Below you’ll find a transcript of my interview with a second generation family business owner who attended one of my eBay selling workshops.
I don’t want to give away all the surprises but what I will say is that if a 60 year old business can find new success by selling on eBay, so can you!
To listen to the radio show click here
Danna: Hello, good morning and welcome to PowerSellingMomRadio.com. My name is Danna Crawford, and thanks for tuning in. Those that are listening live, I appreciate you taking the time out of your morning, and those that are in the archives, thank you very much for subscribing to my iTunes channel and to PowerSellingMomRadio.com.
We’re going to jump right in. We have an awesome guest today. His name is Phil Kelton, and I met him at a local eBay workshop here in Ocala, Florida. I found him very fascinating, and he sent me some information to take a look at his eBay store. He definitely sells unique items, and his eBay store is Something Uneek, and it’s even spelled in an interesting way, which is another awesome thing that I thought was cool. It’s Something Uneek. Those that are directly here on my radio show you can click right on the link that will take you right to his eBay stores. He’s been doing shows and traveling across the US, and I can’t wait to introduce him. Thanks for joining me. Are you there Phil Kelton?
Phil: I’m here. Thank you.
Danna: Perfect. Can you hear me okay?
Phil: Yes. I can hear you fine.
Danna: Great. Tell me. You said that a friend of yours had been doing eBay and encouraged you to set up an account.
Phil: Yes. Her name is Jessica. She’s been doing it for years, and she said that it’s another great avenue to advertise my products and save myself a little money from all the traveling. I said, great. She finally got me started doing it. She actually taught me a few little things. Then being a procrastinator it took me, unfortunately, about a year to really get off my butt to start doing it. I regret not doing it sooner actually.
Danna: You’ve been very successful with your website. You’ve been marketing that way.
Phil: That’s correct.
Danna: How long have you been in this business?
Phil: My parents and I have been doing this for probably a good 60 years.
Danna: Wow. Why don’t you describe exactly what you do?
Phil: What we do is we’re kind of like taxidermists. We get animals that come in dead. We don’t kill anything for its hides or anything like that. People send us the animals, and we perform what’s called a necropsy. This is a very basic thing, how we start the business. We perform the necropsy. We go into the animal. We see what killed it. We write up our reports and stuff. At that point, when we’re done with that we take the animal, and we take the hides off, and we tan the hides. We turn them into leather. We clean all the bones up. We rearticulate all the bones back together, and then a lot of those are donated to the educational programs, schools, colleges, or we just give them away to kids at shows and stuff.
The skins themselves, after we’re done tanning them, and they’re turned to leather, we make products out of it. We make money clips, purses, wallets. We understand it’s not for everybody, and we understand that, but our feeling is that if we can preserve the skins for people to see for generations then it’s well worth it. My mom makes jewelry. My dad and I, we hand make knives. We make sheaths and gun holsters. That’s how it all started.
Danna: Wow. That’s really interesting. Your family, you do this together as a family.
Phil: That’s correct. Just the three of us, my parents and I. My mom does the jewelry. We don’t take credit for that. She’s really good at what she does. She doesn’t want us meddling in that, and that’s fine. We respect that. My dad and I, we get along great. My dad’s in his 70s. I’m the one who does all the tanning work, and then when I get done with the hides I bring it into the shop. Then we do various projects. If we’re making knives then we’ll make the leather sheaths, and then we’ll apply the skin to it. We do a lot of custom orders for people. Then we started making so much extra stuff that we decided finally to get the eBay store going. Absolutely amazing. I regret not doing it sooner. It’s just amazing how many more people that we can get to see our product. People ask us all kinds of questions. We like to educate people on it. So far it’s done pretty well for us.
Danna: That’s great. I love your money clips. I like the way you have those designed with their magnetic.
Phil: That’s correct. Those are our design. There’s a lot of ways you can make money clips, but we’re detail oriented. My dad and I when we make stuff it’s more the details than anything. We want everything absolutely perfect, as perfect as we can get. I designed the money clip so that you cannot see the magnets. A lot of money clips that you get when you open them up you can see the square magnets in it and stuff. I came up with a design that hides the magnets. We use rare earth magnets in it, so it gives a tremendous pull force of about 25 pounds. That means you can put a lot of stuff in it. If you don’t have a lot of money, clip a lot of business cards in them.
Phil: You can put them on your fridge and hold your paperwork up, that kind of stuff. They work really nice.
Danna: Your gun holsters are extremely unique. Is that one of your big sellers? My guess, looking at all of your product, is that your gun holsters, because they’re just amazing as well.
Phil: We sell a lot of gun holsters. I would think my knives are the #1 seller.
Danna: Are they?
Phil: Yeah. The main reason is because we custom make them. Generally all the knives are different and unique. I think then that the next two biggest sellers is going to be our wallets and money clips. The gun holsters fall in there, because when somebody buys a money clip, or they buy a wallet or a knife, they’re like, “Let me check out this gun holster too.” The first thing they look at is the knives, because they’re cool. Then they look at everything else. I have to give my mom credit on this. I think our biggest seller, oddly enough, is the jewelry.
Danna: No kidding.
Phil: No kidding. When we do shows, we do shows all across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana and so on. My mom started going with me, and she was making her jewelry and selling it on the side. It got to the point where we started with two tables at a show, we’re at six tables now, and she takes up two of those with her jewelry.
Phil: All by herself. The people come to see her. Even though they look at my products, they like my mom, and they like her jewelry. It’s become really big for her, and she loves it. We’re real proud of her too, because she makes some really fascinating stuff. Then we have the metal castings we do the artwork, and then what we do is we do what’s called a casting, a metal casting of it. Then we can produce a lot more them, and that’s how we keep our prices low. We do the same thing for eBay. It’s one thing, and it’s okay for people who go out and go to flea markets and yard sales and find really good deals. They bring it back, clean it and everything, but I just don’t have time to do that myself. I’ve turned what was once a hobby into a business, and that’s why I like eBay, because we make the stuff, take all the photographs, list the details about it, put it up there. People see it. They ask questions. If they like it, they buy it. Great.
We have a guarantee. If you’re not happy with it, you send it back, and we’ll give you your money back 100%. Don’t even question it. Our philosophy is if the person or the customer was willing to give us the money sight unseen, other than pictures, for the product, and they’re not happy with it, send it back. I’ll give you your money back. I have no problem doing that, none whatsoever. It’s part of doing business.
Danna: That’s right. I love that philosophy. I wish more people thought that way, because it is part of doing business. I applaud you for offering that to your customers. Good job.
Phil: Good case in point was we do a lot of snakeskins and had a customer order a few of the snakeskins. Sent it to her, and she emailed me back saying there were creases in it. I apologized for it. I said, “Send it back. I’ll give you your money back. I’m very sorry about that.” She came back. She couldn’t believe I was going to give her her money back. She’s like, “No. If I send it back to you can you send me some out with no creases in it?” I said, “Sure.” She actually taught me a good lesson. She taught me another way of sending the snakeskins to her where it would eliminate creases. I hadn’t really that was actually the culprit. She sent it back rolled up a certain way. When I saw that I said, “Great. This is how we’re going to do it.” For her inconvenience not only did I send her the skins back, but I gave her an extra one too.
Danna: That’s great. What a great way to learn from your customers as well.
Phil: Absolutely. Here’s what happened in the end, which was really surprising. She was so ecstatic to get the extra skin, and that I would go the extra mile, she turned around and made a $200 order with me.
Phil: Right off the bat. That taught me a really good lesson. Take care of the customers, they’ll definitely take care of you.
Danna: Very good advice. Thanks so much for sharing that, because so many people need to understand how important it is to be not only in business, we’re happy as eBay sellers to be in business, but to go above and beyond to provide that customer service, and you’ll get repeat customers because of it. That’s a great example.
Danna: I just found you on Facebook, so I liked you, by the way. Everybody can go to Facebook and do a search for Dragon Backbone 1, and you can like him on Facebook.
Phil: Absolutely. Danna, apologize for at the moment. I just had an order that just came in. UPS just showed up. I got to help him. I apologize to your listeners.
Danna: That’s okay. That’s part of working at home.
Phil: That’s exactly right. Absolutely love working at home.
Danna: Absolutely. If you need to go it’s okay. I understand.
Phil: No. The UPS guy just brought one of the…
Danna: Oh, it’s UPS. Perfect.
Phil: Yeah. UPS just showed up with a package for me.
Danna: Okay. That’s great. You know what? I’ve done radio shows before and had the doorbell ring and had to go. We just carry on, and that’s the joy and the advantage of working from home, because we can drop everything as family emergencies come up, or a family excitement comes up, or the doorbell rings or whatever.
Phil: Absolutely. I love working from home.
Danna: I do too. Also, just taking a look at your products, you are extremely creative. There’s just so much. I love the camo.
Phil: Thank you.
Danna: The pocket knife sheath. You’ve really done well with those. I saw something had some turkeys on it. Now I can’t find it.
Phil: The turkeys? Yes. The UPS guy just left, so I can now talk to you. What we like to do is always try to think outside the box. The reason for that is because a lot of the things that we make is exotic skins, alligator, snake, zebra, stingray, stuff like that. We know that certain people just don’t like that, for whatever reasons, how they were brought up, and that’s okay. We respect that. My dad and I always try to figure out ways that we can use less skin in our products and try to hit a different market for those people who don’t like it.
One of the things that we do is called layering. We take two thin pieces of leather, and then we dye it. We’ll dye it black or brown or whatever colors, usually darker colors. Then what we do is we’ll cut a pattern in the upper layer of the leather, and in between those pieces we’ll lay a piece of red sea snake in it. We may put a pattern of lightning bolts or some kind of Celtic design, and then when we glue all that together it looks like a mirror image. You’ve got a 3D effect. You get this really nice leather on the outside with this 3D effect.
We’re working right now, next year, on a completely new system. I’m teaching myself the process now where some of our sheaths and even our wallets are going to have a 3D image that we’re going to cut into the leather. If somebody sends me a picture of somebody we’ll be able to cut that image of that face into the leather, and then seal it. It’s going to look pretty close to the picture that they sent me. I’m getting pretty good at it right now. I’m giving myself a little bit more time. That will be the beginning of the year.
The other thing that we’re doing is specialized denim cloth. That’s probably what you saw. People who are hunters, camouflage. That’s a lot of people that love camouflage. What we do is we take denim, and then we press it, and we make it waterproof. Then I make products out of it. I’ll make money clips. We can make wallets out of it, knife sheaths. We do the same thing for the armed services. We get denim with the prints of the United States Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. Don’t want to forget the Air Force. I’d be in a lot of trouble for that one. We make products out of that too. That really works. There’s a whole gamut of things that we can do for folks. If they like the denim, great. If they don’t, and they like the exotic leather, great. If they don’t see something that we have, let me know. I’ll make it for them.
Danna: I noticed in your eBay store you have, is it alligator tongue?
Danna: What do people do with that?
Phil: That’s one of the things, somebody came up to me, because I tan all these hides, and had a lot of alligator heads come in that I needed to process for different stores selling the heads of alligators. When you’re doing that we cut out the tongues, and you toss them. There’s nothing you can really do with it. One day I was wondering if I could tan the thing. It’s really difficult to take all apart. We took it apart. I was able to tan it, turn it to leather, and next thing you know I’m making money clips out of it or knife sheaths or gun holsters, wallets. How many people can say they’ve got an alligator tongue wallet?
Phil: It’s really different, that’s for sure. They’re pliable. I did about 200 this year. I had such an excess of them I thought, “I’ll just put them on eBay and start selling them that way.” Specialized shows that we do I’ll be offering there. That way people can make their own stuff out of it. Maybe some kind of pocketbook. I don’t know. It’s such a novelty item. I thought it was pretty cool. We like it. We sell a lot of them too.
Danna: That’s really interesting. I’m sure you’re aware that Florida has the black bear hunting, did you get into that?
Phil: No. I don’t believe, it’s one thing for the alligators, because we know they have to be controlled. There’s just a population problem with alligators. I’m part of the conservation for alligators here in the state of Florida. Black bears, I just don’t really see them being a problem. That’s my personal take on it.
Phil: It’s not politically motivated or anything like that. I think they should be left alone.
Danna: Right. I know. I agree actually.
Phil: The thing I’m involved in is the python hunt. The Florida Wildlife Commission has got an annual python hunt, and that’s coming up next year. We’re going to be at the Florida, I forgot where. I apologize. The University of Florida, down in Miami. We’re going to be there for the opening ceremony. That will last several months. Then what happens is they collect the pythons down south, because they’re an invasive species. The University of Florida does a necropsy on them to see what they’re eating and what quantities, that kind of stuff. They measure it and stuff. A lot of the skins end up coming my way, and what we end up doing is tanning the skins. The real big ones go back to Florida Wildlife Commission for educational purposes.
Phil: We believe in education. Educating all these kids and stuff. Let them actually touch the stuff. If they see a huge python, then they understand these are not the snakes we need to let go in the Everglades.
Danna: Right. You know what, I love that aspect of it, because personally I am scared out of my wits to death of snakes. The problem is that I was never educated growing up. That’s what the bottom line is, and why I have nightmares about them and everything. I wouldn’t have been so afraid of them had I been properly educated. I think that that’s a good mission for you be on, because it’s like a phobia, a fear that people have just because of not being properly educated.
Phil: That’s correct. We do shows for kids, educational shows. We’ll take live snakes and other animals that we get. We’ll go actually do elementary schools and go in there and teach them about it, let them touch the snakes and see what they’re all about. Teaching them about the venomous ones, the ones to leave alone. That’s our big hype with that. There’s quite a few venomous snakes here in the state of Florida, so we want them to know what those are. So they can identify and recognize it and stay away.
Danna: Right. Have you ever caught a wild dangerous snake?
Phil: Oh yeah. All the time.
Danna: All the time.
Phil: All the time, yeah. People call me up, because we remove venomous snakes, and generally they’ll call me up about rattlesnakes, or water moccasins. We’ll go to their place, and then we’ll take the snake. We have an area that we like to release. No, I don’t kill them. There’s no reason to do that. We find a place that we know there’s a nice habitat, water, and we know there’s rodents around and stuff. They’ll be happy in that area. We capture and release as best we can. If an animal’s been injured, and it can’t be successfully brought back to health, then we’ll have to euthanize it. It’s just the most humane thing to do.
Danna: Sure. I really appreciate, Phil, that you’ve shared all this information with us, and I just wish you continued success with eBay. I’m glad that you found eBay, and that it’s working out well for you.
Phil: Me too. Actually, I’m glad I found you, because you actually taught me some really good lessons. Like you’re telling everybody, my problem is my pages on eBay are like a book. I want to educate people. This is the boa. This is where it comes from. This is what we do, and that kind of stuff. You’re right. It needs to be condensed down. Keep it short. I’m learning. I’m starting to change all that now on my eBay page. It’s looking a lot better. It’s app friendly. That’s what we’re looking to do.
Danna: That’s exactly right. That’s the key, to be app friendly.
Phil: Absolutely. I’m realizing more people are going to their apps. We need to change all that. I can’t believe 25 minutes went by already.
Danna: I’m telling you, I know it. It’s fun, and I’d love to have you back and learn more about what you do. Maybe we could talk to your mom, and she could share some of her jewelry information with us and how she does that.
Danna: That would be awesome.
Phil: I’m sure she would love to do that. I’ll ask her.
Danna: Okay. You have an awesome Thanksgiving. Thank you again for all you do, and I hope to see you again. Now I know who I’ll call next time I see a scary snake in my yard.
Phil: All right. Thank you, Danna, for having me on your show.
Danna: Take care, Phil.
Phil: You guys take care, and we’ll talk to you shortly.
Danna: Perfect. My screen just shut down, so hopefully I’m still being recorded. Thank you, everybody, for tuning in. I’m Danna Crawford. You’re listening to PowerSellingMomRadio.com. Until next time, be sure to check out Phil’s eBay store that is a link direct on the page, or you can go right to his website at DragonBackbone.com. Thanks again, and have an awesome Thanksgiving. Those in archives, stop by PowerSellingMom.com for all of the eBay selling tips that are posted online. Take care everybody, and have an awesome eBay selling day.