In New York, where trend-conscious executives and socialites routinely clear out cramped apartment closets to make room for newer looks, Bonnie Levine is considered something of a personal seller. Think Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City" in reverse. When the Manolo Blahniks and Pradas have to go, Levine gets a call to pick them up.
At home, Levine, 41, and her partner, Mindy Calo, 34, auction off the shoes, designer clothes and accessories on eBay, taking 50 per cent of all sales. "We're both mums and our husbands work full-time," says Levine. "We do this to earn extra money between family chores, not to get rich quick."
Levine and Calo devote about 20 hours a week to their e-enterprise, and each pockets about $3000 a month. The idea for the business came to Calo in 2003 when she auctioned off some of her own clothes. Soon Calo and Levine were doing the same for families and friends across the US, using the eBay seller name Mindycara. In fact, there are now more than 50,000 "trading assistants" registered with eBay to help people auction off their goods.
"Both of us knew high-powered women with great taste, and they told other women, who told their circle of friends," says Levine. Now the pair has 20 regular clients.
In addition to sorting through clothes, Levine and Calo snap digital images, write up descriptions, determine market values using andale.com, post the information on eBay and ship merchandise to winning bidders.
To avoid paper clutter, they use iVendere.com, a virtual office that keeps inventory control, hosts images and information they don't want to print out or can't afford to lose in a computer crash.
Levine's and Calo's advice: Focus on satisfying your customers. "If you have a '500' positive feedback rating," says Calo, "you're much more likely to be viewed as reliable and trustworthy, which counts for everything on eBay."