Making Money on Your Bargains

by Cathy Steinbert


I just finished reading this week's edition of Dollar Stretcher, which included a few items that really struck a chord with me. One was about the Gazingus Button, or the "Gotta-have-it-what-am-I-gonna-do-with-it" Syndrome. Two others made reference to shopping at thrift stores and estate sales for great bargains. I'd like to "marry" the two threads.

As it happens, estate/garage sale and thrift store items press my Gazingus Button *hard*. It started when I furnished my apartment a little over a year ago. I went to estate sales for everything from furniture to kitchenware, but once my home was complete, I found it well nigh impossible to stop buying cool second-hand stuff! I mean, it's fun to deck out your kitchen with chrome items from the '50s, but I only need one bread box--not three. The thrill I got from acquiring such things for a song was nearly addictive, especially given my fondness for antiques and collectibles.

I've parlayed this acquisitive dementia into a lucrative side business. Once a month, I rent a booth space at the local high school flea market (price: $12) and sell "kitchenalia" for fun and profit! I gather that a lot of antique dealers get into the business to justify their purchasing habits, and I am no exception. Thus, I can hit the thrift stores to my heart's content, knowing that my relationships with my purchases will be short (or so I always hope!). Over the seven months that I've been buying for resale, I've become more astute about what sorts of things sell quickly and have honed both my aesthetic and my business sense. I'm getting more repeat business in my booth every month, and am having a ball.

Some might feel that the few hundred dollars profit I make isn't enough to justify all the work. Yes, it *is* a lot of work to get up early, schlep my stuff to the flea market, set up the booth, and tear it down at the end of the day. But it's very gratifying when people tell you how nice your space looks, and even more so when they hand you cash for your merchandise. When the work is over and done with, you've still got that nice little bundle to sock away. And the buzz you get from finding that wonderful aluminum Flour/Sugar/Coffee/Tea cannister set isn't work at all--that's pure fun!

So, Dollar Stretcher readers, take a look at your Gazingus Button from another angle. You just might find that you can profit from it!

Happy hunting!


When Cathy's not dispensing her wares at flea markets, she works as a technical writer in the Silicon Valley.

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