In 2010, I was in my second year of law school and desperately needing a break from studying. A friend and I made plans to go camping and I bought some second-hand camping equipment, including an old Coleman lantern. That lantern worked well, but seemed to lose pressure after about 30 minutes and needed to be pumped up again. Though that old lantern had to be babied through the weekend, it was a great camping trip that I’ll never forget.
When I got home, I started looking for parts to fix my old lantern. There weren’t many people selling parts for lanterns back then, so I made my own seal and listed a few on eBay to cover my costs for the sheet of rubber I had bought. Within hours the whole batch of seals had sold. I made more seals that night and sold those within hours. I realized I had stumbled upon the perfect distraction from constant reading and studying for my classes. Within a few weeks I had formed the E.J. Basnett Hardware Company, selling lantern parts, car parts, and hardware.
After law school, my business continued to rock along as a side line while I worked a day job. Eventually other parts sellers popped up to compete with my little company. The E.J. Basnett Hardware Company eventually became The E.J. Basnett Company and our reputation for excellent parts and service has continued to grow. Like most small businesses, there came a point where I had to make a decision. Would I continue to let the business grow and eventually become my day job, or would it become too much of a hassle to continue?
I wrestled with that question for a long time, but I finally came to the conclusion that I love the business of serving our customers too much to ever do anything else. I love knowing that when our customers go camping with their family, a little piece of this company goes with them. I love knowing that every night, a park ranger at Yellow Stone National Park uses a lantern with our parts in it, and that in rural England, fire companies use our parts to repair their civil defense lanterns. I love reading letters from customers who tell us that in a far-away fish market in Thailand, our parts keep the lights on, and that when stormy weather knocks out the power, our parts help keep someone warm and give them light.
As we grow out of a one-room shipping office and into a warehouse (and eventually into retail outlets) we will continue looking for ways to serve you better. To those of you who aren’t Basnett’s customers yet, I hope that you will give us the opportunity to serve you in the future. To those of you who have been with us since the beginning, thank you for supporting us in this journey!