That unwanted holiday gift you finally sent back last week? It might not end up where you imagined.

Rejected sweaters, unwelcome blenders, or ill-fitting pajamas you thought you sent back to Sears or Amazon don’t always return to that store’s shelf, real or virtual. Increasingly, these products are sold at online auctions, an option that some companies have found to be an easier and more lucrative way to unload goods.

Think of it as an eBay for retailers. While companies have always unloaded surplus items, many are now working with online auction sites, which help resell the products — sometimes sight unseen, for pennies on the dollar — to salvage dealers, liquidators, or oversees merchants.

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