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An eBay alternative?

By: 26 May 2010 2 Comments

The crew at Bonanzle.com may chafe a bit at being described as an alternative to online auction powerhouse eBay, but such comparisons are inevitable.

Why? Bonanzle focuses on selling those unusual, collectible items that are often hard to find — just like eBay did when that site started all those years ago. However, Bonanzle has chosen to offer users something unique rather than compete directly and paint itself into a corner — we all know what happened to those sites that tried to go toe-to-toe with eBay, don’t we?

Before getting into what makes Bonanzle unique, it’s worth mentioning the site founders ought not be that bothered by the eBay comparisons these days. Sites ranging from Examiner.com to SmallBusinessComputing.com have named Bonanzle the best eBay alternative on the block and WebProNews.com has heaped praise on the company, as well.

WebProNews, at the first of May, was quick to run a story announcing that the “popular eBay competitor” closed on $1 million in funding from a group of venture capitalists in the Seattle area — Bonanzle’s home turf. The company, by the way, launched out of beta in Sept. 2008 and — since then — has attracted 262,462 members.

Bonanzle’s Mark Dorsey said those members are largely responsible for the positive buzz the site has benefited from and, in fact, are the primary reason the site has become popular. Dorsey said Bonanzle is different in that it focuses on those unusual, hard-to-find items — sort of like a flea market or street fair, but on a much larger scale.

Looking for a favorite toy from your childhood or a replacement for that dish in your antique china set that was broken by a rampaging two-year-old? Bonanzle, Dorsey said, might be the site for you.

Furthermore, the active user community has developed a culture of sorts that’s centered around Bonanzle. Chat rooms, instant messaging and other tools and services mean buyers wanting to ask questions about an item or haggle over price can often get in touch with sellers in a hurry. Dorsey said that level of social interaction also leads to friendships among Bonanzle users that have similar hobbies and interests — baseball card collectors, Atari fanatics and others can find each other quickly through the site.

“We’ve got the friendliest, most awesome community online,” Dorsey said.

Oh, and it doesn’t cost a dime to register with the site and join that community. Additionally, it’s free to list items for sale — Bonanzle charges a fee if an item sells. Dorsey said the site caters to small and medium-sized sellers — Bonanzle is happy to let high-volume merchants stick with sites like eBay and Amazon.com.

And what do Bonanzle officials plan to do with the $1 million in capital they’ve received? Expand, of course. Dorsey said he is one of only two full-time employees at the company — the other is Chief Executive Officer Bill Harding. Dorsey was quick to point out that the site has been profitable since February last year, meaning Bonanzle had the luxury of waiting for the right investors to come along rather than being short on cash and desperate to make a deal.

“The exciting part for us if we’ve gotten here with just us two and a very, very rabid user base,” Dorsey said, adding that Bonanzle has contracted with some people along the way to deal with issues such as programming, making sure “knock off” products stay off the site and suggesting ways to improve the site so as to make it easier for buyers and sellers to use.

Dorsey said more employees are certainly in the future, and perhaps some increased marketing and advertising efforts are in store. So far, Dorsey said Bonanzle has thrived on positive press and active promotion from the site’s users.

“We’ve got a passionate, rabid user base that goes out and tells people about us,” he said. “They want to tell people about Bonanzle. They believe in us.”

Perhaps being known as an eBay alternative isn’t so bad after all — Bonanzle has capitalized on that status and appears ready to continue doing just that.

“It’s been an absolutely unbelievable ride since launch,” Dorsey said. “We’re having a ton of fun doing what we’re doing.”

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

2 Comments »

  • Shawn said:

    Bonanzle is a great site. I am the CEO of ShopRink which will be an ebay alternative. Bonanzle tends to focus on non-mainstream items while ShopRink will focus on more mainstream items which puts us in direct competition with eBay and Amazon. Bonanzle does have a great community and we appreciate the way they do business with low fees. ShopRink will also have extremely low fees, we are actually cheaper than Bonanzle. While eBay will still be the site of choice we feel that there is definitely room for another company to help consumers and merchants diversify their options. You can take a look at our blog and see our site as we plan on launching hopefully this summer. I think you will see we are not just a company that bought some software, we have hired one of the best web designers in the country to develop our site. Feel free to email me with any questions.

    Regards,

    Shawn

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