Are eBay Resellers Taking from the Needy?

eBay sellers thrift stores
eBay selling and buying fuels the economy. GettyImages

Thrift stores are like the mother ship to many eBay sellers. Sometimes our vehicles drive there as if on auto-pilot. eBayers love the thrill of the hunt, the low prices, and the picking experience. Unfortunately, not everyone shares our enthusiasm for thrifting for resale. In fact, many sellers are criticized or even verbally abused when sharing the fact that they use charity thrift stores as a source for merchandise.

As an eBay seller since 2003, I’ve personally dealt with this criticism. The average person often thinks that buying inexpensive items at a charity thrift store to resell on eBay is a process that takes items away from the needy. A closer look at the eBay selling cycle reveals how it positively impacts not only thrift stores but other organizations and individuals as well.

The Mission of Charity Thrift Stores

Most charity thrift stores do not exist for the purpose of providing low cost items to the needy. Their purpose is to generate income to support their mission. For example, Goodwill’s mission reads:

“Goodwill works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.”

Goodwill is in the business of generating revenue for its job training programs by selling donated items.

When anyone, eBay sellers included, purchase items from a Goodwill Store or outlet, the money generated from sales fuels Goodwill’s mission of job training. In an indirect way, eBay sellers help charities who run thrift stores. Although not available, it would be interesting to learn how much money eBay sellers spend every year at Goodwill stores and how our businesses have ultimately helped others in need.

The Salvation Army’s mission statement reads:

“The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

The Salvation Army offers more diverse services including disaster relief, veteran’s affairs services, elderly services, and prison outreach. The money from their thrift store sales is used to fund their various missions.

How eBay Can Give Back

Many resellers have started an eBay business because a major life crisis has taken their health, their job, or a loved one who was the bread winner in their home. These sellers are financially desperate and are seeking a way to earn money for their families without turning to public assistance. They recognize the waste stream of sellable products in their communities and are industrious enough to use the resources around them to make money. Individuals suffering from chronic illnesses like MS, Crohn’s Disease, Cancer, Fibromyalgia, and other disabilities can work on their eBay businesses when they feel well enough but aren’t physically able to commit to a 9-5 job.

eBay is a way for the ill and disabled to continue to earn an income, feel productive, and remain self-sufficient through buying from thrift stores and reselling on eBay. Without eBay and thrift stores, many of these folks might become needy.

The USPS makes money through the eBay selling cycle. The post office processes millions of eBay packages each month. eBay generates business for the post office, which creates job security for USPS employees. USPS encourages the public to take advantage of scheduled pickups to make post offices less crowded. Learn how to schedule a USPS pick up here.

Another piece of the eBay selling cycle is buyer satisfaction. eBay sellers can’t make money without buyers. With millions of products for sale 24/7, eBay buyers can find exactly what they need, at the price they want to pay, and have it shipped to their door in a few days.

If buyers aren’t happy, eBay offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and will step in and assist with a return or refund.

The next time someone suggests that eBay sellers are taking from the needy, remember these points. Thrift stores are usually overflowing with donated merchandise – items that people didn’t want anymore. eBay sellers are a vital part of a cycle that pumps money into the economy, provides an enormous business for the USPS, and creates a flexible home business for people who need to generate money for a variety of reasons.