A man who discovered he could make serious money on eBay - by accident - is proving one man’s junk really is treasure.
Ant Stephen, 46, who was made redundant in 2014, is now self-employed and running successful eBay shop Tangerine Collectibles, which sells auction house finds.
And just two-and-a-half years into running his own business, he is earning as much money as he used to make in his old job as an e-commerce manager and can afford to take holidays and enjoy life.
Right now, he is currently listing his latest discovery, around 1,800 CDs snapped up for £1,950 - £2,400 with fees - at one of his regular hunting grounds, Hansons Auctioneers, near Derby.
And though that may seem a lot for a bunch of old CDs, Mr Stephen says he will double his money by selling them online, even factoring in postage costs and eBay fees.
He said: “When I got the CDs home I scanned every single one on Music Magpie (which buys and sells CD online) and I could have made £2,100.
“Around 90% of CDs aren’t worth much but, because I did my homework, I knew I could make more as the best CDs sell for £15 to £20 each.
“I wasn’t sure whether this batch would be worth anything but I went to Hansons – a 180-mile round trip for me - before the sale and took photos of all 1,800 CD sleeves.
“Back at home, I checked what they were selling for online. Rarer CDs sell for £15 or £20. For example, there was a whole series of Cliff Richard CDs which you might think are ten-a-penny but they’re not.
“There was also some good prog rock and 1970s jazz, more unusual stuff like Solid Gold Cadillac and an album by Christine Perfect, originally of Chicken Shack. Many people don’t know but her professional name is Christine McVie and she’s best known as one of the three lead vocalists with Fleetwood Mac.
“Out of 12 boxes of CDs, four boxes were good CDs, four average and four not worth a lot. It will take me about a year to sell them all.
“CDs have never really gone out of fashion. People want physical copies of music again which is why vinyl is back. When people buy music digitally they have nothing to show for it.”
Mr Stephen, from Liverpool, has spent thousands at Hansons and other auction houses. He’s built a successful business thanks to thorough research, work ethic and leg work. He visits half a dozen auction houses in the north west and the Midlands to check out buys.
Plus, he sells far more than CDs, which make up 20% of his sales. Tangerine Collectibles also sells toys, glassware, books, magazines and porcelain.
“You can’t afford to be too niche or you won’t sell enough to make a living,” said Mr Stephen, who started his business by accident after being made redundant from his job as an e-commerce manager in 2014.
He said: “I’d booked a holiday and thought, ‘how am I going to pay for that?’
“I decided to put my personal CD collection on eBay and couldn’t believe how much money I made. It didn’t just pay for the holiday but covered my spending money too.
“I’d always enjoyed selling on eBay as a hobby but never thought I could make a living from it. I started going to auctions and I’d see things like job lots of books for £20.
“I thought ‘I’m going to make a go of this’ and went self-employed. I sell everything through my eBay shop.
“I’ve sold 1950s books, Royal Crown Derby paperweights and limited-edition Barbie dolls, which I found in box of miscellaneous items at an auction house. Those Barbies sell for £80 each or more.
“You’d be amazed at what people will pay for things other people don’t want or think are rubbish.
“My biggest profit came from selling 32 rubber fetish magazines from the 1970s which I picked up at an auction house in the north west. I paid £20 for them and sold them for £600 to a specialist book shop in London's Soho.
“Although I'm probably working more hours now than I ever did in employment, it’s very rewarding being self-employed. It’s not all work, though. My girlfriend and I did manage to take a holiday to the Caribbean last year - but I still had my iPad on the beach to answer questions from customers. You just can't get away from it!”
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, in Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, said: “I am delighted for Mr Stephen. Thousands of eclectic items come into our saleroom to be sold at our monthly auctions and it’s good to know that this gentleman’s hard work and sharp eye for business is paying off.”
Mr Stephen will be listing all the CDs bought at Hansons in the next couple of weeks on his eBay store: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Tangerine-Collectibles
Fancy following in Mr Stephen’s footsteps? To find out when the next auctions are being held at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers or Hansons London, visit www.hansonsauctioneers.co.uk or www.hansonslondon.co.uk.