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An ‘Aloha’ to the World

Seller finds online success with Hawaiian collectibles.

When shoppers visit Thomas Tucker’s store on Bonanza, they’ll find a three-horned chameleon, a photo of Tucker with his Chihuahua, Buster Brown, and a video of a performance from the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival.

These three images are testaments to what Tucker loves.

“I love Hawaii, the people, the music and the culture, and am happy to call it home,” the Hawaii resident explains. “When buying from me, [shoppers] are not feeding a corporate conglomeration. [They] are feeding a single guy and his five dogs and one cat that thinks it is a dog.”

Casual listing sparks business

Tucker has been selling on Bonanza for five years. Before that, he owned a brick-and-mortar shop specializing in high-end vintage collectibles and antiques for 20 years.

“I believe having a wide variety of items is the key to attracting unique visitors, and keeps the repeat customers coming back”

The move to selling online came when Tucker was trying to get rid of stuff he had around the house, hoping he would get better than yard-sale prices if he went online.

“It wasn’t really strategic planning,” he admits.

His first source of inventory was his collection of old PlayStation One games. The result? His surprise at the “potential money to be made,” Tucker says.

The seller has since expanded into other products, and sources inventory from several suppliers around the world. But his shop mostly features hard-to-find “Hawaiian treasures and collectibles,” like Hawaiian dresses, jams and gold heirloom jewelry featuring tropical flowers, sea turtles and tribal warriors.

Tucker wanted to offer “a piece of authentic aloha” from his home on the Big Island to people around the world.

“I wanted to specialize in authentic Hawaii merchandise and not the ‘cheap’ mass-produced tourist stuff, like dashboard Hula dolls,” he adds.

An edge over the competition

Tucker says living in Hawaii has given him an advantage over other sellers who offer similar products: He can find rare Hawaiian items locally that sellers on the mainland and throughout the world may have a hard time obtaining.

He also offers a good selection of “Old Hawaii items,” along with other collectibles and home décor pieces, he notes.

“I believe having a wide variety of items from several different categories is the key to attracting unique visitors, and keeps the repeat customers coming back,” Tucker explains.

Making the move to selling online has been great, Tucker notes. He has reduced his overhead costs, and can make sales at any hour of the day or night.

“You can potentially make money while you sleep,” he says.

Tucker also enjoys taking photos and listing items. In fact, though some merchants might see writing descriptions as a chore, it’s Tucker’s favorite part of the listing process.

“I’ve always been creative when it comes to creating catch phrases”

“I’ve always been creative when it comes to creating catch phrases, and I’ve always enjoyed writing, in general,” he explains, adding that he takes the saying, “Describe it like there are no photos, and take photos like there is no description” very seriously.

However, there are challenges to selling online. The biggest one is when a supplier runs out of stock without letting Tucker know beforehand. In those cases, he works with customers to find a resolution, whether it is to wait for new inventory, give the buyer a substitute item or offer a refund.

Dealing with payment processors can also be tricky, Tucker notes. He’s had his PayPal account frozen, for instance, for not keeping more than $20 in it. He advices other sellers to be careful and look for other payment options like Checkout by Amazon, though he adds that it will hold funds for 14 days before releasing them, so there’s good and bad to both. He also says sellers should do their research if they plan to work with a drop-shipper.

“As a seller, you could end up taking the hit for mistakes that you are actually not responsible for,” he explains.

The ‘aloha’ way

Overall, though, selling online has been a good experience.

“It is with pride and pleasure that I am able to now bring authentic quality aloha from my home to yours,” he tells buyers on his profile page.

Tucker’s business is still young and growing. On average, he gets about 15 orders a month, except during October, when Halloween nears and orders ramp up. He explains that he has a lot of Halloween masks, costumes and accessories.

“Last Halloween, sales were the best ever for me, and I hope to make it even better this coming Halloween with some new masks that just came available, and that I am currently working on listing,” he adds.

Visit Tuckerstuff on Bonanza.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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