Monday, February 26, 2007

Where Can You Sell? Where Can You Buy?

Like Gracie, I've had my share of bad dealings with eBay.

As a buyer, I hate that I can't find what I am looking for because I need to hunt for the secret passageway to the back alley which is the 'mature audiences' area and that my secret knock has a time limit which puts be back outside the back alley again and again. I'm looking for vintage men's magazines, pinups, antique erotic works, sex books (both new and historical titles) etc. -- it really shouldn't be like buying moonshine in during prohibition.

As a seller, I detest a greedy eBay which is all too happy take my money in the form of seller fees which are equal to those items which are not hidden in a back alley. (I pay the same fees yet have less exposure?! Sheesh.) And I have been driven to drink with the yanking of listings which are "against policy" even if not so stated. (I was the lister of the books Gracie wrote about here.)

In response to the above, we sell our items in our own stores. But as a collector of old sex history, it was awfully darn nice to have one large source for so many goodies. While many sites have tried to be the 'new adult marketplace', most folded due to the usual problem of not enough traffic (missing buyers and sellers both). So when I heard about Rummage Monkey, a new entry in the race for online marketplace supremacy with both 'wine & spirits' and 'adult novelties' categories clearly visible, I was interested.

Interested enough to interview Jeff Scanlon and Gary Legastee of Rummage Monkey.

One thing I couldn't really discuss over at Collectors' Quest was the dirty subject of naughty collectibles and the general sexual repression that is eBay...

Thankfully, I knew Gracie would let me air the dirty laundry out here. *wink*

After ranting about the various troubles with eBay's marketplace platform and polices for 'adult items' I asked both men what their plans were regarding all sorts of adult items. Gary and Jeff both explained that in order to be a member at Rummage Monkey you need to be 18; once you login as a member you'll be able to see the adult listings (and wine etc.) if you so wish. Both men assured me that they were committed to allowing for the sale of mature items. They understood that people want these items, and like alcohol, they aren't going to prohibit such items but keep Rummage Monkey open to legal buyers of these legal items.

"We don't think anyone not wanting these items is going to find them -- they'll have to search for them or browse a category as they would any other item. While adult items likely won't be featured on the home page, anyone who wants to find them will be able to do so."

"Are you going to bury the items in a maze of hidden alleyways and secret knocks? Lock us out when we are still logged in? You won't hide the link to the adult section?" I asked.

"Rummage Monkey makes money when items are sold, so making these items hard to find and therefore hard to sell, isn't in our best interests, is it?" Jeff grinned.

"Listen, Jeff," I said, "Did you know that vintage Playboy magazines can be sold in the non-protected areas of eBay, but other vintage men's magazines, even those with less skin shown, are not? Ah, the myriad of rules, is confusing and confounding. I completely understand and respect the business model -- I get that it's eBay's site, so they can do what they want; you can do what you want with your site. But I need to know how seriously you are committed to a marketplace which supports these items."

"I bet there are plenty of newer magazines & media which eBay offers which show much more than vintage Playboys," Jeff chuckled.

"I smell a money rat: Playboy's a known giant, a rich vein to mine. So eBay grants the money giant prominent placement and denies the others. There must be some rationale behind it... Will there be splits like that, weird little censoring rules based on who knows what? Is it Big Boys win; to hell with the rest?"

"The only thing we're really worried about are the images -- No explicit images, no matter who made it or who is selling it. As for the big boys, no. We're Foreign Exchange Sales Brokers working with many middle and small business owners so we see Rummage Monkey as an affordable marketplace for our clients and others like them."

"What about the issue of bdsm materials? Many of the banned or problematic items at eBay (and payment processor PayPal) are not 'adult' in the legal sense -- for example, they pulled a BDSM book which requires no brown wrap, isn't kept behind the counter -- anyone can purchase it from their local book store or online at Amazon. Would you allow this book to be sold at Rummage Monkey?"

"Sure," Jeff said.

"Where would it be listed? In 'Books' or in the 'Adult' category only?"

"'Books', I'd imagine... Isn't that where you'd look for it?" he replied.

Cheeky monkey.

"So, the bottom line: How committed are you to those of us who buy & sell these sort of items?"

"I can't promise you that if we have a seller blowing out thousands of flatscreen TVs and they come to us saying they're pulling from our site because of a bdsm book in the book's category that I won't pay attention... From a business point of view, that wouldn't make sense either. Depending upon the situation, we'll have to listen to the marketplace."

"So what would happen?"

"I'd probably move those items to the 'adult' category."

"So, bdsm items wouldn't be pulled?"

"No. Not unless it had inappropriate, explicit, images."

"I know you're a new site, and that much of this is new to you... And, again, I understand the business model. I understand that things may change... And I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but to be absolutely clear... Say that this seller of flatscreens says moving bdsm to 'adult' isn't good enough. Say he says that he wants no bdsm merchandise on the site... What's your response then?"

"Oh, no, we wouldn't pull it completely. Those legally selling and buying bdsm items should have a place to sell too. We'd be open to moving the items to 'adult' but not banishing them."

They convinced me that they're rather serious about offering a marketplace which is open to mature interests.

***

If you're an author peddling your erotica and don't want to bother with setting up your own shopping cart, a seller of sex toys looking for additional venues, or some other sort of adult etailer, I'd give Rummage Monkey a look-see yourself and see if it's an option for you. (If you've got vintage risque and adult collectibles, be sure to give me a shout out! lol)

Another note for you marketing folks out there: Rummage Monkey also will manage your Google Adwords accounts for you. If your mind boggles at how to analyze and therefore improve your current campaigns; if keywords, writing, formatting and the like are alien territory and you're unsure just what you're doing; Rummage Monkey has people and software they'll put to good use for you. According to Gary, for the accounts they manage they've increased hits by 3-5%. And if you have Rummage Monkey managing your Adwords account, you get a free store -- no monthly store fees, no final value fees. Contact Gary and Jeff regarding this service.

As noted in the other interview, Rummage Monkey has clear and easy contact information listed, so don't be shy & ask your questions. They also have a Rummage Monkey Blog.

by Deanna Dahlsad

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