Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurship: Getting Started in the Second-Hand Economy

Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurship Getting Started in the Second Hand Economy

The second-hand economy is catching fire worldwide. In America, the average home has more than $5,000 worth of unused and unwanted objects. If that’s the case in your home, you can choose to look at it in a couple of ways: It’s either an enormous decluttering challenge or a great opportunity to make money in the second-hand economy. If this concept appeals to you, consider the following ideas for marketing and selling your excess belongings.

Second-Hand Shop

Second-hand shops are popular among both sellers and buyers, and it’s easy to understand why. According to Gumtree, the second-hand economy is a multi-billion-dollar sub-industry, and anyone can take part. It gives sellers a dedicated, marketable, brick-and-mortar location for attracting customers and selling objects in creative ways. For example, some people may have compiled a large collection of vinyl records, which has a very strong niche appeal. Others may have accumulated a large number of dolls or figurines, which would attract other collectors. Still, others prefer to take a generic approach and sell multiple objects from the same venue.

Get Licensed

If you’re opening a second-hand business, you’ll need to secure a business license to be in compliance with all local laws, whether you’re selling from a brick-and-mortar location or from your home. List your licensure on your website or display it clearly on the wall of your business.

Merchandise Sourcing

If you’re prepared to open a second-hand store so you can sell unwanted belongings, then you probably have a lot to offer, and it’s probably enough to get you off to a good start. However, you’ll eventually need some way to replace that merchandise; otherwise, you’re talking about a glorified garage sale (not such a bad idea if you’re just looking to make a few bucks). Once you’ve exhausted your inventory, it’ll be necessary to have a merchandise sourcing plan in place to help replenish your stock. Some people attend local auctions or business liquidation and estate sales to find new merchandise for their shelves.

Be Handy (or Find Someone Who Is)

Selling second-hand merchandise means you’ll need to do some rehabbing and repairing along the way. You could run across a vintage piece of furniture that looks great but can’t be sold as-is. If you’re not capable of getting objects ready for sale, you’ll miss out on a lot of sales and lose money. It might be worth advertising for a handyman (or find one online) who would be willing to help you out on an as-needed basis.


There’s sustainability to the second-hand economy that’s encouraged people around the world to engage in freecycling — recycling and making new items from old. The only limit to the possibilities is your own imagination. An object that’s garbage to you might be the find of a lifetime for someone else; if you’re not going to recycle something, consider selling it or exchanging it for something else. Remember, when it comes to the second-hand economy, there are different forms of recycling. Rehabbing old objects with the intent of selling them second-hand is as valid a form of recycling as any other. Making creative use of items that can’t be recycled is a good way to reduce wastage that’s causing landfill overflow.

Mix It Up

If you entered the second-hand economy because you had a lot of vintage items with nostalgic value, you may find it’s necessary to mix things up and offer a variety of items that appeal to a broad cross-section of clientele. Alongside those Tiffany lamps and early 20th-century porcelain figurines, you’d do well to display clothing and jewelry that appeals to today’s youth.

Learn the Value of Negotiating

Bargaining is the lifeblood of second-hand salesmanship. You can set a price but if a customer asks you about it, be prepared to come back with a counter-proposal. If you’re not accustomed to doing business in this manner, don’t think of it as giving in or a sign of weakness; it’s how many second-hand objects typically get sold.


The second-hand economy is an inspired form of entrepreneurship. You can find different ways to sell old belongings or use them to make new ones. If you choose to turn it into a steady source of income, you’ll need to do some long-term planning and preparing.


Image courtesy of Pexels


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