PG&A store owner wins inaugural eBay SHINE award
When Tanya Crew began selling motorcycle parts on eBay to help for pay for college and bills, she had no idea that it would lead her to launching a global business. Crew, representing her company Motorcycle-Works, was recently named the 2016 eBay SHINE Awards winner in the Woman-Owned Business category.
The inaugural eBay SHINE Awards for Small Business program “highlights the efforts and success of entrepreneurs across the country and celebrates the contributions of small businesses on eBay to the U.S. economy,” according to a press release from eBay.
Crew saw the program advertised just hours before the deadline and quickly worked to submit a 5,000-word essay on how she began her business. “I’ve never entered a contest like this in my life, so this was kind of an unusual thing for me to do,” said Crew. “But, it’s an interesting story to me, and I’m really proud of my business and where I’ve taken it.”
In June, Crew got a call from eBay saying that she had been named one of the 15 finalists. The program awarded business owners in five categories (Woman-Owned Business, Growing Business, Global Business, Charitable Business and Family Business) and the overall 2016 Small Business of the Year award.
More than 1,300 eBay businesses were considered in this year’s program. Hal Lawton, senior vice president and head of eBay North America, said: “Our winners represent the best of what eBay stands for: Innovative, fast-growing, global, diverse small businesses that are grounded in their families and communities and work hard every day. I couldn’t be more proud of the sellers we honored.”
While the final grand prize winner was determined by an eBay judges panel, the category winners were selected based on community voting. More than 18,000 voters throughout the U.S. cast about 40,000 votes for the category winners.
Crew was one of three finalists in the Woman-Owned Business category. “I was extremely surprised,” said Crew, who immediately called her husband, and business partner, David Jun to share the exciting news.
“I was ecstatic, and it wasn’t about the fact that I might be selected to win, it was that they read my story, and they thought it was compelling enough to select me. That was something I could feel good about,” she added.
As a finalist, Crew was flown to Las Vegas, where the winners were announced in July. She was awarded a $5,000 cash prize and a package of marketing tools and services to help further her business goals. The prize also included free eBay Anchor Store status for a year, which she usually pays $300 a month to maintain.
Launching her company
Crew began selling aftermarket parts on eBay in 2003, while she was studying computer science at University of California Irvine. A single mother, Crew was working hard to finish her education and support her son. In the first two months of her business, Crew made more than $25,000.
“I never expected to be making thousands of dollars in a few months; I thought I’d make a couple hundred to help make ends meet,” said Crew. “My son and I were living in family housing at UCI, and we were literally living off $16,000 per year.”
The new income was an unexpected but welcomed change, and Crew made the decision to leave school to pursue her eBay business full time. With her new income, Crew could afford a three-bedroom home for her family, a new car and putting her son through college.
While her initial business exploded, Crew said that today’s market has slowed her business, with increased competition and availability of product. “When I first started, it was almost non-existent. We virtually had the motorcycle/powersports [internet sales] industry to ourselves. Now there are thousands of competitors, and we’re all competing selling the same brands,” she said.
Even though she sells the same brands as her competitors, Crew makes a point of standing out from other retailers by providing a high standard of customer service and with product pricing. She responds to emails promptly and makes sure that she or her husband respond to both positive and negative feedback as soon as possible.
“I see a lot of our competitors who sell a lot of products; they’ve got terrible feedback, which is a reflection of their customer service, so that’s something that we take extremely seriously,” Crew said.
With her computer science background, Crew developed a database that she uses to determine her eBay pricing: “I’ve created all these calculations and fields, so that every time I download price files from all our distributors, it gets brought into my database. My database then looks at it to see if there have been any price adjustments in our cost, or maybe the retail price.”
Crew takes these adjustments into consideration, then checks what the new profit margin is and decides whether to make an adjustment to her eBay prices.
“It is incredibly competitive selling on eBay, and there are sellers who don’t realize they are selling their products at a loss. When you continue selling products at a loss and you don’t even realize it, you’re going to go out of business,” she said. “We have our minimum accepted threshold that we’re willing to sell a product for, so we monitor that extremely close. At all times, we know exactly how much profit we’re making on every single sale.”
Motorcycle-Works does business with a variety of well-known brands, including Arai, SHOEI, Alpinestars, Thor and Motion Pro, to name a few. Crew said her No. 1 selling brand is ICON, which is a good example of how successful a dealer can be with a brand that has a good MAP policy.
“We’re one of the top ICON dealers in the world, and they have got a great MAP policy,” she said. “We’re not one of the top dealers because we’re undercutting everyone else; it’s because we provide good service, and it’s a great brand.”
Crew started the business in Southern California out of her apartment and one year later was in a 1,500-square-foot warehouse. Two years ago, Crew and Jun decided to relocate the business to a 2,500-square-foot warehouse in northern Nevada. “It’s just more business-friendly; it’s very difficult these days to run a business in California,” Crew added.
Since the move, Crew said the warehouse has had more walk-in visits in one month than the business had in 10 years in Southern California.
With 13 years of experience, Crew hopes to continue serving the greater powersports community and staying up-to-date with her aftermarket offerings: “With years of hard work and pure dedication to this business, I have earned the trust of thousands of eBay customers and continue to find new ways to improve their buying experience on eBay.”