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When I was fifteen I borrowed $200 from my father, bought a broken Sidekick phone on eBay, watched YouTube videos to learn how to repair it, and re-sold it for an $80 profit. That was the start of David Wolkoff’s Store, an eBay business, which has Gold Powerseller status and over 700 unique positive feedbacks. I had never used eBay before buying and selling the Sidekick. I became interested overhearing a friend tell how he sold a phone, and found after some research that he had undervalued his. I decided to try to do better.
At first, I bought individual phones, repaired them, and sold them as “refurbished.” Soon, however, I discovered that I could make a larger profit in less time if I bought phones with common defects in bulk and outsourced the repairs. As I began to feel a mastery over my business and expanded into different types of electronics, eBay changed its policies, undermining its individual merchants. A number of small businesses left eBay. I decided, however, to take my name to heart and fight Goliath.
I took two weeks off from conducting business to study the new rules, and strategize how to stay in business; I was not going to let policy changes discourage me from pursuing my hobby, my job and my passion. Therefore, I decided I needed to sell internationally where the large corporations that eBay was now favoring did not or could not do business. The customs regulations seemed daunting at first, because of the precise details necessary and to complicate matters, eBay’s rule changes in this period were frequent, and I needed to adjust plans two or three times to accommodate them.
I soon realized I could sell products unavailable, or more expensive locally because of currency rates, in Europe, Asia and Australia for a premium price, which increased my income and saved my business. Also, I implemented the use of drop shipping, where I have items sent directly from manufacturers to the customer so I took no inventory risks and saved on shipping.
I serve individuals where Amazon and Best Buy don’t compete. In the past three weeks I have shipped a Nokia N900 Smartphone to seventeen countries and two states, including Israel, Australia, Ireland, U.K., France, Mexico, Cyprus, and Malta. Electronics leave my house in the suburbs and a few days later end up with someone in London, Seoul or Sydney; I find this fascinating.
Dealing with people internationally has given me the confidence to hire a software developer in Pakistan to help create an iPhone application. The developer and I spoke over Skype and exchanged comments as if we were neighbors. The application, which is called iSiren, has been accepted by Apple Inc. and is now available for sale in the iTunes store. It has been downloaded over 10,000 times in just over two weeks of being ‘live’.
Running David Wolkoff’s Store for the last few years from the headquarters of my bedroom has been a true ‘hands-on’ learning experience. The global economy has made my business possible; however, I still focus on satisfying each customer as an individual. This is my hobby, but I love excelling at it, and having my customers believe they are dealing with a store, not a teenager.
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