Here's a business requiring little investment
and less overhead! Mike
A little over a year ago, my wife and I opened a
one-day-a-week secondhand store ... and ever since then
we've been having a ball, recycling other folks' rummage
into our bill-paying money! And you can do the
same, with no more than just a bit of spare time ... a
modicum of junking know-how (I'd done a little yard-sale
"dealing" in college) ... a hearty enjoyment of people ...
and a strong desire to work for yourself
Lorraine and I got involved in this business as a result of
visiting someone else's backyard flea market. It was at the
end of the day, and we were among the last customers to
leave. I happened to notice that the poor fellow holding
the sale still had a lot of unsold merchandise, and thought
what a shame it'd be for him to have to box up all that
potentially profitable junk and cart it up to an attic
corner (or, worse yet, to the dump). So, mustering up all
the good horse-trading sense that my granddaddy'd taught
me, I said I'd take all that" trash" off his hands for
$5.00. Apparently no stranger to the art of haggling
himself, the man said I could have it for $10.00. Well, I
was amazed that he even considered my low offer
... but I didn't let my surprise get in the way of my
haggling, and wound up paying him $8.00 for the entire lot.
A PLACE OF BUSINESS
At any rate, before we knew it, my wife and I had our
pickup loaded with several hundred pounds of marketable
goodies! The next question was what to do with the loot.
Our house was, we felt, located too far out of town to
attract enough yard-sale customers.
Finally-after careful deliberation-we came up with the plan
to rent a warehouse cubicle in town and hold our
sale there. (That way we'd have the benefit of a centrally
located retail store without the usual high overhead.) So
we scouted around and found a dry, clean, lighted
(if we supplied the bulb) 5' X 15' space for only
$20 a month. And once we checked with the management to
make sure we could market as well as house our
goods on the premises (some places where we inquired
objected to the idea), we unloaded and began to set up
Since we'd already invested the rental money, we decided to
get cracking and hold our first sale the very next weekend.
So, after securing our merchandise with a $3.00 padlock, we
traipsed off to the local newspaper office and took out a
classified ad to let folks know about our "shop warming".
And remembering what a good deal we'd made with our first
"middleman", we took out a second ad that read, "We buy
yardsale leftovers," and gave our phone number. At 10 cents
a word, the total cost of our advertising was a mere $2.00.
Over the course of the following week, we spent several
hours sorting, cleaning, fixing up, and pricing our junk.
Then, early on the morning of our sale, we drove to
welltraveled intersections near our warehouse and put up
hand-lettered signs (with arrows and directions) so no one
could miss us! This done, we went back and arranged our
merchandise-outside-on folding tables that we'd borrowed
THE PROOF'S IN THE PROFIT
All our preparation paid off, too ... because from the
moment we opened up till well past 2:00 p.m., we had a
steady flow of bargain hunters. Finally (once the rush had
slowed to an occasional latecomer), we packed the leftovers
back into the warehouse and counted our money. There was
plenty to count, too ... all in all we took in about $80,
which left us with a profit of $47! Our sale was a success.
Furthermore, when we got home, the phone was practically
ringing off the hook with calls from people eager to get
rid of their yard-sale rejects! We ended up
spending another $50 on "new" merchandise ... but that was
fine with us, because our "storefront" rent was paid up for
three more weeks!
That first sale took place over a year ago ... and my
hardworking spouse and I have been happily dealing junk
ever since! We still spend only one or two days a week
working at our enterprise, buteven soour reputation and
profits (we currently net over $200 a month) have grown,
and we now have an established clientele ... a
professionally printed sign and business cards ...
and plans to transfer our shop to a more permanent
location: the shed behind our home. (Now that we have
regular customers who say they wouldn't mind the long
drive, that move could increase our net by making monthly
warehouse fees unnecessary.)
TIPS FOR FELLOW JUNKERS
To save any folks who'd like to follow our example a few
headaches (and, perhaps, heartaches as well), here
are some lessons we learned the
[11 Leave your phone number with the proprietor of
any yard sale you think you might later
want to buy out ... and make a quick list
(including prices) of the items on
display. Then, if the seller does call, you'll have an idea
of how much his/her remaining goods are worth. (Also, be
sure to say when you'll be home to receive the phone call
... and then be there!)
 While making your junking rounds, never pass up a good
buy in the morning, hoping that you'll be able to purchase
it for less later in the day ... because chances are that
by afternoon it'll be gone! We lost a lovely oak rocker
this way ... whereas quick action once allowed us to snap
up a 5,000-BTU air conditioner for a mere $15, an appliance
that we later sold for $125!
[31 The price you pay for an article and what you turn
around and charge for it are up to you. Just think
of the people from whom you buy as wholesalers, and your
business as a retail establishment ... and then buy and
mark up accordingly.
 You'll get a good idea of what sort of merchandise
sells and what doesn't (and of what prices are
appropriate) if you attend as many flea markets and garage
sales as your time allows.
 When you get ready to peddle your used wares, it's a
good idea to price everything (with tags) before your sale
starts. Later-during the confusion of dealing with
customers-you might forget how much you'd decided something
was worth ... and that memory lapse could cost you money!
 Make your business a cash-and-carry operation. Checks
can be a real nuisance ... especially if they bounce! (We
have a sign that says, "Barter Welcome, Cash Accepted,
Checks ... NO WAY!")
[71 And finally, to avoid possible IRS hassles, get in the
habit of writing out a receipt, and keeping the carbon
copy, for each item you sell ... no matter how
small and insignificant it may seem.
There's more I could tell you ... but none of it can
compare with what you'll pick up when you start a home junk
trade and discover your own reasons for turning one
person's trash into another's treasure!