About Reflections of Trinity
Founded in 2000, Reflections of Trinity Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit led by Laurie Wong. At its roots, Reflections of Trinity was an annual used clothing sale to support Christian education at Trinity Chapel Church of God. The annual sales were so successful, the organization opened a physical store in downtown Powder Springs, Georgia, in 2003, selling a variety of goods including quality used and new clothing, shoes, accessories, household items, and furniture.
Reflections of Trinity has evolved to encompass four separate divisions: a warehouse, retail store, eBay store, and the Team 58 Food Pantry, which offers free weekly grocery boxes to those in need. The nonprofit is operated by 15 employees and 35 core volunteers.
When Laurie Wong founded Reflections of Trinity, nearly 20 percent of the residents in Powder Springs were living below the poverty line. There was no agency located in Powder Springs to address those needs, so the charity began in response to that need.
Since 2012, Reflections of Trinity has operated the Team 58 Food Pantry, with a mission to offer free weekly groceries to those in need. The budget for the food pantry is $25,000 a month.
eBay for Charity Solution: Direct Selling
In 2005, Reflections of Trinity launched its eBay store to reach a broader national and global customer base. Like its brick-and-mortar shop, the nonprofit’s eBay store sells a variety of merchandise, but with a special focus on offering unique and higher-valued items. Their eBay store offers more than 7,000 products in 24 different categories, and funds about 40 percent of their operating budget.
In July 2016, Reflections of Trinity was named the Grand Prize winner of the inaugural eBay Shine Awards for Small Business, and is featured as one of eBay’s Everyday Heroes, stories of the people of eBay having an extraordinary impact on the lives of others.
Reflections of Trinity has exceeded $1,000,000 in cumulative sales, directly benefitting those in need. Revenue from eBay accounts for about 40 percent of the charity’s operating budget, with the balance coming from the physical store (about 40 percent), individual and corporate giving (about 10 percent each). In 2018 alone, Reflections of Trinity’s Team 58 Food Pantry served 36,951 individuals and distributed 1,609,520 lbs of food.
In the words of founder Laurie Wong, “When folks shop on eBay, and they purchase from Reflections of Trinity, that money is used to purchase food for somebody that’s in need; and for $25, you can feed a family of four for a month.”
Learnings & Benefits
- Follow a standard of excellence. Think about your business from the customer’s perspective and follow a model that wows your buyers with each transaction.
- Be consistent and keep the main thing, the main thing. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals for yourself and exercise the discipline to meet those goals on a consistent basis. When you treat eBay like a business, you’ll get business results!
- Use the eBay Seller Center to make selling on eBay easy. eBay partners with you every step of the way, providing the support you need to be successful.
- Join eBay community groups or connect with eBay on social media. The support, advice, and friendships forged with sellers and staff alike is invaluable and can significantly shorten your learning curve and boost the success of your business! The knowledge you need to succeed is at your fingertips.
From Laurie: “We started our eBay business back in 2005 on a wing and a prayer. The Reflections of Trinity charity thrift store was only 2 years old when a friend said, ‘You really need to take this online.’ We’re off the beaten path and we needed more foot traffic. I had no earthly idea how to start an eBay business and in those days, there was no YouTube! But with the help of my friend, we took that step. I’ve never regretted it. Selling on eBay for Charity has changed the entire trajectory of this charity. We have gone from just providing clothing and household goods to those in need in the local community to serving those in crisis with food and basic needs in 39 counties in Georgia.”