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Now you have a friend in the on-line auction business

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

Have something to sell but aren’t sure who would buy it or what price to ask? There’s the eBay way: You take a picture, write a description and place it on the Web site and hope it sells.

There’s another option: Have someone put it on eBay for you.

At a storefront in Federal Way, iSold It is taking in what people don’t want and selling it for them via the on-line auction house giant.

Kenneth Byrnes is the president of the store here and three others in Washington. They are part of a franchise of more than 100 stores that originated in Pasadena, Calif.

He learned about iSold It when a cable news channel profiled the company. Byrnes, a former software developer, said he called that day to start his franchise and asked for as much of western Washington as the company would give him.

The Federal Way store opened in January. The others are in Puyallup, Seattle and Kent, and Byrnes plans to open 20 new stores in western Washington in the next four years.

Byrnes isn’t breaking new ground in Washington. There are other auction companies. Auction Drop uses The UPS Store locations –– two are in Federal Way –– for customers to sell their wares.

Byrnes said about 30 percent of his stores’ customers are repeat users of the service. They like the convenience and often sell several items. Ninety percent of the Washington stores’ customers walk in off the street, he said.

Anything that could sell for $30 or more is accepted. Customers with items that potentially could sell in the future are contacted if the iSold It staff thinks the market has changed.

Byrnes said a woman wanted to sell a set of Pope John Paul II dolls. She was told to hang onto them prior to the pontiff’s death because they wouldn’t fetch very much. After he died, they were snapped up on eBay.

The business also helps other companies liquidate or sell damaged merchandise.

People can also have the money from the sale donated to several charitable organizations, Brynes said.

Since iSold It claims it’s the largest eBay seller, bidders feel more comfortable buying through them than a private party with only a few sales, he said. Putting items on the block every day also gives the company experience a customer might not have with presenting their product attractively to bidders.

Several people work on selling a customer’s item –– a photographer, the person writing the description of the item based on the customer’s information, and someone packaging and mailing the item.

In the back of the store in Federal Way are shelves filled with items on the cyber auction block. A radio-controlled model hydroplane sold for $2,100 while Byrnes gave a tour. The employees were guessing what the final bid would be; all were low.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.

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