Jude Lugo wasn’t expecting much when he bought a nutrition book from the dollar store with money he received for his 13th birthday. As someone who has always had an interest in business, his plan was to create an eBay account with his mom Lynell, sell the book and learn about the basics of entrepreneurship through the process. But when he got the notification that he’d sold his $1 book for $8, Jude knew he had unlocked a lifelong hobby.
According to eBay’s 2021 Recommerce Report, 32% of new eBay sellers identify as Gen Z, proving that the younger generation is emerging as a major player in the secondhand resale market. For Jude, his recommerce hobby quickly blossomed into a business of its own as he expanded his inventory from books to include clothing, electronics and office supplies. Today, the Dallas-based student manages his eBay store, J&L Making a Difference, with his mom while studying business as a sophomore at Southern Methodist University.
Jude draws inspiration for his lifelong passion for business from his grandfather, who always emphasized the importance of a strong work ethic. Jude’s grandfather dropped out of high school to support his family by working in the fields. He was then drafted into the Vietnam War, and when he returned, he turned down a job at the post office in favor of starting his own concrete-pouring business. As someone who is now able to pursue entrepreneurship at a college-level, Jude is determined to make an impact through his eBay sales.
When he first started his business, he would put a coin in a jar for every sale he made. “Once the jar was filled with coins, my mom would drive me to the bank, and I would donate the money to charity,” Jude said. “That’s not as practical these days, given the volume of sales that we get, but we still set aside a portion of our profits to make purposeful donations to our local nonprofits.”
One organization that Jude has partnered with before is Tech to Empower, a nonprofit created by students at Jude’s high school to refurbish donated electronics for community members in need.
“It was a great partnership because not only did we get to see the effects of our funds in our own neighborhood, but it also related to the electronics that we sell on eBay and the power of refurbished tech,” said Jude. “Making an impact has been a core part of our business since we started.”
Learning is another driving force behind Jude’s eBay store. These days, he sources much of his inventory, including two vintage helicopter helmets, through neighborhood garage sales and ongoing relationships he’s built with local vendors in Dallas. But his first few sales involved a lot of trial and error, and he often made as little as 30 or 40 cents in profit. Still, he is grateful for those early experiences, he said, because they taught him the basics of shipping, product research and customer service — skills that he has relied on to grow his business and reach more people every day.
In fact, Jude has found that the entrepreneurial expertise he’s gained from selling on eBay for the past several years is also coming in handy for his college business classes.
“It’s funny,” he said. “I’ll be in an accounting or finance class and realize that I already know the concept that the professor is teaching — I just never knew what it was called.”
Looking ahead, Jude sees a lot of potential for experimentation and innovation as more Gen Z buyers and sellers enter the marketplace.
“I think younger people expect an online shopping experience that is both professional and personal,” he said. “We’re willing to go out of our way for a hard-to-find item if there’s a cool story behind it. That’s where I want to explore next — I want to help people connect with experts who are passionate about what they sell.”