Seller Experience

Building an eBay Store Called ‘Rack ‘N Roll’

James Dobbins, eBay News Team

A ski enthusiast and eBay seller discovered a catchy brand was the refresh he needed to succeed.

Colin Wells’ “Rack ‘N Roll” branded van, reminiscent of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine, for his Colorado-based eBay store. Credit: Colin Wells.

Sometimes it takes a long time, even decades, of invention and reinvention for eBay sellers to find what works best for them.

The first collectible Colin Wells listed on eBay was a vintage Pernod pitcher used to mix water with a herb and spiced French liqueur. His mother bought the piece of pottery for a dollar at a yard sale. When he sold the pitcher for $15 on eBay, the profit surprised him.

Not only was the marketplace a terrific way to make extra income, Colin concluded, but he knew it was a way to help extend the life of pre-loved goods. 

“I really believe in eBay’s mission,” he said. “For people like myself, eBay helps me fulfill my purpose to save the environment and keep products with a lifecycle in them from the landfill. For that, eBay is perfect, the perfect market.”

Colin said, eBay is the first place he turns to find anything and everything he needs. Still, the road to becoming a successful full-time eBay seller was a long and snowy one, years in the making.

After graduating college in 1992, Colin settled in Telluride, Colorado, where he saved lives working on a ski patrol. Occasionally, he sold refurbished sports equipment on eBay. Between the ski patrol’s meager salary and his part-time business, Colin earned enough to support the outdoor-centered lifestyle he enjoyed so much.

Life was good and, eight years later, life was even better. By then, Colin had met his future wife, moved to Denver and took a corporate sales job after the couple welcomed twin girls in 2010. The family settled in a comforting cadence of 9-5 work hours, weekends at home, and paying bills.  

But as the girls approached their fifth birthday, Colin felt a growing unease over how he was spending his days. The sales job required more and more time flying across the country. It seemed life had become an endless series of take offs and landings for Colin. He yearned for a hard reset on life.

“I was only seeing my girls about a week every month. I was missing so much of their daily lives, so I quit the sales job,” he said. “We sold our house in Denver and went on a walkabout in New Zealand and Australia for six months. We lived out of a camper van with those five-year-old twins.”

It was one of the most thrilling and fulfilling times of his life, said Colin.

The Wells family returned to the States and settled in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a winter resort area tucked in the state’s northern Rockies where Colin realized he  could sell used sports equipment on eBay — his on and off side gig for years — and still make enough money to support his family while making time for them. 

Colin wanted to sell a few extra used rack systems, the kind of rack that attached skis or bikes to vehicles. An acquaintance suggested he visit the local landfill and a salvage shop there called Milner Mall. Sure enough, when he entered the store, dozens of racks — brands like Yakima, Kuat, and Rhino-Rack — were available for purchase. Colin bought them all.

“I got a screaming deal on them,” he said, “and I was able to keep them out of the landfill.” So began a fruitful partnership with Milner Mall. “I buy most of their racks. I repurpose them, clean them, and we put them on eBay.”

Only years later, after discovering a seemingly endless supply of used ski racks, Colin finally settled on his eBay store name and brand, Rack ‘N Roll. The logo’s van imagery is inspired by a Scooby-Doo lunch box that sits on a windowsill in his office. “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” was Colin’s favorite childhood Saturday morning cartoon.

About 80 percent of his business is on eBay and about 20 percent local, he said. Much of the local business involves Colin and his team installing racks for customers and delivering outdoor equipment in the van. 

“Racks go on cars, cars have wheels and wheels roll down the road,” Colin said, explaining his store name. “To build a brand is challenging. People remember our name. Now the eBay store is doing really well.”