How to Sell Stuffed Animals
By Eric Hammer
Ever thought about trying to sell stuffed animals? And just
to clarify, were talking about the cuddly kind of stuffed
animals and not stuffed as in taxidermy, though well touch
on that subject a little later. Stuffed animals are actually
a multibillion dollar business and many people make their entire
living working in the stuffed animal trade. From manufacturing
to selling to collecting, there is a lot of money in what seems
at first to be a simple childrens toy from the previous
The key when trying to sell stuffed animals is to find your
niche for the work. There are three basic ways to get into the
business of selling the toys. The first is to become a manufacturer.
This means either making handmade toys at home and then selling
them for a profit over your raw material costs or building (or
contracting with) a factory to make the animals which you then
turn around and sell. The animals can easily be manufactured
for example by a Chinese factory and then imported to the United
States where you need to arrange for the sale of the items.
The second possibility is to become a middle man, purchasing
the animals wholesale from someone who makes them and then reselling
to retail channels, in something resembling the process above
except that you never contract with the factories directly, instead
simply becoming a chain in the link.
you can also get into the business of selling vintage and antique
stuffed animals. This is a business with huge market potential
and much bigger profit margins (brand new low tech toys, unless
they are specialty items typically don't make much of a profit
and rely on high volume to make it profitable to do business).
Typically, these toys are sold to collectors who are looking
for a specific model that reminds them of their childhood rather
than to children to play with.
How Much Can You Make?
Most toy stores and toy manufacturers don't have much of a
markup on their products. Expect after all expenses are in to
make no more than a dollar or two on each stuffed animal that
you sell if you are selling new, non exclusive merchandise. This
means that you need to deal in volume in order to make this a
viable business. If you want to sell stuffed animals that you
make yourself, you can typically make significantly more money
on a per item basis, but remember that you are then limited in
the numbers you will sell, both because you simply cannot make
that many stuffed animals in any given day and because you are
now dealing in a boutique market where you are selling a certain
mystique about the hand crafted "one of a kind" toys
that you have to offer rather than in the general retail market
where parents buy their kids a stuffed animal.
In the vintage and antiques market, the margins can be huge,
especially if you can find good stuffed animals for cheap, but
more realistically, expect to take in anywhere from 10 to 50%
profit on each stuffed animal you sell and expect to sell at
most a few dozen a week, meaning that you can again, earn a decent
living, perhaps in the $40,000-$60,000 per year range, but you
are not going to get rich doing it.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
If you like the idea of trying to sell stuffed animals but
are not sure about the pre-made market and the antique market
doesn't really do much for you either, consider instead opening
a franchise of build a bear. These places allow kids to custom
design a stuffed animal of their own and then fill it with foam
filling on the spot.
You may also want to look into working with taxidermy. While
not nearly the same thing as selling stuffed animals, it is a
related field where people collect the items, though in this
case you are working with animals that were once live.
No matter what you choose, remember that you need to keep
your stuffed animals for sale as clean as possible. That means
storing them in plastic bags and keeping them out of the reach
of children or pets who may damage them. When dealing with antique
stuffed animals, never try cleaning them as this may cause their
value to deteriorate.
Consider also working on places like eBay and Amazon.com marketplace
where you can sell both new and vintage/antique stuffed animals.
Qualifications / Requirements
There are no formal requirements or qualifications to get
into this business. Mostly, you need a good head for business
and if you work in one of the specialty fields, either making
your own or buying and selling vintage/antique stuffed animals
you need to know something about how to make them and or how
to evaluate their value.
Start by studying the market. Go to toy stores and see what
their most popular models are. Consider street selling, especially
on highway off ramps that are located near hospitals. If you
plan to work in the antiques field, learn more about the stuffed
animals that are in demand and start looking at completed eBay
listings for various items listed there.
eHow: How to Make Money Selling Stuffed Animals
on eBay While the picture is positively creepy looking
on this article, it does have some great advice on getting into
the business of selling stuffed animals.
Found Value: What Sells: Steiff Bears and Stuffed
Animals While this is primarily about one specific
type of stuffed animal for sale, the advice here is useful no
matter what kind of stuffed animals you want to sell.
Business Franchise World: Build a Bear Franchise
As previously noted, this is an alternative to selling
stuffed animals that are already made. The cost of entry isnt
cheap though. You need to invest $125,000 just to get your foot
in the door and that doesnt include paying for your location,
advertising, expenses and raw materials.