Looking for a way to get rid of all those designer handbags or extra Manolo Blahniks? Head for K Street under the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown, where three St. Albans grads want to convert your high-end stuff into Internet cash.
The beginnings of eSpot, their fledgling eBay reseller, can be traced to the toy-soldier collection of founder Toby Moore’s father. As college graduation approached in 2004, Moore ran into his old St. Albans lacrosse teammate Justin Lesher. Moore mentioned that his dad was looking to get rid of his war-figure collectibles but lacked an outlet to do so.
Within a week of graduation, Moore and Lesher set up shop above Robert Moore’s garage in Georgetown. Initial capital came from selling items for friends and family, including Robert’s toy soldiers.
Nine months later, eSpot moved into its storefront last year, where Adam Vitarello, another St. Albans grad, came on as a third partner.
The new K Street surroundings took more capital than toy soldiers could provide, and the three turned to 15 American Express credit cards to start their business.
Across the country, the niche market of eBay reselling is booming and earned a cameo in Steve Carell’s comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
ESpot operates by taking a percentage of each item sold. If the item brings in less than $1,000, the reseller gets 30 percent of the sale. With anything over that amount, eSpot’s cut drops to 20 percent. There are two caveats: The item must have an anticipated value of more than $100, and unless it fetches $1,000 or more, it must be small enough for UPS to ship.
Online, the partners advertise a range of previous sales, from fashion accessories like a yellow leather Chanel caviar purse for $600 to a JVC video camera for $1,552. Their most successful auction so far was a 2001 Bentley Arnage sold in February for $87,000.
The strangest request Moore’s received? “Someone asked us if we wanted to auction off cemetery plots.
“We had to turn him down,” says Moore. “We wouldn’t have known where to start.”