In blog #256 I talked about Creating my eBay store. In this blog I want to talk about Having fun with product again.
I talked in the last blog about how two amazing careers were a blessing. I learned so much from both of those companies. The people part was the true blessing though. In the old days (Pre-Covid) you would go to work and talk with people all day long. Customers, salespeople, vendors were all part of the day. At Zappos it was more office oriented, but you would still have interactions with a lot of the 1500 plus employees in the office. The day would consist of multiple meetings throughout the day, one on one interactions and vendors coming in to the office to show product or strategize our business.
Then Covid hit…At first we were still in the office, but the company restricted vendors coming into the office for safety reasons. Then we were allowed to work from home and had Zoom calls all day long. I think as an industry it hurt retail a bit. We lost the human interaction. It’s getting better now but it’s been a slow roll.
I went to the Magic show in August and saw a few people I knew but it was so much smaller that I Walked the show in one day instead of the usual three. Granted I didn’t have appointments lined up all day long but the fact that it was so much smaller maybe it would be a day and a half being generous. It was nice to see product though.
With setting up an eBay store I had three different ways of doing business. One was using a print on demand company. I had a blast designing t-Shirts, Hoodies, Hats and even things for the home. I set up a store with categories to put them in thinking retail. Problem was hard to get traffic to my store and the eBay site is massive so trying to stand out in a sea of product is challenging. I know now what the smaller vendors must have felt on the Zappos site. I’m currently trying different things with social media, advertising, and product assortment. Thanks to Pam & Jerry and my brother I’ve made a few sales to see how the process goes so I’m good there at least.
The second business is putting stuff up from around the house and selling them as pre-owned. These items have a brand name and at considerably lower prices than brand new in the stores. Surprisingly enough I’ve done quite well with this model selling about 8 items so far. It has paid for my samples in model one so far. For both models it also has a strategic value of knowing what your competition is doing. The third model is making product through a supplier and selling and shipping from a storage facility. I have some ideas but want to get the first two models going first. I also want to bring more traffic to the Soleman Studios.com site when I convert the first couple of pages to retail. All of this is a learning process even being in the industry for so long. But I love it. At least until I land a job somewhere.
I have had fun doing product though, it reminds me of my private label days. I saw a void in the market for Footwear themed items and made a “Shoe dog” T-shirt. What I’ve found so far is there is a reason for this, no one wants one lol, at least so far. Maybe it’ll catch on. I even Made them from the Hanes Beefy t’s which is what we used for our Zappos T-Shirts so they are really nice. I’m using a different company for some of the other shirts because they print the graphics really well. I found a source that supplies Champion Hoodies, so I opted for a better-quality hoodie for that part of the business.
Over the years I’ve experienced some tough situations with people I care about. I decided to take a few shirts and donate the proceeds to each Charity. Because my margins are so low I can break even donating 20% and if there is more left over after all the fees and shipping I’ll donate the rest too. Makes me feel good having this part of the business giving back. I was going to do 4 charities but decided it was too many to start with. Hard part was figuring out which one to cut but as fate would have it became quite clear what path to take.
I’m even having fun making BBQ stuff in Tees and aprons, Dog stuff and even gaming ideas. I appreciate all the product content people I’ve worked with over the years since I’m doing that myself too and I’ve worked with some of the best. If you are reading this, I truly appreciate you.
I still have many more experiences from the old days to share but wanted people to know what I’m up too. Looks like I have an offer on a Robert Graham shirt for a really good price so I better get ready to negotiate. Bye for now!
SIZES... SIZES... SIZES... SIZES...
…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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