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How to Start a Profitable Home-Based Business

People enter the liquidation industry from all backgrounds and walks of life – often not on purpose! Gabriela Viramontes stumbled into the liquidation industry almost two years ago and has never looked back, though she never thought she’d be selling merchandise for a living! Her inspiring story takes the concept of a home-based business to a whole new level.

Gabriela started her professional career as a 5th grade teacher, a path she loved but unfortunately had to put on hold when her mother fell ill years ago. At her mother’s bedside, she began to make bracelets and other jewelry items to pass the time. Demonstrating a natural talent for all things crafty, friends and acquaintances began to ask where they could buy her creations, which she began to sell out of her home. Following a few other similar crafty ventures, a friend approached her with the idea of starting a resale business and Gaby came on as a partner. The duo visited Via Trading on a friend’s recommendation and purchased their first box of cosmetics. Gaby’s business partner exited the business shortly thereafter, leaving Gaby to figure out how to sell through her first lot on her own.

Always a problem solver, Gaby decided to tap into the customer base that was at her fingertips: her seven sisters. Her sisters were looking to save money on common everyday items like drugstore cosmetics and began to purchase directly from Gaby on a regular basis. Over the next few weeks, neighbors and locals got word of Gaby’s deals and became customers. Whatever she didn’t manage to sell to her sisters and acquaintances, she would clear at a yard sale on the weekends. Certain towns like the one where Gaby lives allow a limited number of yard sales per household in a given time period. To circumvent this restriction, Gaby partnered up with various neighbors and held her yard sale on their front lawns until she was allowed to have one in her yard again. “It became tiring to move boxes from place to place so I decided to bring the business back into my house,” she says.

A few months after she settled into selling cosmetics successfully, her Account Manager at Via Trading recommend that she try a pallet of Christmas merchandise. “I was really nervous,” recalls Gaby. “I knew I could sell makeup to my sisters but I had no idea how the Christmas items would do.” She took a risk, and it paid off. Her sisters purchased most of her first Christmas pallet and the rest was bought off by neighbors who had since learned of her growing business. “I’m really glad he pushed me into a pallet or I would never have branched out from cosmetics,” she says. Over the last year, Gaby’s inventory has expanded to include seasonal items, home decor, dollar store items and of course, cosmetics. Her clientele has increased to the three+ blocks that surround her home and her sisters are still avid customers, as are her sisters’ coworkers and neighborhood families and friends.

Gaby now literally sells out of her home. “There are boxes of merchandise in the living room. I display the items on tables and walls each day and people come in and pick what they want!” A garage or storage space makes this kind of business model easier to manage but Gaby is thrilled that the entire neighborhood now knows she always has deals on every-day household items and they can just knock on the door to see what’s new. “I live by this motto,” says Gaby with a smile: “It’s easier to shop when the shop comes to you!” Now that she’s established in her neighborhood, her customers see tremendous value in just walking across the street to pick up what they need instead of driving down to the store and paying more for similar items.

Gaby has experienced great success and steady growth since she began her business, but it didn’t come easily. “There was a huge learning curve to go through when I started working with this merchandise,” she says. “I had to learn how to fix all the broken stuff. Luckily I have a close friend who helps me out but I’ve learned a tremendous amount from fixing things. I know about electrical wiring, plumbing and all kinds of things I never thought I’d learn!” Gaby offers all of her customers a satisfaction guarantee. Even though some of the merchandise she deals with is made up of potentially defective customer returns, she prefers to take the time to repair items to increase her customer satisfaction. “I guarantee everything. My customers know that if something breaks again after they buy it, they can bring it back and I’ll fix it again. If I can’t fix it, I’ll let them exchange it for something else.” While certain sellers in similar channels prefer to sell things as-is with no guarantees, Gaby likes to go the extra mile to outshine any competitors that pop up.

Gaby’s words of advice to others looking to start a resale business?

  • Focus on your customers. Buy what they want and what they’re looking for. As your customer base grows and changes, make sure you get to know them, talk to them, research them and cater to them.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. Advertising costs money but happy customers will tell their friends and everyone they know.
  • Never limit what you can do. You can always do more, and your initial idea might look nothing like the finished product but don’t be afraid to dream big.
  • Know your customers but don’t limit yourself to the customers you have. Cater to the ones you have and expand your inventory to attract new ones.

As the word spreads, Gaby’s business is thriving and she is getting increasingly busier. “Years ago, I’d pick stuff up from the street, fix it up and then resell it,” she says. “I never thought it would turn into this!” We asked Gaby if she’d consider setting up a flea market stand to take her business to the next level. “There’s too much competition at flea markets,” she responded. “I prefer doing this, maintaining my own hours, hanging out at home and letting the customers come to me. The next step is opening a store in my garage. I even have the name for it and everything!” Gaby’s store is in the works for 2014 and beyond but in the meantime, check her out on Facebook at Gaby’s Deals.

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