At first, second-hand goods might not seem like fertile ground for making a profit. You may think of charity shops and vintage stores barely scraping by, full of more tat than you know what to do with. For the most part, your mental image is fairly accurate – but for a few canny businesses, there are ways to transform junk into a lucrative prospect. The trick is transformation (or upcycling, as it’s known domestically) and with a small investment of time, you could find your business life taken over by scrapyards – and it can be incredibly addictive!
Find Your Sources
The first important step in creating a truly profitable second-hand business is in finding where you source your goods – and what type of goods you want to specialize in. For miscellaneous items, going to storage unit auctions can be a great way to snag a deal, or even trawling charity shops for hidden gems (though this is time-consuming, and getting harder by the year to find deals that the stores themselves haven’t sniffed out). However, one of the most lucrative areas is mechanical goods and parts, and for these, you’ll want to head straight to the junkyard. If you know where and how to look, here you can find some amazing pieces entirely for free; not bad in terms of start-up costs.
Invest in Refreshing
Of course, simply finding old machinery in a junkyard and attempting to sell it on isn’t going to make a sustainable business model. Most parts you find will be broken, heavily rusted, or at the very least incredibly dirty. That’s why the next stage is so important – cleaning and fixing it all up. For this to be most effective you will need to create a workshop with all the necessary tools and blast solutions so you can easily get pieces looking as good as new. If you have mechanical skills, you might be able to fix simple breaks to certain elements and systems. If you don’t, consider the creative path. Many people will pay large amounts for unique ‘sculptural’ pieces simply for decoration – can you put this to your advantage?
Sell to the Right Communities
Your final step is selling. Who are you going to sell to, and where will you make the most profit? Of course, this will highly depend on what sort of goods your second-hand business has chosen to specialize in. It’s always worth having an online store for your business in general, where you can showcase your work (top tip: before and after pics are a great way to show the increased value you give to objects, and people love to know the journey of their piece) – but it’s not always enough. For true success, you’ll need to search out the communities that are interested in your goods. You can use social media and join relevant groups, or search trade magazines for likely selling points such as trade shows. If you play your cards right, an auction scenario might even be the best way to drive up your prices and ensure a profit.