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.

Paul St. James
Paul St. James
Business name: Bargainland, in Memphis
Merchandise: Liquidations
Date of last eBay sale: Oct. 2007
Where he sells now: Bidtopia.com

Bargainland was once one of eBay's highest-volume PowerSellers, moving tens of thousands of items a month through the auction site. The company's business is liquidations: it receives truckloads of miscellaneous goods every day from merchants - returned, discontinued, battered or surplus items - and unloads them all in no-reserve, 99-cent-start-price auctions. Last year's sales topped $25 million, according to Bargainland.

But eBay became an increasingly frustrating place to do high-volume business, especially for sellers whose wares aren't always pristine, Bargainland co-founder and CTO Paul St. James says.

So Bargainland came up with an entrepreneurial solution: It launched its own auction site, Bidtopia.

Bargainland didn't intend to go the do-it-yourself route. It initially investigated other options, like Overstock.com, and put a few of its programmers on the project of building its own Web auctions infrastructure as a side project.

"We didn't think the auctions site would do well at all," St. James says. "It was so successful, so fast, that immediately all of our development efforts shifted to ramping up the robustness of the site, because the users were crushing it with volume."

Bargainland opened Bidtopia up to a dozen other veteran action sellers, and on Monday, it plans to launch a broader beta program.

For the first three weeks of Bargainland's transition, its average selling price for its goods was lower than it had been on eBay. But after a month, as more buyers found the site, revenue leveled out, and in some categories returns are trending higher. Factor in the fees Bargainland saves by not paying eBay, and the move is already a financial success, St. James says.

Last updated February 07 2008: 4:27 PM ET

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