What were you doing at fourteen to enhance your savings account? How much was your allowance and what did you spend it on? Myself? Ten dollars a week, predominantly saved, with the occasional outing to the movie theater with a young honey.
I recently ran across a story of a girl who, by her own hand, could have take my entire grade of boys to the movies. The resourcefulness, precocious foresight, and knack for the resale industry of fourteen year old Florida native Willow Tufano eventually earned her enough to split the price of a home and buy it outright (albeit, the house was valued at a fractional price in the fallout of the housing market crash: $12,000. Yes, that’s three zeros).
Garbage day resale, sidewalk scouring, and even “dumpster diving” are all kissing cousins to storage unit auction going. Although a slower collection process than auction hunting, the two major upsides to sidewalk scouring are:
A) You know what you are getting every time.
B) because you pay nothing, everything you make is profit.
Featured on “Ellen,” earlier this year, little miss Tufano is a shining example of how the “garbage” of America is an industry unto itself, for those not ashamed to touch things that weren’t recently rolled out of Ikea in plastic wrap. Sound too simple? Well, it wasn’t simply the sidewalk scouring that earned this fourteen year old thousands of dollars. Over the course of a year and a half, she ran the entire gamut of the resale industry.
“I would buy and sell things on Craigslist, go to sidewalk sidewalk sales, and attend auctions…I just sell whatever,” she says on the Ellen Degeneres Show.
Perhaps inspired by the storage auction craze, Tufano, all the while keeping up with a full time, online high school workload, was able to make time to collect the things discarded to the curb, valuables her neighbors were simply tired of, perhaps too wealthy to be bothered with going to the dump.
That’s where she would log out of her online class, scoop up the sofa or rack of clothing, and build up an inventory to be sold on Craig’slist.
Appliances, electronics, baby apparel, you name it. This fourteen year old has flipped it all. If it were actually possible to showcase her accomplishment on a show like “America’s Got Talent,” I would say Tufano’s business acumen and ability to purchase a house at 14 years of age ranks up there with any dance troupe, magician, or the endlessly popular “solo musician.”
“Garbage day is treasure day,” she quips. “It’s amazing what people throw away. It’s profit.”
Laughably, one commenter slammed the Ellen Degeneres showcase as being full of irresponsible fluff, claiming that this girl and her mother had taken advantage of a poor, Florida family’s misfortune during the housing crisis and taken their house for next to nothing.
Which brings us to a moral question: is the buyer to be held responsible for the life of a whole family simply by making a smart business move? Is this thrifty teenager, commenter, now the female version of Damien, a soon to be “one-percenter” Wall Street trader for buying an evacuated house when the market was at its lowest and everyone was doing it? To such outcries, let’s just remember that we’re talking about a girl who has spent a good chunk of her fleeting adolescence rummaging through other people’s garbage to eke out profits which she always carefully saved. If it wasn’t the thrifty, commonsensical Tufano buying up the house, it would have been someone else. Hopefully, she will learn the virtue of charity as she pushes forward into her young entrepenurial career, but time will tell.
YOUR TAKEAWAY: Beginning slowly since the post WWI boom in the 1920’s, America has slowly become a nation of mass surplus (Here’s a new Beach Boys song: “3 couches for every boy”). Nowadays, because of the endless manufacturing, people are frivolous and throw things away at alarming rates, simply to alleviate the pressure of having to move it themselves. These things have value still. Much akin to the storage auction buying, sidewalk rummaging is just as valuable of an arm of resale. The upswing to this is that because everything is free, everything is profit.
Using this teenage girl’s story as a model, always keep your eyes peeled for curbed valuables always to boost your already existing inventory won at the storage auction game.