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Locating Steady Product Sources

Find a steady stream of products to become a reliable eBay seller.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When you'd rather spend more time than searching forproducts, it's time to consider more reliable sources ofmerchandise.

No one can deny the thrill of posting a garage-sale find ordepartment-store clearance item on and snagging 10 times whatyou paid for it or more. But you have to put up with thefeast-or-famine nature of sourcing your this way. Now thatyou know how eBay works, you're ready to take on the biggerdeals and larger volumes that will produce a steady stream ofproduct and establish you as a reliable seller among eBayshoppers.

Wholesale distributors, liquidators, closeout distributors andjob-lot traders offer a virtually unlimited choice of product,though quality and quantity will vary. For access to thesesuppliers, you'll need a state resale number, which allows youto buy wholesale anywhere in the country. Manufacturers andwholesalers may also set minimum orders, so you must first decidehow much merchandise you can afford to buy and store.

Some wholesale distributors and manufacturers avoid internetbusinesses because they consider them unstable or unprofitable. Butaccording to Chris Malta, CEO of Worldwide BrandsInc., a product sourcing research publisher in ,, there is a subset of suppliers that tailor theirbusinesses to online sellers such as those on eBay. These"light bulk" wholesalers, as Worldwide Brands refers tothem, offer minimum orders of $500 or less.

Locating a wholesale distributor who supplies what you want tosell isn't always easy, but Sun W. Kim, 30, founder of TekGems Inc. (eBayUser ID: tekgems), found a novel way to do it. The San Franciscoelectronics entrepreneur did Google searches for the model numbersof products he wanted--searches that often led right todistributors' websites. "Pretty soon, I knew who thedistributors were and whom to talk to," Kim says.

Now, it seems the manufacturers find him, using the sametechnique to check on their products. "I probably have asupplier or manufacturer interested in selling me something once aweek," Kim says.

Marsha Collier, an eBay PowerSeller and author of several booksabout eBay, recommends eBay itself as a product source. Usingsearch terms such as lot, case quantity, surplus or pallet, sellerscan find liquidated merchandise and closeouts from providers toobusy to sell the products individually. .com is also apopular source for finding these goods.

Buying from liquidators offers a significant price benefit, butyou never know what you'll get. "You'll find goodbargains," Malta says, "but you can also end up withitems taken from breakage piles."

Whom you buy from also depends on what you want to sell. Avoidproduct categories where oversupply has dropped prices too low toprovide a profit. Asad Haroon, general manager of, aWashington, DC-based search portal for the wholesale andsmall-business sectors, recommends buying merchandise related to ahot item. Instead of adding to the glut of cell phones, forexample, sell cell-phone plates or car adapters. "You may nothave as big a demand," Haroon says, "but there won'tbe a lot of other people selling [them]."

Whatever you sell, opt for items that will maintain yourinterest in the business. "If you hate the items you'reselling," Collier says, "you're really going to bebored."

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