067: From Passion to Business, Political Memorabilia – Steve & Lori Ferber

Steve & Lori Ferber have been dealers of political memorabilia business for over 40 years, selling on eBay since 1999. They say they are fortunate enough to be able to say that it is both their passion and their business. They have served tens of thousands of collectors and investors and are now happy and proud to call many of them friends. They operate several websites, including http://www.loriferber.com and also sell on eBay under the name successm. They also enjoy providing free appraisals of presidential collectibles to everyone who ask.

Interesting Notes

  • At 14 years old, Steve has started selling stuff and stamps by direct mail or in shows. Then he started to get more political items in and found that he enjoyed it most. Over time it turned into a business.
  • Steve and Lori started selling in their house. Later, they realized they need to get their merchandise out of their house when it covered every area of it.
  • Today, they have a 1200 square foot office that also serves as their warehouse. In March, they are moving to a larger quarter.
  • They sell items, not just back in the times of Abraham Lincoln but also items of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.
  • Since they have been doing it for 40yrs, they have built a reputation. People contacted them all the time.
  • They do business with movie production companies, theaters, and TV shows. Some of the items used in the movies or shows come from their store. Like campaign posters in the background door, a White House seal, or a Presidential seal.
  • They also do a lot of free appraisals. People would ask them the worth of the items from their grandparents or from an estate settlement. Steve would appraise them for free and over time, good will is built.
  • When it comes to autographs, Steve admits it is tough. 99.9% of Presidential autographs are not original. It is either signed by machines or by secretaries. But today, they are confident in identifying the authenticity of the autograph. That is, after years of experience and consulting with experts. They often look for documentation and proof of what they would sell.
  • They shared duties. Steve does the research, appraisals, and purchasing. With Lori, she does the customer service, packaging, and shipping.
  • They maintain their 100% feedback by being honest to their customers. If they make a mistake, they try to fix it in a quick, efficient and courteous manner, and it makes a lot of difference. When they do screw up, they fix it good.
  • Steve had an experience with a buyer who return a purchased item from them two months later. The item is a beautiful Presidential Seal rug that cost $650. Steve, of course, stood behind their product, got it back and refunded the buyer. They could tell that their product has been used. They did a little research and found out that the item was actually purchased by somebody who is a Director of a Theater group who had done a play about US President and coincidentally returned the item 2 days after the theater show.
  • On pricing their items, when they started out in 1999, a large part of their business was in the auction. But over time, they have found that Best Offers has replaced Auction for them in many instances.
  • Steve is a strong believer of diversification. Back then, he felt the impact of the economy during the recession. He also felt the impact when eBay had a tough time a couple of years ago with the password problem and Google. Those setbacks move them to sell on a variety of sites. On eBay, they diversified and now sells collectible dolls. They added and expanded and it helps them to get back to the level where they had before.
  • He is a business broker selling business and expects to be full time on eBay when he retires.

Quotes

  • “Giving back is also a good way of growing your business.”
  • “Nothing beats experience.”
  • “Nothing beats with just being honest with the customer when you make a mistake.”
  • “It only takes a few success stories and successful listings, and then you get the bug!”
  • “You must keep your eyes open! You must try different things!”
  • “eBay can be a great business when somebody wants to semi-retire or fully retire from their core business.”
  • “eBay is something that can be scaled to the level that you wanted it to be. You can keep it a little bit smaller if you want. You can go much larger if you want.”
  • “Don't put your eggs in one basket.”

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