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The eBay Gear Experiment
Adventure examines just how easy it is to recycle your old gear using new features from eBay.   By Stephen Neill Holland

If you're like most of us here at Adventure, you probably have more than a few pieces of gear from seasons past—like your old mountain bike that took its last trail into the garage, or that high-altitude mummy bag, put out to pasture in the hall closet. With gear trends going ultralight, extra compact, and sublimely efficient, it's impossible to resist the impulse to upgrade. And with landfills brimming over, the idea of putting unwanted gear into the hands of someone who would actually use it is pretty appealing. Enter eBay. 

Most likely, however, you're more compelled to take in a magnificent view than monitor a virtual bidding war. So when we found out that a few new eBay features can help turn old gear into cold cash, we had to investigate. The goal is, through our trial and error, to help you figure out how to best get your gear noticed amongst the more 24,500 items are currently listed on eBay's Camping, Hiking, and Backpacking page.

Part I: Hire a Trading Assistant or Generate Your Own Market Research? Photo: Stephen Neill Holland with a backpack
Over the next month, I'll sell two trekking backpacks on eBay. By simultaneously utilizing eBay's new features—the Trading Assistant Program, where an experienced seller will post, sell, and ship your gear for a cut of the profits, and Marketplace Research, a subscriber service that gives users access to eBay sales trends and rates—I'll report on which method is best suited to certain personalities and how to bring in top dollar. Check back next month for an update. In the mean time, here's what I have learned about eBay's upgrades.
The Trading Assistant
The eBay Trading Assistant is great for those of us without enough downtime to deal with the online auction process, which can take an average of two weeks. By using simple prompts on the site, you can locate an eBay Trading Assistant in your area who will photograph, market, and sell your equipment. He or she will ship your product, and in many cases even pick it up from your home. The Trading Assistant requires an agreed upon commission (generally from 20 to 30 percent) for his or her labors, but surely it's easier to let them find a shipping box for that old tandem kayak or exercise bike. In order to earn trading assistant status, each seller must meet three month sales quotas and maintain a 97 percent positive feedback score. The idea is that a seasoned eBay auctioneer will harness more green than you would on your own. 
Marketplace Research
Another new offering from eBay is the Marketplace Research feature which launched last November. This option is great for the DIY type looking for ways to track purchasing trends within the last 60 days. For example, by searching for, say, "tents," Marketplace Research reveals the going rates on eBay and the quantity sold in the specific item category. Although user's have to fork over $2.99 for a two-day subscription (though you can also get longer subscriptions), the upside to utilizing eBay's Marketplace Research is the ability to create a more profitable auction than you could without knowledge of recent product sales trends. Plus, 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to your new gear fund.

Part II: The Results - Coming soon
After employing a Trading Assistant and conducting my own auction using Marketplace Research, I'll report on which method made more money, created less hassle, and the pros and cons of each.

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Pick up the February 2006 issue for 36 amazing Hawaiian adventures, the most spectacular treks in Australia, 11 weekend escapes near you, and more.

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