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From being a professional speaker and author to the mayor of what’s known as the “prettiest town in Canada” for four years, and even restaurant owner, Kevin Morrison has quite the story to share. Kevin has always loved the auction business. With an early start in farm and estate sales, Kevin quickly learned that there is a buyer for everything. And he means literally everything—we cover one of his most unexpected items later! We go through the beginnings of Kevin and his partner Pat Foster’s resale business, International Liquidations Closeouts & Auctions, as well as the lessons learned along the way.
After 40+ years in the industry, Kevin has seen auctions migrate online. And more importantly, how not too many years ago, items that would have gone to landfills are now given a new life through reselling. By reintroducing customer returns, overstock, and shelf-pulls to the secondary market, others can benefit.
This Canadian-based operation sells all types of liquidation items and moves $5.5 million of product a year. Kevin and Pat are a small yet mighty team, with one star employee (plus their dog, who is Head of Security at the warehouse). You can follow along on their Facebook for all the auction action you need!
We chatted with Kevin to hear more about their resale business, International Liquidations. In this edition of our Reseller Community Spotlight: Meet Kevin Morrison & Pat Foster!
I’ve been in the business for 40 years off and on. When I was in high school I had a guidance counselor tell me I wouldn’t become anything in life if I didn’t go to college or university. So living on a farm at the corner of our property was a cattle auction house and I used to frequent there quite often. So I graduated high school, hopped on a Greyhound bus, went to Mason City, Iowa, took a two-week course for 14 hours a day, and came home an auctioneer. I had my first sale one month after my 18th birthday.
I ran a very successful business back then doing farm and estate sales. Then life took hold and I kept the auction business part-time. Then my partner and I had a very successful restaurant. Just before the pandemic we had a couple come in interested in buying, we weren’t for sale, but when they made the offer, we sold. And we decided we had to find something else to do. So right in the beginnings of a pandemic, we located a warehouse right down the street from our home, and on May 1 of last year we started International Liquidations. We buy truckloads of inventory and resell through online auctions.
We got a load two trucks ago and were like, ‘Okay, what are these?’ So we had to do a search on the internet to discover they’re fabric toilet seat covers. They’re cushioned fabric toilet seat covers, and we thought they’ll never sell, but we put them in one of our videos. If you scroll down and watch our videos, you’ll see it. And the thing was they did sell and they actually sold to people who are going to use them as Christmas gifts.
The favorite part is every time a truck arrives it’s Christmas Day. I love that. We even announced that on Facebook one day that we can’t wait for the truck to show up today. The truck showed up and the driver had a great big, long white beard. We took his picture and said, ‘See, told ya!’
The least favorite would have to be the attempts at fraud and collection calls. We send one email and I’ll do a follow-up call, and then we just get rid of the person. It doesn’t anger us, but it kind of disappoints us that there are people out there who just don’t understand what real life is all about.
Kevin has multitudes of wisdom to share when it comes to reselling and living a life with purpose. And he even posts some on Facebook as well! Check out Kevin’s “Words of Wisdom” every Monday. Here are some other insights we learned:
Even in the reselling and auction business, this can apply. And for Kevin, his followers and customers gradually turned into a family—some even becoming business owners themselves! The power of living simply and helping others along the way has been a big motivator for their business.
“The more people you can help, you know, not by doing things for them, but showing them, I think by making a difference in their lives, you’re making a huge difference in your own. And I believe that the more you give, the more you get. It works for us. This business has been a reminder of that.”
Having fun is at the core of what International Liquidations does. You can see it in their online auctions as well as in what their competitors say — who in Kevin’s words, “have no idea why we’re in business!” If you’re delighting your customers and providing the best deals? Well, we can’t think of a better combo at B-Stock. In fact, not taking ourselves too seriously is one of our core values, too!
“We actually have people that have told us, ‘I only bought one item today and I didn’t care what I bid on it because I just had to have my weekly fix to see you guys.’”
“When you find the job you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” We’ve all probably heard this quote in one place or another. And for Kevin, these words ring especially true.
“If I’m not having fun, and my partner Pat as well, if we’re not having fun doing something, we don’t do it anymore. We find something else that’s going to be fun.”
As a buyer of liquidation and overstock inventory, it’s important to understand what you’re buying. Many are hesitant because they don’t know what they might end up with. That’s why research is so important in this industry! Take customer returns, if you understand what you’re purchasing and review auction manifests, then there aren’t as many surprises.
“We see you folks [B-Stock] as a business partner in many ways and everything has been great, right from day one. We have no complaints whatsoever. In fact, I think they got tired of me continually answering how wonderful everyone is.”
Check out this Guide to Buying Customer Returns if you want to research more before you buy.
Building trust with customers is important. And that relationship and rapport need to start somewhere. Taking the time to carefully photograph inventory (as opposed to just using stock photos) goes a long way with your customers! And in Kevin’s case, being thorough and showing any damage or defects has actually led to compliments from customers. In the case where some things were missed, excellent customer service and a full refund don’t hurt either.
“People really appreciate the fact that they know exactly what they’re buying and we get minimal returns. And even though our sales are ‘all sales final’, if they do have a legitimate return, we certainly make it right.”
Another takeaway learned from buying customer returns on Walmart Canada Liquidation Auctions was that convenience is key. That means assembly can go a long way. Brand new or discontinued inventory sells, that’s expected. But something as simple as offering an already assembled item, like 16-inch oscillating fans, for example, can be the final push someone needs to bid!
“Quite often on the box, the tag says, ‘Customer did not want to assemble’. We take that little extra effort [assembling them] and they sell like crazy. It’s already done. They take it home. They plug it in. It’s ready to go. They don’t have to take time to figure out how to put it together.”
Being an international seller comes with its own set of rewards, but also challenges. When it comes to shipping logistics, payment methods, and more, you have a lot to think about. We asked Kevin what running International Liquidations out of Canada was like.
In Canada, bank transfers, like Interac’s e-Transfer, can offer more seller protections than a simple credit card transaction. If you’re selling internationally, this can come in handy so you spend less time dealing with chargebacks and more time receiving and sending payments easily via a similar bank transfer service in your country.
“If a company has your credit card number and your security code, chances are you’ve purchased from them. And so the onus is on the business to prove that they did, but unfortunately in the American market, there are more reasons to cancel a credit card purchase.”
A full warehouse doesn’t mean you’re making money. Especially if you have truckloads of product sitting in a receiving area. So in the case of Kevin and his business expanding to a 5,000 square foot warehouse, you want to ensure you’re running a well-oiled machine that is going to be able to process, sort, and sell all that inventory. This even applies to resellers with a home-based operation.
“We know of one reseller that has turned their two-car garage into their warehouse and she sells totally online. And they both have decent jobs – they do this for fun, the kids are getting involved. But they’ll buy two or three skids [pallets] at a time. They sort it, they put it on shelves, they get it online and then they get two or three more [pallets]. They actually looked at doing this for vacation money and they’re actually turning it into a full-time income.”
There are always things you wish you knew sooner before getting started. For resellers, this is oftentimes related to finding a steady supply of inventory to sell. With the industry expanding more and more, as well as more people getting involved, prices can get higher. So staying focused on your bottom line is necessary.
“I think, for the most part, I mean the industry is certainly expanding and the ones that are going to stand out are the ones that are doing it right. We’re having a blast and the people seem to be happy and we’re happy.”
We asked Kevin what the future of International Liquidations looks like. Here’s what he had to say:
“We’re at the point in our lives, where we take a look out, you know, 10 years down the road, what we’d like to do. And we’re looking at bringing on someone who can grasp this business—to take hold of it and carry it on. Just like we did with the restaurant. We’re the type of people that will never be fully retired because we’re always doing something.”
We hope to see things come full circle for Kevin & Pat! Our mission at B-Stock to empower the entrepreneurs and innovators of commerce is fueled by resellers with this same spirit.
You can check out International Liquidations’ Facebook page where they share videos that promote their upcoming sales. Regular online auctions are held Monday night. If you’re in the Ontario area, local pickup days are Wednesday (11 AM-3 PM) and Thursday (11 AM-7 PM). You can also set aside some time to visit their newly opened Bargain Outlet located at 1025 Elias Street, London.
B-Stock’s Reseller Community Spotlight is an ongoing series that aims to highlight our unique buyers in the B-Stock network.
Are you a B-Stock buyer and want to tell us more about your reselling business? Let us know and we can feature you in B-Stock’s Reseller Community Spotlight series.