Charitable Business

Charitable Business

Nancy Meyer

Community Forklift

Hyattsville, MD

6 YEARS SELLING ON EBAY

35 EMPLOYEES

Here's My eBay Small Business Success Story

Community Forklift is a nonprofit reuse center for home improvement supplies. Community Forklift aims to "lift up the community" by recycling and reselling unwanted and salvaged building materials throughout the metro DC region. Since 2011, Community Forklift has also provided $250,000 worth of materials to neighbors in need.

Why did you first start selling on eBay?

Community Forklift started selling on eBay to attract a larger audience for some of our quirkier items. By using the local pickup option, we were able to draw people into our physical store.

Why do you deserve this award?

Community Forklift's name is a metaphor for "lifting up the community." Every day at Community Forklift is a day with purpose. Our retail store diverts tons of material from the landfill, providing it at low cost to our local community. Our workforce is diverse, representing people from all walks of life and backgrounds. As a second chance employer providing a living wage in the DC area, Community Forklift provides good green jobs. A 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the idea of the triple bottom line – people, planet, prosperity – we give back directly to other nonprofits and neighbors in need. These grant programs are the heart of what we do: provide free building materials and appliances to those in need, theater props for your local school or materials for your community garden.

How has selling on eBay contributed to your success?

eBay has become an integral part of our business model. Community Forklift relies on the steady stream of online purchases to boost our annual revenue, which supports our operation. Every item we get is donated, and the money we have raised through eBay directly supports our payroll, benefits and grant programs.

What is your proudest business moment on eBay?

Community Forklift has become the vintage bathroom fixture provider to the stars! In 2014, we had an abundance of vintage sinks and toilets piling up on the warehouse floor. They did not sell quickly and we got very little money for them. Realizing we needed to capture a bigger market, we listed our first toilet and sink set on eBay in "Tang Red." IT SOLD! The woman in New York who purchased it was thrilled. We refined the process: cleaning, photographing and crating vintage bathroom fixtures and since have become the "go-to" source. Our vintage fixtures have been sold for the bathroom of Marvel's Jessica Jones series on Netflix, a Woody Allen film set and the CBS series, Elementary.

Where does the inspiration for your business come from?

Community Forklift was dreamed up by a group of folks who were concerned about the amount of waste in this country, and the impact of joblessness in struggling parts of our region – and they saw a way to address both issues. They decided to focus on the reuse of construction and demolition debris because it makes up such a large share of our nation's solid waste (possibly 30-40%). The organization started with a few volunteers and an empty warehouse. Donations started pouring in as tradespeople and homeowners learned about us, and once we got our business permit and opened the store, word spread like wildfire. Our operation now employs 50 local residents, and we estimate we've kept at least $30 million worth of materials out of the landfill in the last 11 years.

How has eBay allowed you to give back to the charity or cause you are passionate about?

Community Forklift is passionate about our community. Located in a warehouse district outside of DC, we are an anchor in the community and bring people together. We care about the land we are sitting on and encourage reuse through educational workshops and grassroots marketing. Community Forklift is not just a store, but a gathering place, and a valuable resource for the area. We give back to our community by making repairs affordable, reducing waste, promoting reuse and creating green jobs.