Freewheel Madison was founded in 2003 by a group of Wisconsinites who wanted to expand access to transportation in the city. When he was 16 years old, Elijah McCloskey, then homeless on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, discovered Freewheel and built himself a bicycle. Equipped with a form of transportation, Elijah found steady work, attended university, and eventually returned to Freewheel, where he has become Executive Director. With resources from eBay and brick-and-mortar sales, Freewheel has provided transportation to over 12,000 people locally and globally, and Elijah has invested over 75 percent of his personal income back into the program. Elijah believes in the power of community — in the past year, he has organized meet-ups with other nonprofits, teaching them how to sell successfully on eBay to raise money for their businesses.
Q: Where does the inspiration for your business come from?
A: I have personally experienced how transportation access radically transforms lives: when I was 16 and homeless, I built a bike at Freewheel for free. That bike enabled me to get a job, stable housing, and eventually a business degree. Since then, eBay sales have paid for 13,000 bicycles, thousands of classes, and tons of parts given away to disadvantaged populations in Madison, Wisconsin and around the world, helping ensure everybody has the wheels they need to succeed.
Q: How has selling on eBay contributed to your success?
A: eBay matches our rare and vintage bicycles, parts, and accessories with customers around the world, dramatically expanding Freewheel’s financial resources, which makes our charitable work sustainable.
Q: What is your proudest business moment on eBay?
A: My proudest moment selling on eBay was the first year we were able to keep all of our staff on full-time through the winter season, which is traditionally a slow time for business. Every year since then, our charitable reach has increased dramatically. Freewheel’s eBay store is overwhelmingly successful and sees tremendous growth every month. We use the proceeds from every sale to fund our brick-and-mortar shop and our charitable outreach in Madison and beyond.
Q: How has selling on eBay impacted your life?
A: In addition to expanding Freewheel’s reach, eBay has given me the flexibility to work in any location. I’ve been able to travel the world educating other individuals and non-profits about selling online to grow their business, and learned new tools for increasing my positive impact, without missing a sale.
Q: What gets you excited about selling on eBay?
A: I always get excited when a customer really loves a bike they buy! One buyer had purchased a 70’s Wisconsin-made Trek new, and regretfully sold it in the 90’s. A couple months ago, he thought about that bike, searched online to find a replacement, and I had his exact bike, matching serial number listed. Needless to say, he was overjoyed with his purchase!
Q: How has selling in one space supported the other (e.g. selling online supporting your physical store or vice versa)?
A: Freewheel’s brick-and-mortar shop is already successful—but our eBay store has taken us to the next level, driving new customers, donors, volunteers and board members to our space from all over the world! One buyer drove across multiple states for a local pick up, then helped us find grants and joined our advisory board. This fall we will expand into a second brick-and-mortar space in downtown Madison, and our eBay storefront gives us the financial stability needed to make this possible.
Q: What is your favorite eBay tool/program? Do you connect with other sellers on eBay?
A: I love running an eBay meetup group in Madison with guest speakers and focused topics to help other sellers succeed!
Bulk editor really helps me to rapidly adjust prices across all of my inventory, to best optimize sell through rate and margins. The eBay shipping tool makes international shipping affordable to many more buyers around the world.