Nancy Meyer founded Community Forklift more than a decade ago with the idea to "lift up the community" while diverting tons of materials from landfills and providing low-cost building materials to locals in need. The business, a nonprofit reuse center for home improvement supplies, recycles and resells unwanted and salvaged building materials in the greater DC area. Since 2011, they have provided more than $250,000 worth of materials to neighbors in need and kept more than $30 million worth of materials out of landfills.
Nancy says that Community Forklift started selling on eBay to attract a larger audience for some of the store’s quirkier items. Since then, she says, “eBay has become an integral part of our business model. Community Forklift relies on the steady stream of online purchases to boost our annual revenue, which supports our operation. Every item we get is donated, and the money we have raised through eBay directly supports our payroll, benefits and grant programs. These grant programs are the heart of what we do: provide free building materials and appliances to those in need, theater props for your local school or materials for your community garden.”
I talked to Community Forklift’s Director of Administration, Mariam d'Eustachio, to talk about the company’s great mission, the power of community, and what it was like to be a SHINE Award winner.
Tell us your impressions of the SHINE Awards? What inspired you to submit your story?
The SHINE Awards highlight how eBay is investing in people and the selling community. eBay stands out as a tech company by representing (I heard it best at the eBay Open conference) “the human cloud.” Our online team manager, Melissa Cooperson, took the initiative to apply for the award. We have a great story, and she thought Community Forklift had a shot at winning.
How did you campaign for votes during the public voting phase?
Our excitement about the nomination was contagious. We had a contest among our staff (the prize was an "Uber Eats" lunch of their choice) to see who could get the most votes by asking our customers and donors to vote for us in the store. We also launched a very successful social media campaign and asked for votes through our newsletter. In the end, it was the community that came out for us in droves and helped us win. We are so appreciative!
What do you think made your application stand out, and ultimately made you a finalist?
Our mission was what made us stand out. We have an appliance giveaway program and provide building materials (for free) to our neighbors in need and other community organizations and non-profits, all while diverting tons of material from the landfill. For us, it’s not about the stuff, it’s about the people.
As a finalist and winner, you received a VIP experience at eBay Open. What was your favorite part about the eBay Open experience?
My favorite part was meeting the eBay executives at dinner in an intimate setting, followed by the Cirque du Soleil show. I really enjoyed getting to know the other Finalists and seeing up close the great things people are doing. Their entrepreneurial spirit was on display!
Why would you recommend other sellers attend eBay Open?
It was a great way to connect to the seller community and learn about all the changes coming to the eBay platform. The opportunity to learn how to refine our listing process and to share information was invaluable. We are trying to realize those changes now, and are excited about growing our online business.
What are you going to do with the prize money?
The money may be used to help us expand our online sales department, which can definitely continue to grow. Hiring someone who can focus on packing and shipping the material, streamlining the listing process, and getting everything out quickly is a priority. We are excited about eBay Guaranteed Delivery, and this is where we may put those funds to good use. We want to be ready as eBay ramps up their “fill your cart with color” marketing campaign.
What's one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you got started on eBay?
Don't be afraid of shipping! It is possible to sell bulky items and ship them. We work directly with a freight company and pass that savings on to the buyer.
What eBay tools do you make use of most, and what benefits have you seen from utilizing these tools?
We use a combination of tools and occasionally run store-wide sales. Seller Hub is good for evaluating traffic and seeing what is happening so we can make informed decisions about how to sell our unique and quirky items. We are looking forward to trying promoted listings know that it is available for one-off items.
What motivates you to keep selling on eBay?
Our mission of keeping old material out of the landfill, creating green jobs and being a second-chance employer keep us going. Capturing online revenue is important in keeping our brick-and-mortar store going. With a triple-bottom-line focused on people, planet, and prosperity, Community Forklift is a pioneer in the green industry. It's an exciting time for us!
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