From building site to making a mint selling coins

Fed up with working as labourers on a building site, 18-year-olds James Grear and Henry Bishop decided to setup their own eBay business, TheCoinSupplier, and escape their £9 an hour jobs.

However, they needed that killer idea! Who knew that some old change would literally change their lives. 

While buying his lunch one day, James noticed a different looking 50p in his pocket. He wanted to see if it was worth anything – so searched, of course, on eBay. 

The coin, a rare 2011 WWF 50p, sold for eight times its value – and their idea was born.
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The friends launched their eBay store and started buying and selling rare coins – before the craze hit the streets. And were winners of the eBay for Business 2017 Grand Prize Award More here on the prize

Fast forward two years, and James and Henry have turned pocket change into a business that has an annual turnover of £70,000. And, more importantly, ditched their jobs.

Read about this entrepreneurial story from James, one half of TheCoinSupplier

James, TheCoinSupplier

Why did you turn to eBay to start your shop?

“I have used eBay since I was young and used to fix up and maintain bicycles. I would buy a job lot of bikes, fix and service them and then sell them on for a decent profit. So, I always knew that eBay was an option if I wanted to make money.” 

"I always knew that eBay was an option if I wanted to make money.” 
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How did you grow the business?

“Through a lot of hard work. At first, it was spending every evening, after we got home from work, going through large quantities of coins to see if any of them were worth more than their face value. 

“We made sure we expanded our knowledge about running a business on eBay, online marketing, etc, and this paid off as we started to see a decent increase in sales and repeat buying customers.

‘I also made sure that we didn’t put coins up for auction – instead we used the Buy it Now feature – as this made sure we could set our own prices and never sell coins for less than they are worth.”

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

“Being your own boss and seeing that the effort you put in shows in the results and profits. I’ve escaped from the bottom of the food chain and have a direct impact on my future – that’s invaluable to me.”

What does the future hold?

“Profits are good, we’ve recently moved into new offices and the money from the Awards has gone into buying more equipment to make our operation more efficient and profitable.

“We are also keen to keep coming up with ideas and seeing gaps in the market and opportunities to grow and succeed. Our futures are now in our own hands and eBay has helped that happen.”

Why did you enter the eBay for Business Awards?

“The money was a huge driver as we have been saving up for equipment that will help us grow the business. We also wanted the opportunity to meet people at eBay and fly over to the USA. I also enjoyed telling the story of the birth of our company – as we are proud of what we’ve achieved.”

James with Paolo Levoni, COO, eBay UK (left) and Rob Hattrell, Vice President eBay UK

James’s seller tips


Work hard

Make sure you are prepared to put the hours in, success doesn’t come over night.


Insight is key

Do your research, make sure you know the market inside and out – but don’t copy others – carve your own way. 


Don’t give up

If you are starting out and aren't hitting the goals you set, or things aren't going as planned, don’t stop there. Keep learning and overcoming your obstacles. Because in the end quitters never win and winners never quit

Did you know
Idea for the business came from a different looking 50p James found in his pocket

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