It is the latest in a spate of announcements by the fast-growing Internet company, which primarily offers computer and consumer electronic products that users may bid on at two separate sites.
Earlier this week Onsale announced it will launch a service on October 31 called Onsale Exchange that opens its self-service auctions to individuals or small companies which want to auction off goods in 17 categories, including stamps, coins, computer products, clothing, dolls, magazines, comics, entertainment, travel, and specialty collectibles.
"We get a ton of inquiries from people who want to sell goods through our service that we can't accommodate because we don't sell their types of goods or they're too small," said Michelle Pettigrew, Onsale's director of marketing.
Onsale will collect a fee of about $1 per item plus a commission of two to five percent. Buyers and sellers must conclude their deal offline, but Onsale is negotiating a deal with an online escrow company to handle transactions in which the parties want escrow.
But Onsale won't be alone in the personal auction space--eBay has been in that space since September 1995, and last month it sold $10 million worth of items through its site, said president Jeffrey Skoll.
"We look at Onsale's entry as a real validation for this market," said Skoll. "We felt that the market attractiveness of this space, of helping individuals deal with one another, was something that would eventually attract the attention of folks who would come to see this as a good opportunity."
To promote its personal auction service, Onsale announced yesterday that it will sponsor the hobbies category, which includes all "rec.collecting" discussion groups on Deja News' listings of Usenet newsgroups.
Onsale, which reported quarterly earnings yesterday that beat Wall Street expectations in terms of its per-share loss, is expected as soon as tomorrow to compete a secondary offering of 2.3 million shares, 1.7 million offered by the company and the rest by two selling shareholders.
At today's closing price of 28-9/16, up 3/16, that would raise $48 million for Onsale and $16.6 million for the selling shareholders.