In my last post professing my love for Minidiscs, I mentioned Buyee - a shopping service in Japan that will help you get unique goods from Japan, even if you can't read Japanese!
I've traveled to Japan often and every time I go, I make sure to stock on some interesting and unique items for myself and sometimes, to resell. There are always some unique things that are hard (or impossible) to get overseas!
Even though I can read enough Japanese to navigate websites and place orders, often I needed a Japanese address... Well, that's where Buyee comes into play! Registering for an account (free) gets you an address in their warehouse where they can receive packages for you (and more!).
Why would you want to use Buyee if you can find some stuff on eBay?
Look, eBay is good, but since many people are reselling (for a profit, of course) they are going to pass these costs onto you. So the exact same model MD player could be 2x to 4x more on eBay. Note, recently there are more Japanese sellers posting their auctions directly on eBay (US site) but again, at a markup (perhaps to account for shipping) compared to the same listings on Yahoo Japan Auctions.
All of the Buyee pages will attempt to do language translation and you can even choose the language you want to see displayed. Sure, the translations aren't the greatest, but you do get the idea and if you're not sure, it's probably better to not take the risk unless the price is right.
Lastly, the selection is much better directly from Japan. Typically used Japanese goods are in very good shape and the sellers are very honest about the condition. Also, if you're adventurous or a skilled with fixing electronics, you can get some bulk, untested bundles cheaper and see what you can fix up. It can be a fun hobby that could actually be profitable.
Let's start with the basics - what is Buyee?
As mentioned, Buyee is a service and shopping portal that can help you get things you want from Japan! I know Amazon and a lot of other companies have made it easy to get new goods from all over the world, but what about used/auction goods? That's a perfect use for Buyee!
First, you'll want to go to their website and set up a free account. This will include your home address/country and then you'll receive a Japanese address which can be useful if you want to shop Amazon.co.jp or other sites. For this article, I'm going to focus on using Buyee as a portal for auctions, so you won't need your Japanese address right now.
Remember, we're planning to find and buy some used goods from Japanese auction/resale sites like Yahoo! Japan Auctions or Mercari.
Next, let's talk about how shipping works
It may look a bit complicated, but it's basically like this:
- Find what you want at Yahoo Japan Auctions or Mercari
- Bid/buy the items
- Wait for them to be delivered to the Buyee warehouse for you
- If you ordered more than one thing, consider package consolidation (open the individual things you bought, pack them more efficiently into a larger box)
- Choose your overall shipping option
- Enjoy receiving your new items!
Each time you win an individual item (via auction or purchase), there is an estimated shipping price calculated. Don't let that scare you! In my experience, that's always extremely high and your actual shipping price (consolidated or not) will be cheaper.
For example, in February 2023, I ordered 4-5 portable Minidisc players and some accessories. Each one showed a shipping cost of $30-40 each! After package consolidation, the entire box of small-ish items was shipped to me for about $55 dollars. Note, you can pay a little extra for "protective packaging" which is worth it for shipping overseas!
Having said that, I placed a separate order after that for 3 Minidisc home decks/units and the total shipping cost after consolidation was nearly $300! I think the bigger bulky items (they weren't too heavy) just made the package too large and that resulted in the higher cost. I will have to think twice about that next time...
Other things to consider
When the warehouse receives a package, you'll see a timer under My Page > Package Information. The warehouse will hold your package for 30 days. This is good so you can win a few items, let them trickle into the warehouse, then "Apply for Package Consolidation" and ship them all at once.
As you continue to win auctions or make purchase, you can visit your orders at My Page > Package Information > to see if they have arrived or not. You should also be receiving emails when they arrive at the warehouse.
And there you have it - another way to drain your wallet!
In my next post, I'll talk about what I look out for when buying Minidisc stuff from Japan!