Editor’s note: Accessibility is a fundamental pillar of eBay’s mission to create economic opportunity for all. This year, we’re proud to join the global Purple Tuesday celebrations on November 1. Purple Tuesday is a social movement dedicated to improving the customer experience for disabled people and their families.
In 1999, the Internet looked very different. There were no smartphones or social media, home computers were still a rarity and eBay was only four years old.
As the author of around 150 books on how to use computers and technical software, Greg Perry has been an expert in the developing tech landscape since its early days. So in 1999, when he and his wife moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma to an acreage in the countryside and needed to sell some of their household items, Greg knew that eBay was the one and only online reselling platform on the market.
“It seemed natural to me,” said Greg. “Go to eBay, describe your item and take pictures so someone across the country can buy it. Back then, it was the most amazing thing, and 23 years later, I still love selling on eBay.”
Although he was born with one leg and only three fingers, Greg types at a rate of about 40 words per minute, and his writing skills proved invaluable in 1999. At the time, eBay sellers relied heavily on item descriptions to attract buyers; 80-character titles, promoted listings and item videos were still years away. Greg’s store, Prenti Products, took off in those early days, and while he also runs a publishing business, he has since moved more and more towards reselling on eBay full-time.
Part of what appeals to Greg about reselling on eBay is the flexibility and freedom he has to do what he loves from his own home. “My disability does not preclude me from many types of careers and businesses,” he said. “But I do find that reselling offers benefits in that I can control my own environment as opposed to running a different kind of business outside my own office.”
To date, Greg has sold over 15,000 items, ranging from rare books to collectible pocket knives and sporting goods to kitchen appliances — including two antique, thousand-pound cast iron stoves. Each and every one of his sales from the past four and a half years has also included a handwritten note in the package. It’s an expression of thanks from Greg, who has received countless emails, phone calls, text messages and even Christmas cards from buyers eager to share how their purchases have touched their lives.
“That’s what I love about eBay,” he said. “After all these years, it still has a community feel about it. It feels like a place where families are buying from families — people buying from people — and I really appreciate that.”
Greg leads a community training session to teach other sellers how to succeed on eBay.
That sense of community is something Greg hopes to preserve and develop further, which is why he now leads a Facebook group that teaches other aspiring sellers how to start and thrive on eBay. Using his 23 years of selling experience, he breaks down the shortcuts and advanced techniques he has developed to help other sellers go the extra mile for their buyers.
“My advice for new eBayers, whether they have disabilities like me or not, is to read some help screens before you start creating listings,” he said. “Create listings the way eBay asks you to, and your sales will be so much better than they would otherwise be.”
Greg prepares a box for shipping.
With tools like voice-to-text, eye tracking and screen readers becoming more integrated into computer operating systems, Greg sees advancing technology as the future of accessible ecommerce. He expects he could even run his eBay business while bedridden, since so many of eBay’s seller tools are accessible via the mobile app — all he’d need is to hire someone to video chat him from garage sales in order to pick out new inventory.
Greg has also seen an increase in disability awareness from eBay’s seller team. For example, he noticed that the recommendation shared during eBay Open 2022 to write item descriptions as if the listing didn’t have any photos was more inclusive of vision-impaired customers and would help significantly with accessibility. For the future, he hopes eBay and other ecommerce platforms will continue to keep accessibility in mind when improving the customer experience in order to accommodate consumers with disabilities.
“I want eBay to keep listening to its buyers and sellers and give them the support they need,” Greg said. “That’s how I knew eBay cared about people in 1999, and that’s how I know eBay still cares about people today.”