Husband-and-wife duo Kris and Mandy Moody know that some men like to look elegant, but let’s face it: Fine Italian suits can be expensive.
“Frankly, not that many guys can afford to buy a $2,000 or $3,000 suit, or a $150 necktie,” Kris tells us.
Enter Italian Suit Warehouse, the couple’s eBay store that specializes in high-end new and used men’s clothing at discounted prices. In the store, shoppers will find suits, ties, jackets, scarves and other dapper clothing men want, from designers like Armani, Versace and Hugo Boss. And the garments will make them “look just as good as the guys they see in GQ for the same kind of money they were already spending, or less,” Kris says.
The shop, which recently expanded to Bonanza under the same name, started as a side gig in college, when the couple decided to make extra money selling on eBay. It has turned into their full-time jobs, with between 400 and 600 transactions a month. The Moodys have sold close to 40,000 designer items on eBay, alone, in the 11 years they’ve been full-time sellers there.
The right fit
The couple decided to specialize in men’s fine clothing after Kris sold a few suits and neckties he no longer needed. Having bought the items at thrift stores, he kept his investment low and made a “respectable profit” selling on eBay. he recalls. “I guess I just saw an opportunity and ran with it.”
As the business grew, Kris decided to leave grad school to become a full-time seller with his wife. Until then, she had been doing most of the selling on eBay, while he attended school.We like to say we provide access to the best-looking and best-crafted men’s clothing at price points manageable for most budgets
“It was absolutely the right decision,” he tells us.
That’s not surprising when you take into account that before selling on eBay full time, the couple worked at a Macy’s as specialists for two of the biggest men’s designers. During that time, their departments were next to each other, so Kris and Mandy have been working together—and spending nearly all their time together—for more than 10 years.
“I’m sure this wouldn’t be an ideal situation for many marriages, but for us it’s been wonderful. We couldn’t imagine any other arrangement!” Kris adds.
Tailoring the business to suit customers
Kris and Mandy list their items as both fixed-price and auctions. “We like to say we provide access to the best-looking and best-crafted men’s clothing at enough price points to be manageable for most budgets,” Kris notes. “There really is no need for guys to be stuck wearing poorly fitted mall suits and sport jackets when close-to-new designer alternatives are available at a deep discount.”
The duo also sells consignment products for men looking to make back some of the money they spent on designer items they no longer need.
When it comes to keeping shoppers happy, Kris says he and his wife keep it simple. They offer items that are in demand, and products that are authentic. They describe items exactly as they are—that includes stating up front if a garment has any flaws—and they provide exact measurements so buyers will know how the garments will fit. They also use a professional studio to take clear photos of their items.
When packing shipments, they do it in a fashion that makes products look attractive when buyers open their packages, and they do everything possible to correct situations in which they accidently “drop the ball,” he reports.
“It’s common for us to offer 125-percent refunds in the rare circumstance an item is out of stock, for instance,” Kris explains.
Maintaining practices like these have helped the couple surpass 25,000 feedbacks during their time of selling on eBay, with a 99.8-percent positive rating. You’d think that would be a high enough rating for these two. It’s not. “[We’re] still shooting for 100 percent,” Kris adds.If you’re considering selling on eBay, have a solid idea of what selling price—and turnover rate—you can realistically expect
He says they accept returns on everything they sell, for any reason.
“I think, especially with suits and sport jackets, it provides a level of comfort to know that you aren’t going to be stuck with something that doesn’t fit well,” he notes. “I’m sure this does put sellers of these types of goods who do not allow returns at a disadvantage.”
Tending to a global business
Kris says the best thing about selling online is reaching customers from around the world. The toughest challenge is disconnecting from the business. He explains that even when the family is on vacation, he or his wife has to make time to check email for possible messages from buyers.
They also have to take time to work with shoppers who don’t have a lot of experience buying suits, and aren’t sure what will fit. “It’s common for us to get inquiries along the line of, ‘I’m 170 pounds and wear a large shirt. What size suit do I wear?'” he explains.
Still, he and his wife answer those questions and the many others they get daily. He notes that shoppers get “antsy very quickly if emails aren’t returned, regardless of when sent.”
With more than 10 years of experience selling on eBay, we asked Kris to share some advice with us that may help newer sellers.
“The No. 1 piece of advice I would give someone thinking about selling online is to strongly consider finding a niche market in which to sell,” he tells us. “If you try to invest in a large amount of inventory, comprised of the types of items which have already flooded the Internet, you’re looking at very long odds to be successful. If you’re considering selling on eBay, it’s imperative that you have a really solid idea of what selling price—and turnover rate—you can realistically expect for whatever goods you are considering.”