Yuuki Shishido has always been passionate about supporting his local community.
For years, he dreamed of owning and operating a Japanese anime store, but living in a small town with a dwindling population where small businesses were struggling to get by meant his hopes seemed uncertain at best. That is, until he began selling on eBay in 2007. With a global marketplace at his fingertips, Yuuki found a world of anime fans hungry for collectible figurines, books, CDs and DVDs. He also found that his customers were just as passionate about sustainability and recommerce.
'In Japan, anime goods are often made in bulk but lose popularity after a few months and are thrown away,' he explained. 'I have always found this practice wasteful, but introducing anime goods that have lost value in Japan to buyers overseas restores value to these collectibles while exciting fans worldwide.'
A collection of anime goods for sale in Yuuki's store.
As Yuuki's eBay store grew in popularity, he began to search for ways to involve members of his community in the expansion of his business. After establishing a physical location in Asahikawa, the second-largest city in Hokkaido, his desire to help create economic opportunities for historically excluded people led him to connect with a disability outreach program. He now works with eight people in his store with various mental, intellectual and learning disabilities.
To match his coworkers' strengths with their abilities, Yuuki has developed a number of different tasks with varying levels of intricacy. For example, those who enjoy repetitive work help with packing materials, and those with good dexterity fold origami paper cranes as gifts for customers.
'I want to help each person find how they can contribute by focusing on their strengths, interests and goals,' he explained. 'Especially in small communities with dwindling populations, I believe we can find a way to work with different types of skill sets and create a better society.'
Yuuki's coworkers help with cataloguing inventory.
Yuuki also is passionate about promoting accessibility and inclusion through his eBay store and sells products made by local artisans with disabilities. One of those artists, Miai, has a mental disorder that prevents her from going outside or connecting with the world, but she still wanted to showcase her art. With her permission, Yuuki sold four of her original drawings on his eBay store, with one buyer writing back, 'I can't wait to see what anime or character this artist will create in the future!'
Sharing that news is one of Yuuki's favorite eBay moments.
'eBay and those four buyers gave so much more than money to Miai,' he said. 'They gave her the hope and courage to pursue her passion. She still helps me with my business, and we smile every day.'
During the pandemic, Yuuki has also begun selling hair pins made by the staff members of a local theater in an effort to attract customers back to the show business. And, of course, he continues to frequent local flea markets and recycling shops in search of anime collectibles for his store.
'Since eBay has allowed my business to thrive, I want to provide as much support as I can to the local shops that are still suffering,' Yuuki said.
Yuuki (left) and his wife Hanae (right) in front of their physical store.
Selling on eBay connects Yuuki not only to his community, but also to history. He sees his store as an extension of a 400-year-old Japanese tradition known as Ukiyo-e - a form of traditional painting that served as one of Japan's earliest forms of mass entertainment and advertising.
'I look at anime goods as the modern-day Ukiyo-e,' he said. 'And by selling collectibles to the world through eBay, I feel like I am continuing that 400-year tradition, which inspires my passion for what I do.'
That passion, inspiration and tradition are just a few reasons why Yuuki and eBay are better together - and why we are smiling right along with him.