What should I import from China to sell on eBay as a side-job?
August 14, 2006 1:13 PM   Subscribe

What should I import from China to sell on eBay as a side-job?

I have a friend in China who offered his services to allow me to import some goods to sell. I have some eBay experience, but I have no clue as what to request. Any ideas as to what I can import to resell in the US? Thanks in advance --Adam
posted by weiler63 to Work & Money (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
DVD's? A lot of old, obscure and sought after movies are released only in the Far East. The Chinese versions tend to be far inferior to the Korean (and they're often illegal) so you'd have to look into it. Whatever it is you choose to sell you will probably have to import it in bulk to make it worthwhile - people in the Far East are listing stuff on eBay for themselves without the middle man.
posted by fire&wings at 1:24 PM on August 14, 2006

Hilariously misspelled english-language shirts.
posted by cadastral at 1:40 PM on August 14, 2006

Something expensive, volume on ebay never looks good if you're listing the same product over and over again.
posted by 517 at 1:42 PM on August 14, 2006

A friend of mine sold knockoff bags and purses imported from China on eBay. However, to make a profit on it, you'd really need to have some connection to a bulk supplier and stay on top of trends. Luckily for him, his girlfriend was a maniacal shopper.

In general, I'd think the only way to make money from Chinese imports is to purchase cheap goods in bulk and sell them for a markup domestically. China isn't known for premium goods. With the rising affluence of a select group of China's citizens, you're probably better off exporting American goods to China and selling to connoisseurs of uniquely American products like clothes.
posted by junesix at 1:42 PM on August 14, 2006

Small electronics. My father was considering importing TVs and larger electronics into NZ, but decided against it because they need to be tested to see if they comply with NZ safety standards for electrical goods, and the test is prohibitively expensive. Now he's importing cheap MP3 players, watches, flash drives and so on, which will appeal to the gadget collectors. He's selling them online and at a local market, still cheap even with about a 30% markup after shipping costs.
posted by tracicle at 1:46 PM on August 14, 2006

My dad used to own a wholesale business doing exactly this (only, we imported things by the hundred thousand and sold them from a warehouse, YMMV).

Our best sellers were consistently:

1) Cheap batteries (knockoffs)
2) Slightly better batteries (Panasonic, Duracell)
3) Hi-8 and MiniDV tapes. Also camera film. (Yes, film. No, I don't know why people still want film)
4) Zippo lighters (from Zippo, though. But man, the markups were sweet. Sweet ass sweet).
5) Cheap electrical stuff (power bars, extension cords, cables (for TV, but also USB and ethernet, towards the end)
6) PIPES. You can make a ridiculous amount of money selling pipes/bongs/hookah's from China. Also, digital scales, grinders, rolling papers, etc. People both love and need this shit. There are big catalogues that Chinese manufacturers put out. Get one, and pick out some classy pipes.

About 4 and 5, though. Beware cheap stuff if the manufacturer seems shifty - often times they will make substandard parts, and fake the safety labels. You don't want someone's house fire to be on your conscience, so watch out.
posted by Drunken_munky at 1:48 PM on August 14, 2006

Electronic components. Assortments of resistors and capacitors, connectors..
posted by Chuckles at 1:49 PM on August 14, 2006

They're available cheaply in China, but are not readily available here, even in Chinatown stores. We've brought some back on every trip and given them as gifts, and they are appreciated. they also come in green, and different sizes and number of balls. that green one selling for $21 probably goes for under $5 in Beijing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:53 PM on August 14, 2006

I buy most of my electronics direct from China because I can get name brand for 50% or less of retail after shipping. For example, I've bought about 10 High Speed 2GB Sony Memory Stick Pro Duo cards with the Memory Stick Pro adapter for ~$75 Canadian when the normal speed ones are still ~$140 Canadian locally.
posted by ChazB at 2:36 PM on August 14, 2006

Tea! China has some of the most amazing teas in the world. Tea enthusiasts are always looking for good prices on genuine imported teas.
posted by aebaxter at 2:51 PM on August 14, 2006

ChazB: Do you do this while physically in China or some other way? If through a website, please post it.
posted by redteam at 4:44 PM on August 14, 2006

I suggest that you not sell knock-off, or counterfeit, or whatever you want to call it, goods. Sooner or later, Customs will take exception to it, and you'll become poor. If you import Chinese-themed goods, like the jade balls, or tea, or silk, you won't have that problem.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:54 PM on August 14, 2006

Something lightweight so you won't pay much for shipping.
posted by leapingsheep at 4:59 PM on August 14, 2006

If current eBay pricing is any indication, American Girl doll clothes and accessories (non-name brand).

They're small (very little shipping), they don't need to be particularly well made, there's high demand for them on eBay from what I've seen and providing a lower cost alternative to $47 doll outfits to moms and grandmoms who want to spoil little girls for a relatively short window in their life could be seen as doing a good thing (assuming they're not produced in sweatshop conditions, etc).
posted by Gucky at 5:06 PM on August 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ive seen small amounts of Chinese tea selling for 100$+ in Japan.
posted by ejoey at 5:57 PM on August 14, 2006

If you're unable to deal in bulk, you might be better off importing luxury brand items from the US into China. Here in Taiwan, a friend's wife makes a pretty penny bringing in vitamins and Victoria Secret's clothing and selling it for quite a mark-up on Taiwan's eBay.
posted by alidarbac at 6:24 PM on August 14, 2006

Selling counterfeit goods is a really bad idea, you can get into all kinds of trouble with it, and you really dont' want Customs to come knocking...

There are still some very cool things you can buy cheaply in China and sell over here, particularly stuff that is just outragous and very cool to Western buyers.

I always brought back Mao lighters and watches, they made great gifts, along with weird LED jewelry, tacky christian-motif electronic frames, etc.

Another alternative, more on the luxury side where you could do more of a markup, would be freshwater pearls and silk clothing (robes, pajamas, etc.), which is way cheaper in China than here. Pearls in particular are generally very nice, and I would say that the items I brought back last time were appraised at about 80% higher value than what I purchased them for.
posted by gemmy at 7:38 PM on August 14, 2006

suggest that you not sell knock-off, or counterfeit...

I should clarify. By knock-off, I just meant no name brand stuff (e.g. Powercell batteries).

Yes, definitely do not sell counterfeit stuff, that's a bad call.
posted by Drunken_munky at 7:57 PM on August 14, 2006

Home Depot and the like make their largest mark-up on cables and wiring for AV enthusiasts. Printer cartridges, flash memory may work well, but whatever it is, try to get a shipping container load each time, to save as much as possible on shipping costs, provided you don't end up warehousing too much obsolete stuff before it's sold.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:33 AM on August 15, 2006

You have to really know what you're doing with tea for it to be worthwhile. There's a lot of crap out there.

You might want to look into teaware -- I bought some amazing porcelain for next to nothing when I was in China. Mao memorabilia is also cheap and easy to come by on the street.
posted by liet at 1:07 PM on August 15, 2006

« Older How to hang pants?   |   Join .ts files in OS X Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.