Saturday, October 30, 2010

Treasure From Trash--A "Retirement" Occupation

You see articles about it, you hear talk radio shows about it, you drive by numerous yard sales, and attend multitudes of cyber-auctions…and you wonder how much treasure could there be in trash.

Where does all this stuff come from, and why are they asking such low prices for seemingly good stuff? It comes from the roadside, the trashcan, the dumpster, the dump itself, or a generous neighbor or friend. So-called “castoffs” or useless stuff to one can be a treasure to somebody else—and a small retirement income to yet a third person.

Ultimate recycling of furniture is a great way to make money and stay busy at the same time. If you’ve held yard sales for yourself, or had the opportunity to help someone else hold one, you’ve learned that furniture (when fixed up and in good shape) usually goes first, and for the most money.

Performing fix-ups is easy. Like decorator shows that tell you the quickest, easiest way to spruce up homes is through paint, the same is true for furniture pieces. A little paint, some new hardware, maybe different legs, and VOILA! A scratched and horribly outdated coffee table becomes something to behold. Whip out some sandpaper, sand in certain areas, and follow with a quick wipe of stain all over, and it becomes “antiqued” for that well-worn farmhouse look.

A sander, some sand paper, some paint (which can be had for a bargain in salvage stores, “oops bins”, or left over from other projects), and free curbside furniture will usher you into a new world of making money. Some newer hardware (or recycled hardware from other pieces) and some new legs might be your only real outlay for any particular project piece, and you’ll definitely recoup the cost in your sale. This is one place where your efforts get rewarded handsomely!

In your spare time, it pays to keep abreast of furniture fashion trends, so you can keep your stock up-to-date and quick to move. Scan ads and visit showrooms to get an idea of what’s current. Butcher-block tops, peeling paint, and the color hunter green used to be in fashion, but what’s in demand TODAY? Staying current may be just the ticket to insure inventory turnover, and current fashions will always be in demand and pay more, with little extra cost to you. Sometimes, though, personal ingenuity may surprise you—you never know how many people can share your taste for colors and style.

Work when you want, on what you want, dressed how you like, and you work for yourself—what more could you ask? The money you make is yours to keep, but you need to learn HOW to keep it by reading the tax code and learning how it pertains to you. Certain states don’t ask for sales tax if you don’t collect it, and certain federal laws pertain to hobbies as opposed to businesses. You also need to look into licensing requirements so you don’t get tripped up for lacking information.

Overall, if you find an occasional piece you refurbish, and occasionally sell it (through yard sales, flea market booths, near college campuses, etc.), you shouldn’t run afoul of tax or business laws—just watch that you don’t mass-produce or heavily repeat yourself...and don't become a "perpetual yard sale" site. You don’t want to arouse suspicion and attract undue attention. Rotate your stock and your sales sites until you find out what sells fastest and where.

For a small amount of supplies, some elbow grease, and some imagination, you can change many a mind about buying new while making some pocket money.


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