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|03-22-03: Tri Star finds success with eBay class
|By JEAN ZEHRINGER GIESIGE
Let's say you're sick of hearing your friends talk about how they
bought all their Christmas gifts on eBay, or how they went on eBay and got a whole box of
mint-condition, age-appropriate blue jeans for their family for a song, and on and on and
on, and finally you decide to check it out. Credit card in hand, you arrive at the eBay
Web site, and within minutes you are drowning.
"EBay hasn't done a very good job of organizing the site for
beginners," said Lisa Sheppard, instructor with the adult education program at Tri
Star Career Compact.
That's why, for the past three years, Tri Star has been offering
evening classes on how to navigate through the world's largest internet auction site.
"You could learn it on your own," Sheppard said, "but
it's like going to Cincinnati. Cincinnati is a big city, and you could drive there and try
to find your way around. Or, you could ask somebody who's been there where to go, what
exits to take, where to eat. And you'd have a lot better time."
The eBay class has been a popular one at Tri Star almost from the
beginning, said Sheppard and fellow instructor, Lynne Ray, who leads the eBay class. Each
time the course fills up - and it nearly always fills up - they schedule another session.
Ray on Thursday night taught the third and final session to the 12 people in her current
eBay class. The next such class, which is already almost full, will begin on April 10.
The eBay Web site, with 65 million registered users, is the world's
biggest flea market. Sellers register with eBay peddling collectibles, treasures that
they've found at neighborhood garage sales, their kids' outgrown clothing, the contents of
their attic, or anything else imaginable. Buyers browse through thousands of listings
looking for that one thing they can't live without, or anything else that catches their
"The great thing about eBay is that there is something for
everyone," Ray said. "Conversely, it shows that there are customers and
collectors who will buy just about anything. Where else could you find a buyer for a $2.1
million missile silo, or a whole town in California?"
The growth of eBay has been phenomenal, she said. There were 2 million
items sold on the site in the fourth quarter of 1997 and 195 million items sold there
during the fourth quarter of 2002.
"It started out as this underground thing, but it has become
mainstream," Ray said. "Now, you here references to eBay from David Letterman,
you read stories about eBay auctions in the newspaper."
Those references draw a lot of people into the Tri Star class.
"Some of our students have never been on the Web site, and they
want to go there and explore," Sheppard said. "Or they've bought items, but
never sold, and they want to learn how to do that. They come to the class to be pioneers,
so they can go back and teach other family members how to do it."
Ray said the class also draws local business people who want to expand
"They look at eBay as another market, a way to supplement their
sales," she said.
Judy Waterman of Celina, a student in the current session, said she
came to find out what eBay was all about.
"I'm here just out of curiosity," said Waterman, learning to
use the site
with Ray's help.
Everybody starts at the beginning - and no one knows where they
might end up. Ray pointed out a story in the February issue of eBay's online newsletter
about a seller whose 1941 Clipper Pale Beer can brought $19,000.
"I've always liked to go to auctions, so the very first word I
ever typed on an Internet search engine was the word 'auction,' and that took me to
eBay," said Ray, who like many others has since established herself as an eBay
seller. "The amount of people who have quit their jobs and now sell full-time on eBay
is almost overwhelming. There are quite a few of them in the Mercer and Auglaize county
area, selling everything from collectibles to cars."
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