Snappy Auctions Opens Franchise In City

LEAVENWORTH | Monday, May 22, 2006

While the trend in commerce is generally to move from the physical world to the virtual world, Snappy Auctions is a company with storefronts all over the country that have been built because of the Internet.

The young franchise now has a location in Leavenworth. Though most Leavenworth residents have most likely noticed the store's eye-catching sign near the intersection of Fourth and Limit streets for several weeks, the business will have its grand opening beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 24 with a Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Snappy Auctions is a business that is dependent on eBay.com, the Internet auction site. A licensed eBay trading assistant, Snappy sells individual and business items on the web for clients, with a commission.

"People like the service because they don't want to do it themselves," said Esther Timon, Leavenworth site director, summing up the company's appeal.

Owned by Jeff and Joni Klemp and Louis and Carolyn Klemp, the family-run franchise is part of a company that is rapidly growing. Founded by an entrepreneur named Debbie Gordon in 2003, the company has more than 50 franchise locations and is slated to open 50 more in the near future, said Jeff Klemp.

A vast array of items pass through the store's brightly-colored interior.

"We've sold antique fishing reels, celluloid ring boxes," Timon said. "We've had a lot of Batman and Robin figures." So far, most walk-in business has been from individuals in the community, Jeff said. However, he said, one of their goals is "do a lot of business-to-business." "There's a lot of businesses that can't justify a full-time person to put overstocks and parts and things that really could be of value on-line," Jeff said.

Their franchise is designed to help local businesses sell these products on the Internet, he said.

Snappy also caters to estate lawyers, Jeff said. Estate items can draw higher revenue on-line than in a small auction at a house, he contended.

Another client the store is trying to attract is the local police department, Jeff said. The owners of Snappy hope to build a relationship with the police and sell confiscated items on eBay for them. Items typically include those bought with drug money, he explained.

"We're just now approaching them," Jeff said of the local police. "We don't know their interest level yet." Regardless of the customer, the process is generally the same for most items, Timon said.

Customers will either bring their items in or call the store for a free consultation. Pricing analyses are done, and if the item is accepted as having a value of more than $50, Snappy takes over. At this point, the client can go home and wait for a check if the item sells.

Meanwhile, the Snappy employees write a description and take pictures of the item, being careful to show if there is any damage. They answer e-mails regarding the product as well. If it sells, they send the client a check within six to eight weeks. Snappy keeps a commission of 35 percent for items up to $500, 25 percent for the amount between $500 and $2,000 and 15 percent of the remaining amount above $2,000.

If an item fails to sell, Timon said, the client can either pick it up or Snappy will donate it to a local charity.

Timon warned of certain items that are not likely sell well on eBay.

Any items, such as beanie babies, that were mass-produced collectibles in the last five years, are not likely to sell. Clothing does not sell either, unless it is vintage.

Recent popular items at the store have been a first edition of Truman Capote's classic book, "In Cold Blood," and a parachute.

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