October 13, 2010

The eBay Life "Score of the Day" is a Starbucks mug from Taichung, Taiwan, purchased for $4 and sold for.....

Contrary to popular belief,  you don't need to live in a big city or quaint college town to find cool products to sell on eBay.  From Weed to Willows...every town has something to offer.  Anyone living anywhere can sell on eBay.  

Case in point?  Oroville, California.  Oroville is a small town north of Sacramento, and it happens to be the town in which I work.  It's not exactly a metropolis.  Its biggest retailer is Walmart, and if you see bright lights, you're probably near a casino.  Nevertheless, I often spend my lunch break at the local thrift shops making money.  So far I have found a plethora of eBayable goods.

Among the most interesting items I've purchased are three Starbucks mugs from three different Asian cities.  How did a thrift shop in Oroville get its hands on Starbucks mugs from Asia? There is only one explanation: Some poor soul must have gone on the trip of a lifetime ....and then died.  That has to be the answer, right?  Who in their right mind would give away Starbucks mugs in perfect condition from Tokyo, Singapore, and Taichung?

I wrote about the Tokyo Starbucks mug a few months ago.  It ended up selling for over $60.  It was from 1994, and it was pretty neat.  Since I was so successful in selling the Tokyo mug, I went back to the same thrift shop and found the Taichung and Singapore mugs.  In all honesty, I couldn't believe my eyes.  What are the odds? 

The Singapore mug ended up being worth about $20.  No biggy.  It was still really cool.  The Taichung mug, however, was rare -- very rare.  First of all, I had never heard of this city in Taiwan --  Taichung?  I have the $24.95 subscription to Terapeak, so I was able to access 365 days of eBay sales data.  Only a few had been listed all year.  One 2004 Taichung mug had sold for $19.99 -- but there was no picture, so I couldn't be sure it was the same mug.  Another had been listed at $300, but it didn't sell.  Eventually I started looking at collector sites.  On one site, someone claimed that a Taichung mug from between 2000-2004 had sold for almost $200 in March.  I didn't find any information on Terapeak to back up this claim. I was stumped.

So I knew this mug was rare, but how rare was it?  What what would people be willing to pay for it?  I was too scared to list it at auction at a low price, so I started the bidding at $99.99 and insisted that international buyers pay for Express International shipping because this method of shipping offers tracking.  No luck.  Two people were watching it, but nobody bid.  Eventually, I decided to list it at a fixed price of $99.99.  A few people asked questions...then nothing.  No watchers.  No nothing.  Hmmmm.  A mystery.

It sat and sat and sat................ 

Last week people finally started asking questions again: 

Did it come in the original box? (No.)
Would I take $110 including shipping and send it to Greece? (No.)
Did I accept Western Union?  (Come on now.  Do people still fall for that scam?)

A few people sent me offers, but nobody wanted to pay more than $60. It had to be worth more than that.  If Miriam Otto was the only person on the planet selling a 2004 Taichung, Taiwan, Starbucks mug, then it had to be worth more than $60.   And guess what.  It was. 

On October 10, 2010, a lady from Switzerland purchased the mug for $89.99.  (I knew that 10% off sale would work. LOL).  In addition, she purchased the Singapore cup for a little under $20.  We sent off both mugs via Express International. (She paid close to $50 in shipping).  Maybe if I had been patient, the Taichung cup would have sold for even more.  Next time I come across a product this rare, I might try placing a reserve on it. I hate reserves, but maybe a reserve would have created a bidding war. I just don't know.  (If you happen to know of a Taichung mug that sold for $1,000, please keep this information to yourself.  LOL)

Today I went back to the same thrift shop.  I couldn't believe it.  I found two more unusual Starbucks cups.  What is going on?  They're so pretty I might keep them.  I paid a total of $4.25 because they had been sitting there for 30 days and were 1/2 off.  I already researched them, and they are worth about $15.00 a piece.  You just never know when it comes to Starbucks mugs.  You just never know.

 So there you have it.  Exotic merchandise found in the little ol' town of Oroville, California. See!  It doesn't matter where you live.  You can still make it happen. This is America, Baby.  Find the stuff in your town that sells.  It's out there, and a whole lot of people are passing it up because they aren't reading this blog.  LOL

For the best eBay selling tips around, follow The eBay Life. (See the "follow" button to the right of this post.) Each week I will give you eBay selling ideas that you won't find anywhere else! If you need footwear, don't forget to check out my store, Blue Frog Shoes, where I sell name brand shoes and shoes in hard-to-find sizes.


  1. I will post this on my wall so all can see what fun ebay is

  2. You are amazing! Keep up the great work!

  3. I am digging your blog, I have a similar one. Even sold a Harley Davidson bank like yours (Only got $17 for it though)

  4. Cool! What's the name of your blog? I want to see it!

  5. Hi! Are you on Facebook? I guess I could have looked first. Nice cups too!

  6. Yes, I am! Thanks everyone for reading my blog. My name is Miriam Otto. Send me a friends request if you like! - M