My first business venture is something my good friends still make fun of me for to this day. Back in 6th grade, my mom had casually started collecting TY Beanie Babies. She didn’t spend hours hunting down specific beanie babies, but she would buy them every now and then at this local toy store in Memphis, TN called Village Toy Maker.
A Beanie Baby Convention??
One time during the summer, we had some friends visiting our family in Memphis, and they were staying at the [then] Adam’s Mark Hotel. My mom and I went down to the hotel one afternoon to visit our out-of-town guests, and I noticed this convention taking place in the ballroom area of the hotel. We saw a lot of people in the convention room, so we decided to go check it out to kill some time.
What we entered was a Ty Beanie Babies collector’s convention. Collectors had booths set-up to buy and sell certain beanie babies, and I noticed some of the collectors were selling some of the same beanie babies my mom had purchased back at our house.
I don’t know why, but I convinced my mom to drive me home to get our beanie baby stash. We took the 3 or 4 beanie babies we owned back into the convention, and we started checking out prices. We started showing our goods to the collectors, and we quickly learned that one of these beanie babies was worth some serious cash. Collectors were examining the tag very closely, and they were offering deals for Sting the stingray beanie baby.
A $300 Transaction Is Like A Million Bucks In 6th Grade!
10 minutes later, I was on the phone with my dad telling him the best news I had shared in a while: “Dad, I just sold a stingray beanie baby for $300.” I am almost 100% sure that my dad had no idea what a beanie baby was at the time, but he was thrilled to say the least.
At this point in my little mind, a lightbulb went off after this convention experience. I knew that almost all of my friends had beanie babies, but they didn’t know where to sell them or how to sell them or how much certain beanie babies were worth at the current time.
The Beanie Baby Brokerage Opens Shop
My mom bought me a Ty Beanie Babies collectors book the following week that had estimated market value for the different beanie babies in production. I read the book probably 5 times, and we had also recently gotten a home computer which aided in my market research.
Over the course of the next year, I started buying my friends beanie baby collections. They didn’t know where to sell them, so I would offer a fair deal to take them off their hands.
eBay.com was also gaining some serious steam at this time, and I quickly realized that this would be the best way for me to unload my beanie baby inventory. I taught myself how to set-up an eBay account, and I was instantly in business!
Over the course of the next year and a half or so, I sold over 500 beanie babies on eBay. Some for only a couple bucks, but some for big time money in the collectors world. My business would not have been possible without my dad because he was in charge of shipping.
You have to remember that I was only in 6th/7th grade, and the post office wasn’t within biking or rollerblading distance. Whenever I sold a beanie baby on eBay, I would package them up in our make-shift shipping office (aka the den), print out the shipping label, tape it on the box, and then take it to my dad’s home office to be shipped out the next morning.
Still Using These Skills Today!
This first business venture may sound silly, but it taught me a lot of the same ideas and principles I still use today. I learned how to negotiate with clients, conduct market research, keep track of inventory, buy/sell on eBay, handle customer service (feedback ratings on eBay were always 100%), ship products, market products, and capture superb digital photos.