eBay backlash: 5 sellers who ditched it

EBay's planned fee and feedback changes have sellers threatening an exodus. Here are five sellers who already left before the current fracas, and how they've rebuilt their businesses elsewhere.

Robert Tucker
Robert Tucker
Business: Kratom Cafe, in Dallas
Merchandise: Recreational herbal products, such as powdered kratom (pictured)
Date of last eBay sale: Oct. 2007
Where he sells now: KratomCafe.com

Robert Tucker and his wife Anna run a classic "mom & pop" business: They handle all of the marketing, accounting, shipping and logistics for Kratom Cafe, the herbal products business he started three years ago.

"Some would call them 'legal highs,'" Tucker says about the uses of his powders, capsules and other products. But plants like kratom also have medicinal use - Tucker uses it to keep arthritis pain in check - and his business has built a loyal fan base.

Tucker decided last January to begin weaning away from eBay. The impetus was a round of fee hikes like those announced last month - something sellers complain has become an annual rite. He crunched the numbers and decided he'd save at least 20 percent by moving sales elsewhere - a projection since borne out by experience. Tucker took a full eight months to shut down his eBay selling, using the time to spread the word of his business's sales outpost on its own website.

"We were running sales simply to be able to tell customers we'd moved," he says. "Customers were writing to us personally to ask why we weren't running as many sales, and we'd direct them to the new site."

Tucker estimates that 500 customers followed him from eBay to KratomCafe.com. His customer list now numbers more than 7,000. By October, when he ran his last eBay auction, he was doing three times the sales volume on his website that he ever had on eBay. A typical day for his business now brings in at least $500 in revenue; on eBay, sales topped out at $100/day.

Word-of-mouth marketing has been key for Tucker: he asks satisfied clients to spread the word on Internet forums. He tried to find other outlets for sales, but couldn't find anything with a buyer pool even close to eBay's size. In the end, it didn't matter: his own site now generates enough sales to keep Kratom Cafe solidly in the black.

"EBay raised the cost to the point that it forced us to go out on our own, and in a way, I have to thank 'em," Tucker says. "It's been a wonderful thing."

Last updated February 07 2008: 4:27 PM ET

Vintage Fashion Library

Bargainland

Barker's Buckles

Kratom Cafe

Gurlz Gone Glam
EBay rivals circle Sellers fleeing eBay are flocking to a crop of upstarts. (more)
Fee hike sparks seller rebellion EBay's new fee structure has small stores fearful about their survival. (more)

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.