About Stuart's Emporium

My mission: To connect my pre-loved item to whoever needs it, saving the buyer the expense of buying new, and saving the environment the expense of manufacturing something already made.

We Live in a Throwaway Society

Why is it so easy for consumers to buy, yet the reverse transaction is nearly impossible?

We can all buy something with couple of clicks or by placing it into a shopping trolley. Yet to sell the same item, even in as new condition, one must be able to:

  • Create a description of the item, both written and photographic, in a way that genuinely helps the buyer and the search engine work out what the item really is. This is especially challenging when the item was previously owned by someone else.

  • Disassemble, clean, pack, and ship the item.

  • Manage a catalogue, if there’s more than one item to be sold.

  • Store items indefinitely until they can be found by buyers.

  • Manage sales, returns, and on occasion arrange to meet the buyer for bulkier items.

  • The legal implications of selling second hand items, such as electrical appliances and hazardous substances.

Even with all this expertise, there’s no guarantee the item will be sold. Adding to the pain, it’s also only likely to sell for a fraction of it’s new value.

It’s little wonder that after a period of collecting dust, damp and other damage, the next stop for most lower value items we purchase is the wheelie bin.

Second Hand Isn’t Just About Clothing

A fantastic trend in recent years is the boom in popularity of op shops, particularly for pre-loved clothing.

Search in your search engine of choice for “online thrift shop”, and you’ll find that the vast majority of results are for businesses trading in second hand, vintage clothing. But what about everything else? Tools? Electronics? Office supplies? This is part of the history behind the creation of this online collection of second hand goods.

History of Stuart’s Emporium

My family has always been known for not wanting to throw things away. This family trait started in post war England, a time and place where things were genuinely hard to get. But while most of the Western world has moved on from this into a time of plenty, my family didn’t, and I’m certainly no exception.

Fancy a clock, anyone?

Just to clarify, we’re not hoarders. We’re happy to find another home for things, as long as that home isn’t landfill. For many years, this would mean battling the weather with garage sales, but when the Internet became mainstream, it seemed that eBay—the world’s biggest online garage sale—was the answer to every problem the world had ever faced.

My very first sale on eBay was a couch, costing over $1000 new, that was no longer needed after a couple of years. It was still in as-new condition. After months of tripping over it, I finally managed to get $50 for it on eBay, hardly worth the real estate it occupied in that time.

This was during eBay’s heyday, the mid 2000’s, when eBay was the place to go to clear out clutter, or to find a bargain. But if you have noticed a change to eBay’s positioning of late, you’re not alone. It seems that eBay have discovered the profits from the sale of higher value, brand new items from commercial sellers, distancing itself from online flea market that led to it’s initial growth. As of 2018, according to eBay, 80% of items sold on eBay are new.

Selling on eBay now is even more difficult than it was then. The listing process is buggy, convoluted and not worth the time investment for a one off sale. For some time now, buyers can leave negative feedback about sellers, but seller’s can’t do the same in return. The fee structure means low value items can only be sold at a loss.

But the final straw for me was on one occasion, when eBay’s postage calculator algorithm miscalculated the postage cost, based on perfectly correct weight and measurements in the listing. The buyer had rightly paid the miscalculated amount, but it would cost me more than the value of the item to ship. The fact that the calculator was at fault was even acknowledged by eBay support. Yet despite this acknowledgement, the problem automatically became mine. I could either chase up the outstanding amount from the buyer (fat chance of that happening, they’ve legally agreed to the price displayed to them by eBay’s calculator), or wear it myself. The most concerning part of eBay’s response: “For future reference, I will recommend you to set Flat postage instead of Calculated postage for your listings”. Calculated postage is essential for lower value items. How do they get away with it? I know others will be stung by this error too. Ebay, if you’re not going to be interested in the very sellers that made eBay the great behemoth that you are today, I’m not interested in you either. It’s over. Goodbye.

So what to do with all this stuff? I have a background in programming, and can do a little bit of web development and hosting. There are some great open source solutions out there for starting my own website. Plus a bit of time at home, with all this stuff, during Covid lockdowns. Enter Stuart’s Emporium, the Online Garage Sale Clearance.

Shopping at Stuart’s Emporium

Unlike most online thrift stores, Stuart’s Emporium is a personal collection of my pre-owned goods, obtained through inheritance, misguided purchase, or no longer needed due to change of circumstances.

All items have a story behind them. Some have been in the family for well over half a century and have seen generations of history. Others not so much, but if it's for sale, there is at least a story behind why it's no longer required.

I am not a business or trader making a profit through the resale of items, my motivation is entirely to make space and reduce the inventory as much as possible. Having set up this website, new items will be listed from time to time, but this is not a goal.

Not even the Camira can cope with all this stuff!

To achieve the mission described in the first paragraph, prices need to be kept as low as possible. Hence, while it is a common good practice for a business to offer free shipping and absorb this in the price of items, shipping costs on items in Stuart’s Emporium represent as closely as possible what is actually paid, which is especially important for the sale of lower value items to be viable. In harmony with the pre-loved theme, mostly second hand packaging materials are used where possible.

I have endeavoured to make item descriptions as accurate and detailed as possible. If there are any doubts, please feel free to ask for more details about a specific item. In the unlikely event that a description error results in your receiving an unsuitable item, please be assured that the product and shipping expense will be fully refunded, as per the returns policy.