eBay sellers - Mom-and-Pops, All Grown Up To Survive,...

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Mom-and-Pops, All Grown Up To Survive, Online Sellers Evolve Into Full-Time, High-Stress Businesses By Yuki Noguchi Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, November 23, 2006; D01 Susan Gearing's home office in Columbia looks like a fun factory -- embroidery machines hum, and shelves are lined with 350 rolls of fabric, including some emblazoned with Elvis, Betty Boop and shirtless cowboys. But behind the colorful facade lies a grueling, complex Internet retail operation. Every day, Gearing cuts, folds and mails 30 yards of fabric to customers around the world who buy from her online. And each year, her business, SusieCraft, grows bigger and more demanding. The same is true for Jennifer Canty, a Sterling entrepreneur who started refurbishing iPods and other gadgets and selling them on eBay three years ago, primarily so she could work from home and care for her infant son. Today, the company she founded, Dyscern, employs 12 people, occupies a 10,000-square-foot warehouse and is projecting $6 million in annual revenue. As Internet shopping matures and enters its 12th holiday season, veteran eBay sellers are discovering what it takes to make a long-term career out of selling online. Internet sales have become as competitive as traditional retail but compounded by the furious pace of change on the Web. "You have to have a big range of skills that have to come together," Gearing said. Gearing, 60, and Canty, 35, are among the 1.3 million sellers who make all or some of their living on eBay, the global bazaar where $12.6 billion worth of merchandise changed hands in the most recent quarter. Both have recruited their husbands to help, but both say it's a fantasy that self-employment is stress-free. "We joke that it was easier when we worked for other people," Canty said, adding that the initial joy of working for herself morphed into another challenge: "Don't let the business take over your life." Gearing, who learned to sew at age 12, spends much of her time doing the usual spadework of any retailer, scouting quilt shows and magazines to stay on top of trends. She personally answers more than 100 customer e-mails a day and writes ad copy for
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This note was uploaded on 01/22/2011 for the course MSOM 303 taught by Professor Philpot during the Winter '10 term at George Mason.

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eBay sellers - Mom-and-Pops, All Grown Up To Survive,...

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