Interesting Furniture Businesses

By - August 24, 2013

A friend recently described a business to me that he knows about as a customer. It involves furniture and has several different parts. It also does not require the owner to own or rent a store front. He runs it from self-storage units.

It starts with the owner buying high-quality furniture cheap, and generally used. He gets his furniture from ads on Craigslist, estate sales and perhaps in a few other ways (my friend was not sure, but thrift stores and yard sales could be sources too). He keeps the furniture in self-storage units, and generally set up like rooms. In other words, when he slides the door open for you on one unit you'll see a living room setup, and another will have kitchen furniture, and so on. I'm not sure how many units he rents, but it seems likely that he started with one and added more as needed.

Now, how does he make money with the furniture? He rents it and sells it. To start with, he rents it to people who come here to southern Florida and rent a place for a few months. If their apartment is not furnished he can set them up and then take everything back at the end of their season here, all for a monthly rental fee. I'm not sure what his rates are, but he could charge by the room or the piece, and from the renter's perspective a reasonable rental makes more sense than buying and moving or disposing of furniture after a few months. He has friends who are real estate agents and they presumably recommend his service.

He also stages condos and houses for sellers. Homes look better and sell more easily when they have furniture in them. Again, his real estate agent friends probably recommend him to sellers. He moves the furniture in and arranges it, and then, when the house sells, he comes and takes away all the furniture, returning it to his storage units.

Meanwhile, in addition to these two ways of renting out the furniture, everything he has is always for sale at some price. My friends first bought furniture from him by way of a Craigslist advertisement. Given that he might have bought a piece cheap to start with, and then made a few rental fees on it, this businessman can probably sell his things at a reasonable price and still make a decent profit. This is especially true if he mainly relies on free advertising like that which he does in Craigslist.

How much does he make? I have no idea, although my friend says he drives a nice luxury car. He also has added complementary income sources to these. For example, he sells furniture on consignment for people, but with a twist. He still collects the common 40% consignment fee, but he does not need a store, nor does he even need to haul the furniture to his storage units. He sells furniture for condo owners who are out of the area and need to dispose of their furniture because they sold their place or inherited it, or lost it to the bank. He sells right their where it's at, by obtaining a key, advertising the pieces on Craigslist, and then showing the furniture to people who call.

I like the idea of selling it where it is. You avoid the overhead of a store and the expense of moving the furniture. Now, I don't know what his agreements called for, but typically in a consignment business your clients agree to regular price cuts starting at some point (30 days is common), so that eventually everything is cheap enough that someone will buy it. Alternately I suppose in a business of selling in their property you could run the sales for a month and then offer them a price for all the remainders, which you could sell or, in the case of this man's business, use as rental furniture.

So there are several ideas for furniture businesses that do not require huge investments to start or big overhead to operate. You might start out with a thousand dollars invested in quality used furniture and run the operation from a shed or garage at home until you start making money and need more space.

How Much Can You Make?

It isn't clear how much can be made in these kinds of businesses, but it certainly depends on your location and how cheaply you buy your furniture.

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You can always watch for related businesses to get into. For example, if you are supplying furnishings for seasonal renters you might also include rugs, computers and televisions.

On the buying side, you might connect with season renters whether or not they have purchased or rented items from you, in order to offer to buy whatever they need to get rid of at the end of the season.

If you have a house with some space for a shed or two, and you already have a truck or van, you might be able to run your businesses with almost no overhead.

Qualifications / Requirements

The businesses outlined above require less than a thousand dollars to start (although having more capital could make it easier to grow quickly). That puts them in the range where you can start using credit card debt, meaning you can essentially start with nothing.

First Steps

Look at what's going on in your area, to determine if there is a need for businesses like these. Check out places you can buy and the various ways you can sell/rent your goods.


CraigsList - This can be a good place to find deals on furniture and a place to sell your goods and services.

Thrift Stores - In general thrift stores have been over-pricing their furniture, but you can watch for sales and buy high-quality items that will last for years.

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