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Vintage Us--The Meaning Behind eBay's Lords of the Fly
Aloha! We're Glad to Meet You!
I'm about to embark upon my 44th Hub here on this remarkable writer's haven, and since a predominant theme that I focus on deals with vintage items that my wife and I sell on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, Yardsellr, Etsy, and a handful of other venues, including local spots, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about our small family business.
About That Funny Business Name
As a child, I was a voracious reader, a trait that--oddly and sadly enough--I don't possess today. I like to think that it's because I evolved from a shy, nerdy island kid into a sophisticated man of the world. Truth be known, I'm still that shy, nerdy kid at heart, and I'm okay with that.
Anyway, I remember hearing a great deal of fuss about William Golding's sociologically disturbing novel, Lord of the Flies. I always had it in the back of my mind that I was going to read that book someday...but, honestly, I have never had the pleasure of either reading the classic or seeing any of its movie versions.
So, right off the bat, I'm placing both procrastinated activities onto my bucket list. My bucket, by the way, has overflowed many times over with projects and ideas I've brilliantly created and--alas!--never developed. I share this with you because if I'm anything, I am a dreamer. The way I rationalize it all is that if I can just bring into fruition just one of my millions of amazing creative thoughts, I will have made a positive difference before I kick the bucket.
Concentrate...you're rambling again. Get to your point!
Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah...
In 1993, a group of friends and I learned how to tie fishing flies. Within a few short months, the entrepreneurial muse who's taken up residency in my psyche ever since I was a little boy peddling fish that my policeman father had speared to old Filipino men at the local cockfights. Okay, think about that image for a while. Consider the socioeconomic and political ironies. It gives you a clue about the culture I grew up in. In a way, the world was a simpler place to live in. On the other hand, the lack of boundaries may have contributed to my personal angst later in life.
You're doing it again. You're rambling. If you don't get to the point, I will.
Okay, okay, okay, superego dude! I'm getting there.
Your version of getting there is by way of the Panama Canal.
Anyway, my friends and I formed a fly tying consortium (the fancy word would surely impress our customers, we thought). Long story short, I was the chief marketer. What that meant was spending a few hours each day browsing through and calling local and regional fishing shops in an attempt to find an outlet for our flies.
I discovered in the process that I really enjoyed salesmanship and marketing. I pocketed the thoughts, feelings, and experiences for future development. Fortunately, this was one bucket project I didn't forget about.
Five years later, my 12-year-old son whom I've always considered to be my go-to Internet techie challenged me to start selling some of my flies on eBay. At that time, the thought of it intimidated me, but what father would embarrassingly admit that to his son?
I can still recall how painstakingly I listed a handful of items. After a few days, the initial bids I'd set were still red (in other words, no one had bid on them). I'm going to lose a lot of money here! (My budget was a mere pittance, but I can be a drama queen at times.)
"Dad, chill!" my son would say. "Give it time! I guarantee the board will light up with green before the week is over."
I had such little faith in the process. But, son of a gun! Sure enough, the board lit up! And though the sales in those initial days were nominal, from the moment I had my very first customer...and then that very first positive feedback...I was, appropriately enough given what I was selling, hooked on eBay!
Eventually, then, I had to come up with a company name. I did some brainstorming one day, and somehow William Golding's title had managed to remain fixated in one of my brain cells. Good thing all that pakalolo indulgence in my earlier years had not corrupted all of my cerebral gray matter.
I simply reversed the singular and plural nouns and found my company name-- Lords of the Fly.
Kindly Share a Few Moments of Your Time to Take This Poll
Would you be interested in selling on eBay?
Why New Vintage-Laden Niches Did Not Result in a Business Name Change
In 2011, halfway through the twelfth year of Lords of the Fly , due to health reasons and disgruntlement with the economic upheaval and general rat race, I retired from my job as a bagel baker in the greater Seattle area and went to work full time as a sole proprietor.
Although I'd sworn to never go to yard sales and thrift stores, the need to supplement fly tying materials and supplies as items to be sold online found me gingerly attending these neighborhood venues.
I can vividly recall how I stubbornly remained in the car while my wife attended an estate sale in Walla Walla. My better half, always the best thing that ever happened to me, found three old and dilapidated issues of Woman's Home Companion and, after calling me on the cell phone, paid the estate sale host the humble sum of $3.
When I saw the issues, I scolded my wife for buying issues that had been cut up. "I can't sell these. No one will want to buy damaged magazines."
"Well, you could have come in and looked around for yourself," she reminded me.
The adage, Necessity is the mother of invention, rang true in this situation. I determined that if I couldn't sell the magazines, I would nevertheless attempt to sell whatever ads I could salvage from the antiquarian issues.
And just as my son had proved me wrong years earlier, my wife's faith in life's possibilities trumped my erroneous thinking. I actually made a sale!
Yes, I know. I can be such an idiot at times.
The very next estate sale we attended, yours truly couldn't wait to get in the front door. I found a couple of vintage craft dolls, figurines, a fancy dominoes set, and some other items. Eventually, I sold all of the items for a good profit on eBay.
From that point on, I was the one salivating to attend all the yard sales, garage sales, estate sales, and thrift shops in town. Whenever we'd go on long distance trips, I would be the first to suggest that we check out each respective neighborhood for buying opportunities.
My favorite fare on YouTube are the men and women who have a passion for visually sharing their fantastic hauls at yard sales and thrift stores. On television, my wife and I enjoy watching Storage Wars, Pawn Stars, Auction Hunters, Auction Kings, and American Pickers. The activity has become a kind of date night for us.
Eventually, then, the inventory in our eBay store weighed heavier on the vintage side than the fly tying hooks category. The vintage niche had branched off into sub-categories--vintage print ads; vintage prints; vintage articles, and even the formation of a contemporary print ads category, and a host of collectibles sub-categories such as figurines, dishes, tin canisters, lunchboxes, Coca-Cola, and related memorabilia.
So the thought came to mind one day that perhaps I needed to change the business name. In a true serendipitous moment, however, or maybe it was just due to my rambling, boundary-less, outside the sandbox way of thinking, I came up with a wonderful marriage of vintage and contemporary.
I'll keep the name! But the meaning will be different.
You know how this current generation--just as we ourselves did in our respective generation(s)--coins new meanings for old words? Well, one of those words is fly . In contemporary colloquialism, it's come to mean that which is very good, excellent, cool, and awesome.
Definitely, my wife and I are still Lords of the Fly.
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Establishing integrity as a writer sometimes involves reporting about the bad (almost) as readily as the good, especially when it's embarrassing to the author. Here's an interesting example of a writer putting this into practice in real time.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
The foremost fly thing about what we do is that my wife and I are our own bosses. The only one we answer to is God. To that end, we deal honestly and squarely with our customers. We bite our tongue when someone orders an ad and then returns it because he or she thought they were getting a watch. We conduct our business in a professional manner even though we're just simple people at heart. My wife remains professionally employed, and I work super long hours to keep the business afloat. But I get to call the shots, and I determine with all the freedom and responsibility in the world what direction the business takes at any given time. Practically speaking, I could spend a couple hours listing my items and then taking a break to do some housework, go for a walk, explore the latest inventory at the thrift stores in town, or mow my lawn.
This coming year, I plan to learn all that I can about search engine optimization, social media strategies, and similar new developments that can enhance our family business.
And, finally, just as I'm doing this very moment in a very cool Starbucks in Walla Walla, I'll be writing about it all right here on HubPages. Thanks to all those who've helped us along the way and especially the fellow Hubbers who have provided me with such great feedback, encouragement, and mentorship. You've all reinforced the notion that true success--whether at the local or global level--takes root in good communication, integrity, and a desire to solidly connect with our neighbors.