Depending on what demographic or neighborhood a person grew up in, there may exist a peculiar taboo in their bloodstream against accepting or buying things second hand. When I think back to how I was unwittingly caught up in a dire need to have mail order catalogue clothes as a preteen, I just feel bad for my parents, who were buying the same for the three other trend setters I lived with.
Luckily for storage auction sellers and the modest middle class alike, studies show that the “not so recent” economic downturn is significantly turning back resistance against buying all sorts of things second hand and we have stumbled upon a period that could be construed as a “Storage Hunting Renaissance,” if you will.
And why not? Wasn’t the entire materialistic bubble we were all bouncing on just a smoke screen for more important social issues anyway? I digress. Give this article called “The Second Hand Economy” a quick little read if you wish, then read on to see our breakdown of what we can deduce as members of the resale world.
A DELICIOUS RECIPE FOR THE RESELLER
Did you read it yet? Well, the author, Peter Collins, hypothesis is this: “I wonder if the efficient market that the internet provides (as opposed to local charity shops etc) has a significant effect on reducing how much we throw away and how much new stuff we buy.”
Collins goes on to state that the rise in popularity of second hand goods (most notably signified by EBay’s still rising popularity worldwide) is actually changing stock values on new items, and is, paradoxically, actually somewhat in competition with the sale of new items.
Storage hunting is one trade in the United States that is actually driving these trends. Think about it. We have several, unprecedentedly popular storage auction reality shows informing our social fabric as to how to view second hand goods in a positive light. On top of that, we have already had EBay, which is now becoming a keystone in the equation of resale. Sprinkle in disillusioned Americans who are sick and tired of mall prices, and here we are at an excellent Renaissance for storage resellers that may not last forever.
EVEN CHARITY STORES AREN’T SPARED FROM THRIFTINESS
Collins also indicates to us that no one but the independent reseller and the buyer are spared by the marriage of e-commerce and a spendthrift economy. Where major charity shops (e.g. Goodwill) should expect to see prices rise because of this new demand for used expendables, the ease of selling one’s higher-caliber used goods independently should actually be causing a decline in thrift store quality. He writes:
“Where once you would give both your tatty old clothes and a couple of nicer items to (Charity Shop) when you were done with them, you might now sell the good stuff leaving (The Charity Shop) with the tatty stuff…you should expect prices in charity shops to remain roughly the same, but quality to decrease.”
BE THE MIDDLE MAN AND KEEP PRICES IMPRESSIVE
The message for storage hunters is clear: Be the supplier, but be consistently cheaper than even established shops. This is certainly achievable with the massive amounts of inventory you stand to collect via storage lockers.
Still stuck in somewhat of a frugal guilt complex and a need to cut costs, more and more Americans want to keep their thriftiness to themselves. Therefore, EBay and off-the- beaten-path flea markets (two venues for resale success) are places that they will seek you out more as a reseller.
Make yourself available to this base, keep your prices fair, and above all, be consistent how often you conduct sales. As you grow a customer base with your friendly salesmanship and black out prices, make sure they know that you are going to be around “next week,” with a whole new slew of goods for them.
NOT EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN WILL SELL
In the case of authors observation that “unless you have books that are collectable, hardback, mint condition, or just a really efficient operation, they are hardly worth selling,” there is a great takeaway point here as well. The goldmine of resale doesn’t apply to everything under the sun. People are looking for second hand items that are practical and useful in this down economy, like shoes, clothes, or instant gratification items that significantly beat store price, like flat screen TV’s and DVD’s. Here are some things to set your sights on as you separate your inventory:
Tools and hardware
Cosmetics, health, and beauty
Gently used clothing
Hats and bags
Housewares and kitchen things
As second-hand taboos decrease in American society, the competition to you as a reseller comes from both your “own kind” and other, not so obvious sources. Therefore, it is important to strive to be really top notch at what you do, and never get greedy on prices with run-of-the-mill products you pull from units. There will always be more where that came from.
With a little unit buying consistency, the time will come to clear big profits on just a few, select items. In the meantime, believe in the power of bulk resale and conduct sales when you feel you have accumulated not just a lot of goods, but ones that are known to fly off the table.
Be merry for these economic trends and continue to be a champion against the taboos on buying second hand goods. A major upside to the economic downturn is a blooming middle class, a middle class that can rely on the savings you provide them with the treasures you find.