As the recession bites, more and more people are looking for ways to shop for less. Tim Daly from Killaloe spoke to Nicola Corless about embracing the phenomenon of ‘shopping neutral’.
Clare is not the ‘shopping neutral’ capital of Ireland. In fact it is ranked 22nd out of the 26 counties when it comes to its number of neutral shoppers per capita. So what is shopping neutral?
“Anything you don’t need at home, you sell it on eBay. Then once you have it sold you can buy something you really like,” says Killaloe man Tim Daly.
Essentially ‘shopping neutral’ involves offsetting the cost of spending whereby shoppers can generate income by selling unwanted items on eBay, and use the income to shop for new items.
According to a recent report by eBay, Irish homes are sitting on approximately €500 worth of saleable items. The study looked at Ireland’s shopping habits and revealed that Westmeath has the highest percentage of neutral shoppers in the country.
Tim has been using eBay for the past three years buying mainly rare CDs and DVDs and then selling them on when he is finished.
“I’ve been consciously shopping neutral for the past couple of months and have to say my wife has never been happier with expenses,” he jokes.
Although Tim had booked flights online in the past, eBay was his first venture into the world of buying goods and taking part in online auctions.
“It was a DVD that I could not get in England or Ireland and I ended up getting it from America. It was the 1940s version of Hamlet starring Laurence Olivier. I was collecting the Best Picture Oscar winner each year and it was the one film I could not get. I had been looking for it for over a year. I hadn’t bought anything else on eBay but I listened to friends that had and they said it was pretty secure using a Paypal account,” he recalls.
“Once I got Hamlet it completed a collection of over 80 DVDs but once you see a DVD once you are not really interested in watching it again for a while, so I decided to put them all for sale online as a collection,” Tim continued.
It took three months to sell the anthology that featured films from as far back as the 1920s and despite the set costing Tim over €1,000, he actually managed to make a small profit on it. That was it, he was hooked.
“It is very addictive. Sometimes before or after I go to work I’d have a look at it. I could spend up to two hours each day at it,” Tim reveals.
Launched in 1995, eBay brings together buyers and sellers across the world to buy the things they want and sell the things they don’t. As well as allowing people to buy items instantly, one of the website’s main features is the online auction facility where you bid against would-be buyers around the world for an item you want.
“On eBay, it is mostly bidding for an item at auction and you have to wait three, seven or 10 days and it is the thrill of winning that really makes it worthwhile. Sometimes you pay over the odds for an item but you just want to win,” Tim says.
The Clare man prefers the online auctions to the ‘Buy It Now’ option on the website. So how seriously does he take it when an auction is coming to an end and he has other plans.
“I have signed up to alerts so I get a text from eBay when the bidding is coming to an end so I know then. If my wife and I are out shopping I would bring the laptop with me if I’m bidding on something I really want and I’d stay in the car waiting for the auction to end. You could be outbid in the last 30 seconds,” he adds.
Since his first encounter with eBay, Tim has managed to off-load everything from the contents of his attic to a toy Batmobile. He has also managed to source items as diverse as national school books for his children and scratch remover for cars.
Though Tim points out that shopping neutral is a good way to get rid of things that are cluttering the house, he also admits it can also considerably add to the congestion – Tim has sold around 60 items over the last year but he has bought about 250.