The Rent-A-Warehouse Second-Hand Store

Here's an approach to the second-hand store business that requires little investment and less overhead!

| March/April 1983

  • rent a warehouse second hand store
    The author and his wife initially located their second-hand store in a small warehouse rental space.
    Photo by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff

  • rent a warehouse second hand store

A little over a year ago my wife and I opened a one-day-a-week second-hand 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 the junk 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 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 shop.

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 well-traveled 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 from friends.


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