080: The eBay Guy of Southwest Airlines – Philip Tirelli

Philip is the founder of localARC, who are purveyors of airline memorabilia and vintage collectibles. An eBay member since 2002, localARC has found success in the niche market of airline memorabilia through offering unique inventory coupled with excellent customer service.

Interesting Notes

  • Philip works for Southwest Airlines headquarters. He gets to work next to airplanes every day and see them take off all the time.
  • localARC is short for Local Archaeology. Philip started it with a combination of the airline stuff and mid-century industrial furniture.
  • He is just like most of the seller. He first created his account to buy stuff. In college, he sells his textbooks or a couple of DVDs he has watched.
  • It was only 4 or 5 years ago when Philip decided to make the business more active.
  • His serious eBay sale started with rubber ducks. His first customer is the major rubber duck collector in Germany.
  • Over the past 4 years or so, he has sold 200-300 rubber ducks.
  • Since he works for an Airline, that is where his passion and focus is. He is surprised at the niche market that it has, but it has proved to be extremely successful.
  • He is one of the largest sellers on eBay for this type of memorabilia. He does not have too much competition too. With that, he has the ability to price his items with what he thinks is fair. He can also adjust the prices because he acquired his items at price points.
  • Philip does his sourcing every 3 or 4 months. He buys memorabilia in bulk and so gets them cheap.
  • He has a current inventory of over 3,000 items.
  • Philip, though he has a corporate job, also enjoys doing eBay on the side. He admitted that it takes a lot of work and time. But, it is a perfect marriage of full-time job and eBay.
  • Every day, he wakes up early, between 4:30am to 5am. He goes to the office and picks up his son from after school care or summer care. If he gets off from the office early, he goes to a couple of antique local stores. It is where he usually does his outside sourcing. If he does not find anything there within 10 to 15 minutes, he just leaves. Around eight to nine in the evening, he starts to do the eBay work.
  • Philip has a dedicated home office. He has an inventory area and a shipping area with his laser printer. It is 20 x 15 square meters in size, where he keeps 99% of his inventory. Everything is on a big storage shelf, individually labeled and broken down by category.
  • He takes pictures and creates listing from his iPhone. Most of the templates he uses for the text are simple. As his personal preference, he does not use the HTML template.
  • It takes him a few hours to go into everything – sort, count, and inventory. Then he'll start to take pictures. When he takes pictures, he tries to use natural lighting and a backdrop.
  • His 7 years old son likes to help him inventory the items. He loves to ask Philip, “hey, did we sell anything today”?
  • At one point, his son asked him, “how much are you going to pay me”?
  • A unique item he has sold is a box for a PlayStation video game console. He listed it under accessory. Somebody bid and got the item for $150.
  • He made an exciting purchase 2 days before the interview. It's 2 vintage pair of converse shoes (deadstock, brand new, never worn) from 50′s to 60′s. It's selling for $400 – $600 per pair.
  • One of Philip's greatest learnings is on shipping. He did not use a scale when he first started selling. He did guess estimating. For movie DVDs or video game, he would look at the weight and price on Amazon. He was also buying boxes with a weight that increases the shipping fee by almost $1. When he decided to the kind of shipping he wants, he was able to get the proper materials and make the business leaner.
  • For a high dollar item with an advance purchase of $50 of repeat customers, he has always combined the shipping. He gives refunds for the difference.
  • For a $40 or $50 item, he immediately ships it on a priority mail and insures for a certain amount.
  • For the converse, he'll probably ship it via FedEx so that the buyer can get them quickly. It will be insured for a high dollar amount.
  • Philip's philosophy in what he does is FOCUS on SERVICE. He wants buyers to be happy and pleased – on what they are getting and from their buying experience.
  • Philip considered himself a local archaeologist who goes out and find some rare treasures.
  • He loves taking pictures. Every time he sees a nice piece of airline memorabilia or some sort of travel item, he takes pictures of it. Then, he posts it to their company's Instagram.
  • Philip also loves interacting with people. He can be found in most of the major social media platforms. But, he tends to frequent the most in Instagram.
  • He has absolutely no plans to leave the corporate world to do eBay full-time. He has a great job – his dream job. He loves the people he work with. He gets to do a lot of meaningful work. But, he will continue to do eBay on the side.

Advice, Tips, and Tricks:

  • From start to finish, Philip creates listing in just 3 minutes. His tricks are:
    • 1. He uses simple text templates.
    • 2. He has saved those templates on his phone as keyboard shortcuts and can just plug in the specifics.
    • 3. He makes his listings clear, concise, and easy to read for the buyer. He put his self in the shoes of a buyer who wants to know exactly the details of the item he is looking at.
    • 4. He puts the measurement if needed, and avoid using creative fluff.
  • To give an excellent customer service, Philip's practices are:
    • 1. He is quick to attend to messages.
    • 2. He sets automated message like “Thank you for your purchase! I'll have your item securely pack and ship promptly. Please let me know if you have questions.” He sends the same message to every buyer he has.
    • 3. He takes time in packing to make it secure and avoid damage. He uses bags or wrappers to give the packing a professional look. If the item is a Southwest item, he'll have Southwest gift bags.

Quotes

  • “If you want to do something, whatever it is, have a plan. Think it through. Make an honest effort at it.”
  • “Don't just blindly jump into something without knowing what to do.”
  • “If you want to do something, do it right.”
  • “You want to have a plan, but you don't want to over think it. Start doing it!”
  • “I enjoy selling the items to people who bought them and enjoy them.”
  • “Even though this is all done online and you never see the people personally, it is all up to customer service”.

Tools

  • iPhone 6

Contact Information

  • eBay: localARC
  • Facebook: localARC
  • Instagram:┬álocalARC
  • Twitter: localARC

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