One of my best-earning side hustles is sourcing old furniture, restoring it, and selling it at a tidy profit. I’ve always loved vintage items – I have a pretty sweet collection of vintage Star Wars action figures, and I also collect vintage audio equipment. But a few years ago, I came across this interesting article on the BBC. It covered the rising demand and interest in vintage items. Check out this specific quote:
Initially people bought second-hand furniture and restored it because it was all they could afford.
But then they began to like the old-fashioned look and sought out pieces that could be painted or distressed to recreate the vintage look at home.
And despite the challenges in seeking out a bargain she believes vintage is still on the rise.
Since I’ve always been handy with my hands, I decided to give selling vintage furniture a shot. That was a few years ago. I’m happy to report to you, my dear readers, that things have gone pretty well for me. I’ve established a steady clientele base who eagerly await my creations. One time, I even furnished a new coffee shop. That was a pretty sweet project!
Now, you won’t be reading about me in famous blogs or websites. That’s because I decided to keep my operations lean and small. I don’t have the means to expand my business to an industrial scale. And that’s okay. I don’t think I want that stress – and besides, vintage works better on a small scale.
But with that said, I think there’s a real opportunity here. If you have the talent, interest, and patience for flipping furniture for profit, you can actually make some good money doing this! If you’re interested in flipping furniture, my first advice is to do it in a different city from mine. Just kidding. Read on to pick up some tips on making money flipping furniture!
Don’t Source Items from Vintage Stores!
Most of us, in the beginning, will try to source items from vintage stores. It makes sense, after all. If you want to buy vintage stuff to sell, you go to a vintage store, right? But getting stuff to sell from vintage stores is a big newbie mistake. But that’s okay, we’ve all made that mistake.
This is a mistake because vintage stores already sell stuff at a steep markup. Basically, they’re your competition, not source. That’s not to say there are no bargains to be found, especially in thrift stores. But those are more the exception than the rule. Feel free to check out vintage stores to see what they’re selling and for how much, but don’t go in expecting to spot a rare find at a good price.
Develop a Network of Suppliers
Since vintage shops won’t be your primary source, you’re probably wondering where you should get your furniture, then. Short answer: wherever you find it. Long answer: there’s no one single source for this, unfortunately. Vintage items – specifically furniture – aren’t like new items that roll out of the factory in consistent numbers. Many vintage pieces fall apart due to age, or are locked up in storage. So you have to look far and wide for sellable pieces. But to help you get started, here are a few places you can check:
Most estate sales are looking to liquidate their items as soon as possible. The goal is usually to get money fast since storage can cost lots of money. And that’s where the best finds are to be, well, found.
You’ve seen the reality shows. There’s a bit of truth to what you see on TV, but things aren’t always that dramatic. In fact, it can be pretty dull, especially if you’ve already checked out dozens of auctions without anything enticing. But when you do find something good, it more than makes up for things!
I used to ignore Craigslist, but I now regret it. This site is still pretty awesome! People who sell on Craigslist either don’t know the value of what they’re selling, or aren’t really interested in paying fees on eBay. This is a valuable resource for furniture flipping!
Friends and Colleagues
If you ask me how to flip furniture, my top source will always be friends and coworkers. They know me as the “furniture flipping guy” and are always eager to share intel on estate sales or any interesting pieces they themselves want to sell. So if you want to make money flipping furniture, you will have to develop your network!
Know Your Merchandise
If you go on eBay, you’ll find no shortage of vintage sellers trying to pass their merchandise as rare or valuable items. And that’s the problem with selling on the internet – everyone thinks what they have a collector’s item on hand. Don’t be one of those sellers. When you have the potential to acquire a piece, do research on what it actually is. That includes its history, the materials used, and its value. If it’s a precious item, price accordingly. But if it’s not a rare item, lower your price. You’ll build goodwill with buyers that way – and even set the stage for repeat customers!
Do Tasteful Repairs
There will be times when you find a great item that will, sadly, be in not so great condition. I would recommend doing some repairs before putting it out on the market. You’ll make more money that way, even if you had to hire someone to do the repairs. And that’s another consideration: know your repair limits. For example, I’m a decent woodworker. But I suck at upholstery. So I hire someone to repair damaged linings and covers.
The internet has given vintage sellers and furniture flippers a great opportunity to reach a larger number of potential buyers. Plus, when you sell online, you don’t have to haul your merchandise to swap meets or trade fairs. Ebay is still the best place to sell vintage items, but you could also try Facebook Marketplace. I’m starting to sell more and more on Facebook – the fact that Facebook doesn’t charge fees is a big plus!