Reselling through Thrift stores, Antique Store, eBay and other retail outlets have combined annual revenues of nearly $17 billion dollars! What’s even more impressive is that many people – Mom & Pop, are doing this business without needing to set up a brick-and-mortar resale store of their own.
Look at sites like eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist; you can easily see that selling second-hand goods is a profitable business. In fact, some people, using Phone apps such as OfferUp, LetGo, VarageSale, etc., get into this business for little to no money risked. But How? To answer that question, I wrote “2nd Hand Flip” about the business of reselling.
Flipping is easier now than when I first started out. I became hooked on flipping when I flipped a Vespa Motor Scooter for a healthy profit in the late 60’s when I was in high school. That flip allowed me to buy my 55 Chevy Nomad, which I later doubled my purchase price on when I resold it. I took that money and bought my 56 Chevy coup. I blew the engine, broke the rear springs racing (showing off), and yet, still sold it to another man for more than I paid for it.
In the 80’s before the internet, even before computers, I flipped used restaurant equipment. I would stop into restaurants, small stores, or the kitchens of hotels, asking if they had any equipment that they were not using and they wanted to sell. If they did, I would take the information on the item, including a price they were willing to take for it, and put that info on a 3×6-index card. Then I would ask them if they were looking for anything in particular. I made notes of their requests. I did this all day long and in over a month, I had amassed a lot of cards and indexed a lot of equipment.
How I made money was looking what the item would cost new in an equipment catalog, then offering the owner a used price well below that. We’d haggle and when we would agree on a price, I would either put it on consignment or pay them then and there. If I paid them, I would load it up, take it home, and clean it, fixing anything that needed fixing and immediately takes it over to the buyer and sell it to them for a fair markup. I never got stuck holding an item for more than a few days, because I knew what my customers were looking for and bought accordingly.
I tell you these things, not to brag, but to lay the background of being somewhat knowledgeable in this business. I’ve had practice for over 50 years. Since the time of my first flip, I have flipped many things, made a few mistakes, but my love for flipping grows.
Today I flip antique and vintage furniture and collectibles. My wife’s love, on the other hand, is vintage linens and lace. She and I love antiquing and she owns Mom & Me Vintage Linens, Lace, and Antiques. (www.Facebook.com/linen2laceCS. Yes, the store is housed in a brick and mortar antique mall and she has owned it since 2010. Do you have to run a brick and mortar business to make a profit in the business of flipping? No. With sites like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, and Amazon, you can make a healthy profit working in a virtual environment, and still have extra time and money to do the things you want to do.
Don’t get me wrong. We are not filthy rich. This is not a get rich quick scheme. Flipping used or vintage is still work, but it is enjoyable work. We pay our bills, have a roof over our heads with a home we own. We drive comfortable vehicles and have managed to stay out of debt. The difference with us however, is the fact that we can take off anytime we want to and do the things we enjoy, without sacrificing our business and income. Many self-employed people can’t do that. They become a slave to their business. We have the freedom to travel, see friends and family, and explore other entrepreneurial interests. We love the thrill in the find of some treasure that I can turn around and resell. We enjoy the people we meet and have spent many hours talking to strangers, cementing long lasting friendships with many of them. As long as I have a connection with my phone, I am in business. Our investments are in our inventory. Where else can you work your money and have it earn 100 to 300% return in a short period.
Should you risk your weekly paycheck on flipping? It depends on how sure you are that you can turn something over quickly. I have a friend who is a mechanic. He buys good used cars, checks them over for mechanical issues; fixing what is needed and then hires his son to detail them. He puts them up on Craigslist and sells them for a healthy profit. He specializes in SUV’s, small trucks and All Wheel Drives because here in Colorado, he knows that these sell the fastest. His objective is rapid turn-over, not collecting. He is also a master of buying low and selling high. Don’t make the mistake of thinking he is an opportunist. Remember, American Entrepreneurship means profit and despite the past twelve years, the American Dream still lives on in every nook and cranny of this great nation.
So how much money should you risk? It all depends on your financial situation. How much can you afford to lose? How good of a negotiator are you? Do you have a market to sell what you purchase? Can you use online resources to price and market your item properly? Last but not least, do you like people?
Now the question should be, assuming you answered positive to the questions above, where do you go after you flipped your first item? The answer is do it again. How? I answer these questions in the book. Check out the suggestions I have in my eBook, “2nd Hand Flip” on sale now at Smashwords This eBook discusses inside the business and future of reselling in greater detail, including what sells and what doesn’t.