Northbrook Businesswoman Recognized as eBay Top Seller, Participates in United States of eBay Seller Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

  • Rep. Jan Schakowski (left), who represents Illinois' 9th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, listens to Finds for You owner Karen Lesak during a meeting in her Washington, DC office on May 8.eBay

    Rep. Jan Schakowski (left), who represents Illinois' 9th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, listens to Finds for You owner Karen Lesak during a meeting in her Washington, DC office on May 8.eBay

 
Andrew Ricci
Updated 6/7/2019 7:43 AM

Northbrook-based Businesswoman Karen Lesak has been recognized by online e-commerce giant eBay as one of the corporation's Small Business Ambassadors, and as a result was invited to participate in the 14th Annual United States of eBay Seller Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

As part of the event, Lesak, owner of the retailer Finds For You, traveled to Washington, DC last month to meet with elected officials on various issues important to her business, including the way that the Internet, technology, and platforms like eBay have revolutionized the way that small businesses operate. Lesak also discussed why it's important that lawmakers keep small Internet-enabled entrepreneurs in mind when considering various public policy initiatives and showcased how eBay has led to the dramatic growth of her small business in Northbrook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The Internet has greatly impacted my business," said Lesak. "It allows me the flexibility to be at home with my family, and we can reach a much larger audience."

Last month, eBay released its annual United States Small Online Business Trade and Inclusive Growth Report, which found that 97% of eBay-enabled small businesses in Illinois export outside of the country, compared to only 1.8% of traditional businesses. These sellers also reach an average of 16 different foreign markets, which is four times that of traditional businesses in Illinois.

Among the specific issues that Lesak and the other Small Business Ambassadors discussed during their meetings with lawmakers are the need for an affordable, universal, and reliable postal service as well as reduced trade barriers, and cross-border frictions.

High shipping costs disproportionally impact small business sellers, consumer sellers, and entrepreneurs who cannot take advantage of scale or their own logistics network. Additionally, because many buyers and sellers live and work in rural and underserved areas, small businesses operating through the eBay platform depend on a postal service that delivers to every corner of the country. And as consumer expectations and industry standards for e-commerce delivery increase, fast and reliable delivery is critical to enable small retailers to compete against larger companies.

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Regarding trade policy, the Small Business Ambassadors highlighted the ways that barriers to trade disproportionally impact small businesses who cannot absorb higher costs or uncertainty as easily as larger companies. These barriers include low international "De Minimis" customs thresholds, which exempt low-value packages from tax and duty collection. Another barrier is tariffs, which hurt small businesses who cannot always adjust their inventory easily to react to them. And finally, sellers urged elected officials to increase the reliability of the international postal system, which is critical for greater and more broad-based small business commerce opportunities.

Finds For You currently employs 6 individuals operating out of a 3,000 square foot office, and exports 10 percent of its products.

In total, 24 small businesses from across the United States were selected to participate in the advocacy day. Each of these businesses will tell their small business story directly to their Representatives and Senators, as well as their Congressional staff members.

Additionally, as part of the advocacy events, eBay hosted a seller showcase at the National Postal Museum where each Small Business Ambassador displayed a sampling of their items. Last year's showcase was widely attended by Members of Congress and congressional staff.

The Finds For You eBay store is available at https://www.ebay.com/str/Finds-For-You-By-Karen.

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