Every parent knows Webkinz are the latest kids' craze, but knowing how to market the
plush toys for resale on EBay is a booming business for grown ups.

A Saanich company is tapping into the growing community of people and companies
making a living through EBay. The company, Advanced Economic Research Systems,
offers EBay sellers data about who's buying what and for how much.

After raising $1 million in equity funds, AERS recently launched an updated version of
its flagship product, Terapeak.

"We watch some fairly eccentric trends," said Fred Speckeen, the new chief officer of
AERS. "What's fun about Webkinz is they bring out new models all the time, so you can
actually track the most popular. It's a tremendous phenomenon."

Tracking the going price for collectibles is just one of the company's services. For a
monthly subscription fee of $25 per month, EBay sellers can get up-to-date information
about the hottest products, the best time to close an auction and even the product
descriptors that land the most sales.

"It's almost a daily pulse of what's going on in the market," said Speckeen.
While many people still think of EBay as an online flea market, that's changing, he said.
Speckeen estimates that, in some product categories, as much as 70 per cent of goods
sold are new. That means a significant portion of the U.S. retail market can be studied
through EBay sales.

DataUnison, the company's other product, analyzes these larger retail trends for clients
that include Wall Street analysts, CIBC world markets and Fortune 500 companies.

Since the credit crunch in the U.S., Speckeen said he's noticed a spike in the amount of
household goods being sold.

"We've interpreted (the sales) as the liquidation of certain kinds of household items," he
said.

AERS, headquartered in the Vancouver Island Technology Park, is the only
company licensed to sell EBay data.

It started with two brothers, both students at the University of Victoria, whose
business idea was recognized by the Innovation and Development Corporation in
2002.

"The founders had a lot of courage and audacity to go to EBay and convince EBay that
EBay ought to license them EBay data," Speckeen said. "It's extroaordinary the amount
of courage and self confidence they had in their 20s."