Overcoming Tough Times With eBay

eBay helped one man overcome major hurdles to create a life and livelihood based on his passion.
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Chris Mitchell's eBay days were far from over when he suffered a stroke in July 2002 that left him in a wheelchair. Mitchell had already been selling items from around his house in Modesto, California, for a year and a half and had grown quite fond of selling on eBay. He even kept his listings running as he headed to the hospital for what was slated to be a three- to five-day stay to correct a birth defect in his heart. "Little did I know I'd have a stroke and be in the hospital for a month and a half," recalls Mitchell, 39. It's unclear at what point the stroke occurred during his scheduled operation. "All I know is, when I got in the gurney, I was able to walk," says Mitchell. "But when I woke up in intensive care, I could not stand."

After the stroke, Mitchell had to hang up his eBay hat for about three months to recover from his medical problems, including a blood clot that landed him back in the hospital. But there was no way he was giving it up for good. "I've never let a disability stop me from doing what I wanted," explains Mitchell. "I was not going to let this stroke win. I was going to beat it and get back to as much of a normal life as I had before." It took him a year to get back to his previous eBay selling pace, due to fatigue and other issues. But eBay helped him tremendously during tough times. "It makes me feel like a productive member of society," says Mitchell. "I feel very independent, as I do almost everything for my business on eBay myself."

Mitchell had been helping his parents and friends sell on eBay, so he took the next step and became an eBay Trading Assistant in 2003. A die-hard baseball fan, he started focusing on sports memorabilia inventory in late 2003, including keychains, bobbleheads and license plates. Mitchell (eBay User ID: powerwheelerchris) often goes out looking for new inventory and loves to get out of the house. He has found that selling sports items lifts his spirits. "It gives me a lot of pride in what I do," he says.

Mitchell reached an even larger pool of eBay enthusiasts when he created a new course at Modesto Junior College. Teaching a hands-on course on eBay there since 2004, he offers insight based on his personal experience selling successfully on the site. He also became an Education Specialist Trained by eBay, giving him increased credibility and listing him in the eBay Education Specialist Directory. His first class was so popular, the college had to add two more classes that semester. The classes are typically full. Says Mitchell, "[eBay] allowed me to build a reputation."

Mitchell believes eBay has leveled the playing field for him, as buyers don't know he's disabled. However, it's clear that Mitchell has done his part in creating the life he enjoys. His triumph over adversity serves as inspiration--Mitchell's abilities far outweigh any disability he's faced.

More from Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur Select: A Fund For Entrepreneurs, By Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs require more than just money, which is why we aim to empower you, as well as act as a catalyst for value creation.

Discover the franchise that’s right for you by answering some quick questions about
  • Which industry you’re interested in
  • Why you want to buy a franchise
  • What your financial needs are
  • Where you’re located
  • And more
Make sure you’re covered for physical injuries or property damage that occur at work by
  • Providing us with basic information about your business
  • Verifying details about your business with one of our specialists
  • Speaking with an agent who is specifically suited to insure your business

Latest on Entrepreneur