Click for the Jacksonville, FL Times-Union Article:
More moms logging on to bring home some extra bacon

( is quoted towards the bottom in bold)

Tuesday, March 20, 2001
Story last updated at 10:43 p.m. on Monday, March 19, 2001

After purchasing this Holly Hobbie rag doll on ebay, one just like she had when she was growing up, Michelle Wilkinson got hooked on ebay and started buying items at garage sales and selling them, becoming a ebay mom. -- Don Burk/Staff

More moms logging on to bring home some extra bacon By Diana Marrero
Times-Union staff writer

Michelle Wilkinson prowls through garage sales like she's on a scavenger hunt. She is.

Wilkinson, a 32-year-old Jacksonville mother of three, looks for cheap collector's items or "gently used clothes" she can put on the Internet auction site eBay, where she'll turn a profit. One time she bought a set of three Barbie dolls, the Sunshine Dolls, for a dollar and sold them for $63.

Her real mission, though, is not to find a bargain but to stay at home with her children and still draw an income.

Like a growing number of women across the nation, Wilkinson has chosen the path of the work-at-home mom -- an option more parents are choosing with expanding money-making ventures on the Web, like posting online auctions.

The electronic revolution has changed the global marketplace, opening up international markets and business opportunities to anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and some entrepreneurial savvy. So moms in sweat pants and a nursing baby strike online auction deals in the comfort of home, all the while Barney sings in the background.

U.S. Census figures show a record 59 percent of mothers with infants at home in 1998 got back on the job nationwide -- the numbers don't necessarily mean more women are actually leaving their homes.

Michelle Wilkinson gets some advice on which garage sale items to buy from her daughter, Rebeccah. Her sons, Christopher (left) and Anthony, and husband, Tim, also tagged along. -- Don Burk/Staff

The number of mothers who choose to work at home on the Web is not known, but evidence shows more women are choosing that alternative. Web pages, books, clubs and chat groups devoted to the subject seem to pop up daily. And traffic on existing sites that target these "dot com mommies" continue to grow.

Wilkinson discovered Internet auctions when she couldn't find a "Holly HobbieHobby" doll for her daughter. She finally found the antique-style rag doll she had once had when she was little on eBay, a site now popular with as many as 22.4 million people worldwide.

Though eBay is the largest online auction site, hundreds of other auctions are posted daily on the Web specializing in anything from children's items to model trains. Human organs and embryos have even made it to the virtual auction floor.

Online auctions, a phenomena less than six years old, have become so popular there's even an association devoted to the subject. About 35 million Americans participate in online auctions, according to a Harris Interactive survey commissioned by the National Consumers League.

Wilkinson goes scavenging for gold: items that will sell for twice as much as what she paid. A couple times a week she packs up her family in her red minivan and goes "garage-saling" or rummaging through thrift shops. Last weekend she bought a PoohPoo Bear pillow for $4 at a rummage sale, which she expects to get at least $15 for on eBay.

The following are useful Internet sites for stay-at-home moms or people looking to explore online auctions:
"You get a little fidgety being at home and you want to contribute more than just being a mom," Wilkinson said.

She home schools her children and, she said, online auctions give her a chance to interact with adults -- a nice change of pace from mommy-world.

Wilkinson has been auctioning for about a year, during which she's made about $5,000, a decent supplement to her husband's income as a computer programmer.

"It makes me feel good," she said.

Terri Kay Jones of Jacksonville Beach started selling antiques on eBay when she decided to move to Florida with her husband. Jones had an antique shop in Maine and decided it was either ship all her stuff south or start posting the items on the Internet.

"It's just easier that way," said Jones, who cares for an 8-year-old son and now only sells her antiques through the Net. "I've sold worldwide, glassware, toys, collectibles, mostly small things."

Her best-selling month was Christmas time when she sold about $4,000 in collectibles.

"My other kids never had their mom at home," she said. "It makes it so I can go to the doctor with him, I can be at his school. I have definitely spent more time with him."

And there's another plus: "I can work in sweats."

EBayeBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said stay-at-home moms are attracted to eBay because of its convenience.

"Clearly eBay has struck a nerve with the American public," he said. "Nobody ever realized it was going to be this big. And a lot of users have discovered that it can be profitable."

EBayeBay generates about $7.7 million in sales daily. It collects a small fee for each item posted and sold through the site.

Internet guru Cheryl Demas, author of The Work-at-Home Mom's Guide to Home Business, said the Web has opened up countless opportunities for women to work from home.

"You've got the whole world at your reach," said Demas, who hosts a Web site for work-at-home moms, "Women have been disillusioned with the idea that you can do it all. A lot of women really wanted to stay at home with their kids."

And the Internet has allowed them to do that, said Demas, who has two daughters, ages 14 and 6 and lives in California. Internet auctions are popular with women because they can cater to worldwide niche markets.

She knows of one woman who auctions custom-made candles online and another who sells her recipes.

"EBayeBay is one of the biggest ways of making money at home," said Stacy Perez, who hosts a similar Web site,, in Illinois. "People are making a fortune that way."

Perez said she makes about $1,000 to $1,500 on the Web and sees no reason to go back to punching the clock.

While many are finding Internet auctions to be lucrative work, many also are being scammed through the sites. Although most people feel confident about buying from online auctions, the auctions consistently ranked as the top consumer complaint since 1997, according to the National Consumers League.

But moms like Wilkinson are just happy to be working at home.