The Wallpaper Pirate – Selling Wallpaper On-Line

Disney’s three new pirate movies has resurrected “pirate” as

a fun concept for children as opposed to the not fun making

“pirate copies” of these same movies. The idea of “the wallpaper

pirate” goes back to the 1980’s where toll free 800 numbers were

advertised in the back of magazines.

Customers really loved the concept. They felt they had a

right to shop around for the best price. They had spent all the

time looking through many books in a number of different stores.

Although various sales personnel attempted to help them, it was

the customer who did the real work.

You would not believe how much retail store owners hated the

800 number wallpaper sellers. These retailers believed they were

stealing their customers. The retailers would spend untold hours

with the customers who would then not purchase from them but dial

an 800 number to place the order. It was the wallpaper retail

store owners who called this type of business a wallpaper pirate.

A retail store has expenses that a wallpaper pirate does not

have. Each wallpaper book costs between fifty and one hundred

dollars. Retail store space cost thousands per month in any

location that has any traffic at all. Floor sales staff costs

many hundreds per month.

The costs for an 800 number business includes the cost of

the operator giving out quotes and taking orders. The normal

rate is about nine quotes per order. Now if you lower your

price, you get more orders with less quotes. And if you raise

your price you get less orders with more quotes. So you can go

out of business by lowering your price and you can go out of

business by raising your price. Your variable costs vary with


But now we have the internet and there is no cost to giving

a quote. So now the formula is simple. You rise your price and

the volume goes down. You lower your price and your volume goes

up. Your variable costs are constant.

Right now, anybody who has access to wallpaper can get on

the internet and sell wallpaper on-line. You just give your new

internet business a different name than your present non internet

business and you are on your way. Call it “AAA Wallpaper

Discount”. Put all key words you can think of in your meta tags

and in your page content. Pretty soon you show up on the search

engines. Put together some quick ads and pay per click and you

get instant traffic.

But you cannot compete with the “big boys” because you do

not have access to all books at the best prices, unless, of

course, you sign up for the highest cost book plans for all the


But then again, many of the vendors save their best prices

for stores who invest in inventory. Your investment will be in

the tens of thousands of dollars in inventory to get the prices

you need.

So now your fixed expenses have risen and more and more

businesses use this same model. So those selling at the same

price see their volume dropping because it is now shared with

everyone and their brother (a figure of speech indicating heavy


So what is left is developing a niche market where you get a

few products a really good discount and then sell at a fair

price. Your success is therefore based on picking the product

and marketing that product effectively.

To give a little of my personal experience, I wrote the

software program for Delta Paint in New Jersey in the 1980’s for

their National Wholesale inbound telemarketing business. They

sold wallpaper for one price in their stores and at a lower price

in the back room over the phone. The local customers had no idea

they could get a lower price by calling the 800 number.

I started selling wallpaper myself on the internet in 1997

by using a simple e-mail technique. Later I converted my software

to work on the internet and have been constantly upgrading since


If you are considering selling wallpaper online yourself,

the best advice I can give is to be prepared to change quickly

and often.