December 2008


I was in Best Buy doing Christmas shopping for everyone else when what to my wondering eyes appeared… Cool new cell phones!  Now just so you don’t assume that I’m a techie,  I will say right now that my current cell phone was a dinosaur – at least SEVEN years old and a pre-paid phone to boot.  I’m not a heavy cell phone user but gotta have one right? 

Staring back at me were new and funky prepaid Verizon phones that were actually cheaper to use than my current phone and were also internet-enabled and had a full QWERTY keyboard too.  Were they $297 like the iPhone that I could never justify having?  Nope.  The Verizon Blitz with the full keyboard and neat color screen and camera too was $79 and it was easy (for the clerk not me LOL ) to transfer my existing phone number to the new phone.

I’ve now had the Blitz over a week and have used the camera phone (on Christmas Eve) and have actually text messaged too.  This may not seem earth-shattering to someone out there that constantly uses their phone for text  messaging but for this 40-something non-techie with friends and a spouse who are even more non-technologically sophisticated than I am, this is big.

This phone is very easy to use, extremely economical to own.  In a few weeks I will be going back to Best Buy to purchase a one year prepaid card for $100 so the phone will get extra minutes and more importantly activation for one year.   This will end up costing me less than my dino-phone charges.

I have read reviews that state this phone is ugly and looks like a toy.  I disagree.  The slideout keyboard is quite easy to use since I have small hands and fingers.  Someone with large hands would have difficulty typing on these small keys.  Most phones would probably fall into that category though.

Quirks of this phone include having to unlock the keypad —  a lot.  Not really sure why it asks the user to hit “OK” so frequently to unlock the pad, but it seems like overkill.  Another feature that is sort of strange is that you must end the call or internet use by hitting the stop button.  Sliding the phone shut will not end the call.  Not huge drawbacks but they are worth mentioning here.

I’d love to hear your comments on the Verizon Blitz.

The presents are wrapped.  The party food is bought.  Today’s shipping for my business is done. 

Did we spend as much this year as we have in the past?  Nope.  Does it matter?  Nope.  My New Year’s mantra is “Simplify.  Simplify.”

In the past, I’ve watched as myself and everyone around me run around to get just the right ______ fill in the blank for every person they know.  This is commendable at first glance, yet profoundly silly in hindsight.  Name 3 perfect gifts that you received last year and match the person that gave them to you.   Thinking hard?  I don’t remember too many perfect gifts from the last decade…  That’s not what Christmas has become for me.

Gifts are wonderful, don’t get me wrong.  Bring ’em on!   But don’t charge your credit card or go without rent money to buy them for me.   Please.  Better yet, if it comes down to spending on us or the grandkids before you hit your max, please don’t pick us.   We just want you to be happy…. and debt-free to boot.

What are some of my fondest memories of the last few Christmases?  The traditional Christmas Eve party that is now held at our daughter’s house has many nice memories for me.  Since we moved a half hour away from a good portion of our family to be nearer to my mother (who passed away in September 2007) about 5 years ago, our daughter who lives in our former house with her family,  has taken over the Christmas Eve party that we hosted for many years.   There are no gifts exchanged at this party,  just a lot of eating and being merry.  ALL family is invited, not just a selection.  For some of us this is one of the few times per year that we see some of our family due to life in general getting in the way.  There are no disputes (we were always Switzerland) and some family just drops in on their way to another gathering, but there are really no rules other than no gifts and no squabbles (leave them at the door).

We always take a group photo when the party has reached it’s max.  Some years there were many in the photo, other years due to illness or snowstorm there were few.  I look back on the photos and feel Christmasy, if that’s a word.  There’s no other way to describe it. 

No wrapped present has ever really done that for me. 

How about you?

Lately I’ve been thinking of ways to diversify my online business beyond eBay and Amazon.  I have my own website that I do next to nothing with due to time constraints and I sell on five other sites that provide some extra sales in addition to the “Big Two”  – eBay and Amazon.  With eBay ripe for competition, there are other sites that seem to have survived a while so I took the time this week to jump in.

Not long ago I had looked into two new sites, eCrater.com and Bonanzle.com, but didn’t have the time to peruse yet another site that wants to take on dissatisfied eBay sellers (there are many) and I assumed that there was minimal traffic to these sites anyway. 

Maybe I was wrong.   I have spent the better part of the last two days setting up webstores at each site (they’re free) and have yet to get sales there.  It’s a tad early for that probably, but after having looked in detail at each site, I have to say that I’m impressed with their visions.

Bonanzle was a very easy set up that allowed me to load my listings from eBay without too much effort.  It rounded each dollar amount up to the nearest dollar and loaded my photos perfectly.  It has a Facebook kind of look to it and was extremely easy to use.  It also took my feedback from eBay and transferred it over to my Bonanzle webstore.  Wow!  Free and easy.

eCrater was only more difficult because I had to add each item myself.  I took the items that I have multiple quantities of, and could very quickly list items by cutting and pasting from my original listings.

These two sites have their work cut out for them but they are definitely on the right track.  They remind me (especially Bonanzle) of the way that eBayers still talk about the early days of eBay.    It was fun, easy, profitable for both sides, and customers got great deals.  Not so much fun for all 3 parties these days.  Ebay’s greed is notorious and they have recently changed their selling rules so frequently that it’s hard to keep up.  Many changes were  not seller friendly either.

Check out my new webstores if you get a minute.

Links:

http://www.bonanzle.com/booths/booksaroundtheclock

and

http://booksaroundtheclock.ecrater.com/

Any helpful feedback would be appreciated.