From the February 2005 issue of Startups

Buying a car on eBay is not something everyone would feel comfortable doing, but Snappy Auctions franchisee Elizabeth Mays had no hesitations. Her faith in the auction site runs deep-eBay has treated her well in both her personal life and her business. As a stay-at-home mom, Mays, 45, quickly got hooked on eBay, even starting an at-home venture selling high-end leather goods on the site in 2002.

Though the business thrived, Mays often thought about opening an eBay drop-off store. "With two small children at home, I knew I didn't have the means to do it alone," says Mays. Then, while on a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, she spotted a Snappy Auctions drop-off store. After doing some research, she decided Snappy Auctions was right for her.

In July 2004, Mays opened her store on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia. With the help of local newspaper and broadcast coverage, she took in more than 600 items in the first month.

Mays accepts anything that might sell, including old clothes, furniture, even cars. For selling items, Snappy Auctions collects a commission of 15 to 35 percent on each item, depending on the sales price. A typical day for Mays consists of checking in items, taking photos, writing descriptions, responding to questions, shipping packages and researching the expected value of the items--and she manages all this with only two part-time employees.

The drop-off business is ideal for Mays. She's close to home, setting up shop just blocks from her front door so her daughters can visit her anytime. This convenience gives her plenty of time to do what she loves most: getting to know her customers. "I love the variety of people who walk through the door," says Mays. "Their stories and their items make every day interesting."