When readers ask me what my favourite ideas for a side hustle is, I often suggest things like blogging, proofreading, and transcription, because these can be done anywhere, by anyone. I often don’t mention how to flip furniture because it has some limitations. However, this is a side hustle that made me $300 for only 4 hours work.
When I first graduated University, I was desperately looking for a way to make money from home because I really wasn’t ready to join the real world. I was 23 years old, I was lost, confused, and scared as heck. So, I searched and searched and landed upon refinishing furniture. If it wasn’t for my chronic back pain, I’d still be doing this today. Instead I ended up starting this personal finance blog and it’s become my full-time income.
Learning how to flip furniture for money is actually a rather simple process and can be done by anyone, young or old, as long as you have a bit of space in your home and have the ability to put in a little elbow grease. Let’s dig into how to flip furniture for money and grow it into a nice little side business.
How does it work?
Well, flipping furniture is actually a rather simple process. You find a piece of nice quality furniture that is sold for cheap (or found for free) that you can paint or re-stain and sell for a handsome profit.
People are always looking for beautiful, quality furniture for their homes without having to pay thousands of dollars which means you’ve got hundreds of potential clients in your neighbourhood. You can even offer custom furniture pieces that are requested by clients.
Here’s an example from my personal experience, the summer after I graduated I was driving somewhere with my mother and noticed a beautiful, 30 year old dresser in front of someone’s house being given away for free. We stopped, put it in our trunk and brought it home. I painted it a beautiful grey colour and sold it 5 days later for $350 which ended up being over a $300 profit after supplies. Simple as pie!
How to Flip Furniture for Profit
1. Learn how to spot real wood
A lot of furniture that you’re going to find for cheap these days is going to be made of things like wood chips covered in a cheap veneer or made of corrugated cardboard. Steer clear of these pieces as they won’t finish well and the paint or stain will easily chip.
It’s essential that you learn how to spot wood pieces that are quality and well built so you don’t disappoint your customers in a few weeks time.
Sometimes, the piece may already be painted so it may be harder to tell if it’s real wood or not, but after a few weeks of searching thrift stores you’ll easily be able to tell the difference.
2. Learn the best places to find the goods
Overtime, you’ll learn the best places in your town to find great quality pieces but it will honestly take a bit of time for you to truly find the best furniture to flip. Some stores will always have cheaper quality furniture because the houses around them are lower-income.
A good insider tip is to try out thrift and second hand stores that are in wealthier neighbourhoods because they’re more likely to have the good stuff, however, it may cost a bit more money because the store owners have learned that they can charge a bit more.
A few awesome places to flip furniture include:
1. Garage Sales
One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning when I was learning how to flip furniture was spending the morning going to every garage sale I could find. You could find some really amazing pieces for great prices, but only if you went out early enough in the morning. You’ll find the best products during the hot months when people are having garage sales, so get to work in June, July, and August!
2. Estate Sales
Estate sales are a GOLD MINE for people who are learning how to flip furniture. Why? Well, when someone is holding an estate sale, it’s usually because someone has passed away and that person is usually older meaning they’ve held onto their furniture for decades.
The people holding these sales are trying to get rid of everything for a reasonable price and will haggle with you a bit, but not too much. The furniture is usually all wood and amazing quality, and can be a great place to start. You can find estate sales in the paper, or on Craigslist.
3. Thrift Stores
Thrift stores were my favourite place to go during the colder months because they were usually heated, which meant I wouldn’t freeze my little buns off. The biggest issue with most thrift stores is that the owners aren’t as willing to haggle, so the prices can be firm, but you can usually find some good stuff.
When most people these days are looking for a place to get rid of their stuff quickly, they’ll throw it up on Craiglist or Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. You’ll find really great deals on these sites and people are usually willing to let you haggle the price down a bit. However, be sure to investigate quality before ever making a purchase.
5. Flea Markets
Most sellers at a flea market are there because it’s their main hustle, their only job. This means that their entire objective is to sell as much as they possible can in a short period. It’s a great place to haggle prices and really get the best deal.
6. On The Curb
This is my favourite place to find furniture to flip because it’s the best price, FREE. However, you want to make sure that the pieces haven’t been outside overnight because they’ll have a bit of water damage if they have, especially over a rainy evening.
3. Before buying have an idea of what you’re going to do
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made when flipping furniture was buying something without having a plan of what I wanted to do to it. These pieces were the worst because you’d have them in your home for weeks on end, maybe even finishing them more than once and never being truly happy with the finished product.
When you’re at a store, or a sale, or on the side of the road, take a few seconds to think (or search Pinterest for inspiration) about what you wish to do to the product so you don’t end up in this predicament.
4. Learn how to do it correctly
Learning how to flip furniture is NOT an easy thing to do, and it isn’t for everyone. However, it is fun and can be lucrative if you take the time to learn exactly how to do it properly. You don’t want to finish your first piece, sell it, and have that person calling you a week later because there’s paint chipping.
- Here’s a great article that’s an awesome example of the content you should search for about how to chalk paint a dresser that shows you everything you need to do!
5. Keep Up With Trends
There’s absolutely no point in starting to refinish furniture if you’re going to make it look like the furniture is still from 1980. A great way to do this is to look at inspiration images on Pinterest and to keep up in some of the popular furniture flippers facebook groups.
You should do some research on the most popular furniture colours of the year you’re working in, the techniques that look the best, and the design elements that are going to get your product sold the quickest.
6. Only use quality tools
When first starting out, it may seem smart to use lower quality brushes and tools to work on your furniture. This will be a hard lesson to learn if you take that route. Lower quality tools are going to give you a lower quality product and cause your customers to be dissatisfied with your work.
My best advice is to create a stockpile of products that you buy on sale so you it at your fingertips.
Here’s some examples of quality products you should use to flip furniture:
7. Use a facebook business page
One of the absolute best ways to sell things these days is using Facebook. There are hundreds of buy/sell groups on Facebook that are catered to your region and can be used to make sales.
You should also have a business page for your business where you can post before and afters, and create ads to sell larger pieces.
Having a business page will also allow people to hit like so they see a lot more of your content and are able to share it with their friends who may purchase as well.
8. Decide if you’ll have a website
If you’re looking to turn your furniture flipping side hustle into a full-blown career, I highly suggest that you create a website where potential clients can see your previous finished pieces.
It’s a much more professional place to direct people who are trying to buy something or trying to get a custom piece done than asking them to message you on Facebook. You can get a website up and running for less than $10 a month, so it won’t break the bank either. You could even start a blog where you chronicle the different projects you complete, because people will eat that up on Pinterest.
9. Decide if you want to offer delivery
Offering delivery is going to make your furniture flipping business open to a lot more customers, however, it’s important that if you decide to offer delivery that you do it properly. You need to make sure that the piece is secured, and won’t get ruined in the process.
You must be sure that you’re charging your customer the right amount of money for delivery that will cover your fuel costs, your time, and any supplies you may need to get the item to their home. Also, if it is a larger piece you need to make sure that you bring someone who can help you lift the product.
If you decide not to offer delivery, things may be easier for you, however, you’ll be narrowing the people who are going to be able to purchase your products so it may take longer to make the sale.
10. test out taking custom orders
If you want to really grow this business, taking custom orders is an awesome way to do so. Before you start taking custom orders you’re going to need a great portfolio of pieces to show your skills.
Sometimes, your custom orders aren’t going to make you a ton of money so it’s something you need to think about on a case-by-case basis. You don’t have to say yes to every single request someone makes.
11. Provide Amazing Customer Service
One of the most important parts of a business like this is the value of word of mouth marketing. If you have a customer who buys a piece from you and you give them stellar customer service chances are they’ll tell every single person who walks in their home about the piece and where they got it, giving you free publicity and more sales.
Try your best to go above and beyond for your customers. Make sure if it’s a custom order that you deliver on the time frame. Make sure that you are always nice to your customers even if they get annoying. This is free marketing and it’s so insanely valuable to your new business.
A great pro tip: If you’re selling something like a coffee table and you know that drinks may ruin the finish over time, provide some customized coasters with the order. People will love it and appreciate the thought you put into it.
12. Always include a business card with orders
Going along with the point of word of mouth marketing, it’s a great idea to get some custom business cards created with your phone number or website included. This way whoever bought your piece can easily recall where they purchased it and tell their friends.
13. Photograph Every Piece
One of the best ways for you to get more sales is to show people your past work, especially for custom pieces. It’s very important that you start taking photographs of your work for a portfolio that will prove to people that you are skilled and that you will deliver on your promises.
Learning how to flip furniture is one of the best ways to make money from home that is both hard labour, creative, and interesting. It’s always a challenge, and it’s different every single day. Would you ever consider flipping furniture for profit? If so, let me know in the comments and I’ll answer any questions you may have!