7 questions with Kimberly and Matt Miller from Chief’s Military Surplus

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Matt and Kimberly are a military family through and through. They met while Matt was on active duty and together gained an appreciation for historic uniforms.

They turned this hobby into a business Kimberly could run while Matt was deployed. Now Matt is a civilian, and the two are dedicated to building a better kind of military surplus.


7 questions with Kimberly and Matt Miller from Chief’s Military Surplus

  1. How did you get started selling on eBay?

KIMBERLY: My introduction to the military collectibles market was by Matt. We would go to flea markets in Europe and find some incredibly interesting historical pieces that we could take home and search for, which is really fun.

When we returned to the United States, we also began purchasing common military items for serving military personnel. The eBay store started when we were living in Maryland after we came back from Norway and Matthew was about to roll out again. And we realized we needed a second income.

We had found several avenues to find uniforms at reasonable prices and were able to resell them on eBay.

MAST: We really saw a need because of the price of the new uniforms. Some of them can cost up to $ 600 to assemble. So we found these barely used uniforms that were usable and brought them to the people who needed them.

KIMBERLY: After I started the business, which started in a closet, Matthew deployed for six months in Iraq, and I stayed at home with the two children. I would be working on eBay business while it was deployed.

Then when he got home he was still on active duty, but he went out to thrift stores and estate sales.

  1. What does a typical day look like for you?

KIMBERLY: My daily routine begins with taking the kids to school. When I get home I pack everything that sold the day before because we have a one-day delivery.

We have a daily pickup service so once I’m done putting all the packages on the porch I step out into the barn and that’s where my working day really begins.

I’ll start by answering questions, which usually means taking action for people. Then I’ll start listing, and I’ll continue throughout the day.

Then I pick up my kids from school, and when they get home I go into stay-at-home mom mode and Matt is working on the computer, looking for vendors and bargains on more inventory, to keep the business running.

MAST: Ever since I retired from active service, I’m still trying to figure out what a typical workday will be like for me, to be honest. I started taking the kids and doing things that I didn’t do before.

  1. What’s the thing you would say to yourself when you first started your business?

MAST: I would tell myself to be prepared to take more risks.

The very first time I bought a bag full of uniforms, we didn’t really have the money to do something like this, but we took a risk and it really paid off.

And as the business has grown, it has been one risk after another. And luckily for us, most of them worked and it allowed our business to grow.

KIMBERLY: That was also my answer. Matthew has had a huge influence on me when it comes to taking risks in the business. He’s the risk taker, and I’m the most conservative. It inspires me to keep moving forward and keep growing the business. I do the daily grind. I keep him running, but he’s really had the dream from the start and continues to push me to be more progressive.

  1. What is your secret selling power?

KIMBERLY: Our super selling power would be our customer service. I will not leave a question unanswered for more than a few hours at most. I am always available to answer questions and am ready to do any additional research needed to put together a vintage uniform.

I think this is really where we are different from some of our competition. And we have 100% positive feedback, and we are up to 3000 feedback. This is one of the most important goals – that I keep 100% feedback at all times.

MATT: I’ll add that we have this running little joke where we say, “We’re not your grandpa’s surplus store.” The uniforms and the things we acquire – we spend a lot of time taking them to the dry cleaners and sewing on buttons, trying to make sure what our customers get is ready to go –

KIMBERLY: And historically accurate.

MATT: Yeah. We believe that the quality of our merchandise really helps us stand out.

  1. What is your process for sourcing goods?

MATT: I think the most important aspect when it comes to finding items is not to be afraid to step out of the box. Just talk to people, be they neighbors or friends. Sometimes they find out what we’re doing and they say, “Oh, my grandfather was in WWII, and I have these old uniforms in a trunk. I do not want it anymore. You would be surprised where you would find things.

KIMBERLY: Yeah, we network a lot. If anyone asks me what we do, I tell them exactly what it is and I say, “If you have any uniforms, we’ll be happy to take them off and pay you generously.”

But thanks to eBay, a lot of suppliers found us, and we bought out a few military stores that were going bankrupt. They contacted us and said, “Would you be interested in taking all of our inventory? Yes of course we would! We are willing to buy a lot of wholesale to get the right uniforms which we know will be sought after by our customers.

  1. Which eBay tool do you find most useful? Why?

KIMBERLY: My brain automatically switches to the Global Shipping Program. It is the most useful eBay tool for our business. And now eBay’s new International Standard Shipping has increased our reach to customers outside of the US and made shipping much more affordable for them.

Another benefit of working with eBay for us is that eBay will ship to APO and FBO boxes, where these Soldiers, Sailors or Airmen are stationed remotely. And it’s actually quite hard to find with regular military uniform stores on the Internet.

  1. What’s your favorite quote? Why?

KIMBERLY: One of our favorite quotes is from Teddy Roosevelt, who said, “The best price life has to offer is to work hard for a job that is worth it. “

I think it’s perfect for our business because for us it’s worth giving back to our military community and the chance to work really hard at something that’s rewarding for us. And this is really something important for the military all over the world.

Check back for more seller stories and tips throughout the year on our Announcement panel, the EBay podcast for businesses, and our eBay for Business Facebookand Youtube.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Disclaimer

eBay Inc. published this content on November 11, 2021 and is solely responsible for the information it contains. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on November 11, 2021 05:06:05 PM UTC.


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