When freshman Zachary Smisor sold “All The Agents and Saints,” to a random customer through his eBay business, never would he have thought that he’d end up hand delivering the book to his Hesston College English teacher.
But that’s what happens when you go to school by day and become an eBay distributor by night.
And Smisor is not alone. Several students at Hesston College have taken to the world of online shopping to make a little extra cash.
Freshman CR Curless began his eBay business in 2012 by selling streetwear and rare men’s shoes. Smisor kick-started his eBay career when he was only 15 years old by selling scentless markers his brother had received for free and wanted to get rid of.
Both were hooked from the start.
“I thought ‘Man this is fun,’” Smisor said. “The customers communicated with me, and I loved it. It was kind of cool to have a customer relationship where you didn’t meet face to face yet you’re states apart and you can bless somebody with stuff that they don’t get in their own state.”
Smisor and Curless both major in business at Hesston College, and the connection to eBay and business values couldn’t be more obvious. Curless says that his professors, David LeVan and Vicki Andres, have been extremely helpful in overall business insight.
“CR and I have visited some during the Exploring Business class, and he was able to connect with several entrepreneurs pursuing businesses in different sectors,” Business Faculty Vickie Andres said. “Hopefully those experiences were beneficial as well.”
Smisor also sees a clear connection.
“Just this week in class, we learned about Winner’s Curse where people bid on something without knowing all the details and they bid way too high,” Smisor said. “And I see that happen a lot on eBay with other people.”
In addition to helping Smisor and Curless fund their college education, eBay has offered many new experiences.
Smisor entered a writing contest sponsored by eBay and placed in the top 20. As a result, he was mentored by a top employee at eBay to mentor him, calling him every other day, giving him tips on how to boost his business. Now, Smisor is a distributor.
“You can get stuff for like a quarter and sell it for $80 to $90. Some favorite things I have sold on eBay are a rare pet food warmer, vintage hard bonnet hair dryers, human hair wigs, encyclopedia sets, hundreds of dolls, vintage ski boots, and a bottle of perfume that only needed to be applied monthly,” Smisor said. “People go crazy about stuff like that, people who had it in their childhood and can’t find it now. They write you letters, give you extra money.”
Curless also attends eBay and local shoe conventions. These opportunities for Curless to improve his networking skills have made him a reputable sneaker vendor.
“Ebay has been an amazing place for my business to take off from,” Curless said.
Still both have to figure out how to balance school and business.
“It’s as many hours as I can possibly put in, so I just work as much as I want to,” Smisor said. “There are some weeks I have school, and I can’t do anything.”
Other students on campus experiment with selling products on eBay. But no student has experienced eBay quite like Smisor has.
“I’m debt-free for college because of a lot of my business,” Smisor said. “But right now I’m going for a house.”
Smisor has always been a businessman, starting a cookie business followed by a chicken business and now eBay.
“EBay has taught me that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” Smisor said. “ It has taught me how to deal with all different kinds of cultures and people. As for myself, it has taught me that people are one of my greatest sources of joy. It is never boring.”