E-shop 'Til You Drop

The holiday season may be the only time of year we're prepared to kill other shoppers -- right in the middle of the aisle -- if they dare lay their hands on that last, limited-edition Star Wars thingamajig that every kid in the world seems to want. Or that damn Precious Moments music box that was the only thing Grandma wanted, which took us three months to find. And woe betide the bastard who beats us to the bottles of holiday booze.

But you won't have to punch anybody to get that perfect gift this year. In fact, you don't even have to leave your house. eBay's "It Finder" Holiday Shopping Workshops promise to help you find the right present online -- whatever "it" is.

"The appeal of eBay as a holiday destination lies in three areas," says Jim "Griff" Griffith, eBay's Dean of Education. "One, it's easy. You don't have to get in the car and drive to the mall and deal with the crowds. Two, there's a wider selection [on eBay] than any aggregated area, on- or offline. And three, [eBay is] a great value. You can compare-shop like you could never do offline."

The workshops will show buyers how to use the eBay site, which regularly features more than 60 million items for sale from both individual sellers and online e-businesses. Even experienced eBay users can benefit from the expert tips. "A lot of people are savvy buyers, but eBay's a big site," says Griffith. "It's easy to get distracted. If you want to find that 'it' in a target search, the workshops will help."

Valley resident and official eBay "It Finder" Paul Hedgecock will conduct the workshops. "I started off as a rabid buyer on eBay about five years ago, as a record collector," says Hedgecock. "I was collecting Beatles vinyl."

Hedgecock was soon running an eBay consignment store, selling other people's items for them. After completing a series of courses at "eBay University," Hedgecock started teaching others about the site more than a year ago.

"As an instructor, I feel it's my duty to show people how fun eBay can be," says Hedgecock. "I'll be showing people how to use eBay to their best benefit, how and why it's safe to shop on eBay, and how to find the perfect gift, as well as how to interact with the seller and resolve any complaints."

Hedgecock says the workshops "are very interactive," and they include everything from videos of buyers who found their "it" to a live Internet connection where Hedgecock walks participants through their eBay searches.

"The workshops are really fun," says Griffith. "You'll meet really interesting people, and they have great stories. It's never boring. And I've never seen anyone at a workshop who didn't get some important tips or insights."

Hedgecock offers this insight to shoppers who've looked everywhere but still lack that hot holiday item: "We show people how to find just the item they're looking for. If it's not on eBay, you can't find it."

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea