119: How To Grow An eBay Biz From A Bedroom To A 9,000 Sq. Ft. Warehouse – Mace Brasher

Mace and Mandy are a husband & wife team and parents of two. They are eBay sellers of licensed goods for all sports teams and colleges. They purchase closeout and overstock items in bulk to get the best prices and genuine merchandise.

Mace and Mandy started selling on eBay in an extra bedroom they had before having children and then upgraded it along the way. They have been selling on eBay for 11 years full-time. They have a 9,000 sq ft. warehouse in Tooele Utah in the middle of nowhere. They have 3 full-time employees and 2 part-time employees.

Interesting Notes

  • Mace once bought from someone on eBay a jersey the size of 5X because it was cheaper than the 2X size that he would wear. When he got the item, he looked ridiculous with the oversized Jersey on.
  • Instead of returning it, he put it on eBay himself. He made a $20 profit and figured he can do it some more. Since then, he has started selling on eBay.
  • Mace had $250 as a seed money for his eBay business. He bought 10 jerseys out of it. Every time he sells a jersey, he would reinvest his cash and buy more. Over time, it doubles up and grows his inventory.
  • He saw an opportunity for him to earn an income. So, when he was offered a severance package from his job, he took it. He put the extra cash on his business and decided to bet on himself.
  • Though with fears, Mace keeps on going.
  • Mace and Mandy started selling on eBay from their bedroom. Then they took over their basement, then to their garage.
  • As their inventory gets bigger, they sold their starter home and buy a big one with the size of  6,000 sq. ft. They had the business in their basement. But within a year, they fill it out. They sold their house again and buy a 9,000 sq. ft. warehouse. 
  • They source their products from trade shows that do closeout items and sports apparel. The vendors are from the United States so Mace doesn't have to worry about trademark infringement.
  • Mace knows every supplier that he buys from. He does not take risks with his products.
  • They met some of their suppliers on the ASD and Offprice trade shows which have a lot of closeout clothing.
  • Some suppliers are willing to give Mace a credit line. There is one company who offered him a $160,000 credit line.
  • When Reebok lost its NFL contract for the jerseys, Mace contacted every Reebok outlet store he saw on the internet. He bought all their jerseys.
  • Mace and Mandy have one employee, a guy from England, who does all the listings. The other full-time employee is the shop manager who handles all the stuff and messages when Mace is not around. Two other employees do the shipping. On the busiest days like Monday, 3 people handle the shipping. The part-time employee does the accounting works, the work Mace hates the most.
  • At the start of their eBay biz, they had blue bins in all sizes (small, medium, large, extra large, 2X). But, they have outgrown the system. It only works if you have a few things.
  • Since they have many items, they created an inventory code. It is a number and a letter combination. It is like a library system. Every time that they get their stuff, they bag them to keep the items clean and fresh. Then they label it and put it all in a massive row of storage shelves and bins.
  • The code helps them locate their items with ease.
  • They have 17,000 individual listings and several of those have variations of sizes or colors. It usually takes them 3 to 4 days to put their items on sale.
  • A couple of years ago when the Saints won the Super Bowl, Mace had a bunch of Saints jerseys that sell like crazy.
  • Mace is not interested in buying St. Louis Rams memorabilia though he has given a lot of opportunities to get it. He steers away from it even if it will be offered for 50 cents.
  • Mace wants to be clean. He wants everyone to think that he and his team can handle customers' orders quickly.
  • They ship two times every day, even on Saturdays. There is a company who picks up their mails and charges 25 cents for every scanned item.
  • They take the pictures of all their items. Mace bought better lighting equipment and cameras so they can take a much better picture.
  • Aside from sports apparel, they also have concert shirts and a lot of Marvel and Comic shirts. Anything that Mace can find and sell, he will try it once. If it does not sell, then he will not go back to that one again.
  • Right now they are listing new stuff because they have a lot of NFL stuff. They are processing lots of hats, coats, and jackets.
  • They are also setting up for October to December, the busiest time of the year.
  • Today, Mace and his family live in a smaller house near a lake and they love it
  • Mace and Mandy have 2 kids: a 15-year-old and an 11-year-old.
  • The 15-year-old helps with their eBay business. During the summertime, she would come and fold shirts for them or find the sold items and do the shipping. Mace pays his kids when they work for him.
  • Their warehouse is about 85% full and has no plans to move again.
  • Mace enjoys the freedom in the availability of his time. He can work whenever he wants to. He can take a leave and does not have to ask his boss since he is the boss of his own business. He can pick up their kids and do some fun stuff.
  • Sometime in March to June, when business is slow, Mace would clean up their old listings. He will either revise the price or take new pictures. He will do whatever he can to make the listings look better and sell at a better price.
  • If you are fond of any sports team, you can find something from Mace and Mandy's eBay store.

Advice, Tips, and Tricks

  • Mace tries to buy new stuff to keep making money. He juggles this and that trying to find the right item and the right product that works.
  • He does not hang on to his inventory forever. He has sometimes marketed it down to near cost or even below cost.
  • About 10% of their items have flaws, they still manage to get a 99.9% positive feedback.
  • How they maintain positive feedback:
    1. List an item with the details of the flaw.
    2. Take a clear picture to make sure that there is no miscommunication.
    3. They offer a 30-day return policy. This is in cases that there is a miscommunication because the buyer fails to read the information or look at the pictures.
    4. If they mess up on their listing or can't find the items sold, they tell the buyers up front. They are honest with their buyers and offers solutions to the problems. Like if they can't find the item, they offer 25% off on the buyer's future purchases. It is Mace's way to make up for the error.
  • People like to see items on sale. Mace does random sale throughout the year. It is different depending on what time of the year it is. As it gets closer to Christmas, the sale price is going down because it is the busiest season.
  • Right now, they have 15% off. During April they go up as high as 20% off because they are going to pay taxes.

Quotes

  • “I've got no choice, except to make it work!”
  • “I love to do it and it's been fun.”
  • “Even if you have a smaller deal, make sure you pay your debts.”
  • “Be responsible and pay your debts!”
  • “I would rather get some money than having something sit in inventory for another 5 or 10 years.”
  • “If you did not have this opportunity, how could you provide extra money for Christmas?”
  • “Being honest and giving customer service in a fast manner is definitely a huge help.”

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