In the winter of 2007 I lost my job(LONG STORY) of 7+ years. I was the #1 sale person in the nation for my company for 3 years straight(true story). I was lost, I didn't know what to do. Months passed and I still wasn't working. I honestly didn't look for work because I was still in shock from what happened. I had been in the same routine for years and that routine was broken. After months and months of not working, I had to find something to supplement the income I had lost on a monthly basis because I couldn't live off my savings forever.
What did I do next? It wasn't the easiest decision but I sold my shoe collection. Since middle school I always loved shoes. Growing up my parents didn't buy me the newest shoes or the best shoes because I didn't always take the best care of them. Once I started working in high school I always saved my money to buy a fresh pair as often as I could. Then once I got a "real" job and started making decent money I bought shoes a few times a month and multiples at a time to make up for all the shoes I didn't get as kid and something to collect as it's been a passion of mine since I can remember. Over the years I amassed a collection of a few hundred pairs. About half new and half worn. When I use to collect I believed in the "rock one, stock one" theme. Up until the day I decided to sell my collection I NEVER sold a pair of shoes in my life. I never thought of it as a business or a way to make money in the future. I literally didn't know where to start but I knew that I needed to sell them to take care of the NEEDS in my life.
I then started to advertise my shoes on craigslist and ebay. I had no idea the work that went into just attempting to sell 1 pair. Taking pics, posting ads, answering questions, buyers flaking, etc... It was a process that I thought was going to come easy. I did this for months over and over and over to supplement my income. It got tiring and discouraging. I honestly don't know how I came to this next idea but I decided to make a website that listed my inventory for sale. My first site wasn't even a site you could directly purchase from, it was just a blog where you could read and see the items I had for sale. That way when I posted on craigslist I would just post the link to my site and people could browse the inventory and most questions could easily be answered by simply browsing and reading by the potential buyer making my life much easier.
As people started contacting me with offers and pairs sold on ebay I realized I was getting more money on my shoes than I actually spent. Even some worn pairs I made more money then I spent. That's the moment I realized this could be a business. I never knew this because I truly collected shoes just purely for passion and personal satisfaction. There were no lines when I used to buy shoes, no need for a connect, the game was simple. Buy what you want and wear what you want. No one judged you.
Losing my job made me realize there are people out there just like me, people needing to sell their shoes for various reasons. Lost job, car payments, rent, food, bills, etc so I made the decision to offer QUICK CASH on my site. That way I can help someone in need and in return I can make a living going through the process of selling shoes(not easy).
Over the next two years I advertised locally on craigslist as much as I could to let people know I was offering to buy there shoes directly(no hassle) and I would resell them on ebay or at other consignment shops(I couldn't handle all the inventory myself and my name wasn't as established as others at the time). I took inspiration from other shops I visited and hoped one day I could be as successful as them. I would drive all over the Bay Area buying 1 pair from someone or 100, people would flake, people would be late, shoes wouldn't be as described, etc. At times I wanted to give up but I knew in the end if I wanted this to work it would be solely on my shoulders. I ran my site by myself, took pics, posted, shipped, did meet ups, anything and everything until the Summer of 2010.
That summer my best friend lost his job. He knew what I had been doing over the past 2 years and he needed something to do so we came up with the idea of opening up a physical shop with the hope that it would bring in more business to supplement both our lives with the income we needed. We had no idea of what we were going to go through. We opened our doors in November of 2010 and the first day maybe 10 to 15 people came in all day. Most of them were people who I met over the course of the last 2 years that I built relationships with. We didn't even have all sizes. Most were my size 9.5-10 and others from collections we bought. We might have had 300 pairs tops opening day. The first months almost every day was the same, little customers, little sales, little improvement. We went through many ups and downs and we questioned ourselves internally if we made the right decision but never gave up. I would track our monthly sales so I knew we we're going in the right direction even if it was only a few hundred dollars more then the month prior. We still didn't have our own e-commerce site and only used our shop and Ebay to list and sell our inventory.
We stayed the course, we finally got up an e-commerce site and started on bigcartel(which most small businesses use) and about a year later I had to hire one of our childhood friends to help us out on a daily basis. Then, before you knew it we outgrew our first location(approx 1,200 sq ft) and had to move locations within our same plaza to accommodate our growth. Hired another friend, a year after that we had to move again. Hired another friend and a year after that we took back our second location for storage and to run our ebay shop. Everything just happened naturally and organically. I didn't try to put our shop out there for the world to see or advertise like crazy. I only handled what I could handle myself and hired people to my team on a as needed basis. I remember having less then 100 feedback on Ebay and thinking how great it would be to hit 500, then 1,000 and so on. Now we have over 25,000 sales on Ebay alone.
Through this venture I have had the opportunity to partner with my best friend, provide full time jobs to 5 of my friends, and part time jobs for 2 others on a per need basis. I'm going on 6+ years establishing our name and our physical shop has been open for 4+ now.
I hope this gives you a little insight to who we are and what we've gone through to get to this point. We're still learning and are always striving to become better each day in our attempt to give you guys one of the best selections, prices and service in our industry.
Written: Beginning of 2015(I will update it or edit it if I ever find the time as we grow). THANK YOU!
Side Note: I love it when people sell their whole collection to us, not because I know I will make money BUT because I was once in their shoes. I know how hard it is to let go of something you love BUT I know in the end that it will make them a better person and help get them where they want to go. I have zero regrets for what I had to give up to get where I am today. I gave it up because I NEEDED too, not because I wanted too and it led to this. Follow your dreams, it takes sacrifice, hard work and dedication.