Repair cost leads to online retail | Local News | fremonttribune.com - Fremont Tribune

Summary

When Rob Douglas and his wife, Jeri, were in need of funds to get their van repaired, Douglas decided to sell most of his Star Wars memorabilia.

“I had 40 years’ worth of collecting just sitting in bins,” he said. “I kept my favorites and sold the rest on eBay.”

When Rob Douglas and his wife, Jeri, were in need of funds to get their van repaired, Douglas decided to sell most of his Star Wars memorabilia.

“I had 40 years’ worth of collecting just sitting in bins,” he said. “I kept my favorites and sold the rest on eBay.”

There was such a demand for those items that Douglas was able to get all the money needed to cover the repairs. Once he discovered how profitable online selling was, he and Jeri decided to start their own business.

“We met back in 2007 while playing an internet game called The World of Warcraft,” Douglas said. “Players have to create a character and come up with a name to play under. My character’s name was Zillaan, and Jeri’s was Aelwen. When we needed a name for our online business, we combined the two and came up with Zillwen.”

Zillwen’s Treasures started out as a home business. When toys began filling every room, it became necessary to rent store space.

“We started during the pandemic,” said Jeri, who moved to Fremont after graduating from college in Missouri. “People were doing most of their shopping online, so that made it easy for us to gain a following pretty quickly.”

Their physical location is at 141 E. Military Ave., in Fremont, just east of the Runza restaurant. Most of their stock consists of toys they find at garage sales. They also have books available, several of them about trains.

“My grandfather worked for the Canadian National Railroad,” Douglas said. “So my dad collected a lot of model trains and books on trains. When he needed to go into assisted living, we packed up his trains, his books, and his Boy Scout memorabilia and brought it down here.”

It was while attending a Lego show that Douglas came up with his Build-A-Potato idea.

“For $5, people can come in and search through the pieces we have in stock to create their own version of Mr. Potato Head. Being a huge Star Wars fan,” Douglas said, “I made my own special version: Darth Tater and his Spud Troopers.”

“We love seeing families stop in,” Jeri said. “We enjoy getting to know them.”

Jeri’s son, Zach Bean, also helps run the store.

“He knows current video games and toy lines,” Jeri said. “He’s definitely our Nerf gun expert!”

Douglas added that he enjoys taking Zach to garage sales.

“He spots things Jeri and I miss,” Douglas said. “What’s really fun is to buy something for 25 cents, and find out it’s worth $20. Most people who hold garage sales don’t realize what they’re selling.”

Keeping up with the current demands and maintaining fresh inventory are just some of the challenges the Douglas family deals with.

“We’re halfway between a retail store and a flea market,” Douglas said. “With this type of business, the more you put into it the more you get out of it.”

Two events held in August, John C. Fremont Days and Crazy Days Sidewalk Sales, allowed Zillwen’s Treasures to bring in enough income to cover one month’s rent.

“It would be great to have events like that every month,” Douglas said. “But because they’re annual, we just have to learn other ways to increase our traffic.”

One source that has proven invaluable is the Auction Professor.

“We discovered him on YouTube,” Douglas said. “He has multiple stores and about 10,000 listings with each store.”

By paying a monthly fee of $10, Douglas said he and Jeri have access to all of the Auction Professor’s online tutorials.

“He shows us the right way to list items and which keywords to use to get the best response,” Douglas said. “He also tells us which items are mostly likely to sell and how to price them.”

Douglas has discovered that garage sales and the Goodwill outlet are where to find toys whereas estate sales are more likely to have vintage items.

“A lot of people collect old board games,” Douglas said, “and it’s really fun when we can find the pieces they’ve been looking for. We want to be known as people who listen and will do the search.”

Zillwen’s Treasures currently has about 1200 listings on eBay. It can be contacted by going to ebay.com/str/zillwenspasttreasures.

Repair cost leads to online retail | Local News | fremonttribune.com - Fremont Tribune
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