Clark Taylor of Covington discusses his eBay business at a retail seminar sponsored by the online shopping giant Tuesday at the Old State Capitol. Taylor launched Tin-Ups, his business that sells collectible metal signs, with $500. He now has customers in more than 100 countries and said he does "six figures" in annual sales. 

Applications are being accepted for eBay’s Retail Revival program, which will train Baton Rouge small businesses how to better sell products online.

Baton Rouge is the fourth U.S. city to be selected for Retail Revival, which launched more than a year ago in Akron, Ohio. The deadline to apply for the free 12-month program is Aug. 21 at ebayinc.com/batonrouge.

eBay to add 40 'work-from-home' jobs in Baton Rouge, partnering with city to help small businesses

The program gives participating businesses comprehensive training, one-on-one coaching from an eBay customer service team, an eBay premium store subscription and promotional support. About 80 businesses have been selected for the program in each of the Retail Revival cities, which also include Lansing, Michigan, and Greensboro, North Carolina.

East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said there’s been “good response” locally to the program. Broome noted more than 75 people registered to attend an eBay-sponsored panel discussion earlier this week on the future of retail. Another 45 or so were expected to attend a diversity in business breakfast Wednesday at Southern University’s Valdry Center for Philanthropy, which featured Damien Hooper-Cambell, eBay’s chief diversity officer.

“Not only will this program help our small businesses thrive in Baton Rouge, but it will show the world all that Baton Rouge has to offer,” Broome said. “And we have a lot to offer in Baton Rouge.”

One small business that has benefited from eBay is Tin-Ups, a Covington business that sells collectible metal signs, advertising everything from Hubig’s Pies to STP oil treatment. Clark Taylor started the business in Colorado, but moved it to his hometown in 2015.

Taylor, who said he started Tin-Ups with $500, has customers in more than 100 countries. “Basically I pull six figures (a year) out of the ether from eBay and I spend it in the local economy,” he said. “I’m the number one customer of a little commercial printer in my hometown and that’s to the tune of $20,000-plus a year to their business. That’s real money.”

Selling items on eBay not only opens up the world as a potential market, but it has other benefits, Taylor said. “You get paid first,” he said. “The money comes to me, then I make the product and send it out. That’s a great business model. EBay provides a platform of trust between myself and the customer base, so if something goes wrong or they don’t like the product, we communicate directly.”

Even before Retail Revival, East Baton Rouge was one of the 10 biggest parishes in the state for eBay-enabled small businesses. The company notes that while traditional brick-and-mortar stores get less than 1% of their sales from exports, 94% of eBay businesses have customers from outside the state. 

Retail Revival isn’t the only program eBay is launching in Baton Rouge. The company also is bringing its eBay@Home program, which hires people to work as customer service employees and work from their house.

Plans are to hire about 40 local people to work in the program. Broome said eBay has hired 22 so far, and training is set to begin in August. Applications are at jobs.ebayinc.com.

Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.