Coupling his knowledge of vacuums with the need to reach more customers, John has expanded his retail store online and built a thriving business that helps keep thousands of pounds out of landfills every year.
Q: Why did you first start selling on eBay?
A: Out of both need and frustration I decided to try selling some stuff around my house on an old eBay account I had for years, and to my surprise, my items sold within a few days. Those sales gave me the confidence to start listing some items from the store (vacuum cleaner parts), and those items sold quickly as well! The thing that was encouraging was those items would have sat on the shelf collecting dust but getting them up on eBay opened the opportunities for someone looking for those specific parts. I was hooked!
Q: How has selling on eBay contributed to your success?
A: eBay has helped us generate the needed cashflow to move slower moving items, and in turn, allow us to grow and expand locally as well. Some of the added income has helped us find better items to sell locally and allowed us the opportunity to hire two employees to help clean and repair vacuums and vacuum parts. The store and eBay work together well.
Q: Where does the inspiration for your business come from?
A: My son is a big inspiration, it makes me feel like I chose the right path and hopefully set a good example for him as well. I guess business ownership runs in the family, since at 15 he has already started his own lawn mowing business. When I see how my business helps others and creates value for more people as it grows, I become inspired. Although we directly help people solve simple problems with vacuums, the other effect of our business is that it helps the people that work for me, the vendors we deal with, and so many others along the way.
Q: Why do you believe customers enjoy buying from you?
A: We have unique product knowledge in the things we sell. Prior to owning a vacuum cleaner store, I was the owner of a cleaning business, so I had a lot of real world experience with vacuums. I have a pretty good idea from basic information about what problems people have with vacuums to knowing the right questions to ask. I try to inject some personality and humor into an otherwise slightly mundane world of parts and hoses.
We get many product and parts information requests, and I can usually help direct customers to the right product or part they are looking for. Also, I can help them with a purchase selection. I also try to answer questions in an honest way. If I don’t know something I will always tell a customer this up front and try to find the answer if I can.
Q: How has selling in one space supported the other sales channel?
A: Often when the store is slow, we can do a lot of tasks with eBay to fill in the time, and when eBay is slower, we are able to focus on store-related duties. The nice part is we have extra income from eBay, which in many instances has exceeded our income at the store sales level. It’s like adding an extra salesperson to your staff. We have also started to incorporate our eBay listings into our social media posts at the store level to help drive sales for more unique items, such as vintage vacuums.