Whiskertin’s Glenn Miller shares how his custom lighting found a worldwide community of skateboarding enthusiasts.
When Glenn Miller strolls through his hometown of Akron, Ohio, he looks for ordinary things to turn into extraordinary lamps. Whether HVAC ductwork, a skateboard, a whiskey barrel or an old kerosene lantern, he converts his finds into unique lighting fixtures that serve as bold conversation pieces.
Artistic and mechanical ever since he can remember, he launched his luminary career collecting lamps and restoring them to their former glory. More recently he’s found viral success on eBay with his skateboard lights, selling “nostalgia decks” to enthusiasts worldwide.
A participant in eBay’s Retail Revival program in 2018, his lighting business has grown exponentially since then, allowing him to expand his local brick and mortar showroom, hire a staff of five and connect with fans internationally, from Japan to Australia.
Get to know Glenn in his own words, and visit his shop Whiskertin:
A passion for custom lighting “you’ve never seen before”
Before I started Whiskertin, I messed around with restoring vintage lamps. I would go to different thrift stores and find lamps that looked cool and needed repair, grab ‘em and restore ’em to what they used to be or even better. So I’ve always been pretty creative and hands-on, and I’ve always loved lamps.
One day I was hanging out with a buddy who does HVAC, and he had the idea to turn a piece of duct work into a lamp. So we drilled some holes in it, turned it into a lamp, hung it up in his living room and posted it on social media. And wow, we got a crazy amount of support for that. I was like, I think we’ve got something.
After that, people started bringing us things and we would turn them into a light, such as a skateboard or a craft beer keg. The most unique thing that we ever converted was probably a prosthetic leg. That’s when we realized we could really turn anything into a light.
Tapping into skateboard culture
Since then I’ve created all kinds of custom industrial lighting and founded my company Whiskertin. We’re best known for our skateboard lights, but we make everything from pendants to chandeliers to sconces. It turns out people are really drawn towards quality, handcrafted lighting that they can personalize and make their own.
The skateboard is definitely our most popular light. A lot of people want one because they used to have that same skateboard or because they love the pop culture graphics. Many people relate to them in many different ways. A lot of times people will ask, can I actually skate on that? And I say, well, you get one trick so you’d better make it count.
When we first started the business, we would travel around and sell out of the trunk of our car. We even worked out of my buddy’s basement for a couple years. Once we were more established, we opened up our showroom and have only grown from there.
Lighting up his sales, from local to global
In 2018, eBay reached out to us to be a part of their Retail Revival program. It was a training program where eBay taught us best practices for selling online and getting our products in front of everyone instead of just our local community.
Since those early days of joining eBay our business has really grown, and now we sell internationally. We sell to the U.K., Japan, Australia and all around the globe. It’s crazy the reach that we’ve gotten through eBay, we’ve been able to connect with people in the skateboarding community worldwide.
Because our online sales have been so successful, we’ve been able to broaden our product line and expand our showroom in Akron so we can do all of our selling, manufacturing and shipping from one place.
Building a close-knit community
The town of Akron is a very close-knit community and everyone is very supportive of each other. eBay’s Retail Revival program brought a lot of Akron artists and small businesses together. We see them at local vendor markets and some have really prospered.
We love to do collaborations with other artists in the Akron community. Just down the hall I know a ceramic artist. He created a clay base, and then a glass artist made a hand blown glass shade and then we converted it into a lamp. So three local artists all contributed to that piece that someone will treasure for quite some time.
His tips for sellers
Honestly our selling superpower is just to have a good time and use a bunch of puns. We like to laugh with our customers and tell a lot of dad jokes.
We really pay attention to best practices. You gotta make your products stand out on eBay and use great photos with the best angles. You gotta have good descriptions with bullet points that pique a customer’s interest. And you gotta experiment with promoted listings. They put your items out in front of everybody shopping on eBay.
We also stay very organized in our space. It makes things run so much smoother when you know what products you have in stock and where they’re at. And it helps you to be able to ship them on time as well.
Brightening someone’s day — every day
eBay has really changed my life by allowing me to have a little bit more free time and not be in the showroom every weekend. I can get out on my bicycle or motorcycle, and enjoy the outdoors.
I’m super inspired by anyone who’s an artist and is able to take their talents, put ’em out there in front of people and make a business out of it. Because art is very hard.
Every day I come to the showroom, I’m doing something that I’m passionate about and that I feel strongly about, selling lamps across the world. I’m lucky that I get to brighten someone’s day every day.