Spotlight on Bergen Pickers
In his eBay business, Lou Veloso, CEO of Bergen Pickers, found the career he’d always wanted. Despite having a secure job in marketing for over twelve years, the long hours, demanding deadlines, and lack of autonomy left him exhausted. Lou turned to his hobby, selling on eBay, to see if he could create a new career that would give him back the freedom he desired. Today Lou runs a full-time eBay store selling to collectables enthusiasts worldwide—all while maintaining a perfect feedback score. This is Lou’s story.
In his teens, Lou began to scour garage sales and flea markets for toys. He found great collectibes just about everywhere he went—and listed them for sale on eBay.
Lou’s Business Journey
Lou’s business journey started when he was just ten years old. Wanting a Nintendo Game Boy, he approached his dad to ask for the money to buy one. Instead, his dad suggested that Lou raise the funds himself by taking old, unused toys to the flea market and selling them. Lou followed his dad’s suggestion, raising nearly enough money to buy his new Game Boy. As a reward for his hard work, his dad covered the difference. To this day, Lou cites this quest for a Game Boy as the inspiration behind his move into eBay sales.
It would be in his late teens that Lou began to sell toys regularly, though this time for a different reason. After spending a year at university, Lou came home to discover that his mother had thrown his old toys out. Devastated and determined to replace his lost items, Lou scoured garage sales and flea markets for replacements, picking up items for sale along the way. As he spent more and more time surveying the market, Lou says he couldn’t help but notice how many collectibles were available at flea markets and yard sales.
After years of obsessively hunting for toys to replace my old collection, I began to understand the value of an item even before seeing the price. This meant that I’d recognize great deals before others. Most of the time I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pick an item up, even if I didn’t like it for myself. I started listing these items on eBay for extra cash.”
Throughout university and into his career years, Lou continued to sell the treasures he found and generated a steady stream of pocket money with his store. Over time, he became a better seller. He listed his items with clear photos, a great title, and a helpful description—and always fulfilled his orders on time. But though he’d improved as a seller, Lou says he had the nagging feeling that he wasn’t seeing the whole picture—and was loosing out on potential income because of this.
I’d scour eBay to see if anyone else had an item listed that was like mine. If they didn’t I’d have to guess what the price should be. Sometimes an item would sell too fast and I’d realize I’d just left a bunch of money on the table. That was frustrating.”
In 2008, Lou was introduced to Terapeak. He was ecstatic to be able to research his items before listing them, and he says it was then that he felt any self-doubt about his selling abilities vanish.
I started a Terapeak trial and realized that this tool was vital to me and to my business—and that I could go back even further in the database of sold listings. For example, I would realize that while a GI Joe doll sold for $30 ten days ago, another sold for $90 dollars seven months ago. I would then price my item much higher, knowing that there were buyers out there willing to spend that kind of money.”
With Terapeak research to back him up, Lou really found his stride as a seller. He could spend more time on sourcing, learning more about his inventory, educating buyers, and marketing his products. He worked tirelessly to build his brand, “Bergen Pickers,” into a reputable source for collectable toys, military items, and costume jewelry—yet as his success grew, it became more difficult to squeeze his eBay business into the nooks and crannies of his life. He began to feel burned-out. Worse, he felt as though his family wasn’t getting the attentive version of Lou that they deserved.
With full-time marketing job, Bergen Pickers as a side business, and a growing family to care for, it was time for Lou to make changes. He asked himself what brought the most happiness for him and his family. Was it working eleven hours every day for someone else, or was it buying and selling the collectibles he was passionate about?
Today Bergen Pickers is a trusted source for some of the most fun, collectible toys in demand amongst enthusiasts—and Lou enjoys his workdays more than ever before.
The choice was obvious. After twelve years in Marketing, he left the industry to pursue his eBay business full-time.
For Lou and his family, the switch marked a tense period in their lives. It was now all-or-nothing for his business, and he soon came to realize that everything he had done to that point was simply training for what lay ahead.
Key Principles Lead to eBay Success
Lou’s time in marketing had taught him key lessons that he now applied insistently to his eBay business—and that ultimately led him to success. Here are the top three, straight from Lou:
You can always negotiate a better price. Don’t sacrifice your profits by settling or being passive. If you do your research and negotiate the best possible price from your connection, you should be able to guarantee a profit from the items you source. If you cannot rely on making a profit from an item you’re about to source, don’t buy. Especially for new sellers, don’t source an item with a razor-thin margin in a competitive landscape.
You are your best marketing tool. Every time you speak with a customer or another seller, put your best foot forward. People are much more forgiving and accommodating when you are kind and likable. Customers are also more likely to come back to a seller who made them feel taken care of.
Explore alternative marketing business models. While you should always be using the best keywords and giving helpful descriptions for your items, there are other ways to promote your items online. When you’re just starting out, explore AdWords—especially if you’re trying to carve out market share in a specific niche. Set up social channels that showcase the items you sell. Use these channels to become an information leader in your niche and build your audience over time.
With hard work and consistent care for his buyers, Lou realized his dream, profitably making the transition into full-time eBay sales. Today, he no longer misses his children’s extracurricular activities while staying late at the office, and he’s proud to be building his own legacy rather than someone else’s.
With each sale, Lou learns more about his niche, enabling him to continue to educate buyers on eBay, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Most importantly, he’s able to make a living through his passion.
These days, Lou wakes up each morning excited to go to work.
To learn more about Lou, or his business, Bergen Pickers, visit these links:
eBay Store: http://stores.ebay.com/BergenPickers