Steve Ratner, the 52-year-old principal of creative service agency, Ivy Creative, is many things to many people—a father, a husband, a commercial producer, a print designer, a brand builder, and more. One other title to add to Ratner’s robust resume: PayPal frequent buyer. Ratner has been purchasing products on eBay since 1998. In fact, Ratner’s collection is so vast that the inside of his entire house is almost completely stocked with products bought from eBay and other consumer-based websites. SMITH talked to the Southborough resident via phone.
SMITH: Why the urge to purchase everything in your house off of eBay?
Steve Ratner: It wasn’t everything. My wife Amy and I purchased many things, but it certainly wasn’t everything. We were building a modern house, and I wanted to have a shot at putting the best quality stuff in it for the first time around. In order to do that, I went on eBay to save as much money as I could, so it was a monetary thing. You can spend $100 on a faucet at Home Depot, or, you can get a really good deal on eBay and put in a $70 faucet instead.
What drew you into the world of eBay?
I’m into modern design, and it was a way of finding items that you couldn’t find anywhere around here in Southborough. And by modern design, I’m talking about chairs, tables, stuff like that. And that’s how I started out.
What do your friends think of all the stuff you buy off eBay?
Oh, they’re fascinated. All my friends say that if they were ever going to be buying a new house, they’d ask for my help. In fact, I have a good friend in New York who’s building a house and asked me for some of the online companies I dealt with when I was building my own house.
So, what would you do if somebody read this article and saw what you did with your house and then decided that they wanted to do the same thing with theirs?
I’d think it’s a great idea. Look, eBay has really made inroads in our society and the way people buy things. I mean, you wouldn’t buy a $50 dresser on eBay and pay 100 bucks to ship it from California. You just wouldn’t do that. But, you would if, say, the item you were buying was something that you couldn’t get anyplace else. I don’t know how familiar you are with modern designers, but there’s a guy named George Nelson who created a bunch of items in the 50s and 60s and these items are the new antiques if you’re into modern design. So, eBay’s a great place to find items like that. You know, very special items.
Would you say you’re obsessed with eBay?
No. It’s just another way of purchasing. There was an incident where my wife and I went shopping for a high-end couch for the house and it was very expensive. There was only one place in Boston that sold this particular couch, and when we went there, the customer service wasn’t great. We didn’t get treated well, and it was just a bad experience. So I went home and knew I would be able to get it someplace else, even if I went to New York. So I went online and found a place in London where I could buy it, and it ended up being one-third cheaper than buying it in Boston. So I bought it in England and had it shipped here. That was a good experience.
Might you know what your next purchase on eBay will be?
You know what’s interesting? I bought some art on eBay—high-end black and white photographs—and it might be something like that. Maybe a black-and-white photograph landscape or something. There are a certain a number of galleries I’ve visited.
What’s your six word memoir?
I don’t need six, all I need is three…less is more.