eBay is basically a huge auction site, with goods available internationally. Some items are one-time purchases from individuals; others are regularly featured items from vendors who use eBay as their storefront.
Both sites can be valuable resources for business purchases. Commodity items, for example, may be featured regularly by certain vendors at a much lower price than you’d normally find. Or you might find someone who specializes in close-outs. I have a friend who regularly picks up envelopes for direct mail, and he will get unbelievable on brightly colored envelopes that just weren’t popular that particular season. He gets a deal and his mailers stand out.
You can buy new, too. I’m currently trying to pick up a stack paper cutter to allow us a few more options on in-house desktop publishing. I’ve found the model I want, brand new, is offered regularly – in fact there’s a seller who puts up nearly one each day. It’s not urgent, so I’m being patient. My hope is that one of these days I’ll be able to get it at a steal of a deal.
Need large scale industrial equipment too heavy to ship? Check out Craigslist to see if anyone in your area is ready to part with their stuff, or search on eBay using the regional search feature.
By the same token, if you are swapping out business equipment – anything from machinery to computers to office furniture – you can sell it on either of these sites and recoup some of your costs.
Both sites offer email alerts, so you can find out when something you want comes available.
Naturally, “caveat emptor” applies on both these sites – as a buyer, you must beware of the deal that sounds too good to be true. While most sellers are simply trying to make a few bucks, there are scammers out there who will take as much as they can get. eBay’s feedback system helps you vet sellers before you buy; with Craigslist, check out your purchases carefully before handing over any money, and read their scam-prevention tips.