One of the net’s oldest industry related websites, Surplus.net, has vanished. Last month this directory of Surplus merchandise dealers disappeared without a notice or warning. Faithful site visitors tried to log on to the site close to the end of September, but were greeted with an unfamiliar page filled with generic links?
I immediately thought this might be the end as I have noticed a decline in the maintenance of the site over the last few months. Dead end links and a lack of surplus offers started to become the norm. I often wondered if the value of this directory was even worth the browser bookmark anymore?
I have close ties to this directory, or an association as members call it; back from 2002 until 2004 I was an acting member. I advertised on the site and the leads that I received from ready and willing buyers were welcomed. During my participation I appreciated the traffic that was driven to the offers that I had posted on the Surplus.net website.
But then something happened. It seemed as though there was a membership push of some sort and all members were told that there was going to be a membership split. Those that had active memberships would be given and “extra” membership to go out and peddle.
At first I thought this was a great idea allowing every active member to make some money by bringing other dealers in, but what happened next was what I felt started the decline of this directory. This is speculation, but I really feel as though “extra” or “split” memberships were sold at a very discounted rate. This brought to the table a bunch of dealers that could not have afforded a membership before at $3500 per pop.
To me the advertised price of a membership back then was steep, but it did keep out those that were just dabbling in the Surplus trade. So, with the discounted memberships came a flood of “overnight” Brokers and even some eBay sellers who were just trying to unload extra stock.
Membership numbers were up, but quality of dealers participating was down. The directory become too competitive as there was an influx of brokers, with no overhead, peddling too many low-ball offers. Many of the brokers who were now members of this website were trying to under cut everyone. Hey, don’t get me wrong competition is great, but a low price means absolutely nothing if the goods are not delivered or misrepresented altogether, right? This type of trading comprised the credibility of the directory.
I talked with a few of the members who had been there for a while and they agreed with me about the move to bring anyone and everyone on as a directory member. The community started to lose its value. I moved on and left the directory and I know of at least two others who hung on and tried to sell there memberships without much luck. I have a friend today who went through two of the membership splits. He now has a few memberships to resell, but without membership value…does he really have any equity in his extra memberships?
Now, having said the above I do want to be fair and mention that there have been active members at Surplus.net who have been there for years. I would almost consider these dealers to be founders as they run very reputable surplus merchandise companies. After searching through the directory back in early September I came across dozens of blank or dead-end pages. Dealers with no listings.
What is the fate of Surplus.net? Will it come back online….If I had to guess I would say there is a great chance this directory will be back. On the Surplus.cc forum a member posted the site is down due to a malicious attack. It was disclosed that someone redirected the Surplus.net urls and due to this hack the site is down for maintenance and rebuilding. I guess we will all have to wait for now and see how this plays out. Maybe this could become an opportunity to “clean house”?
What experience do you have with Surplus.net as either a member or just a surplus merchandise buyer?
|Post Update 10/25/2009:|
Surplus.net went through a malicious url “hack” and has since changed its web address to TheImasd.com
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