TEACHER'S PET Schoolboy builds £15k a year eBay empire selling kids toys

Tommy Howard, 14, from Devon, sends his toys all over the world and works on his business after school

04 February 2019 - 16:39

MOO-VE over, Alan Sugar - a pint-sized schoolboy wants to be Britain's next business mogul after starting an online toy shop empire from his family's farm.

Tommy Howard, 14, from Hawkchurch, Devon, ships foam-shooting Nerf guns and other toys all over the world after he gets home from school - and he turns over £15,000 a year.

His eBay shop, named Dog In A Box after his pet pooch Oreo, made an impressive £6,000 profit in 2018, its first year in business.

Savvy Tommy does all the work himself, including ringing up manufacturers and liaising with wholesalers.

He even cycles after school everyday to take packages to the postman using a trailer he attaches to the back of his bike.

Tommy now fulfils around 70 orders a week and keeps 1,000 products in stock in his "warehouse" - which is actually an old milking parlour on the farm.

 Tommy cycles to the postbox after school everyday to meet his local postman so that he can fulfil his orders
SWNS:South West News Service
Tommy cycles to the postbox after school everyday to meet his local postman so that he can fulfil his orders
 Tommy keeps 1,000 toys in stock in the old milking parlour on his family's farm
SWNS:South West News Service
Tommy keeps 1,000 toys in stock in the old milking parlour on his family's farm

Year 10 student Tommy, who dreams of opening warehouse shops all over the country, said: "People may question my age but to that I would say 'Why not?'

"I'm passionate and capable and that's what you need in business.

"I'm probably more capable than some adults."

'I thought it was a glitch - but I really had sold 34 items in one day'

Tommy got the idea when his little brother Jamie, now 12, put a £35 Nerf gun on his birthday list two years ago.

The thrifty entrepreneur realised you could buy a secondhand bundle of the toys on marketplace Gumtree for just £19.

To buy his first batch of weapons, Tommy sold chicken eggs from his family farm.

He then reinvested the money to buy new stock, using his pocket money as an extra cash injection.

He priced each of the secondhand Nerf guns at between £20 and £30 - and they sold out within a week.

It was only a £10 profit - but he continued to reinvest until he'd sold 1,000 of the foam guns.

Last year, he officially launched his eBay shop and branched out to other types of toy. Now, he mostly stocks new never-been-used items.

 The business is called Dog In A Box and is named after his pet pooch, Oreo
SWNS:South West News Service
The business is called Dog In A Box and is named after his pet pooch, Oreo

Once his business took off, he started ringing up wholesalers and placing huge orders.

He said: "One day I turned my phone on after school and I couldn't believe my eyes.

"It read 'paid post now 34 items'. I showed my dad and we thought it was a glitch.

"But it wasn't I had actually sold 34 items in a day.

"I got home and instantly ordered another 122 units."

Every day the savvy teenager gets home from school at 4pm with only 35 minutes to package up and label his items before meeting local postman Leo at the village postbox half a mile away.

His best-sellers include bubble machine Glove-a-Bubbles, Nerf Guns and play sand.

Tommy never takes a day off and even works over the school holidays.

He said Christmas was a great time for his fledgling shop, with Top Trumps card games among his best-selling items.

Tommy has also learned some hard lessons about business too.

When manufacturer Zing stopped advertising its previously best-selling Glove-A-Bubbles on TV, Tommy saw his orders drop to zero.

He said: "My sales were going up and up and up and then all of a sudden I had nothing."

He added: "I've still got 60 units of them as I've only managed to sell 20 in the past year.

"But it taught me a hard lesson about dead stock. There's no guarantee in business."

Tommy hopes to roll-out Dog In A Box across the UK, making it a go-to destination for shoppers.

He said: "I'm always looking to what else I can add.

"I'm looking to get more technology products listed as everyone could be a potential customer.

"I want to have warehouses across the country similar to Screwfix and Travis Perkins where you have a warehouse in the back and the counter at the front."

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