After completing a school assignment that challenged him to help grow his family's music store, Stephen uncovered an opportunity to expand the store's reach and sales to customers across the globe. After graduating college, Stephen returned to the business full-time and grew the online store to even greater heights.
Q: Why did you first start selling on eBay?
A: As a high school senior in 2008, I was asked to choose a project to work on for the school year. My goal was to create something of value that would last beyond the project. Working after school at my family’s music store, City Music, I often heard my father’s worries about the rising competition online. The store was having a tough time adapting to the new retail format, and after a conversation with my father, I decided my best chance to create value was to open my eBay store.
Q: Why should we vote for you OR Why do you deserve this award?
A: This business has been my passion for years, and all my energy goes into it. In 5 years it has grown from a few extra sales for my family's music store to its own operation, generating more revenue than the shop. Despite our growth, our focus is still to do things the right way and prioritize our customers over everything.
But this is more than me—it's a team effort, and everyone at our shop has worked hard for this business. If I win this award, it would go straight to the business and to well-deserved bonuses for my team.
Q: How has selling on eBay contributed to your success?
A: As a small brick-and-mortar business, it was not effective for us to compete directly with larger companies online. We did not have the capital to succeed with a large website. eBay was a perfect solution; it leveled the playing field. All my competition follows the same rules, and our listings show in the same search. Allowing our quality to shine through while minimizing budget.
eBay streamlined the selling process, so I don’t need to worry about payment processing or verifying buyers addresses. Even international sales are straightforward, which has really expanded my reach. Beyond that, it gives great tools to help me as a seller. Being able to check the sales history of new product lines helps me decide what new items to carry, leading to a higher turnover and low inventory cost.
Q: What was the most memorable item you’ve sold on eBay?
A: I sold a gold-plated Eventide H9 guitar pedal, 1 of 100 made, for $1000. I bought it wholesale from Eventide, against the advice of my father and others, who all thought it would be too expensive, silly, and difficult to sell. I took a risk purchasing it, but it sold fast through eBay. I wish I bought more!
Q: Where does the inspiration for your business come from?
A: My family has always been in business. I watched my parents progress from workers to business owners, while renting and flipping real estate. They did everything they could to control their income and build what assets they could. I emulated that mentality and I started little businesses: car washes, flipping trading cards, selling homemade bracelets to kids at school, etc.
As I grew, the drive for entrepreneurship was still there, but I also learned more about the risks my family’s path into small business came with. If the store failed, we went down with it. E-commerce was a means to secure the family business through diversification, giving it a separate sales path. This need to protect the business coupled with my hope of an entrepreneur’s path are the main drivers that pushed me to grow this business.
Q: How has selling on eBay impacted your life?
A: eBay has allowed me to control my life. Since starting, I have chosen my hours (for better or worse) and have removed myself from the 9-5 shuffle. As mentioned earlier, it’s also provided security to my family’s business through diversification, not having all our eggs in one basket, helps me sleep at night.