This is the story of a 14-year-old boy, named Tommy Howard, who has started an online toy shop empire from his family’s farm. Believe it or not, he is earning more than £15,000 ($19,500) a year.
His eBay shop, named ‘Dog In A Box’ after his pet pooch Oreo, became part of the business in 2018 and amassed an impressive £6,000 profit during its first year. The shop has in stock 1,000 products which Tommy ships all over the world.
All this was first ideated after Tommy’s little brother put a £35 ($45) Nerf gun on his birthday list two years ago, and he realized you could buy a whole bundle second hand for less. So, what Tommy did first, was selling eggs from the family farm to buy his first pile of products. He then reinvested the money to buy new stock.
After selling over a thousand of the foam guns, this smart little boy officially launched shop ‘Dog In A Box’ on eBay in 2018 and branched out to other toys.
What’s more impressive about this little businessman, is that he does all the work himself, starting from contacting manufacturers to liaising with wholesalers.
Talking about his age and how it has affected his business, Tommy says:
People may question my age but to that I would say ‘Why not?’ I’m passionate and capable and that’s what you need in business. I’m probably more capable than some adults.
I used to find people didn’t take me seriously when I first started out.
He even recalled an ‘experiment’ he did with his dad on Gumtree, saying:
I called this seller asking if he would post the Nerf Gun and he just said ‘no collection only’. Then my dad phoned on a separate number and he delivered it the next day! People shouldn’t think because I’m young I can be taken advantage of. I know my stuff!
Pictured below: Tommy Howard inside his warehouse.
Tommy registered his shop as a business on eBay in March 2018 and ordered in 200 different kinds of products from wholesalers. His dad Charlie, who is a 43-year-old engineer, helped him put up shelves in one of their converted milking parlors at their farm. He stores his products on these shelves, but their lifespan there is not so long, as the orders are endless.
He now stocks over 1,000 products, selling around 10 products per day and shipping to over 70 countries.
Every day after he gets back from school at 4 pm and has only 35 minutes available to package and label before meeting local postman, Leo at the village postbox half a mile away.
He has his own sales manager in Cambridgeshire, Jimmy Singh who according to Tommy, is the nicest sales manager ever. He helped Tommy find products that good margins and were selling and Nerf Guns didn’t make it on the list. Therefore, he decided to sell toys as a whole and “my sales manager helped me do just that.”
“He gave me a heads up on this new product Glove-A-Bubbles. They were just releasing TV campaigns going out with it which was going to boost the sales,” continued Tommy.
As for his first wholesale order, it included 72 units of Glove-A-Bubbles as well as some other arts and crafts toys, with him saying:
It was my first taste of what it was like to be a big seller on eBay. I had already bought a £70 second-hand industrial label maker which really helped with the growing orders. I noticed my sales go up almost instantly.
Being interested in customer’s needs and preferences, Tommy made gained a huge amount of money selling paddling pools during last year’s summer heatwave. “I’d buy them for as low as £1.50 and sell them for around £8. I think I sold about 300 in total,” he goes.
Tommy’s sales went up instantly after the TV campaign of the toys, but after three months, his orders started to decrease to zero when the manufacturer Zing stopped advertising. “I’ve still got 60 units of them as I’ve only managed to sell 20 in the past year. But it taught me a hard lesson about dead stock. There’s no guarantee in business,” he said.
Kudos to this little entrepreneur! Keep selling and being the best you can be in your business!