118: The Cowboy House: How To Hit A Home Run Selling On eBay – Chris Gordon

The Cowboy House is a hobby gone wild. Everyone knows that the Dallas Cowboys are America's team. In 2009, Chris and his wife Jennifer, took a risk and purchased the entire upper deck and half the lower bowl of stadium seats at public auction from the Old Texas Stadium in Irving Texas. From this, they grew a small business opening the first Sports memorabilia store in a 4 town area known as the Lake Cities.

They provide a custom framework, autographs, game used equipment, actual game turf and stadium seats from the old stadium. They also have NY Yankees seats, Ball Park in Arlington seats. SMU Moody Coliseum seats, etc…

They do many promotions with local businesses where they bring professional athletes to openings of sports-themed restaurants or simple shows where the public can meet players like Roger Staubach and Bo Jackson!

Interesting Notes

  • Dallas Stadium is the only stadium built with a hole in the roof. Why is that so? So that God can watch His football team play on Sundays, Chris quipped.
  • Chris grew up and went to high school in Irving, Texas. He played football for Irving in the Old Texas Stadium. When he graduated from high school, the stadium had risers set up on the 5th-yard line of the stadium.
  • The Old Stadium means a lot to Chris. It was his first master gym. He was sad when he found out that Dallas would implode the stadium to build a new Jerry Jones World.
  • Chris saw in the newspaper that Dallas would sell some of the stuff from the stadium. He wanted to go in as a hobbyist and a Cowboy's fan and create a new business model out of Texas Stadium's memorabilia.
  • He signed up to become a bonded bidder. A bonded bidder must have $3 million worth of bonded insurance to even be a bidder. He was bidding against Jerry Jones and some of the big people who did it before.
  • Chris has never done any bidding before. He has been in oncology and medical sales all his life. But, he took the risk and bid. After 32 days of bidding, he won the bid.
  • Though Chris had a good year in the medical sales, he took a month off. He acted as a project manager for the Texas Stadium seats. He hired 35 to 50 people daily to unbolt the seats from the concrete risers.
  • On August 2010, they worked 46 days under a temperature of over 100 degrees and no air conditioning and electricity.
  • They only had hand tools working on with rusted bolts, nuts, and removing the 60 lbs. cast iron of the authentic historic pieces of memorabilia.
  • Chris had 32 trailer trucks loaded up with seats and transport them out of the stadium. He stored the trucks in the truck yard. As he needed, he would unload 100 to 200 seats into a flatbed trailer and move them into his store.
  • Texas Stadium seats come with versatility. It looks good indoor or outdoor. It can be on a fishing dock or give it to charities. Some were given as gifts for anniversaries, Christmas, graduation or even birthday presents. Young and old people enjoyed the seats.
  • He made cool, customized items out of the stadium seats and sell it on eBay.
  • Last year, Chris had a United Way Auction. He had one single seat and 4 people were bidding against that one seat. He earned $2900 for that single stadium seat.
  • Chris also purchased the last game used football field. Jason Witten played on that football field and scored all his touchdown. Dez Bryant, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith also played on that football field.
  • Every year, Chris and Jennifer, donate to 70 to 80 different 501c3 charities in their area. They are able to give back to their community the cost of the seats.
  • Chris has a Certificate of Authenticity from the City of Irving. He also has his hologram with his Texas resellers ID. It certifies that he was the winning bidder of 25,000 plus Texas stadium seats.
  • One of the items that he bid on is the scoreboard that was hanging in the old stadium. Little did he know that there was no crane in the state of Texas that could go down and remove the scoreboard. It would have cost him a $100,000 to remove the scoreboard than he won in an auction.
  • He got in touch with the construction crew who is in-charged with the demolition of the stadium. He made an agreement with them to let the scoreboard go and crash to the ground. Chris would then pick up the pieces on the next day.
  • He was able to collect the field goal steel, sheet metals from the tunnel, and pieces of the rafters, roof, scoreboard and the time clock. He gave these metals to the National Museum – a very prestigious museum in Dallas. The National Museum took the imploded debris and developed a sculpture. The sculpture is in the Museum today.
  • Chris eBay store drives his Cowboy House Sports Memorabilia brick and mortar store. He realized that in his Sports store, he lost 40% margin on shipping. He would be losing more money if he cannot control the cost of shipping.
  • Shipping is expensive and the seats are heavy. He ships to soldiers in Afghanistan and to customers in Australia. He even shipped 20 seats to a bar owner in Barcelona, Spain who put the seats on the beach.
  • So, he opened up their own shipping business, especially that there's none in their town. The town people now have an option other than their Post Office.
  • It is called QuickShip Mail & Business Center and is right next to his Sports store. They also have a car wash and an ice franchise. Their businesses are all along the same street.
  • Chris does a lot of local picks up in his listings. Customers can come to his store for local pickup. His store is by appointment only except for Saturdays. They are always in their store on a Saturday.
  • Some of his stumbling blocks are because of eBay. Sometimes, they do sell things that rock his business.
  • A month ago, he sold Green Bay Packers rings. He has an over-sized Balfour rings. All have NFL license and manufactured in the USA by Balfour Jewels. He threw it online.
  • eBay sent him a message that he is not authorized to sell the Green Bay Packers ring. He has to get permission from the NFL. eBay canceled his account and he lost his listings. He has to pay somebody to relist thousands of items. eBay let him back on with the same user ID.
  • There were 16 other sellers selling the same rings, but he is the only one kicked out because he has the majority.
  • Recently, he has a customer that bought the stadium seat. Chris disassembled the bottom from the cast-out frame so that he can get it into a 2 cubic foot size box. The customer sent him an email asking for help in assembling the seat. Chris told the customer to call him. Five minutes later, eBay kicked out the buyer and shut down Chris account. He got a notification from eBay that says “Hey, you are trying to do sales outside of eBay and this is not allowed”. Chris called eBay and explained that he is not trying to sell outside. Instead, he is trying to provide customer support.
  • Chris would only do stuff Buy in Auction whenever he wants to stimulate people back to his stuff. He would offer $0.99 so people would visit his website and check out the other things that he has.
  • Chris was the Vice President of an international business when he left his job. He took a calculated risk and paid it off. They were able to sell almost all. They sell it on Amazon, Groupon, and multiple other websites. Even in Markes catalog, you can find the Texas stadium seats.
  • As of this interview, Chris only has 62 seats left, out of the 25,000 seats he purchased.
  • Selling the stadium seats gives Chris the opportunities to meet some of his heroes. They are cool and ones which he never expected.
  • At one point, Roger Staubach, America's quarterback, called him up and asked to come by to take a look at the seats. Roger wants to give the seats to his mother and to some charities. Chris, in return, asked Roger with some autographs.
  • Chris was also given access to attend a Super Bowl. He was able to be in a suite with Jerry Jones, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith. He was able to play cards on a Thursday night with the likes of George Tee. Sometimes, he gets invited to birthday parties of Dallas Cowboy Players.
  • Chris has always been a collector. When he got married, he learned that he was no longer a collector. He started selling on eBay to empty his closets as he was preparing to get married.
  • In his eBay store, you can find everything. From dresses to tools, to all kinds of sports memorabilia, from baseball, hockey, soccer. He's got over 10,000 autograph items in his brick and mortar store.
  • He enjoys having outlets other than a walk-in crowd.
  • Chris is well-versed in international travel. He used to be traveling on an American airline. Two years ago, he was in London airport 4 times and in Dubai a couple of times. He enjoyed traveling and enjoyed the chase.
  • Today, Chris does not travel anymore. He sees his wife a lot more. He becomes involved with his daughter and her soccer team.
  • He likes better and enjoys running his own businesses. He found it cool getting to work for himself and be his own boss.
  • Chris finds himself listing more on other platforms. He finds other platforms a little bit more seller friendly on the fees. Amazon's fees are high, but Amazon's buyers pay more. Some of the demographics showed him that Amazon's shoppers tend not to price-shop. Amazon buyers pay for prime so that they can order prime items.
  • He joined Amazon and he got twice as many items on Amazon than on eBay.
  • eBay has been good and loyal to him for so many years. But he noticed that eBay is no longer customer-centric.
  • Chris promised though to check again the new guidelines on having an eBay store.

Quotes

  • “You have to swing a bat to hit a home run. You have to swing it 10 times.”
  • “You've got to be careful what you asked for!”
  • “If you can buy all that is out there, you can control the marketing and the price.”
  • “I got there because I always push myself to surround myself with people that I can learn and grow from.”
  • “You can sell anything. You have to tell the right story. You've got to find the right person that needs you. You've got to find the right niche.”

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