. The supply just wasn’t there any more. I’m years removed from the unemployment that started this and any money made by eBay was to support the hobbies and not needed to support ourselves. Which means this needs to be fun and not feel like work. The store was up for renewal and I cut it from a thousand items down to a hundred. More manageable, cheaper to maintain, doesn’t take up as much room, and can still be done at a hobby level. 

Overall I was alright with that. I still wasn’t finding much, but I didn’t need to find much. Some of the products in the store I had for years now but it’s a lot of niche stuff that is just waiting for the right person. Not everyone wants that made for TV movie on VHS but someone will and I will be the one who has it. 

Then in the middle of the latest COVID relief bill there was a twist. All of this as I said was meant to be fun. eBay recognizes that as well, which is why until a seller makes a certain amount it doesn’t have to be claimed on taxes. The previous amount was 200 items sold in a year AND $20,000 in sales. I was nowhere near that sales amount. If I ever was, I would be glad to deal with the taxes on it. Because that would mean I just made 20 grand on my hobby. However, that is going to change in 2022 for eBay and similar sites. 

The new levels are any amount of items sold in a year and $600 in one year. So if you sold one item, like a baseball card or vintage leather jacket, for $601 congratulations. You now have to add that to your taxes. eBay has a record of everything, pays directly to your bank account now (not PayPal) and I’m sure sends all of this to the IRS as well. Sure, you could just not claim it, but at the risk of being caught. 

$600 is far too low for this. I can hear some people saying, “you made that money, you have to pay the taxes on it.” Sure. Of course. But on $600? That’s a weekend garage sale. That’s a kid having to pay taxes on graduation money. That’s selling something on Craigslist. That is way too low a bar. 

All of these things combined to make a decision to walk away from the eBay store. I’ll still sell a one off if I find something. I’ll still buy things sometimes. But the totes of for sale items are gone. The eBay space is becoming the comic book room, which is a better hobby focus for me anyways. As I was cancelling my eBay store on their site I saw how much I made in the last 12 months. $600.12. I would be paying taxes due to 12 cents. If there was any doubt in my mind, it left in that moment.

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