A Knack for Authentic Restoration
American Antique Hardware, founded by husband and wife duo Sarah and Keith Chilcote, evolved from the couple's love of architectural restoration. As the economy exploded in their hometown, these two observed as charming homes were transformed into condos or "re-muddled" by other restoration companies.
Sarah and Keith wanted to retain the original charm of the houses they restored, but finding authentic hardware proved to be challenging, especially before the ubiquity of ecommerce. They started scouring estate sales, and quickly accumulated a massive inventory. 25 years and over 18,000 transactions later, they are selling to homeowners, restoration companies, collectors, and hobbyists all over the world, all while maintaining a 100% feedback score.
How did you find your way to Bonanza?
It was so many years ago, I don't remember. We were looking for an alternative because eBay fees were eating into our profits too much. Of all the alternative marketplaces, we appreciated Bonanza's mission and how you encourage sellers to pass on savings gained from the lower fees to our customers. Since I import from eBay, I don't spend too much time on Bonanza. I make all of the necessary modifications on eBay and then sync it to Bonanza. The eBay import is by far my favorite tool.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when you first started and how did you resolve them?
We didn't realize how time-consuming it would be to find information about the hardware we wanted to buy. Most sellers do not have enough pictures or helpful descriptions of the items. We found ourselves on the phone regularly to get more information. As a result, we try to be as informative as possible in our listings, including sharing the item's history and any defects that exist. The goal is to equip the buyer with all the knowledge they need to ensure a positive shopping experience. This focus on exemplary customer service has earned us a 100% feedback rating and a healthy stream of repeat buyers.
What has surprised you the most about becoming an online seller?
I'm always amazed at where our hardware is going. All of our inventory lives with us in our home, and to think that they're going to be a part of someone else's home in Japan, Australia, or England is fascinating. I never thought I could sell anything - and online at that! I love researching the history of our new inventory and sharing that with our customers.
If you could start all over again, would you have approached online selling differently? What advice would you share to those looking to enter ecommerce?
Learn to showcase your products professionally. We were constantly surprised at the low quality listings we encountered online. A little work prepping the listings will go a long way in establishing trust with potential customers, especially when you're operating online. Research other sellers who are successful. Study how they market themselves, what they write in the descriptions, and how many images they use for each product.
Short Stories from Sarah...
- What was the first thing you ever sold online? Wow, that was 14 years ago. I think it was a beautiful old mechanical doorbell and Keith had restored and didn't need on the old home he was fixing up.
- When you’re not busy working on your online business, what do you do for fun?Keith and I like to travel and made a trip to Rome last year. We're going to be incorporating the antique hardware business into our travels with some buying trips to the south and east coast next year. We also take time out of our day (online sales hours being so flexible) to stay up on movies and trips to the Oregon coast.
- What is your favorite part about online selling? Tough choice. Either the flexibility of hours - we can close shop on a dime and take off - or building a great reputation in the antique hardware business (we're proud of our feedback).
- If you could get on a plane tomorrow and go anywhere for free, where would you go? Athens. I'd find some antiques to bring back and get a tattoo (my first was last year, a red poppy that reminds me of Rome). Athens would be a honeybee (baklava!).
Today's scavenger hunt item is: something from 2008. Once you find something on Bonanza that fits this criteria, share it on Bonanza's Facebook page. The guidelines to participate in the Facebook contest are as follows:
- Users may participate in all 8 days of scavenger hunts, but you only NEED to participate once to be eligible for the contest.
- Users may post a maximum of twice per day.
- Users must post an item from Bonanza.
- Users may post their own item if relevant to the day's theme.
The winner(s) will be selected at the end of the week, with responses from all 8 days considered. The winner(s) will receive our Great 8 Prize Package. This package includes:
- 1 TurboTraffic Package
- 1 month of Background Burner Personal
- A booth consultation
- Item(s) from your booth featured in a homepage HPL
- A Custom Badge for profile
- An Item feature on Facebook / Twitter
- A Bonanza T-shirt
- A Bonanza Sticker variety pack
Be sure to check back here to find out each day's theme. Happy Hunting!
We want to say thank you for being loyal users of Bonanza. Without your feedback and input, we wouldn't be able to build a site that sellers recommend over Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. This week, we are featuring huge discounts from Bonanza sellers on the homepage. Discounts start at 20%. Don't miss out - check out the homepage for hand-picked lists that feature great deals throughout the anniversary promotion.
We’ll also be offering a steep discount on annual memberships during our anniversary celebration. Enjoy an additional 25% off when you sign up for a new annual membership, upgrade from a monthly membership to an annual membership, or upgrade your current annual membership to a higher annual membership level. Don’t miss this opportunity for huge savings on membership-only features that will benefit your store long-term!