Ed. note: This type of product sourcing can be very profitable, so don't dismiss it until you try it!
U.S. consumers are living in a "throwaway" economy. This means that we buy lots of stuff, use it for a little while, and then replace it with other stuff. Or, we break it and it becomes worthless.
I'm always experimenting with all types of sourcing methods. Many of my peers scoff when I suggest that you (my dear reader) source stuff like ... broken calculators.
But here's the truth: This month, I bought this broken calculator for $3 at a thrift store. It sold 48 hours after I posted it on ebay for $19.99. (A thriving Brooklyn-based used calculator store bought it.) So I more than quadrupled my investment. As my father-in-law says, a deal like that is like "found money." How many broken scientific calculators can you find? Can you find a bunch and sell them all for, oh, I dunno, $1,650?
And if you're thinking "Just calculators? Big deal!" that means you haven't broadened your mind. Click each link for 'profit proof' - items that actually sold on eBay: Broken Roombas, broken antennas, broken keyfobs, broken DVD players (WHAT?), broken car radios (remember those?), broken radio control cars, broken digital cameras, and broken GPS players. I just randomly thought of these, so there are hundreds more examples.
Remember, when it comes to broken stuff and parts, you enjoy:
- A nearly untapped market. Many competing sellers are reluctant to roll up their sleeves (it's too 'dirty' for them). This means an endless cycle of available inventory is for there for the taking.
- Higher profit margins. Thrift stores, garage sale operators, and your friends and family treat broken items as worthless
- Sourcing broken stuff can be 'scaled' online. Placing an 'item wanted' add on free sites like Craigslist, Freecycle or Backpage can help bring those items to you.
How can you get started sourcing broken stuff? Here are some ideas:
- Start with your friends. Ask 5 of your friends (locally or via facebook) if they have any broken electronics. Chances are you'll end of with boxes of items that they are more than happy to part with. They might even ask some of their friends to do the same (which results in more inventory for you.)
- Get free/cheap business cards at Vista Print with your name and phone number/email and, in big letters, 'BROKEN ELECTRONICS WANTED. WILL PICK UP'. Give your card to people running estate sales, thrift stores, yard sales, etc. Entice them with some cash and you'll get a better response.
- Take second looks (now you have this info) at local thrift stores, estate sales, and garage sales.