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Canadian businessman Allan Caplan got his start selling medical supplies at weekend flea markets. Band-Aids? Right here! Price too high? Instant sale. Not the right kind? What kind do you want? He'll find it and bring it to you next weekend.

Caplan grew a business centered on customer service, wide selection and high quality. "I don't sell anything I wouldn't buy myself."

Now he has brought the same philosophy to the Web; firstaidzone.ca offers more than 1,000 products that were chosen for economy, usefulness and quality. First-aid kits, bandages, braces and supports, scissors, tweezers, surgical and dental tools, veterinary supplies: the site offers all of them and more, most in multiple versions.

The site's biggest sellers are Littman stethoscopes. Manufactured by 3M, they are the Cadillac of stethoscopes, well-engineered and durable.

Caplan's business philosophy is founded on advice from his small-businessman father. "It is easier to keep a customer than to find a new one."

What does this mean to firstaidzone.ca customers? A lot. Buying is a different experience at this website.

  • "We talk to each customer by e-mail. We come from retail, where we had to wait on people, so we just continued that kind of attitude onto the Internet."
  • "We don't let the website automatically charge the client. When the product comes to us, we check it and make sure everything is as it should be. We only charge when we ship."
  • "Each item is because someone asked us for it. Say, someone asks for scissors curved in a particular way. I go out looking for them."

 

High quality, wide selection and good customer service have brought Caplan repeat business from sports trainers, industrial first-aid rooms, athletes, boaters, cottagers, health-care professionals, paramedics, and nursing and medical students. Hobbyists turn to firstaidzone.ca to buy surgical-quality tools - fishermen for hemostats to remove fishhooks from their catch, furniture-refinishers for dental tools to get into crevices. They know they'll find what they need in a broad range of choices.

For Caplan, who fondly remembers his flea market weekends, the fun of the website is that same old customer contact. "It's really terrific when people send an e-mail."    Send him one now!

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