Spotlight on EZsellUSA
Paul's involvement with eBay started during his previous occupation. Fourteen years ago, Paul opened a restaurant called Choo Choo Charlie's. When he purchased the restaurant space, the contents of the previous restaurant were included in the sale. Paul describes how that led into his first foray into online selling, "I was already very familiar with using eBay as a buyer (I collected anything and everything related to rhinos). I had all this extra restaurant equipment taking up space and it occurred to me to sell the surplus on eBay. Much to my surprise, I was able to generate $3000 in sales quite easily."
Clearly something about selling on eBay resonated with Paul and when things didn't work out for Choo Choo Charlie's, he liquidated everything else in the restaurant on eBay including a group of redemption games which earned him an impressive $50K. It was around that time that Paul started exploring the possibility of selling online full-time. He read a book on e-commerce strategy by Skip McGrath and the business model for drop off stores described in the book became the inspiration for Paul's next business venture.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, drop off stores are similar to consignment stores but a greater emphasis on online sales. Catherine Keener's character in the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) was shown starting her own eBay drop off store and when that film came out, drop off stores were at the height of their popularity. Here is how it works: walk-in clientele bring items to a brick and mortar drop off location to be sold online. The store takes care of the photography, listing, selling and shipment of the item and the client receives a share of the proceeds from the sale. Creating an online seller account and payment method is a lot of setup for a single transaction, so the drop off model makes perfect sense for one-off items, plus the drop off store can leverage greater experience with the listing and fulfillment process to increase the chance of a successful listing.
Initially EZSellUSA was a one person operation with about 600 square feet of storage space. Paul's company has grown steadily since then and now he employs a team of 15. At any given time EZSellUSA has around 700 auctions running and a steady queue of new inventory to list. His inventory now requires double the storage space.
Like other consignment businesses featured in our customer spotlights, the most common challenge faced by Paul's team tends to be the task of pricing and identifying the variety of used condition items brought into the store. Listing off some of the most valuable sales that stand out in his memory, Paul mentions a 1950's Schwinn bicycle, silver dollars, an antique cash register, vintage cameras and a book of poetry by Maya Anjelou. Paul states that EZSellUSA will accept just about anything to sell, so long as it's legal and moral.
I inquire whether Paul markets his items on multiple sales channels and he explains that eBay is the ideal platform for what they sell. EZSellUSA remains focused on eBay because of the the unique ability of the auction to produce value for his consignment clients.
I don't know everything about everything—but I can find research on the value of whatever you want to sell. We start our research in Terapeak with simple terms and add more detailed filtering to reach an apples to apples comparison between the item in question and real sales data. That's why Terapeak is invaluable for our operation. We do product research with the client right here in the store, so they know what their item is really worth.
In addition to consignment, there is another significant component to EZSellUSA. When someone faces a major life event requiring estate sale planning, Paul's team is available to help. Paul designs a 30 day plan tailored to the needs of each client. Some items are sold at a live estate sale, others are added to the store and listed online. Paul adds, "We only do estate sales a few times a year, but each one is important. It means a lot to me if I can help someone through what can sometimes be a difficult transitional time."
Paul has worked very hard to establish himself in both online and offline communities. He writes a weekly column called "What's It Worth on eBay" which was recently picked up by the Telegraph Herald. The column gives him an opportunity to share stories about the unusual and sometimes very valuable items he's sold while also promoting the drop off service to people who maybe haven't ever considered selling online. When Paul walks into work on Monday morning, he can expect at least one new client will come into the store holding Sunday's column in one hand and something to consign in the other. He says, "It's a great way to get people excited about eBay and the potential value of their items."Paul has come a long way since his experience as a restaurant owner. He should be proud of the success of EZSellUSA and the lives he's touched. Every one of the items he has sold has a story behind it and I'm sure there will be lots more to share next time I bump into Paul.
Visit the EZSellUSA site at www.ezsellusa.com
Find the EZSellUSA store on eBay.