I can almost remember a time when I wanted to deck out my apartment and host dinner parties. Now, my place is a storage facility of goodies. And I couldn't be happier about it.
Where we last left our hero, I was trying to turn this weekend madness into a full-fledged business. I have no doubt in my mind that this dream will come true. But growth takes time. I set a modest goal of essentially doubling my return on investment (ROI). Plus, I planned to add the cost of shipping supplies and a fancy new lighting kit to the total.
But before we break down the numbers and see if I reached my goal or not, let's review what kind of trouble I got myself into.
What sold in June:
My early deal of 30 wrestlers for $25 continues to pay off. Little by little. There is clearly a market for these toys, even used. Plus, I sold some of the accessories the seller threw in for free. Score!
But, of course, the big sales continue to stem from used, but not too used, electronics. I bought a TI-84 Plus graphic calculator last week for $3.50 and it sold almost immediately on Ebay for $47. (Next time I'll price it higher.) The Dymo Labelwriter was a win too - brand new with an open box, bought it for $10 right in my hometown, sold it for $70 the very next day.
Selling the Canon Powershot digital camera was a trip. It was one of the few used electronics I bought that I could test myself. But instead of listing it on Ebay, since so many cameras were already available there, I put it on Facebook with a lower price. I wanted to get rid of it fast and get that money. Turns out I priced it way too low, buying it for $5 and flipping it for $50. In 24 hours, I was bombarded with 50 Facebook messages. Plus, after nailing down one seemingly committed buyer, he never showed. I think it had something to do with the fact that I said I was currently at the Village Pourhouse, a bar in Hoboken. He wrote back "village poor house"? I explained it was a bar but he never responded after that. Luckily, I raised the price on my Facebook listing hours before to try and deter more messages from flowing in, and I found a willing buyer the day after for $60! Plus, he was a super sweet dad that drove from Queens into Manhattan to scoop up the camera for his teenage daughter to start photographing. Those are the best sales.
Luke Bryan tour t-shirt
It wouldn't be fun without some failures. And, of course, it has to do with shipping. I bought this Luke Bryan t-shirt at a thrift store a while back and it was one of the few I've managed to list on Ebay (T-shirts are hard for me to photograph honestly. The iPhone camera is not so good with colors in my apartment.) Bought it for $4 on the half-off Memorial Day thrift store sale, listed it for $12, and took an offer for $10, not realizing when it all broke down, with shipping and fees, I made exactly $0. Whoops!
Beyond the sales
There were some other notable achievements unlocked:
Buying the light kit was a great investment! It might fill up my apartment when I'm snapping pictures in my living room but it is a much better system than doing it on a smaller platform in my kitchen.
Last month brought me some negative feedback for the sale of a poorly described Dreamcast video game. No complaints came up this month and some buyers even took the time to shoot me some positive feedback. I'm currently sitting pretty at 87.5% on Ebay.
Made my first trip to the Hoboken Thrift Shop/St. Mary Advocates one day on my lunch break while working remotely. It's extremely tiny but there was a bit of potential. I stumbled on a Suze Orman Personal Protection suitcase kit. It was missing a few pieces, like the hardcover book, but at $3 there was money to be made for the sealed CDs and lots of booklets. Not a terrifying face at all!
Found a FB Marketplace listing to buy ten board games for a decent price, but I think I rightly passed after I realized the amount of work it would be to try hawking replacement pieces and parts. (There is a market for that stuff!)
Just when I threw it up on the shelf, expecting it to never sell, a woman from Philadelphia messaged me about my Harry Potter Wax & Seal kit on Facebook Marketplace. I bought it for $2 originally, only to realize there were tons of people selling them dirt-cheap on Ebay. But this woman must have missed that because she asked me to ship the kit to her in Philly and she paid for the shipping! It was very sweet too - she bought the kit for her daughter who loves anything Harry Potter.
Started my Amazon seller account and ended up scanning a few things at the local Dollar Tree as an experiment in retail arbitrage. In essence, some resellers buy clearance goods from retail stores and use Amazon as a fulfillment center. Amazon takes some fees but you send it off to their warehouse and they take care of shipping and supporting the customer. I will be doing much more of this in the future.
Enough of the soft stuff and life lessons, let's get down to brass tax. Did I make the goal?
By the numbers
I had a feeling this would happen. Comparing the past two months didn't make sense when I started to consider my late start in May and that months are different lengths. Plus, the purchasing total only spikes on the weekends because that's when garage sales happen. And I can make money selling at anytime.
Either way you slice it, I'm getting better and I think it will continue as I continue to amass interesting and higher-quality things to sell. Some just take time to flip for a profit.
In my first blog post, I calculated my spendings and earning over four weeks, but let's try recalibrating, going forward, based on the month itself:
In May I spent $160.14 and made $164.55
In June I spent $303.50 and made $367.93
Not bad! Plus I'm still sitting on a pile of treasures.
However, I did make some extra purchases to invest in the dream. I fronted $66.10 for a brand-new light kit and $23.29 for some extra shipping materials.
Long story short, I didn't make my goal. I ended a bit in the negative after all is said and done. It was a rather ambitious and short-sighted goal anyway. I wanted to double my return on investment (ROI), but I feel better about organizing my finances and goals by the month and I'll be shooting for something even better in July. I'm just happy to keep growing.
What does it mean?
I have a ways to go before I make this a living. I still haven't really nailed down a business plan beyond finding anything valuable enough at garage sales and thrift stores and flipping it.
There are two ways to grow this business that I can tell - sell faster or sell expensive. Time is money, so either I need to hold out and buy larger, more expensive things, like electronics, or I should buy way more profitable things across the board but list and ship them faster.
There are benefits and challenges to each avenue and I'm not confident enough to say I could pick one just yet. But there they are.
I have some plans
With business models floating around in my head, I have a few ideas to build off this past month's slight success (or failure, however you look at it, you negative nancy).
If I want to understand how to scale this into a full-time job with a full-time salary, I need to know where my time is going. I can only buy (or source, as they say) on the weekends now, but if my schedule was wide-open, how would I handle it? What could I do to make profit? I want to start logging the time it takes to source, photograph, list, buy and sell my inventory.
With that being said, it might take a bit of time, but I need to start selling some of these bigger items. I'm sitting on a Dymo Discpainter, a Casio keyboard, two Sirius sets, 2 VCR/DVD combos, 2 hiking backpacks, an Epson scanner and an Epson photo printer. There would be solid money to be made quick if I knew how to ship them properly. (We both know shipping is my nemesis right now.) But I will figure this out this month and watch the money pile up.
I have the advantage of going into the city five days per week. I kept those Title boxing gloves on Facebook Marketplace for weeks before swapping my location from Hoboken to Manhattan, and they sold within a few days. Sure I had to walk a few blocks and send a few messages, but it worked!
I need to learn how to sell through Amazon. There is huge potential in leveraging one of the largest companies in the world. Again, it mostly boils down to shipping - I have to learn how to walk through their process of shipping off to their warehouses. Once I do, it's off to the races.
Originally, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a thermal printer and some sticker labels to get my shipping done at home. But with a cost of $200 and the ability to print and ship through my current job's business center, it's not a purchase that'll move the needle too much right now. Instead, I bought a second-hand ink printer this weekend so I can purchase labels necessary to ship things to Amazon. Best part: the printer was $15, the labels are $2.
Bonus thought: I'm still new to this industry but I want to start branding this into a business. What do you think about calling myself The Flip Shark?
With that being said, we’re off on a new month. The challenge and the fun never end. And it’s already looking good.
Stay tuned for next month’s report! And if you want to follow along on my weekend finds, or make me an offer I can’t refuse, you can add me on Instagram at @danscharch