Here’s the secret to an amazing business opportunity that’s available to anyone with easy access to auction salerooms (preferably lots of them), as well as flea markets, collectors’ fairs, car boot sales, shops selling second-hand goods and bric-a-brac, and anywhere else old pieces of jewellery can be picked up for pennies.
And if you don’t want to leave home, you can buy all the stock you’ll ever need for this business online, from sellers on eBay, Amazon and dozens more virtual venues.
But bear in mind online venues can attract millions of visitors and high auction finishing prices and lightning fast sales of fixed price products.
Locally, items you will soon be reselling will attract fewer potential buyers and much lower prices.
So ‘local’ is where you need to be!
Very important: you must only buy old pieces, at least five years old, and preferably fifty years plus.
At places like those mentioned above, you can pick up bead necklaces and bracelets, earrings and other decorative items for ten to fifteen pence each loose and sometimes bundled.
I know that for certain because I do it every week and I am certain to make money from these items no one else wants to buy in their current state and no one would ever consider wearing.
Here’s how to profit…
#1 Visit small local auction salerooms, as many as possible, where practically every sale will include big bundles of costume jewellery belonging to the beneficiaries of a deceased past owner.
Believe me when I say you will sometimes find family-size suitcases filled with costume jewellery and containing thousands of beads and what are called ‘findings’, the latter being pieces used to make jewellery, such as charms and chains, fasteners and more.
I have seen those suitcases and their contents sell for less than thirty pounds and likely to make several hundred pounds for resellers. But not as items to wear as you will shortly discover…
#2 Look for similar items, usually in much smaller bundles, at flea markets and collectors’ fairs, mainly from dealers selling more valuable pieces of jewellery and typically discarding low value costume jewellery.
Five to ten pounds is common at these events for a large plastic bag filled with costume jewellery.
Note: General auction salerooms are the most profitable places to buy, mainly because grieving families will dispose of items without removing better pieces, primarily because most won’t know how to spot valuable pieces lurking alongside low value items. Similar bundles purchased from sellers at flea markets and collectors’ fairs, however, are likely to have had better items removed to sell separately.
#3 Back home, take out items you think might sell in their own right, but don’t spend too long doing so because most of what you buy will fetch higher prices with their materials dismantled and sold in tiny containers.
Tip: Learn as much as you can about costume jewellery and more precious items, so you can identify and list better items separately on eBay or Amazon. This article has plenty of tips and is a good place to start.
#4 Cut beads free from necklaces and other items of jewellery and store like-for-like beads in plastic bags, the kind banks use to store coins, or in small organza bags selling on eBay for a penny or two each.
Search for ‘organza bags’ on eBay to find hundreds of different designs and suppliers.
#5 After a good day’s buying you could have hundreds of bags containing beads of numerous different sizes and colours.
Now you have to make money from those beads. How do you do that? Simply by selling them to people making and selling handmade jewellery using vintage beads and findings.
And there’s the premise of the title for this article because you will be selling to buyers who are also sellers and you will find those people at the very same site you could be offloading thousands of vintage beads daily.
For us, that place will be Etsy (.com and .co.uk).
And that begs the question: why would those people buy beads you have dismantled from inexpensive jewellery rather than visit their own local auction saleroom and other venues to pick and choose beads to their hearts’ content?
The answer is – usually – those people want to spend their working days making jewellery and selling it and not having to waste time sourcing beads and other jewellery findings.
Also, the vast range of vintage beads you offer could take your buyers weeks to accumulate, if they ever do find anything similar.
Plus, buyers may want just two or three beads and not hundreds the donor piece may have contained.
#6 Head over to Craftcount where you’ll find Etsy’s top sellers of vintage beads, some attracting hundreds of sales every month.
Check out the left side of the page, under ‘Sub-Category > Supplies’, and then click on ‘Vintage Supplies’.
That reveals eBay’s top sellers of vintage supplies, not all selling beads and jewellery making findings – but a good many do, especially those with ‘beads’ in their Etsy shop names.
Epochbeads tops the list with over 117,000 sales, bluemarblebeads has racked up sales of over 53,000 and beadbrats’ total tops 27,000.
Those are the sellers you will be learning from, by studying what type of vintage beads they sell, how they present their goods (loose or in attractive product packaging), how they list their goods on Etsy and how much they charge. Learn from those top sellers without copying them too closely.
#7 Start selling your beads on Etsy, using the following tips to help you achieve even more sales and higher profits than the current top sellers at the site:
• Create your own product packaging. Just a label on a plastic bag will do or tied to the fastener of an organza bag. That makes your Etsy listing look more appealing and helps brand your product with a business name buyers can use to buy from you in future.
• Create your own outside Etsy website, add the URL to your product packaging, and you can resell to first time buyers attracted on Etsy and keep all the profits to yourself.
• Emphasise ‘Vintage’ in your Etsy product titles because some jewellery makers and sellers want unusual beads for their creations. The older the beads, the rarer they will be, given that many similar designs will have been damaged and discarded over the years. Estimate and include the likely age or date your beads were created in your Etsy titles.
• Create listings for identical beads and others for mixed designs. You’ll attract more buyers this way as well as making good use of costume jewellery containing too few beads to interest most jewellery makers and resellers.
• Do not overlook watch parts selling in smaller auction salerooms and at flea markets and collectors’ fairs. Many jewellery makers specialise in ‘steampunk’ jewellery, basically using Victorian beads and jewellery components of which watch parts are among the most popular.
Top tip: get started right away because this really is a hugely profitable and very enjoyable business!
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