Consignment Gold Rush: the Ultimate Startup Guide

Another gold rush has begun in America, but the gold is disguised as second-hand goods. These goods are valuable, plentiful, and can be had for next to nothing. Unneeded household decor, clothing, electronics, musical instruments, antiques, artwork and more are being assigned to consignment shops at a fraction of their original retail value. Sales at resale shops increased over fifty percent between 2008-2016, while discount store sales fell by half, and department stores lost one quarter of their revenues during the same period. In 2018, used goods sales in the U.S. totaled $19 billion, with vintage clothing sales growing twenty-one

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Inventory, Investment, and Perception


  Baron von Rothschild, the 19th-century British banking magnate, had a succinct investment philosophy: “The time to buy is when there is blood in the streets, even if that blood is your own.” The Baron would know: He made a fortune in the panic that followed Napoleon’s defeat at the battle of Waterloo. Modern-day billionaires echo the Baron’s philosophy. Warren Buffett and other “contrarian” investors scoop up deeply discounted corporate assets whenever markets turn down. In Buffet’s own words: “You pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus.” Of course, in a depressed market, cash is king.

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Was 2017 the Year of the Retail Apocalypse?

retail apocalypse

Do you remember the Retail Apocalypse of 2017? It sure got a lot of press. CNBC, The Washington Post, CBS, Fox, USA Today, and most major news organizations rallied around the Apocalypse concept. They’re happy to assert (again) that bricks-and-mortar retail was dead, overwhelmed by online sellers. They seemed to have the facts to back up their stories: In 2017, around 6,700 U.S. storefronts closed, including closures and/or bankruptcies by such retail icons as JC Penney, Sears, The Gap, Banana Republic, The Limited, Eastern Outfitters, Radio Shack (for the second time), Gander Mountain, Payless ShoeSource, Rue 21, Vitamin World, Toys

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Price Anchoring, Bundling, and Bracketing

price anchoring

I’m a sucker for a bookstore. I can’t seem to walk past one without going in, and I seldom go in without buying something. This has been a lifelong affliction of mine. When I was a teenager, my mother once asked me: “Why do you buy more books when you haven’t read all the ones you’ve got?” To which I replied: “What’s the point in having a library full of books that I’ve already read?” Occasionally I read a book that’s a real game-changer for me; a book that rings so true it forever changes the way I think about a particular

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How to Price High Enough to Assure a Profit


Have you ever seen the Edvard Munch painting “The Scream”?  If Munch doesn’t ring a bell, recall the scene in the movie “Home Alone” in which Macaulay Culkin shaves for the first time, and then applies after-shave to his raw face: hands slapped over his ears, eyes as big as saucers, he emits a scream that can be heard a block away. Such was my response to a Harvard Business Review article that recently arrived in my inbox. The article discussed book pricing relative to Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iPad, and traditional print books.  The author’s position was to keep prices

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The Time is Right to Open an Antique Shop

time is right

It’s my opinion that the antiques business is the only retail business worth pursuing at the moment. Consider the problems faced by commodity consumer goods retailers: In the past decade,“Big Box” stores have put scores of Main Street retailers out of business. Competition from online dealers has shaved commodity retail store margins so close that it can take months for a business to recover from a downturn in sales or an uptick in expenses. An army of consumers armed with smart phones can instantly compare prices on virtually every commodity offered for sale and then harangue a retailer for a

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Pass-on Costs via Buyer Fees?


Buyer’s fees are much like kudzu: They are invasive, spread rapidly, and choke the life out of everything they touch. For those unfamiliar with the plant, kudzu was introduced into the United States at the 1876 U.S. Centennial Celebration by the Japanese contingent. It was immediately adopted in the Southern U.S. as cheap animal fodder and to control soil erosion. In the 141 years since kudzu’s introduction, it has become known as “the plant that ate the South.” The vine grows about a foot a day and is nearly impossible to kill. Left unchecked, it will completely cover mountains, houses,

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The Pain of Parting with Cash (and the Joy of Getting It)

parting with cash

I like having money to spend. I try not to spend it, but just having money and knowing that I could spend it if I wanted to feels good to me. I don’t think that I’m alone in feeling this way, either. Money affects people in physical ways and I recently stumbled onto proof that this is true. In 2009, Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota conducted an experiment disguised as a “dexterity study.” In the study, she had one group of students count a stack of $100 bills while another group counted a similar-sized stack of blank pieces

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eBay’s Fraud Protection Plan Boosts Your Sales

ebay logo

eBay fraud is in the news again. The headline reads: “Three eBay Fraud Rings Dismantled in Romania.” Romania must be a hotbed of Internet-scam artistry. Just a few years ago, a headline read: “Small Romanian Town Gets Rich Through eBay Scams.” They must be fast learners in Romania. The first attempts at eBay fraud included selling a MiG fighter jet and a local Town Hall. I suppose the rings soon learned that there were only so many suckers for big-ticket inventory. In the current scam, ads were posted on eBay and craigslist offering a variety of merchandise, ranging from cars

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Should You Open an Antique Mall Booth?

antique mall

Should you open an antique mall booth? The answer to that question will vary according to who you ask. Folks who have opened a booth and failed will, of course, tell you “no”. Many antique dealers will tell you “no” as well, citing the fact that their sales are getting lower every year. Operators who run successful booths will always encourage you to open one, because they realize that, in the antiques business, customers are attracted to the varied inventories of multi-dealer malls. Rather than competition, more dealers grouped together means more sales for all. As a licensed auctioneer, I

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