The eBay Way
Educator helps nonprofits, individuals "turn trash into cash" with online auctions.
Special to the Jewish News
onna Klein calls herself a teacher, but
concedes she sounds like a preacher.
"I'm definitely an evangelist for
eBay," said the Birmingham educator,
who spends up to 50 hours a week on activities
involving online auctions.
She uses Internet selling skills to raise money
for her Oak Park temple, to teach others about
"turning trash into cash" and to build a college
savings fund auction by auction.
"'Homework' is the only word that gets me off
the family's shared desktop computer," Klein con-
fessed, describing her older daughter's sure-fire
plea: "Mom, I've got homework — you've got to
Klein, 47, figures she began preparing for her
hobby-turned-career before eBay was born in
1995. She earned a teaching degree from
Kalamazoo College and a master's in business
administration from the University of Chicago.
After stints as a banker and corporate trainer,
the energetic suburbanite has reinvented herself as
a home-based electronic entrepreneur. She works
as an online marketing consultant, a consignment
seller for clients who prefer a hands-off approach
to eBay and an instructor at the Birmingham
In between, she squeezes in time to peddle
mementos, costume jewelry, garage sale finds and
library book sale bargains on eBay with an eye
toward setting aside college money for Rebecca, a
16-year-old Seaholm High School junior. She and
her husband Sheldon, an attorney, also have a 13-
year-old daughter, Grace.
"It can become a way of life," conceded Klein,
who radiates the upbeat spirit of a follow-me mis-
sionary. "My computer room is horribly messy
because it's full of junk" awaiting a new home.
Right now is an especially busy time for Klein,
who's sharing her expertise at 14 adult education
classes between late September and mid-
November — a schedule that swelled from six
sessions when they filled swiftly. The two-hour
Community House lessons began as an experi-
ment last winter, proposed by Klein after friends,
neighbors and relatives hit her up for eBay point-
Donna Klein gives some eBay tips.
ers so they also could sell castoffs without a week-
long garage sale.
Her infectious zeal fills a downtown
Birmingham meeting room as she fires up a con-
gregation of converts to e-commerce.
"People all over the world are tapping into their
resourcefulness and having fun on eBay," Klein
recently told a capacity class of 24 men and
women, ranging from their 20s to 60s. "I con-
stantly find things you never thought you'd see or
anyone would sell."
After watching Klein post a listing for a Girl
Scout cookie-selling souvenir prize that her
daughter didn't want, Sue Lewandowski of
Dearborn felt ready to scavenge for treasures in
"I'm less intimidated now," she said. "I've got
nothing to lose — I'm going to give it a try."
Lewandowski will start with a cut-glass candy
dish and crystal candlesticks that are gathering
Another participant, small business owner
Robert Schwalbe of Hartland, hopes to sell used
computer routers, software and other electronic
EBAY on page 38