081: Tennessee Pickin’ – Bret Pallotta and daughter Emily

Bret and his wife Tammy started an eBay business in 1999 to pay medical bills that had accumulated as a result of medical procedures incurred from fertility treatments and the birth of their daughter. They were able to stay home with their daughter and pay off all their medical bills. They sold the business in 2001, and sold personally on eBay for the next several years. A few years ago, in order to teach their daughter Emily a marketable skill, they started another Ebay business. Their eBay store is TENNESSEE IS OUR NECK OF THE WOODS.

Interesting Notes

  • In the 90's, Bret and Tammy went to fertility treatments. They are married for 14 years then, yet they were unable to have children. Now, they are blessed with a beautiful daughter whom they named Emily.
  • The couple started selling an Aftermarket Ink Cartridges on eBay. It became phenomenal. The growth is unbelievable.
  • However, they sold the business because Bret will become a full-time Pastor. They sold it to the people in the post office where they did all their shipping.
  • In the last month they owned the business, they made a profit of $11,000.
  • A few years ago, they opened another eBay business which they now run together with Emily.
  • Emily is now 17 years old. She runs her own Princess business, where she dresses up like a Princess for the parties of the little kids. She also has her own cupcake business. She started to get seriously involved in their eBay business just a couple of months.
  • The family lives in Wartburg, TN, a rural county. The county has 10,000 people with probably 300 people in the main city or town. The county is so rich with stuff to sell on eBay that the family barely leaves to do their sourcing.
  • They source their items from Thrift Stores, Estate Sales, and Yard Sales.
  • Emily helps in sourcing and taking pictures. She also tests the items, especially the toys and creates videos. Bret does most of the listings. Tammy helps with shopping and sourcing.
  • They rarely make specific trips. They shop only when they can. Or if they happen to be out in town, they will stop at some stores. They go to yard sales in their area on Friday and Saturday.
  • After sourcing, they divide the items into home runs and triples, doubles, and singles. They try to get the best ones on first.
  • Bret does the listing just between everything else. Like when they are watching TV in the evening as a family. While sitting, Bret would take pictures and list. Sometimes, when he is studying, he takes a break and list a few things.
  • They have a 12 x 20 storage building for their items, but it is now full. His study room is also full of their items. Right now, their items are all over their house.
  • Bret's biggest challenge is the time to list their items. He got so much stuff that he cannot list them all.
  • Bret believes that it is a challenge too to know how to price an item. It is important to price it right. If you price it too low, you leave money on the table.
  • He does Auction for items that he is not sure of the value, but knew that people will like them.
  • He selects items to list internationally. He ships it through eBay's shipping center – Kentucky. As a seller, he only pays shipping cost up to Kentucky. From Kentucky to the customer, it is eBay's responsibility.
  • Recently, he shipped a swimming pool part to England.
  • Bret's latest mistake: He accepted an offer on something that weighed 18 pounds from a guy he thought was from Arkansas. It turned out that the guy is in Alaska.
  • The weirdest thing they sold is the Velvet Black Light Frankenstein poster. Bret bought it at a yard sale for $1.55. He did not know if there is a value on it or not, so he put it on auction. It was sold for $155.
  • They don't have a niche. If they will have, it would be items from the 80's because people go for that kind of items. Experience showed them that people still buy vintage toys of any kind. It makes people feel nostalgic and so it gets people to buy.
  • Bret admits that once in a while, they get a Clunker. A clunker is a Tennessee slang which refers to something that has no value, thus it won't sell on eBay.
  • They would probably expand a little bit when Emily goes to college. At the moment, they want to keep it at status quo. They are contented with the nice extra income eBay gives them.
  • eBay is something Bret and Tammy look forward to when they get to their retirement age.

Advice, Tips, and Tricks

  • About pricing, Bret's practices are:
    • 1. Does a lot of research on eBay;
    • 2. Looks at the price of the items they were sold for;
    • 3. Price the items at the lowest or near to the lowest researched price for faster turnover and more sales.
  • He practices Buy It Now with Best Offer because it gives him the flexibility in prices and gets a good margin. He can sell cheaper to somebody when the shipping cost is a lot lesser.
  • Bret works hard to maintain a 100% feedback. He believes that profits will come in if they take care of their customers. His practices are:
    • 1. Gives time to inspect and test their items to make sure that they are in good shape.
    • 2. If mistakes happen, Bret does his best to reach out and make things right.


  • “Live and Learn!”
  • “People really like to feel like they have got a good deal.”
  • “eBay feedback is the difference between you being successful and not being successful.”
  • “Pay attention to your feedback and do whatever it takes to stay positive.” – Ron LaBeau

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