EBay's PR people seem to have tried to get some human interest stories going by citing Lumberton, New Jersey, as its No. 1 town of buyers and sellers on a per capita basis. Are you surprised? I was. I thought eBays top town was somewhere in Montana, where laid-off farm workers made a good living selling and reselling goods.
But New York Times freelancer Jonathan Berr picked up on the story and went ahead and talked to a number of sellers in the Philly suburb, which has a population of 12,000. Per Berr, the sellers and buyers included “small business owners selling their handicrafts, moms who wanted to dispose of clothing that their children no longer needed and people looking for a bargain.” To find the eBay-ites, Berr told me he simple went down to the local post office, where he found it fairly easy to find seven or eight of the towns “e-commerce tycoons.”
“I was reminded of what made eBay a success while I was reporting the story,” writes Berr, in a separate story picked up by AOL Finance. “First, its still a very affordable way for many small businesses who dont want to spend the money on search advertising to sell their wares on the Internet. eBay also seems to be replacing garage sales as the means that people use to get rid of their junk. It also offers merchants low-cost credit card processing through PayPal. (My wife uses it for her business.)”
On the AOL site, there were, to be expected, 17 comments on Berrs story this morning most of them slamming eBay as having lost touch with sellers and buyers, charging too much and being out-performed by other auction sites. The ranters are always a little out of proportion, but it does seem like eBays momentum is hurting. A recent eBay initiative to expand its model to cable TV ad sales was dropped just last week by the Cable Advertising Bureau.
But dont get distracted: It is still one powerful company with a strong collection of sites. Im anxiously awaiting the companys long-planned U.S. classified initiatives, which are likely to launch, albeit behind schedule, sometime later this year.