Company Timeline

Tom Johnson
Ruby Lane's humble beginning is simple: In 1998, I was collecting 1950's dishes and found it cumbersome to complete a set. Searching shops online was difficult and often proved fruitless, especially since the Internet was in its infancy. With a desire to help others find antiques and collectibles via the Internet with ease, I worked together with my co-founder to launch Ruby Lane. We began at my kitchen table with nothing more than a single server and couple of computers. The idea was to create an easy to use online community of shops that showcased only the highest quality antiques and collectibles, and made us the one-stop shopping destination for them. Starting with just one shop, Ruby Lane has steadily grown to host more than 2,600 shops today with an extensive selection of over 500,000 antique and collectible items.

Our philosophy, as reflected by our shop owners, is to provide the ongoing quality and support necessary to ensure the best possible shopping experience. Our growth is reflective of this continued commitment. In fact, most members of our customer service team are veteran shop owners' as well as regular Ruby Lane customers. Their unique background allows them to answer the types of questions that are unique to our marketplace, and to help ensure the high level of quality control throughout the site.

Looking back over the past 15 years, I remember when the site was first being constructed, we searched for a name that had value, reflected quality, and that was memorable. Each time we set out to associate a name with the site I would be reminded of my mother Ruby and how she reflected all the elements we were trying to convey. By using my mother's name, I have been able to assure shop owners, their customers, and our team of Ruby Lane's high ethical and business standards.

We at Ruby Lane are proud of our accomplishments over the past 15 years and are proud of our customers' successes. Mostly, we look forward to serving our shop owners and their customers' for years to come as we continue to innovate and strengthen our website with their help. A sincere thank you to all of our shop owners and their customers for helping to build Ruby Lane into one of the most respected, and oldest, online venue for enthusiasts of antiques and art, vintage collectibles and jewelry!

Enjoy shopping on Ruby Lane.

Sincerely,
Tom Johnson, President and CEO, Ruby Lane Inc.

Learn more about Ruby Lane's historical events and fun facts by clicking here to watch our 15 Year Anniversary Video.

15 Year Anniversary


1997

Dec: Official Planning for Ruby Lane Commences
Idea for online Antique & Collectibles web site comes together at founder Tom Johnson's kitchen table in his 1906 San Francisco flat. The first equipment includes 2 laptop computers and a two home-built servers. The company is privately funded by its founders; no VC funding is used.

1998

May: Ruby Lane is named after Tom's mother Ruby
Original company names considered include Ruby June and Ruby June & Friends.

August 15: Ruby Lane officially goes live at 3:06pm
The original site hosts Antiques & Collectibles. It also includes a Global Search Engine that extends beyond Ruby Lane. There are 7 shops on the site and 366 items listed. 27 items are sold in the first week.

August: First Shop: Brian Killian & Company
The first item listed was a Regency Arm Chair for $650.

1999

July:Ruby Lane launches its first major promotional campaign by giving away electronics such as digital cameras, and scanners.
At this point the site indexes over 1.5 million items in 2,000 categories, including those of eBay, Antique Networking, Boxlot, TIAS, and their own fast-growing community of shops.

November 1: The Send to Auction Feature added
Ruby Lane begins offering the ability for shops to submit their items directly to any number of online auction sites for free.

May 1: Ruby Lane contracts with eBay
eBay results for Antiques & Collectibles are shown in the Global Search results on Ruby Lane.

August 15: Ruby Lane celebrates its first birthday.
On this date there are 288 shops on the site and approximately 10,000 items listed.

September: Rubylane.com is named one of the top 20 fastest growing sites on the Internet by Media Metrix.
The report places their visitor growth at 38% per week.

October 1: Ruby Lane Drops eBay From Their Antiques & Collectibles Search Engine.
eBay decides to pull agreement as it closes its site off to all aggregators.

2000

June: Ruby Lane signs up its 500th shop

July 5:Ruby Lane introduces Groundbreaking Make-An-Offer Program
Allows buyers to give and receive real time feedback as to whether or not an offer is accepted. To use the program, buyers visit Ruby Lane's site and make an offer on an item of their choice. Using proprietary software developed in-house, the Make An Offer program automatically counters the offer in seconds, based on the criteria set by the individual shop owner.

December: The Arts & Crafts Lane added
Ruby Lane decides that good quality arts & crafts items would blend nicely with the antiques, collectibles and fine art already on the site., Ceramics and glass, handmade quilts, home furnishings, jewelry, and metalwork begin to be offered.

2001

April: Introduces no commission fee structure
The new program consists of a 25 cent listing fee for each item, then 25 cents per month, with a minimum of $15 per month, and no commissions.

May: The Ruby Lane Logo shop officially opens
It offers promotional items to buyers and shop owners.

August: Ruby Lane launches its Auction Counter tool
The tool offers detailed hourly and daily statistics, designed to help maximize auction sales by providing information on when people are viewing an auction.

2002

January: Launch of the first Monthly Finds
The promotional emailing to opt-in subscribers where all Ruby Lane shops may list a single unique item.

Spring: The Arts & Crafts Lane transitions to the Artisans Lane

April: The Shop Participatory Print Ads Program is launched
This program gives shop owners the ability to showcase their individual shops in targeted antiques and collectibles publications for a fraction of the cost of doing it themselves.

May: Launch of Creative Hands
The newsletter which is designed to cater to enthusiasts of Fine Art and Arts & Crafts.

October 1: Closes special Charter Shop program
With 825 shops, Ruby Lane closes its charter shop program to new shop owners. The Charter Shop program rewards shop owners who add or sell 50 items per month with a 50% discount on all fees.

December 11: Ruby Lane becomes a California C-Corp
Ruby Lane incorporates to help manage growth responsibly and to safeguard the continued operation of the business thereby protecting the interests of Ruby Lane and its swiftly-growing community of shop owners.

2003

January 1: Ruby Lane acquires its first full time employee
To date, the only employees were the co-founders, along with hired contractors.

Exclusively on Ruby Lane
February: Ruby Lane launches its Exclusive Program
Program offers heightened exposure to shops who choose to sell exclusively on Ruby Lane.

April: The Quality Assurance Program launched
Designed to ensure that items presented for sale are authentic, and accurately represented.

Summer: Ruby Lane adds Participatory American Style ads
These ads are designed to target enthusiasts of Fine Art and handcrafted items.

August 15: Ruby Lane celebrates its 5-year anniversary
There are 1,397 shops on the site with approximately 200,000 items listed

September 22: Ruby Lane discontinues its Auction Counter service.

October: Ruby Lane signs up its 1,000th shop

November: The site-wide Return Policy introduced
Designed to ensure satisfaction and for the protection of both the buyer and shop owner.

November: The Gift Ideas page is added
This new page goes live in time for the Holiday season.

2004

May: Ruby Lane launches a brand new look
Introduces SHOP.SELL.RELAX, the Ruby Lane Advantage and the new Jewelry Lane which includes Antique, Collectible, and Artisan Jewelry

May 2004: Ruby Lane begins 4-color advertising in magazines such as Martha Stewart Living.
It later adds advertisements in InStyle Home, Country Living magazine and House Beautiful.

2005

October 1: Ruby Lane Co-Founder Tom Johnson assumes the company helm
Despite the woes and closings of some online sites, Ruby Lane has weathered the times successfully. Never VC-funded, the site boasts superior technology, and credits an aggressive, but responsible, approach to marketing and expansion for their overall health.

2006

February 2006: Ruby Lane officially opens the What's This Shop
Shops can post items to get feedback from other Ruby Lane shops on their identification.

April: The Artisan Lane is closed
Artisan Jewelry remains on the site and continues to grow as it becomes part of the Jewelry Lane.

June: Live Help is added
Customers are now able to chat directly with a member of Ruby Lane's Customer Service team to receive on-line assistance.

August: Lucky Magazine names Ruby Lane one of its favorite web sites to shop

2007

March 2007: Ruby Lane launches online video tutorials
Tutorials are designed to show visitors and shops how the site and its many features work.

May 2007: Ruby Lane tests television advertising in limited markets within the U.S.

August: Ruby Lane launches a major site update to the home and splash pages.
Additional Featuring options are included in the update.

2008

January: Launches its blog: Notes from The Lane
This site is designed to complement the Ruby Lane site, offering a wide range of articles on topics relating to antiques & art, vintage collectibles and jewelry, as well as loads of tips on how to succeed as a seller in the online marketplace. It serves as a participatory venue for all visitors, both Ruby Lane sellers and shoppers.

August 15: Ruby Lane officially turns 10!
In celebration of this milestone a series of promotional events were planned throughout 2008.

September: Ruby Lane Revamps the Entire Site
Ruby Lane launched exciting updates to its retail mall including the addition of several new lanes. This new design created a total of thirteen lanes on the site that zero-in on collectibles by category. Buyers are able to search the site with greater precision.

2009

April: Ruby Lane Launches Facebook Social Networking Page
Ruby Lane launched its Facebook page in April to allow buyers and sellers to connect in the realm of social networking. By June 2010, Ruby Lane's Facebook page had more than 23,000 fans.

April: Ruby Lane Launches Twitter Social Networking Page
Looking to give buyers and sellers another avenue to connect in the ever-expanding e-commerce marketplace, Ruby Lane launched a page on social networking site Twitter. By June 2010, Ruby Lane's Twitter page had more than 4,000 followers.

Ruby Is the New Green - Environmental Awareness Program Launched
Antique, vintage and artisan items are by their very nature green. Antiques and vintage items represent the best way to reduce environmental impact. Also, artisan work is generally done by individuals using local resources and reconditioned items. We encourage the use of these items as a means to help local economies and to reduce the waste and pollution associated with industrial production. In Ruby Lane's workplace, we utilize technology to conduct business in an energy efficient manner while continually striving to minimize our carbon footprint. We believe conservation is everyone's responsibility.

2010

April 20: Ruby Lane Launches Ruby Plaza
Launched on April 20, 2010, Ruby Plaza is the sister site of Ruby Lane. Ruby Plaza offers a complete variety of home decor items ranging from furniture, and accessories, to lighting, bedding and window coverings—all in one category. Other categories include fashion and accessories, jewelry, woodworking, toys, and supplies to name just a few. On October 1, 2010, Ruby Plaza had 800 shops and more than 156,000 unique items. Its tremendous growth is representative of an untapped market.

Secret Shopper Program Launched
We are constantly looking for effective ways to improve the buying experience on Ruby Lane. Buyers shop Ruby Lane because they know they'll have a safe and enjoyable experience. Throughout the year, Ruby Lane's Secret Shoppers randomly shop the site and make purchases. They then evaluate the experience based on such criteria as response times and packing quality. If the experience does not meet the standard level that is expected, Ruby Lane staff members work with the shop owner to improve the shopping experience. It has helped improve shopper satisfaction.

2011

Ruby Red Tag 50% Off Sale Launches
The Ruby Red Tag 50% Off Sale is held at different times throughout the year to mark seasonal milestones, during the holidays, and to drive more traffic to the site during slower sale periods. Each 24-hour Sale is a special occasion, not a regular event. The Sale drives additional traffic to the site the week prior, during, and after the Sale. Not only do discounted items sale during the Ruby Red Tag 50% Off Sale but, the sales volume of regularly priced items more than doubles.

Updated Ruby Lane's Blog and Newsletters
Buyers and sellers saw the update of Ruby Lanes blog and newsletters in October. A fresh look, added features, and diverse new content were just some of the design changes.

Migration to Amazon Cloud
In November, Ruby Lane migrated to Amazon Cloud. The new options and scalability provided by cloud computing has allowed Ruby Lane to add tools, and the site to grow its technical capabilities. The site is faster, more stable, and has a new foundation that supports growth.

2012

The Ruby Lane Logo Shop Closes and the Ruby Lane Zazzle Shop Opens
Through the Ruby Lane Zazzle store, Ruby Lane promotional items such as Customized Flyers, Business Cards, IPhone Covers, Key Chains, Stickers and more are available at an affordable price, with fast shipping.

Addition of Pinterest Social Network
Pinterest today is all the rage. Early in 2012, Pinterest cracked the 10 million monthly unique visitor mark faster than any site - ever. The "Pin It" button lets you grab an image from any website and add it to a board. When you pin from a website, it automatically grabs the source link. Ruby Lane boasts many tens of thousands of quality visitors to its site from those participating on Pinterest.

New Photo Viewing System
In June, we launched a new photo viewing software that allows shoppers to zoom-in and out, rotate, and inspect item photos on the site. The software helps shoppers take the guesswork out the viewing vintage and antique items on the site - the result is improved buyer satisfaction.

Reseller Ratings
Buyers are invited to rate their buying experience on Ruby Lane through this third-party service. Ruby Lane maintains an average 9.5 positive satisfaction rate out of 10. Thus, prospective buyers can be assured of a successful buying experience on Ruby Lane.

Amazon Payments
Ruby Lane partners with Amazon to allow shop owners to accept Amazon Payments through their shops. Amazon boasts over 200 million buyers, more than any other online payment system.

Ruby Plaza Closes
Despite many marketing efforts and site improvements, the traffic and sales activity on Ruby Plaza never reached an acceptable level. Ruby Lane made a difficult decision to shut down the site permanently on December 31, 2012. This was not an easy decision, or one that we took lightly. Ruby Lane worked with Ruby Plaza shop owners for nine months in advance of the closure, so that sellers could move their shop data to alternative selling venues.

2013

Ruby Lane celebrates its 15 Year Anniversary
View our 15 Year Anniversary Video.

15 Year Anniversary

Then Now
Number of shops at opening: 7 More than 2,600 shops
Number of items listed on the site at launch: 366 More than 500,000 items are currently listed on the site
Number of employees at launch: none, just 2 founders Number of employees: 20
Number of items sold in the first week: 27 Average number of items sold weekly today: 5,000
Average number of items added daily during the first year: 100 Average number of items added daily in 2013: 2,000