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eBay was only two years old when I discovered it.
A friend I worked with was also starting to sell on eBay at about the same time, and we exchanged ideas and experiences constantly. Since we were already working together on our eBay ventures, we decided to combine our resources into one company and grow it while we were still both working our regular job. We found our niche selling technical books and manuals as our little company began to grow and prosper. Our co-workers at the company we worked at during the day came to consider us the "eBay Experts". We were answering questions about online auctions on a daily basis, but one coworker had the same comment every day.
"Hey, show me how to make easy money on eBay!" he would ask. It became a standing joke between My partner and I that usually came up around two or three in the morning during a marathon packing or email answering session. One of us would look at the other and mutter in a disgusted tone "Yea, Easy money on eBay.."
In January of 2002, we had more sales, and more auctions running than ever before. We were looking at 100 to 150 auctions a day closing, and enjoying a sell-through rate of close to 75%. Our shelves were piled high with books and manuals, the shipping area was well stocked with supplies, and we were ready for long hours of fulfilling our orders.
Then, as if fate stepped in to see just what we were made of, a huge ice storm hit our part of Oklahoma taking out large sections the electrical grid. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that online businesses can do without many things, but electricity is NOT on that list! On the third day of the blackout, we were able to learn from the radio (battery powered) that it wasn't just our area, but over HALF the state of Oklahoma. Worse yet, the damage was so extensive it was going to be at least TWO WEEKS before power was restored! A quick calculation and we almost panicked. We would have over two THOUSAND AUCTIONS END, and no way to contact the bidders! If we didn't keep up with the sales, payments, and shipping on a daily basis, we were in deep trouble... We couldn't imagine what a mess it would be in TWO WEEKS!
The fourth day into the blackout, I made an executive decision. I grabbed the company checkbook, and headed for our closest Lowe's Home Improvement center (about 70 miles away..). The little roadtrip turned into quite the adventure. Strange thing about a massive blackout is gas stations can't pump gas without electricity, and you are burning gas while you are driving around looking for a gas station that was open for business. I was running on luck and fumes before I finally found a station and filled up. With a full tank of gas, I made it to Lowe's and purchased a generator. We assembled the generator in record time, put oil in the engine and then realized... Uh Oh, we need gas for the generator. No local gas stations were open for business, and we didn't want to risk another road trip. Using an old trick I hadn't used since I was growing up on a farm, we were able to get enough gas out of my pickup truck to fuel up the generator.
The little generator fired up on the first pull, and with the help of a few extension cords and power strips, we had a computer network up and running at My partners house. It was then we made another interesting discovery. Cable internet connections do not work without electricity. I had a DSL internet connection at my house, so off we go with a partially charged battery in my laptop to test my internet connection. SUCCESS! DSL works off the phone line power so it was still functional. We made a quick drive back to My partners house to tear down the computer network and load the generator, then back to my house to set it all up again. At 4:30 the next morning We had the network online and a couple of lamps for light. We were self-contained, and open for business. Now we could get to work, and so we did, for the next straight 48 hours. We had a pickup truck load of packages ready for the post office when it hit us, "Is the post office open?". A quick phone call ( by the way, cell phones and cordless phones are useless during a blackout. The simplest plug-it-in-the-wall phones work great.) found us with another problem. Our local post office was closed (no electricity there either.) They did tell us the regional USPS hub had power, and was open 24/7. The bad news is, the regional hub was 75 miles away in Oklahoma City!
Meanwhile, back at the fuel issue... We were relieved to discover that two local gas stations had rented generators and were open for business. We gassed up and headed for Oklahoma City. With the load of packages on the way to customers and most of the other urgent tasks completed, we took a much needed break. We shut down the network and use the generator to power an electric griddle and make a hot meal. The little generator wouldn't power both at the same time without throwing it's breaker.
For the next two weeks, that poor little generator ran constantly keeping the computers running and the shipments going out, the questions answered, and our customers happy. Every other day I would make the 150 mile round trip to the USPS hub in Oklahoma City, stopping on the way back to fill the gas containers for the generator, and fuel up the truck for the next trip.
One evening we took a short break, and stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. We noticed something different.... THE STREET LIGHTS WERE ON! I ran inside and tried the lights... ELECTRICITY!
I went next door and asked my neighbor how long the power had been back on. "Oh, about four or five hours..". We had been so wrapped up working in our self-contained office, we hadn't realized the power had come back on! With our ordeal behind us, we couldn't resist the temptation to elebrate with a cold beer and a toast...
"Here's to "easy money" on eBay!"
KL Bohn is an Industrial Engineer with a passion for technology and especially eBay.
eBay was only two years old when I discovered it quite by accident. 7 1/2 years, and over 85,000 transactions later I'm still hooked on eBay as a seller, buyer, and shareholder.
Winds of change with reverse auctions
After studying law I vectored towards journalism by accident and it's the only job I've done since. It's a job that has taken me on a private jet to Jaisalmer - where I wrote India's first feature on fractional ownership of business jets - to the ...
6 Indian marquee players up for grabs at IPL Auctions
With the IPL auctions around the corner, the BCCI has released the final list of players who will be available for auctions on January 27th and 28th. 16 marquee players will be up for grabs of the total 578 players at the auctions. Here is a detailed ...
gulftoday.ae | Morocco probes dinosaur tail sold in Mexico auction
RABAT: Moroccan authorities have opened an inquiry into the origins of a dinosaur tail from the North African country sold at auction in Mexico, the culture ministry said. The four-metre-long (13-foot) fragment of an "Atlasaurus tail from the Jurassic ...
Open-minded on spectrum sale timing, will await Trai report, says Department of Telecom
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has kept an open mind on the timing of the next round of spectrum auction and will await regulator Trai's report before firming its views, says a top government official. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai ...
Open-minded on spectrum sale timing,will await TRAI report: DoT
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has kept an open mind on the timing of the next round of spectrum auction and will await regulator TRAI's report before firming its views, says a top government official. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI ...
Open-minded on spectrum sale timing,will await Trai report:DoT
New Delhi, Jan 21 The Department of Telecom (DoT) has kept an open mind on the timing of the next round of spectrum auction and will await regulator Trai's report before firming its views, says a top government official. The Telecom Regulatory ...
Melbourne's outer suburbs get headstart on 2018
CoreLogic state director for Victoria Geoff White said suburbs with a large amount of auctions as well as a high clearance rate were in a particularly strong position. “Those areas that have been at, or below, the Melbourne median house price have ...
Sportskeeda (satire) (press release) (blog)
IPL auction 2018: Sehwag backs Yuvraj Singh to make a strong comeback, reveals KXIP's favoured RTM picks
Sportskeeda (satire) (press release) (blog)
He mainly chose the all-rounders as his hot picks ahead of the auction. He said, “Ben Stokes, Dwayne Bravo and Mitchell Starc are the international players everyone wants. I won't be surprised if Stokes goes for around $1.5 million. I expect the capped ...
The ClassicCars.com Journal (blog)
Carlisle Auctions adds new summer sale
The ClassicCars.com Journal (blog)
“At Carlisle Auctions, we like to give every auction buyer and consigner the proper time to buy and sell their vehicles and that's why we are adding this event,” he added. “There couldn't be a better time of year than June 16 to add a 200-car ...
Salaam's mother thinks Heisman up for auction was stolen
DENVER (AP) — As online bids for Rashaan Salaam's Heisman Trophy near $300,000, the mother of the former University of Colorado running back is convinced the trophy was stolen. Khalada Salaam told CBS Sports in a story published Friday that the family ...
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