Holiday Shopping on eBay

‘Twas the weeks before Christmas.. and all through the house Not a creature was stirring.. Just you and your mouse!

If you’re one of the 6 million eBay users, you know that shopping on eBay is fun and easy. It makes fighting for gifts and parking places at the mall a thing of “Christmas past.” Rather than the crowded stores, you can fill your gift list in the comfort of your own home, sipping hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire while perusing eBay. These days the average number of auctions is hovering at the 3 million mark, you can find something for everybody right here. But if you want eBay to work for you – you’ve got to make the most of eBay’s awesome search engine by fine tuning what you’re looking for.

Every holiday season has its hot items. Here are two that will be tough to find in stores but you can pick up on eBay right now. The new Britney Spears doll hit the toy shelves on October 15 and pre-teens and teens are already snapping them up. To find them on eBay, enter spears doll in the Title Search window and you will see all the current auctions. If you want to limit your search to one of the three “video” series dolls, use the keyword from the video title: spears doll sometimes or spears doll crazy or spears doll baby.

Pokemon, still a very hot collectible, is a tough search because there are so many types available. The Pokemon (Toys, Bean Bag Plush:pokemon) category alone lists close to 30,000 items. So narrow your search to include the characters or items you want to find. A category search for charizard, netted 929 auctions, but a site wide search produced 1267! (You’ll find more items in a site wide than in a category search). Be specific, if you’re looking for the Charizard rare holofoil card, narrow the search to Charizard holofoil on a site search. Another confusing Pokemon problem is that many sellers misspell pokemon as pokeman. To clear up this, search with both, as in (pokemon,pokeman) Charizard. (Site wide 915 – category wide, 684). The retailers sell out fast on the really hot gifts – but you can find them while in your robe and fuzzy slippers on eBay.

If you need to find some practical or unique gifts, eBay is the place for you. With Y2K in the wings, what better gift than one of those solar and crank powered radios and flashlights. They sell in the Storess for $80. A search on eBay for wind up flashlight found 57 items; over 20 were the high quality versions with a starting bid under $55. Searching solar radio netted 57 auctions with starting bids from $14 to $54.

A great holiday gift is one that will actually appreciate in value. Invest in the future with the new United States quarters. The government began quietly issuing new quarter coins to commemorate our 50 states. In 1999, they began minting the first five states in the series; Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut. The quarters will be issued in a limited run and only five in each year, featuring each of the fifty states in the order they were admitted to the union. They’re available on eBay for considerably less than you can purchase them in your local coin shop. Savvy eBayers (who sell as well as buy) should know it’s not too late to purchase uncirculated rolls – $10 face value – to collect and sell as time passes. You could scroll along in the category Coins and Stamps, Coins, US, Quarters or merely search (quarter,quarters) (roll,rolls) or state (quarter,quarters) for a more concise result. While you’re researching coins, remember that 1999 is the last year for Susan B Anthony dollar coins. You can search for them under anthony 1999 or for the small mint sealed bags, anthony (bag,bags). An important note; the eBay search engine pays no attention to capitalization, so it’s not necessary to capitalize proper names.

Holidays aren’t the same without the classic toys. If you have a little girl (or a big one as well!) Barbie may be on the list. The Dolls:Figures:Barbie category currently has over 14,500 items. A search for Barbie nets a cool 12,073 items. Barbie doll gleans 868 items. To narrow your search even further, let’s say you don’t want to spend any more than $20 per item. Go to the search page, to the By Title search and fill in the Price Range field to indicate a price range between $1 and $25. Now we have 680 Barbie doll items under $20. If the young lady you’re shopping for has special interests, search ballet barbie or painting barbie – you get the idea! Look for items being sold in your geographic area. “Go local”, as eBay calls it. Narrowing the search to the Los Angeles area for example, there are currently 15 items up for auction within a few miles of my home. By buying in your own area you may be able to pick up the item from the seller in person and save on shipping and time.

Toy classics like Beanie Babies are never dead. The Beanie Baby traffic on eBay is still hot and heavy. The classic retirees are a tad more affordable then in their heyday, and anyone who’s ever collected Beanie Babies still may need some to complete their collection. The toys:bean bag; plush category lists a staggering 76,943 auctions, of which 61,605 are produced by Ty! Garcia, the retired Beanie bear is still very popular, and a search in toys:bean bag plush: bean bag plush for garcia came up with 202 auctions. A search in toys:bean bag plush:ty retired beanies only came up with 128!! Sometimes using the subcategories for your search will miss the better bargains. In this case, the missing Garcia beanies were in the Toys, Bean Bag Plush:Bean Bag Plush:Ty Beanies:Bears category or Toys, Bean Bag Plush:Bean Bag Plush:Ty Beanies:general. As a buyer, you will find the lowest bids in the “off category” auctions, so be sure to start your searches from the highest level in the appropriate category.

If you’re doing your holiday shopping on eBay, make sure you complete your transactions at least a week before you want the gifts. That allows your payment to arrive and the seller to ship. If you really must cut it to the last minute, be sure to offer to pay the seller to ship via Federal Express, because those gifts “absolutely” have to be there on time! (The U. S. Post Office doesn’t guarantee Priority Mail delivery in 2 – 3 days during the holiday season).
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