Okay I do like to talk, I admit it. Good news is that so does Barry and we spend some real time (long time!) breaking down the evolution of Barry’s business and what went right and what went not so right. Barry let’s it all out there and his candid honesty will help you understand everyone makes mistakes, everyone has their challenges and life still goes on. This is part 1 of 2 with some real perspective from someone who had built up a large ecommerce business and lost it all. Then reinvented it again but smarter and more within his control this time.
Transcript: (note- this is a new tool I am trying out so it is not perfect- it does seem to be getting better)
Stephen: [00:00:00] If you’re a subscriber of my e-mail newsletter you would have seen a note from me mentioning that yes I will prep your product for free and I’ve gotten a bunch of questions about that and are like wait wait what do you mean you’ll prep it for free. So
Stephen: [00:00:15] here’s the deal. You know Andy Salomon’s an amazing freedom their sponsor of my show and their courses launching and it’s all new open for a week or two. Just about that and Andy pays me I mean that’s quite frankly if you sign up for his course he pays me. We all know that. I’ve been very clear about that. And to entice you to come through me which doesn’t cost anything additional. We have offered my wife my son and I will prep your first private label product that you develop through his course. Now his course is phenomenal. I’m
Stephen: [00:00:48] in there so you’ll get to see me. You’ll get to consult with me and we can talk about you know what the prep is going to require you’ll send it to our warehouse at our location. We do have a loading dock so that’s going to save you some fees. You don’t have to get a lift gate or any of those things. Your first order up to a thousand units. I am going to qualify it and say you’ve got to do it within six months because I want you to take action.
Stephen: [00:01:09] But here’s the deal. No fees whatever. Know labels bags whatever. That’s your responsibility but outside of that we’ll actually do the work for you. We’ll do a cursory inspection for you and we will absolutely ensure that your product gets there the best way it can. And you know I’m excited about that because I want you to focus on developing a product and then launching it. That’s where the hard work is and that’s where the road is going to help you the most is launching a product don’t worry about packing it up and getting it in there. We can help you with that. And again I’m going to do the first thing for free. How do I make money on it. Well Andy pays me. So I just want to be clear about that and offer that to you. The only way you’re going to get that we are not a prep center.
Stephen: [00:01:53] The only way you’re going to get that is if you joint through my link and it’s on this episode it’ll be on the next couple of episodes. But it’s amazing freedom. Com forward slash momentum and it’s a hyphen. And the word joining the link there. But it’s amazing freedom. Come forward slash momentum with the hyphen join. And if you put that in there you click on that link.
Stephen: [00:02:16] All behind the scenes wizardry will get notified and then to send me a note saying hey I signed up through your link and I want to work with you and your family Steve. First the most success. Everybody
Stephen: [00:02:27] knows that Andy and I have a warehouse 12000 square foot warehouse. So kind of a connected deal anyway but I’m going to do the work myself or my wife and my son. We’re going to do the work for you to get you started off to a phenomenal 2018. It’s only going to last for you know this opening. I’m not going to continue it. And if you have questions send me a note.
Stephen: [00:02:51] You got to do it. You got to take action and this is a chance 2018 to take the money that you made from Q4 and develop a real business a real brand. We’ve all seen those businesses getting sold out and check some of the sites that are selling businesses they’re multiples because they’ve created brand started selling them multiples pretty phenomenal.
Stephen: [00:03:10] And so again the only way you’re going to get that is if you come through my link there’s no extra charge I’m the only one offering it. It’s amazing freedom. Come forward slash momentum hyphen join want to take a chance and thank my other sponsors today two solar labs with scope scope is a phenomenal product men just got done talking about launching a private label product. Well here’s the deal. In order to launch it you need to know the keywords that will work. Scope is a phenomenal tool where you can find the number one number two competitors of the products that you’re launching and find with their keywords are. That’s
Stephen: [00:03:43] the beauty of it. Then you use those. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. You use them because they’re already proven. It’s the proof of concept you’re looking for. So it’s a phenomenal tool. So you go to solar lab stock come forward slash scope used to code momentum momentum and you going to save 50 bucks and you going to get some free keywords. OK so that’s what you want to do. So take that take that course from Andy and now all of a sudden you scope. Right. Use those keywords to help launch that product. That’s where the hard work is. And
Stephen: [00:04:14] then again we’ll prep it for you. And I also don’t want to miss. You know Karen from solutions for e-commerce is phenomenal. I just saw somebody else posting it was John Lawson or somebody else posting a recommendation for her because it’s a phenomenal service. We’ve
Stephen: [00:04:30] used it we’ve used it for now a couple of years. And again we pay the same price.
Stephen: [00:04:34] She does pay me again. We all know that she’s a sponsor of the show but I wouldn’t be recommending her if I didn’t use the services and it’s been a phenomenal service. So if you go to solutions for e-commerce the number for e-commerce dotcom forward slash momentum. You’re going to save 50 dollars a month. Yep. Fifty dollars per month no extra cost and she’s going to do that inventory health report for you were use her for cinema. So back to this private label you’re going to launch a new product will you need to get your listings created. Well that’s what Karen specializes in. So she’ll help you get those listing credit you got variations even better. And what’s very cool is she’s now into Shopify. She can help you with eBay you know launching it out on eBay. It’s just really been a phenomenal service for us.
Stephen: [00:05:18] So again you go to solutions for e-commerce dotcom forward slash momentum save the 50 dollars. Get that inventory Health Report. Start out 2018 with all three sponsors. You know Andy Slamdance corps get in there and get started with the private label product. Use solar labs to help you launch that product right with those keywords using scope and then have Charron manage your account. It’s a phenomenal set of tools.
Stephen: [00:05:45] You’re going to see me in all those groups because we use all those services. Let’s get into the podcast.
Cool voice guy: [00:05:51] Welcome to the e-commerce momentum podcast where we focus on the people the products and the process of e-commerce selling today. Here’s your host Stephen Peterson.
Stephen: [00:06:04] Come back to the e-commerce in a podcast. This is episode 267.
Stephen: [00:06:09] Barry mark or Barry Treebeard as we all know him. This is really kind of different for me. This is I broke this up into two episodes and that was kind of plan. We originally talked about going 3 and it does go a little long special the second episode. But I think it’s a perfect perfect episode series for the beginning of a new year. It’s a new year it’s a new slate. Right. Your taxes will get filed unless you extend them like I did and buy them way at the end but you’ll get there there. It’s a new year to kind of start over again your accounts start over the Amazon clock starts over the eBay clock starts over new tax year as I said. So this is a chance to redo rethink and reorganize. And I think Barry’s a great example of what the potential is.
Stephen: [00:07:03] And Barry’s not done reinventing himself. You’ll hear that in our Talk Talks plural but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns and berries here to tell you that. But you know he created an incredible business before it was. And I think it’s really important to understand that and I think it’s a great time of year to do that. So let’s get into the podcast. All
Stephen: [00:07:29] right welcome back to the e-commerce momentum podcast very excited about today’s guest because we’re going to do it a little different than what we normally do. And when I’ve asked this person to come on it’s to help inspire to help. To help you realize that things don’t always work out. Things get complicated. Life happens things outside of your control. Things are going to change. Like right now Amazon’s evolving faster than ever. And yet if you persevere you can get through it and come out on the other and probably stronger. I going ask that that’s probably going to be my first question. Barry mark or as we all know him Barry Treebeard. Welcome
Stephen: [00:08:10] Barry. I’m doing really well. Is it true that no matter what happens now I don’t know. I guess maybe that’s too general but you do come out stronger.
Barry: [00:08:23] Oh yes definitely.
Stephen: [00:08:25] You think so. I mean I you know maybe there’s some some circumstances where it doesn’t happen but at least if nothing else you’re smarter. Right. You you’ve seen it and so you could you could you know see it again and start to recognize it.
Barry: [00:08:38] Well maybe yes you may. Unlike the proverbial economists on the one hand on the other hand. So on the one hand you learn a lot you learn a lot of mistakes not to make second time or third time around. On the other hand you might be gun shy and risks that maybe in the past you would have taken you don’t take and it’s hard to tell hindsight. But maybe it has struck gold but taking those risks and which are you. Oh it’s me. I see both sides of every action. Yes. You’re saying more and more guns wasn’t.
Stephen: [00:09:15] OK. OK. I get it. Well that also comes with wisdom to back then risk risk was relative right. I mean it’s like yeah I might break something but jeez it’ll heal. Now you break something it’s like OK I’m going have to have a replacement. Sure. Well I’ll show you some of your turns. You’re an old dude you’re so old your soul could be like a stand up routine. Because this is funny but it’s true and I think it gives some perspective. So let’s start out.
Barry: [00:09:46] I’m so old that I’m so old that I used the image that was called the darker net.
Stephen: [00:09:54] Is that really the dark Banat. So this is the way I understood it the Internet. Internet Internet was started by colleges right it was a way for them to communicate is that correct.
Barry: [00:10:06] Sort of that was the second phase the first phase was in the 60s. The government can’t do anything right. It was try to devise a way with think tanks and an agency called the defense. I can remember was called back and and he wanted a way to maintain communications in the event of a nuclear war. Because the way everything was set up with AT&T in the olden days it was old almost like point to point. You had a trunk line from New York to California to Chicago. And the Internet was the amazing thing that people came up with was that you could cut off drastically cut off many parts of it and it would self heal and reroute itself. Initially it was done for that way and then they used it for research. Like you said select colleges because many companies couldn’t afford the huge expense of setting up the giant you know slow speed party line almost. So universities like research universities became members to share data.
Stephen: [00:11:19] And because I remember I actually do remember some of the heavy you know if you wanted really good internet usage you had to go to a university to use it. I mean it was in my lifetime too. I remember that.
Barry: [00:11:31] And remember when you couldn’t do a commercial usage of the Internet because of the non-profit status of the universities. I don’t know it was like a social thing. It was users of the Internet frowned on it and it was a happening in Arizona immigration attorney that advertised or or Perotti themselves on the Internet and it was like there was shame for a little while than ever and after a short time said Oh who cares if it’s appropriate for commerce. Could
Stephen: [00:12:02] you imagine those people now looking where we are with the you know just just to your cell phone. How much technology’s in that cell phone. Right. And you know just thinking you know because we all supposed to have flying cars but so much of what they thought really has come true.
Barry: [00:12:19] Oh it’s amazing. And you just remind me of how our jury rigged the Internet was when it became commercial. There was a you know there are 12 or so nodes where everything is swished on trafficker’s which know one man in the air. It was important that he was either no with DNS which is the master at his book is suspicious it was one note that one of the pioneers ran it and was kept in his apartment the computer. That’s it. And that one day he had emergency surgery. And then after that they figured that we better make it into a real robust system.
Stephen: [00:13:00] Is probably not a good place to keep in this dude’s kitchen or what have you.
Stephen: [00:13:05] You’re so old that you remember computer class in seventh grade.
Barry: [00:13:13] Yes it was a required was required six months of basic programming. It was literally basic programming and we programmed by writing a program is on paper tape through or through teletype machines. I
Stephen: [00:13:27] don’t think most people would understand what a teletype machine is and do your best to explain it because I remember them we had them.
Barry: [00:13:35] It’s hard to explain. It’s basically it’s like almost like a communal computer or a computer as typeset as a typewriter that was connected to a communication line to in this case digital will be called the PDP 10.
Stephen: [00:13:50] I think and it would put holes in paper correct. And certain places and that meant something.
Barry: [00:13:58] Basically we had paper tape and then next year it was still active. We ran out punch cards with the basic theory was computer time was so expensive and the computer could work so much faster than a human could. So if you sat typing in one letter at a time the complete waste of time. And it also you couldn’t have a class of 25 people working so basically it all your work. And then you just shoved it up the computer and said Here it is.
Stephen: [00:14:25] Do my program. You know again think about those people who were doing that and to think of what what. Today we have that we take for granted on your calculator. I mean just hitting certain functions on your calculator have more capacity than these machines did because that teletype machine you had to create a fish if you did the long paper type the reels and then you fed that into another machine you took that off wound it then you fed it into another machine and that that had instructions or whatever it was going to do.
Barry: [00:14:58] Right. That was amazing. So you go into what you just said. I remember all I remember watching Neil Armstrong land of the moon and the computers games or Diddy or Diddy.
Stephen: [00:15:16] Some say never did. I don’t know. It
Barry: [00:15:19] was a good year. Like Waiguru Yeah. Yeah it was pretty good. Szabó as they say not to drop too much with all conspiracies. I mean it’s funny. My father was personally involved in that too many people to get conspiracy like. I mean really all the thousands of people.
Stephen: [00:15:43] And what’s the angle. I mean you know they could they could pop up there today. There’s no value in it so what’s the big deal. Right. I agree with you. So so you watch that as a kid and you remember did that do anything for you inspirationally I mean were you like I’ve got to be an astronaut now.
Barry: [00:15:58] I’m going to be this. Well to me that’s kind of the anti climatic but I was very young not that many years earlier. I was like the the Space Kid. The teachers called on me I knew Gemini and Mercury and I sat up all the information about that I just regurgitated I was the to all of us space but we left the land on the moon of us. OK. Next
Stephen: [00:16:25] will you. But I mean it this is all kind of culminating leading you toward something right. You were fascinated by all this computer technology all the old the. I mean that sounds like your dad was involved. I mean did he help push you that way or is it just because you saw it and it just blew your mind. And that was something that was interesting.
Barry: [00:16:44] Well it is an interesting question. My father was an engineer in the defense business and maybe I inherited a little bit of his engineering traits like efficiency and did not inherit his neediness and the sloppiest most disorganized person around. But I really liked efficiency and computers showed me how efficient you can take processors and make them so much more efficient than you know doing by hand. So that’s what really got me. I was fascinated as around a program for maybe 30 35 years and then I guess got too old and I stopped.
Stephen: [00:17:31] And you were programming in some funky old language which probably are still in use in government correct.
Barry: [00:17:39] I did COBOL Coble’s around. Yeah.
Stephen: [00:17:43] Still I read just last week that the program the new tax law and Colon’s said they are probably the last kind of organization to still use that kind of stuff but you know for them to replace it would be an enormous enormous amount of work.
Barry: [00:18:03] You normally work more. Currently all the bugs have been fixed. The other you know fixed all the bugs but I don’t quite have to compare the Ajdir COBOL to say who has a problem in the biggest systems is constantly evolving and we all suffer. Yeah they do.
Stephen: [00:18:27] And you can’t really afford in tax to have a lot of bugs at this point. I mean they need the money and they need the money fast. They can’t afford to shut down and say well you can pay us next week. We can wait a week and no chance.
Barry: [00:18:39] But ultimately you have to bite the bullet and we’re going to have to skip generations and just get it more efficient.
Stephen: [00:18:48] There’s no doubt it’s coming. And I assume you know this is kind of a relative assumption. But I had some friends pretty high up in the military. They’ve been evolving systems for years right. So they would they would use it use it and they’ve slowly been taking certain things out. And so I think they’re getting closer. OK.
Barry: [00:19:04] So if you are a ICBMs we’ve read recently are all maintained by floppy disk by disk so they can’t be corrupted and the parts are not helpful. I think tanager 11 is being called a flight because we all know that’s funny.
Stephen: [00:19:25] I know you wonder then you know when you come across these things as sellers right. And if you still buy stuff for eBay or whatever. It’s fascinating what you find in people’s houses right. I mean it’s still whatever you want to buy it’s still out there. There are people’s houses that still have this junk in it. You wonder sometimes who buys some of that stuff when you sell it. If it does end up in a replacement you know to one of these kind of organizations.
Barry: [00:19:52] That’s incredible. There is one way or the other. Yes. I listened to a couple years ago theme that tech was amazing the things that buy anything that worked really does work they can get cheap because if somebody wants to buy the car for something someday.
Stephen: [00:20:12] Yeah I knew a guy whose father his job was to buy printers and copiers and all he would do is take them apart and mark the parts some what they were and put them up on a shelf and then his full time job was reselling those parts that was his model. You know just dismantled them. I mean because you got them for nothing taking apart whatever the common pieces are and he would know that putting them up on a shelf. And then when you wanted to buy you had no choice but to buy it from him.
Barry: [00:20:38] Of course was the value add is time and knowledge and place knowledge in place because he had them sitting in that warehouse them when you happened to need it. So that’s what you had to pay for.
Stephen: [00:20:52] That doesn’t work in the quick flip Amazon model model does not work. OK so let’s keep going. So as we’re moving through you know we’re all seeing that Barry’s got a skill set. I guess a direction that he’s going in towards computers seems to be attracted to them enjoys it for 35 plus years. How did you start with the site. How did you retire and start with a side hustle or did did you just start a side hustle to start selling crap.
Barry: [00:21:23] I started selling crap when I was 13. So I never never really work for anybody in my life.
Stephen: [00:21:30] So even as a programmer so you were just doing it as a contractor No I only program for myself. So when you say you program for 35 years that’s programming for you.
Barry: [00:21:44] Yeah jumping ahead a little bit but in the 80s I had my first good business I did a program for myself. Perhaps you might be smarter to do a thing called a four hour work week book in those days and then outsource them too. But perhaps it happens on the one hand is smarter just to delegate and work on my business rather than in my business. On the other hand because I was I was the programmer. Everything was custom made and relatively efficient and very very low cost. So Medicare hired someone going gone out of business by spending hundreds of thousands dollars on programmers because it was Virta all shell programs.
Stephen: [00:22:31] In those days and especially the communication would be an enormous amount right to saying here’s what I wanted to do. When you don’t really know right. As you’re saying because they don’t have experience with it that that would have eaten it up eaten up the time and money. I mean you would have gotten nowhere. Exactly
Barry: [00:22:48] . So I was selling things from 13 onwards. And the interesting thing was that I even think of calling retail arbitrage until last week when I was making notes for this. And I actually went to Europe and England to buy up a coke console cultural items and import them back in this country and sell them made by the wind. It’s a cultural item you’ve got to explain it because that sounds it sounds almost illegal culture right our core consumer culture you know like almost all will say almost like a monolithic pop culture. Right.
Stephen: [00:23:37] OK. So it would have been music related or clothing related or what all the above.
Stephen: [00:23:47] OK. So. So there’s definitely something missing then because when you went to school but what were you going to be. So you were selling on the side. Your dad’s an engineer so you clearly adapted to computers you’re messing with them doing your own thing selling things I gather over over this ARPANET and now that’s funny and funny great story but I’ll get it quite quickly. Because there’s something missing there I’m missing so it’s me it’s me.
Barry: [00:24:16] So basically my father the engineer was he worked for a defense contractor and in the mid 70s they had an Air Force contract and he worked on developing the predecessor to the CPS allowing the satellites they use antennas. And these three antennas broadcasting the signal to jet fighters and they could pinpoint the exact location by the time it took to receive that signal. And so they sent him to Germany to supervise the installation of the antenna systems over there. And so he was ever a year or six months. And so as a special someone treat my parents my brother and I and my brother flew over to visit him and then we traveled over throughout Europe and started buying things at stores and bringing back Burbach and I sold them.
Stephen: [00:25:25] Flea markets OK I was here say Where did you sell him so you sold them locally in your neighborhood. But stuff that they just couldn’t get right because wasn’t the music like that. There was a different type of music in Europe at that time correct.
Barry: [00:25:41] Yeah. Everything was different music. Solus or thing were different. You know it was. The world was not connected but not like it is now. Right.
Stephen: [00:25:52] But there were more leaders over there right. I mean a lot of the music came from Europe. And so to bring that over here you had access to things. Give us an example of something you would bought that you couldn’t get in the US common. Well.
Barry: [00:26:09] Virtually virtually anything everything. Well some of the some of the European markets were much smaller. And yet for the what they called the Common Market in those days before beginning the E.U.. So each country was as a country it was small and yet highly rich and sophisticated and developed. So each country had different variations you might you know that might be a rare record or a rare book or something that was only published in Germany or Holland. And so people collectors want it.
Stephen: [00:26:44] All right so if you were a Beatles collector for example you wanted it in the German version and you want it in the Japanese version and all the different ones and you bring it back that’s cool. So that was interesting.
Stephen: [00:26:57] How did you know that it would sell just because. Because you know people were the collector. I mean did you develop that trade or did you take risks or you know how did you figure that out.
Barry: [00:27:08] All trial and error. Yeah I guess when you’re when you’re like 14 15 before the internet really has time. Basically school and time. And you learn things you read you.
Stephen: [00:27:20] Yeah. Where did you research though. It’s not like you could sit there and Google or look up on YouTube and mean would books back to the old collector’s books or antique books. I
Barry: [00:27:31] don’t think that in those days Nygard was just I guess was word of mouth that Izmit met people who people called people and and read about this time actually started a mail order business. Oh the old old fashioned way of printed a catalogue and mailed it out. I think we advertised like and Rolling Stone sometime in the back of it. Right
Stephen: [00:27:54] . Yeah you always had those little ads in the back of it. But but. All right. Wait so what stuff were you selling that. I mean was a particular genre of music or teacher or something. What was it.
Barry: [00:28:06] It was it was General it was so much the you know the the type of product was just pop culture ever whatever it was it was happening place over there in Europe and actually was making enough money to save money. Two years later that you know I finance a trip I had my mother take me to London.
Stephen: [00:28:33] Mom I need some inventory. Could you hold my hand to get me through and get me to customs and get me that way.
Stephen: [00:28:40] I mean that’s that’s crazy to think you know in today’s day and age to be no big deal right. I mean still you’d have to have a parent. But it’s no big deal. That was a big deal. Traveling to Europe I mean that’s like a big deal. There weren’t the jets that are available today. You know doing you know 500 flights 50 different airlines. I mean they were very few and that’s big bucks.
Barry: [00:29:03] Yeah it was it was it was funny because you heard me say before we sent the catalog to zero. Now you’re like this. My father took an interest in the helped me you know did what needs to be done and not to jump ahead of it. When I went to college he actually ran the business for me.
Stephen: [00:29:26] But that’s cool. I mean now it’s a complete reverse engineering usually you know you grew up and you go work in your parent’s business or your grandparents business.
Stephen: [00:29:33] In this case your dad grew up from that corporate job and went to work in your business.
Barry: [00:29:40] Well he literally did. When he retired. But this is this is what he was. You know it is it on the side on nights and weekends was at school. So anyway the other interesting story I was like So you see it’s a theme as being the engineering gene that makes you comeback keeps coming back wants you to understand how things are set up the system the rules. And then I look at them and figure interesting ways through them or around them. It must must emphasize on Amazon. There’s no path around any rules.
Stephen: [00:30:18] It’s a very short it’s a short run. No. Even if you can do it it’s going to be a short run.
Barry: [00:30:23] Yes. One is the one organizational system we care. The penalties are too great that you can go around the rules you just have to follow the rules. There are little nuances like a very quick example of jump ahead. But in the fall of 2006 07 as I’m I come back three times when go you know me which was a sellers conference at Amazon and Amazon participated in those days and you aren’t allowed to sell like you still are not allowed to sell bundles or multi packs of books and media items. And so I asked the that real executives at the top decision makers in those days and I figured out they said it was OK by that time I was dealing directly with the major publishers and they said that the publisher issues nice to the end and you could sell the set on Amazon and that’s what I did for you know for a little while actually had publishers sell only 10 20 copy 10 20 series and you need a nice B.N. that went up and then were you know I was able to sell a bundle before you roll out two bundles he actually it which will jump back to the 70s.
Stephen: [00:31:54] But that’s a clue for the next episode because that those are the kind of things you know when you think about resilience and perseverance Barrie these are the kind of things that you really do have to think you might be you might be right you’re skirting the edge but you’re just rethinking their rules. You’re just saying hey these are your rules as long as I follow your rules then I’m OK. Now once they figure out what you’re doing it sounds like they could change it. But but logically you’re taking the right approach you’re questioning and it does seem like that does seem to be your modus operandi pretty much your whole life.
Barry: [00:32:31] Yeah. Well they change that rule that I found that many rules that were developed in 2002 and three still never have changed. They may have been Bellshill back to the 70s. This was purely accidental. I bought one share of stock in entertainment company in those days and through the cycle of the relation department I was able to get it to when I was in England to go to the warehouse.
Stephen: [00:33:01] Out what they want and borrow from them direct because you were an owner of the company. Yet when to started it. This was. I’m a shareholder. And how old were you.
Barry: [00:33:15] I was 16 and here it is actually the coolest part of the whole thing through the contacts there. I got a tour of Abbey Road.
Stephen: [00:33:24] Oh my God. Did you think about that when you think about these things. I know bringing these notes back and going back through your mind. I mean does it take you right back there.
Barry: [00:33:36] Yeah. It’s it’s amazing. I was also thinking that you know reality like is always there it’s not it’s not all fantasy. When I was in London a few times I missed maybe an hour IRA bombs in the tunnel.
Stephen: [00:33:55] So that brings it home you know. But isn’t that a lesson going forward that really you should take some time and breathe in this business and cherish those moments because there are some cool things happening today right. I know there’s challenges and everything else but there are still some cool things happening in your life if you slow down enough to enjoy it.
Stephen: [00:34:17] And I mean looking back would you would you say that you enjoyed it yeah.
Speaker 13: [00:34:26] Read me. You have to remember as opposed to now when it was connected to the word has entertaining center in their pocket and every instant access to everything everything was moved at snail’s pace. Back then everything like this was so exciting super exciting you know no one else was really doing it like that. Nothing interesting was happening. Now for instance if you want to if need packaging a box or some or some machine to you know make boxes for you or anything on the Internet or YouTube you could get it. If I wanted a piece of plastic in 1975 you might spend a week researching and calling and finding it and you would have to call.
Stephen: [00:35:15] I mean there was no other way home or find a candlelight. And you literally I mean you had to do the research.
Barry: [00:35:21] You know one project wrote one that I used when I discovered you could call the whole company. And in those days there were no. Each region had a whole company. And you can request yellow pages of every city in their territory. And they set it for free. I knew that to find suppliers and ultimately announce themselves.
Stephen: [00:35:46] And everybody would have been in the Yellow Pages and because there really was no way to get your business out there other than there were industry directories you know manufacturing directories and things like that. But man back then that was it. I remember going to the library and going through some of the manufacturer directories looking for a particular thing because that was the only place you could find it. This was before the internet too. Yeah. Ok so so we’re we’re we’re selling locally buying internationally traveling to buy things at that point did you have anybody working for you or was it just you and me and your dad sometimes but he was it was it just you guys it was never it was never was just amazing.
Barry: [00:36:28] You know when you’re small darlings like when I used to do a year I’m saving for taxes and it was like when we sold you know five thousand dollars this year which was great. Fantastic fantastic. Of a young kid we think about and are a person I was like the first day yet.
Stephen: [00:36:50] But remember a car was three grand. You know so I put it in perspective a car was literally three brand new house. So you know there is a little bit of a house would have been under 20000 generally 120000 or so. It is a 5000 is a pretty significant amount of money for you to spend. You know I know that wasn’t a profit for you to spend five grand. Would be tough. I mean that’s a lot of money to spend back then.
Barry: [00:37:13] Oh yes. You could buy a lot of inventory. I would spend it all in my parents house. I would spend yeah hundred hours I’ve looked at like I was crazy swings someone smart funny in those days. So then the interesting thing was Oh my first wholesale accountant with a multinational company I think some were 16 and 17 and that was fast surprise. I had a phone call or the local sales rep knocked them and parents front door one day and said Oh is this X Y Z company gave me a game and I can’t figure out how I can get some of the prepaid or something new.
Speaker 13: [00:37:58] Craig is interesting though is that for many years I had to have boxes to ship my mailers. Right. So a local Pakistani supply company treated me very nicely like a king and I would spend by 100 boxes every six months of the beginning and they took time and they were nice to me and they treated me well. And then fast forward 10 years later they were supplying all my packaging needs you know you know five ten thousand dollars a month maybe.
Barry: [00:38:31] So the lesson that always treat people nice and you never can tell no one will be back to be a great customer.
Stephen: [00:38:39] You know the one you mentioned about them coming to your house that carryover when you deal with certain sales reps when you go to a trade show I do a lot trade shows when you go and you get one of the elderly gentleman USJ gentleman salesperson once in a while you can see it come out of them you know they want to you know they want the location they want to take pictures of the property still and some of those companies where that’s a carry over. I think it’s almost gone but it still of that you know out there it’s just funny to think that in today’s day and age when everything is you know there’s still brick and mortar but there are even digital. I mean everything’s digital that that’s a carry over. So
Barry: [00:39:19] OK the old sales people.
Stephen: [00:39:23] Yeah. So carrying forward and at this point business is good. Are your parents saying that this isn’t a future you still have to go to college.
Barry: [00:39:34] Oh exactly. Is a must go to college period.
Stephen: [00:39:38] The question was I was you know if you really got a call it was well your dad an engineer at that age was pretty rare I mean you know that’s a pretty big deal that he was. He was one of the elite. I
Barry: [00:39:51] mean you know to be fair well out.
Stephen: [00:39:57] I mean he was elite to be about that he was really going to be educated at that age I mean you know that would have been. That’s that was significant.
Barry: [00:40:06] Well put it this way. When I was a little bit older and at his company they were they have sales to get rid of surplus furniture which I needed my my business. You could go in only because you need a security clearance. They were high. I think 10000 employees in one location. Wow and they you know they had like messengers that went on bicycles baskets threaded throughout the place. That’s a good one. So you say elite I guess is a leap but you just you know these people these are the people that accept hundreds of thousands people use like slide rules to get people on the moon. So I guess right the accomplishments were early because they were ordinary everyday people. Another funny story that while the FBI has come around and asked the neighbors what about this guy. OK Antigua’s you know about them.
Stephen: [00:41:08] They still do that actually in this. Well yeah because we live in an area there’s a there’s a presence. And so once in a while you hear from somebody for a reference they’ll be like Hey Steve I put you down as a reference or what have you. Like really. OK. You know you get some questions so still happens at certain levels of security clearance. All right so moving on we’re going forward. Life is good. You’re going to have to go to school.
Stephen: [00:41:34] Were you going to be an engineer or a computer engineer at this. Did they even have my guess. They would have had computer engineers for sure.
Barry: [00:41:40] Well did. So what happened was I never really liked school per se. You know I did really well say now now going to my brother. And he was like well the story and stuff like that. And I held my own. And so I had to go. I like computers like this. So it was only one school undergraduate. In those days there was even they were not enough. But it was it was the golden ticket so to speak. You know the best that could be that was Wharton at Penn.
Stephen: [00:42:20] That’s that’s that’s just not an ordinary school. You have a big deal but Wharton portion of it a big big deal. So
Barry: [00:42:29] going back my usual theme researched in person. When by parents we hear the old who we interviewed like Northeastern and Drexel that work study programs can say I want you out of business. You know the kid out there with my own company you know I just had to. So there was a compromise to school. So I figured out that as a result of those certain schools looking for certain categories of people and you know if you play Trueba for instance or school one you know things like that.
Stephen: [00:43:14] And so there are slots to fill in. If you can meet those boom you can be fit that slot.
Barry: [00:43:19] So I figured out that athletes are highly desirable and there was a special application track for that. So since I was the high school baseball team did fairly well. So I applied that way. Stranger things have happened.
Stephen: [00:43:37] I got accepted when you if you would have just applied just at Michigan this is going to be one of these life lessons if you would have just applied do you think you would have gotten in without all this other stuff.
Barry: [00:43:54] Well that without going on a special athlete track mess without preparing his what I meant.
Stephen: [00:43:59] Oh no way no way. You would have just spent another one. Here’s another one here’s another one here’s another one. But because you figured it out. I mean this is this is a pretty smart move when you think about today’s world with the tactical arbitragers of the world or the precheck or toos or any of the other scraping softwares and all the rest of that stuff. Using the tools and the tools at your time. We’re you know figure out that track and then not exploiting them just doing it doing the work gave you a leg up an advantage.
Barry: [00:44:31] Yes that was exactly what I was. You seeing it more. I think so. I got in there. Yes that’s a lot of concentration skills in those days. And I did OK for a while. But I need to get out here all my seconds. My four cents.
Speaker 13: [00:44:55] So I discovered again that I could I could go to my local community college and the summer and transfer the credits over as absurd as that sounds. I could add you know they were electives in those days. You had to have around education. So I got to take classes in English sociology places like that. So I was able to pick up four classes go on to get out in three years is there for. So had we had those classes over two years teaching even our art photography. I show my portfolio. Our get to get those credits transfer and then in those days is also unique. The university sort of is community service. It had a history class that was broadcast over the Philadelphia TV stations and they also had videotapes of that.
Barry: [00:45:58] And so as it take that class as well and get a credit for that and then I had that one professor young kid that I think he I think had a French girlfriend or something. So I did a pace study on how to import products from France and sold them us. So I was able to get done in three days there are four rituals reminds me of the store I used to import things still into the Philadelphia airport. And there are the boxes back and store them under my bed in my door until I could bring them back to my father’s house.
Stephen: [00:46:39] For him to pack up and ship when the orders came in and this was still at that time still a mail only mail order only you had not dipped into the world of selling online.
Barry: [00:46:50] There’s no online it was 1979 and he doesn’t mind that the story started before I thought of that. One time I got trouble at Penn. I had Katrina that mailing lists with which I stored in a file and that print everytime I want to mail or catalogs which I can’t remember may have been thousands sent under the battle. And you know so someone saw Saddam’s labels coming out of the printer and.
Stephen: [00:47:19] Oh my God.
Barry: [00:47:21] And I think I got a little slap on the wrist.
Stephen: [00:47:24] Yeah you’re lucky he got in handcuffs because they used to block your time right didn’t they measure the time you spent on the computer you had to you know requested and get it approved and all that kind of chance.
Barry: [00:47:34] Yeah it’s worth it. These are more like computer rooms so they have maybe 40 or 50 terminals and are rolling them and try to track. You’re right it wasn’t that strict but it was similar to this.
Stephen: [00:47:47] OK so you graduate early you got this degree. You’re going to go work in corporate America. Right this is you’re ready. This
Barry: [00:47:52] is it not. No chance there myself. Exactly. I just continued the mail order business and then shortly thereafter I you know made it into a wholesale business is stores all over the country were looking for European imports can develop that skill right. You
Stephen: [00:48:14] found a you had sources b you had the tenacity to go and develop these relationships so you develop sources and then a lesson. You know I mean I’m trying to make this relevant for today because I think you know most of this stuff is relevant today.
Stephen: [00:48:28] If you develop good sources for example I’ll give you a good example there’s a Polish Poddar pottery seller in my neighborhood that sells Polish pottery a very specific item. Very specific niche. I mean you’ve got to be who wants that right. However they are a wholesaler. Now they’re not making it here. They develop relationships over there. So I think that logic what you’re describing is still available today. Right. I mean that’s what they do. They’re actually distribute excuse me their distributor that then sells wholesale to other companies and that’s how they make their profit. In between that opportunity you did then still exist today. It’s just the work.
Barry: [00:49:10] Yeah it was interesting. You remind me the major American companies are buying from you were not allowed to blend in much like you just like the ones we not. Like many many brands and 2015 was the year was to what percentage 58 percent of any brand in the U.S. is going to try to be on Amazon or you know sell direct. And in those days because there were a lot of big Ecotrust losses that manufacturers were not allowed to give preference to retail to retailers was a strict thing. Every year all the major companies send us a question here and my retail sales were up 10 percent. I lose my discount. No kidding. So this whole thing now is the turnaround is reeling or. Turned 180 degrees before manufacturers will not allow themselves or I guess not because the Internet you’re allowed to because you didn’t have marketplace dominance.
Stephen: [00:50:22] I wonder why they kept that. I mean first I was mentally originally thinking oh must have been something to do with the war. Because most of the big manufacturers at one point turned off making toys and made gun parts right or machine guns or whatever. But then I’m thinking no it’s probably because of all the people that were employed in the middle there and had influence. And you know whoever made them made those laws would carefully not want to lose that factory in their neighborhood. Right. And that’s probably more like what the reason was.
Barry: [00:50:54] Love was like losing the battery losing the retailer and then having it was really almost like condition went offline. Now factor you have changed you didn’t want to have like say Procter Gamble. Well look at Apple you want to have an apple and apple stores that sort of you know that’s how it has changed in those days you could never do that.
Stephen: [00:51:19] It was illegal but you still see that with Tesla that there are many states where you’re not allowed to sell cars directly to people you must use a dealership and you’ll be like Wait why. That doesn’t make any sense. But you know it’s the same concept OK.
Barry: [00:51:34] You’re the one Kessler right. Yes that’s why I say we open up. A are our people. Biggest mistake of my life. No no it’s lazy and disorganized. I just hired friends from school. And they were relatively good friends was the place where they were was that. I
Stephen: [00:52:04] mean when you look back and think about where it went wrong.
Stephen: [00:52:07] Because I’m sure you’ve been back through this a hundred times thousand times when you think about it like you know I always say that to get from A to B. Everybody has the same path available to them. But there’s all these little intersections right. You know all these little decisions everyday day you’re making a hundred decisions and each one takes off on a little path and you hope to get back right. The shortest pass is a to b but most people never get there. They go out and out and around and come back and do loops and stuff like that. When you think about it. Where was the point where it going all the way back as far as you can where if you didn’t make that choice in your mind you know that that was the thing that thing that led you to a place that of unsustainability.
Stephen: [00:52:54] Let me say it that way. When you know when you know looking back when things go wrong. Right. I mean I know how you are at least my mind. I go back and I think if I did this over it wouldn’t change things because by then it would matter I would’ve ended up here too because it was further back it was further back and further back I guess it to get going.
Barry: [00:53:13] Yeah I guess I guess. I don’t I’m not that good at going back and finding things to say definitely backs off the columnists on the one hand on the other hand.
Stephen: [00:53:29] So it might have been to her. And then again maybe it wasn’t one thing it was that one thing coupled with this one thing coupled with this one thing and then seven out of your control. That’s the perfect storm in that light. OK. All right. Ok so things are going not so good up so good.
Barry: [00:53:44] Well I was going well. I did that for 20 years and we grew to 35 employees and the offices were small ones in three states.
Stephen: [00:54:00] And you were so. I mean tell your sales I mean this is nothing to be embarrassed I mean this is big money.
Barry: [00:54:06] We had grown to five million dollars approximately is we’re Mid-Ohio as the best year. And then well I guess the entertainment picture came along it was good and it was bad.
Speaker 14: [00:54:20] So I started it was bad when it was bad.
Stephen: [00:54:26] Do you think you could have quickly down knowing what you know today could you have been one of those ones that adopted the Internet basically completely shifted your business started that division. Probably moved your employees who were in sales over to sourcing or whatever it was because now it’s a volume issue. Could you have made that transition and would that advance sustainable do you think. I
Barry: [00:54:51] think it’s a good question. Sure I could maybe see a story here. God protects infants and all of. I actually built my own shopping cart that was connected like to my corporate database system. And I knew about security but security presence in emergency. And so that’s when I start one time someone call or email me and said Do you know that your FTB port is being used. Stuart. Oh my God. I said no not now it’s like contact my eyes. Nowadays the ISP was the guy who called and that people knew what they were doing and they said oh you left that port open they will close it. And that was that. But my whole company was exposed to some degree is exposed because there’s virtually no protection anymore or anything else connected to the Internet. Virtually everyone will have greige.
Stephen: [00:56:06] Sometimes it’s just a matter of when. They’re just trying outrace each other. OK. So I want to bring this session to a close but it’s not a good close. I
Stephen: [00:56:16] mean it’s basically say it you lost it all.
Barry: [00:56:21] Basically what happened was you’re right. Maybe the best thing would have been to do with the whole creative destruction and just destroy the whole cell and go direct to consumers the site was doing it as a sideline. But then came a recession and my wholesale accounts just went bankrupt and boom took it out and eyes ears and a thousand dollars here and then it was all over. Now to death by a hundred slashes everything gone. Every kind of excludes gone.
Stephen: [00:56:59] And at that point because of decisions you made to be fair and didn’t make. And many many many many external circumstances especially a huge recession. I mean it would be devastating and then to have all these other companies go under you go out of business and everything you built right.
Stephen: [00:57:22] All the things that you’ve learned all that stuff is gone now. Not really. You know I’m sad and stupid there but it’s like OK. The business is gone but my god the education you got was incredible. So what I want to do is I want to end it there on this sad note and say there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a second coming of Barry that appropriate.
Stephen: [00:57:48] A pretty good way to say it. It’s kind of cool about because I don’t I don’t believe that there’s anyone listening to this who hasn’t failed.
Stephen: [00:57:58] There’s every single person that is listening to us has failed and some have failed hundreds of times right. We all heard those stories of you know how many times Abraham Lincoln fail. You know and then eventually he gets it right or or the chicken guy that didn’t start selling chicken until he was in his 60s or what have you. Right.
Stephen: [00:58:15] All those stories but Barry’s here to tell you that there is life after. And what’s interesting to me is I’m reading lately that Barry thinking about really inventing himself again. And that’s going to come in that second session. So I want to hear and it is awesome. I really appreciate you taking the time. Very kind. For you to be so generous with your time and I really do appreciate it. Thank you.
Stephen: [00:58:42] OK that was a very good ending to segment one of a two part interview that I did with Barry. But I think it’s pretty amazing when you think about all that has prepared him for it. I think about all the different things he did all the experience he had and all the success he had. And what happens to you when you get that. You know I don’t know about you but I know how I am. And so I I’ve become complacent and complacencies a very silent business killer and it allows other things to happen around you and others to happen around you. And guess what they can take in take over your business you not paying attention. You miss the signs that the world is changing and evolving right now. I’m getting messages from people talking about how this Q4 was much more difficult.
Stephen: [00:59:33] Another key force. I agree. And because it’s more challenging however I’m in a group where the people just had their best year ever. So why were they able to have their best year ever. Well guess what they’re working on their business while you’re not. If you become complacent. So I think it’s a great a great example so I’m going end this here right. This was a good place to end it.
Stephen: [00:59:57] But let me tell you there is light at the end of the tunnel maybe a little different than you think. But I think it’s a great example of what can be e-commerce momentum dotcom e-commerce momentum dotcom take care.
Cool voice guy: [01:00:10] Thanks for listening to the e-commerce momentum podcast all the links mentioned today can be found that e-commerce momentum dotcom under this episode number. Please remember to subscribe and like us on iTunes.