Make More Money with Big Auction Lots

    November 7, 2002

To big lot or not to big lot?

Which is better: big lots or small lots? Or, I should rephrase, which is more profitable?

My first conclusion was that you could make more money selling off items individually than you could lumping them all together in one big group. However, and this is a big however, there’s always the big all-important time factor. And, as we all know, time is money.

Most of what I’ve sold, I’ve sold as individual pieces. Occasionally I’ve sold things off in related groups; for example, a lot of four books about Mount Everest, which I sold to a guy in Scandinavia for around $40 — not bad!

But in my continuing quest to purge my existing inventory before acquiring too much more new inventory, I decided I needed a way to get rid of more things more quickly. Now, what did I have that people might want to buy in quantity?

Clothing? The trouble with mixed lots of clothing is that not everyone wants to buy a huge bunch of clothes at once. In fact, I believe most people shop on an item-per-item basis, and unless the bid is really low, they don’t want to pay for anything extraneous. (Unless they think they can auction it off themselves for decent money individually).

This weekend, in a frenzy of clutter-clearing activity, I cleaned out all the children’s’ VHS videotapes in our movie cabinet that my kids don’t watch anymore. There were some good titles, like Beauty and the Beast, Rugrats, Blue’s Clues, etc., but they were basically just taking up space. I looked at some completed auctions for other large lots of children’s videos.

Here are some samples of what I found:

– Lot of 61 VHS Walt Disney Movies: $346.05 (the titles were not even listed out; and you couldn’t tell from the picture exactly which films they were… I am guessing people emailed the seller to ask the names.)

– Lot of 30 Disney Movies “Classics VHS”: $152.50 (these were listed and included popular titles such as Aladdin, Pinocchio, 101 Dalmatians, and Beauty and the Beast).

– Disney Movies VHS Lot of 14 Some NEW: $105 (This is a good amount of money for fewer titles than the other auction: the new factor helps, as people can give them as gifts. Titles were: “THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER – TOY STORY – CINDERELLA – BEAUTY AND THE BEAST CHRISTMAS – THE ARISTOCATS – DUMBO – DISNEY’S SING ALONG SONGS – 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA – ROBIN HOOD – ALICE IN WONDERLAND – PINOCCHIO.”

I noticed that the Disney movies tended to sell very well. As you know if you’ve read my book, “What Sells on eBay for What,” brand is very important to auctions on eBay.

Notice how this auction with more movies sold for a little more than half as much as the last auction:


They weren’t bad movies; they included titles like Beatrix Potter, Digimon, Goosebumps; they just didn’t have some of the ubiquitously marketed titles like some of the Disney movies.

Another lot of 19 kids’ movies went for $36.00 — things like Pokemon, Clifford, and Teletubbies.


I concluded that even though I might do better to list each title separately, there was enough of a market out there for big lots of kids movies, and they were selling for enough money to make it worth my while to list ’em all at once. So, of course, it will be up to you as to which of your items you want to group together. I encourage you to experiment, too (which can also be fun).

Ask yourself if your items are the kinds of things people want a lot of. (As a parent who has succumbed to the urge to let movies keep the kids’ entertained for a few hours so I could get work done, I have to admit, a big bunch of movies for a hefty discount off retail prices is pretty attractive!).

With kids’ movies, I decided they were.

Now, with some other big lot auctions I’ve done, I haven’t done so well. A woman in Canada got an incredible deal from me on five brand-name tops — for a dollar each! Two factors keeping that sale down: the items were different styles, and they were very summery, and I listed them at summer’s end (I admit, I just didn’t want to pack them away for the season).

So that was an instance where the lot didn’t make a “lot” of sense.

But, if you’ve got a big bunch of similar items that people might want in quantity, and a big need to get rid of ’em, fast, consider the big lot.

Julia L. Wilkinson is the author of “What Sells on eBay for What”: Save hours of time and make more money: