Hello everybody. For this Tuesday Tips post, we're going to start talking about running a vintage/antique business. We'll be alternating "fun posts" (like our earlier 10 Things You May Be Missing At The Thrift) with these type of vintage reselling biz posts.
Before I begin, I just wanted to say that we definitely aren't the first to write about running a business like this. I hope that we can provide SOME original insight, but there are many other places where you can read about the business of online reselling. (One good place to start is Apron Thrift Girl's reselling posts.)
This is probably also a good time to say: we aren't lawyers, professional life coaches, or econ-biz professors. Heck, I'm mostly talking out of my you-know-what. And I have some concerns about giving out "advice" about this stuff, having only had our store open for a year ourselves! But our hope is that there are at least a few takeaways here that might help you out with your potential business.
OK - So you say you want to start a business reselling items online?
Before diving in, you should probably take a moment to think about things. Yep, take that step back. Here are two basic questions you should ask yourself:
1. Is this type of business right for me?
2. Is it a feasible business venture?
I know that these two questions are intertwined. Think of it as the equivalent of looking for a new job.
When hunting for jobs, there are considerations you'll make like: Is this type of work the right fit for me? Would I be happy in this environment? Is this what I want to do with my career? Do I have the right skill set for the job?
Then there are considerations like: How much money are they gonna pay me? ARE they going to pay me? Do I have to drive 50 miles to get there? Are the hours crazynuts?
So this first part will deal with the question of whether or not selling vintage, antique or thrifted items online would be a good fit for you. The second part, the money thing, we'll run some numbers - well actually, I haven't decided yet. But I think some back-of-the-envelope calculations might be a nice "reality check".
The reason I think it's a good idea to separate it out: If this first part does NOT pass the "smell test", well then there's little reason to even think about the second part, right?
Let's first define this business of reselling. I'd define it as a business where you buy items, hopefully at inexpensive prices, and then sell them for a higher price, most likely online. And I would assume that in most cases these are thrifted, vintage, collectible, antique or even newer items that others might value. And we'll also assume that for the most part you'll be selling online. The rest of the how, what, when, where, why - we'll deal with that as we go.
So to start, I would try and do a "Pros and Cons" type of list. I'm sure yours will look different, but maybe it might have items like this:
|Can work from home||Have to work at home|
|Low economic barrier to starting||Requires some monetary risk|
|Flexible hours||No medical,other benefits|
|Opportunity to learn new things||Must be knowledgable about items|
|Be your own boss||Have to be self-disciplined|
|You decide what to buy||Must acquire inventory on own|
|Work "part-time"||Income stream is unpredictable|
|Set your own hours||Holidays are not holidays|
How'd you do? Hopefully, you've got more in the "Pros" column. Or at least, the items in the "Cons" column aren't dealbreakers and don't affect you as much. I also assume that you're going to have more specific items in each column - perhaps dealing with the type of items you're going to sell (books, collectibles, electronics).
In general, selling vintage items (or other stuff) online is basically like any other work-at-home opportunity. You absolutely need to be disciplined about keeping the business going and managing time. But in addition, you absolutely need to have (or acquire) instincts about what will sell and what will not. You're going to have to know or learn when to be aggressive about buying and when to go a more circuitous route.
You also need to make buying decisions based on your current knowledge, and you need to constantly increase that knowledge. You need to learn to take the correct types of monetary risk - though you can set your amount of risk taken most of the time.
I think that it really takes a certain type of personality to be an online reseller. A huge problem for one person may not be a problem for another. However, I think that it can also be a more forgiving line of work - you don't have to hit ALL the "Pros" to be successful. And what I like about it is that you can work on the improving that "knowledge" part continually.
That's why I think it's a good idea to start off with a list. You can identify areas of weakness you're going to have to work on in order to make the biz thrive.
Oh - I've been assuming that when you say "Start a Reselling Business", you really mean starting a BUSINESS. If you just plan to sell a few things at a garage sale, then I wouldn't worry about all of this. But if it's something you plan to do on a regular basis - the sooner you treat it like a business, the sooner it'll become a business.
OK, hope you enjoyed this first post. I've tried to be as "general" as possible to start, so you might not find this one as useful. I purposely did not talk about WHAT you might be interested in selling. Basically, I just want to prod you to really think about if reselling is right for you.
But I want to make it clear that, thinking about this kind of stuff is of course OPTIONAL. It may be the case that you just want to jump in and figure out the details later. The internet (Ebay, etc.) has made this a viable option - you can just start listing junk around your house. Hey - you're a reseller!
I'd really be interested to hear if this is the type of post that people are interested in reading. It does take a rather large-ish chunk of time, so if there's not much favorable response, will probably put it on the back burner - and just do those fun Tuesday Tips.