I had this "ReBay" idea originally on 11/26/01. On 3/1/03, this article on AuctionDrop was printed in the SJ Mercury News.
Mixture of pawn shop, powered by eBay, with Goodwill.
An easy, one-stop-shop to sell or donate medium-value used items, such as electronics. Customers bring in their used products that they wish to sell but are willing to donate to charity if the products can’t be sold within a specified time window (1 week).
ReBay will post the product on eBay (take the picture, write the description, manage the auction), package and mail the product, and collect the money. If the product cannot be sold, ReBay will donate the product to charity and give the customer the donation receipt.
Caters to professionals who are too busy to bother learning eBay or setting up a garage sale. Thus, they keep hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of old equipment that they never use. They would be happy to pay a percentage of the value of the product if they could get rid of it conveniently.
Also good for techno-phobic people who do not want to learn about computers or do not know how to use them effectively.
Charge 20% commission of sale price. Minimum bid price of $50. Thus, minimum charge of $10 per item sold. However, not all items will be sold. ReBay will handle the donations free of charge. Minimize this by only accepting quality items that the customer must prove actually works. Start by accepting only electronics such as cameras, computer equipment, stereo equipment, etc. because they have a proven marketability.
Use eBay as the auction platform. This is the killer app of the internet, already proven by millions of users. Templatize the process so high school students can do the work. Once model proven, can franchise for each town. Keep local presence. Advertise in local, free papers. Partner with charities. Get some funding from eBay?
Need retail store space with easy access by town residents. However, could be in relatively low-cost space, preferably near a charity like Goodwill.
Leverage storefront features of eBay to establish a good rating. Offer customer insurance ($1/item?) to cover fraud. Volume shipping with UPS to get better rates.
Pay employees minimum wage plus commission as incentive for them to encourage new business and to sell the items. Take best practices and roll into the process templates. Use competition between employees to find best practices; pay bonus to encourage documentation.
Need system to tag and store items. Division of labor for checks and balance system to prevent internal fraud. Hire intelligent high schoolers who are in the honor society, etc, for highest integrity with the most to lose if caught. Install video cameras for monitoring.
Could eventually extend business to become an internet café for commerce. Employees could teach customers how to set up their own auctions, etc. Most likely the customer will realize what a pain it is and continue to use ReBay’s service. Community service role of educating citizens on technology, using the powerful motivator of commerce with the powerful brand of eBay.
Possibly gain government grants as an employment project. What if every town set up a mom-n-pop franchise of ReBay? Could merge with companies like Mailboxes, Etc as buying and receiving items becomes a part of the business.