In 1999, John was ready to shut down his family-owned restaurant equipment business because he was struggling to move stock locally. Luckily, his son, Marty Stack (now Executive Vice President) and then-General Manager Ed Saunders convinced him to try a fairly new selling strategy: eBay. The trio placed 50 coffee makers on eBay auctions which sold successfully. Almost overnight, ACityDiscount transformed from a local business with four employees to a coast-to-coast sales operation eager for online expansion. ACityDiscount is now ranked as one of eBay’s largest providers of restaurant equipment.
Q: Why did you first start selling on eBay?
A: I started selling on eBay in 1999 when my family-owned business struggled to move stock locally. We knew we had to find a better way to reach foodservice customers. Meanwhile, my son, Marty, convinced me to sell a supply of more than 200 coffeemakers on eBay. Not only did we sell them, but our company received more per unit than we would have locally. The rest is restaurant equipment history!
Q: How has selling on eBay contributed to your success?
A: eBay did more than contribute to the success of my business; it saved my business. eBay gave ACityDiscount a platform to build national brand awareness with restaurant owners and equipment manufacturers. The improved authority led to such a sales surge that we started selling new restaurant equipment (prior to selling on eBay, we only sold used equipment). Today, the majority of our online transactions are new equipment sales.
Q: Where does the inspiration for your business come from?
A: ACityDiscount was born from my father’s desire to maintain an active lifestyle after selling his last restaurant. He began buying restaurant equipment from auctions and that hobby transformed into a growing business. I joined the company in 1977 and took over the business in 1990. Our inspiration for our eBay business came from the need to liquidate a huge supply of coffeemakers. We realized the tremendous opportunity on eBay and online.
Q: What gets you excited about selling on eBay?
A: Our family-oriented style of doing business is a big part of what keeps us active on eBay. Our customer base is largely composed of “mom and pop” businesses. These restaurants typically operate on very thin profit margins and in many cases, the owners work shifts as servers, cooks, or dishwashers to reduce overhead. By continuing to sell used equipment on eBay, we offer small business owners across the country an opportunity to get a quality piece of equipment at a price they won’t find anywhere else.
Q: How has selling in one space supported the other sales channel?
A: Our brick and mortar supports online operations by allowing us to keep pertinent, including seasonal, items in stock, saving customers shipping expenses and time. Meanwhile, our online operations create another avenue for customers to review, research and purchase items around their uber-busy schedules.