Interesting Furniture Businesses
By Steve Gillman - 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.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
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.
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.