Growing up I was always trying out different business ideas. When I was 16 I became a flea market dealer. The model was simple: I mostly sold new and used CDs, along with a few baseball cards.
To get the CDs in an affordable manner, I ordered them through the BMG music service. The BMG music service was a program where you signed up for an account, received your first seven CDs for the price of one, and then received a new CD every month at full price. BMG’s goal was to build a recurring revenue business with a monthly service. For someone like me, since it didn’t require a contract, I’d get my seven CDs for the price of one and then cancel the service. After doing the service with each family members’ name at different addresses, I had amassed a reasonable number of new CDs. The used CDs came from friends and family that no longer cared about the music.
As for the baseball cards, since I lived in North Florida, there was an arbitrage opportunity around the Atlanta Braves and the Florida Marlins. Those two teams, including players like Chipper Jones, were the most popular in my area so I used the Internet, especially news groups and eBay, to buy regional team players from people in other parts of the country where the cards weren’t as desirable. With those cards in hand, purchased at 40% off the Beckett price, I’d then sell them at the flea market for full price.
After four weekends at the flea market I had had enough. It was a great experience doing retail sales in a heavy negotiation environment outside in the Florida heat. Everyone should do a sales job, and this was my self-made sales job. I ended up making about $200 each weekend — a better hourly rate than my friends working at Publix, but didn’t warrant the effort and inventory risk.
Looking back, I’m proud of my time as a flea market dealer, and while it wasn’t financially viable, the experience was priceless.
What else? What odd entrepreneurially endeavors have you done?