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Also a CMF TLBM Eraser and #60144 parts
This batch I'm only checking prices for major parts, otherwise just going a predetermined amount below the average price
40% or 50% off seems necessary to make most sets worth parting out.
Some need further discount and some are okay at 20% or 30%.
Target usually clearances 15% or 30% but sometimes they already listed a set below MSRP and that adds up to something worthwhile. Some of the sets I mentioned yesterday came from that.
My wife and I are casually discussing the possibility of starting a Bricklink/Brickowl store. I've thought of it previously as a potential way of funding my hobby but my good lady has wondered whether it would work as a viable career path for whilst our children are still little.
I wondered whether any of you would be willing to give opinions on a few questions we have.
1. Would you start a store now, is it enjoyable still or a bit of a burden? Is it all consuming, sourcing deals, sorting parts, keeping on top of inventory, stock taking, accounts, packing, posting etc., is there time left for building your own stuff?
2. What volume of parts is really needed to make an income from it? Would an investment of £1000 in sets/parts be enough to start and make a go of it?
3. Would you start by only stocking new elements?
4. I see good deals in the supermarket and online, what sort of discount is needed on a set to make it viable for parting out? Is 15% off enough or do you really need to wait for the 25-30%+ deals? Leading to the further question, does buying new sets with new/exclusive parts work as a method of attracting custom? I can't help thinking you end up with a lot of slow moving stock after the rarer parts have been picked off.
I'm sure more questions will occur to us before we took any kind of plunge, but did any of you here just start really small with just the stuff you didn't want in sets or with the odd set from lucky retail deals that you used to fund your hobby? Does it kind of grow without much effort?
Thanks for any and all opinions, answers or advice.
@Mr_Cross - I'm sure you'll get a lot of views about this, but I'd really recommend that you do a lot of research before committing to anything.
Look at the 'Part Out' value of each set, and bear in mind that although some parts and minifigures will be in demand, others will stay in your inventory for a long time!
You need to decide what sort of percentage return you're happy with and then work from that. it probably sounds obvious, but the buy-in price is critical. It depends on what the sets are but generally I won't touch anything below 40% off. In addition, I'd strongly recommend that you buy multiples of sets, which will help with having decent quantities of individual part types.
There's also a definite lifecyle for sets; on release some figures etc will be in demand (so will sell fast and at high prices) but you'll need to factor the higher buy-in cost. Later on, the sets will be cheaper to buy, but there's usually a corresponding reduction in demand and part-out value..... so you may need to be prepared to hold the stock for longer.
I started running a small store just as a hobby, and something to occupy me in the winter. I've enjoyed it, but you'll need to be prepared to commit to a lot of time sorting parts and processing orders.
1. I would not do again, it is a lot of work and the number of sellers have really increased in the last 3-4 years. Stores that use to make a decent income (yet not viable) have seen their sales drop.
2. Let's take for example, that you can buy your stock at 5c a part (sorry, using US currency). In order to have 2-3 orders a week, so you will need 20K - 40K parts, so $1000-$2000 initial inventory. For averaging an order a day, you will need more than 100K part, so $5000 initial inventory that bring you a potential $10 daily order. To make a living income, you will need upper of 500K part. On top of that you will need to get a lot of shelves, boxes, drawers to organize your inventory those add up quickly.
3. New elements are easier to buy and sort out. Older are much more work but can bring more money when dealing with retired element or color. If you are not familiar with all the elements and molds, that will be a painful start.
4. I don't buy anything now unless it is 33% off.
While having many parts is good, it almost take as much effort to part out 1 or 20 of the same set. Parting 20 of the same set won't bring you lot of lots, but will bring large quantities of the same part that some buyers are looking for. It is a balancing act.
Hope that helps,
And yes, it is time consuming. The burden thing depends on what you enjoy. I love the hunt and finding deals. Hopefully, you have cheap labor (kids) or somebody that enjoys sorting to help with that part. As mentioned before, sorting multiples is the only way to go. If I catch a straggler on clearance, I try to hold off parting it out until I can source others of the same set. I like to do at least 20 of small sets and 10 of large ones.
Efficiency from the start is really key to managing time. Plan for an inventory system that you think you will never be big enough to support. Standardize your shipping/packaging as much as possible...bulk mailers, ziplock baggies, label printer, etc. Remember, you can always close the store if it becomes too much. That's an advantage of using online marketplaces...and yes, sell on both BL and BO.
2. I started the year with around 60k parts, and I think that is kind of around the threshold to become a fairly steady store. A lot of people say you should really consider what kind of store you want to be. That will likely curtail your buying habits. Do you want to specialize in one part type (technic, minifig parts, etc.), variety vs quantity, minifigs only, sealed sets, etc? I'd say no to only new sets. I think there is value to adding vintage and used parts no longer made. A lot of times, those parts bring the buyers that will then buy your parts that all the other stores have.
So for the first 6 months of this year, I dumped everything I made back into inventory and have grown from 60k parts to 200k parts. So I didn't really make anything, but I have a crap ton of parts now and was able to build and get a ton of stuff I couldn't have justified buying without the store to support my habit.
3. You gotta start somewhere, and new elements are the easiest to part out and add to your inventory. I'd eventually add some used stuff, but that does take longer to inspect and add to your inventory.
4. For part out, I aim for 3X what I pay. I really don't pay attention to percent off at all, but I'd guess the majority of my stuff is 50% clearance or more. I do buy new stuff as well with coupons, small discounts, etc., but it really all depends on the part out value. For the past 6 months, I'm at 3.4 part out for around 195k parts. I've heard some folks say 2X is good enough, but the larger margin puts me at less risk (at least in my mind) and hopefully accounts for newer parts/figures declining in value after the newness fades.
I'm sure there is value to adding things like CMF and popular parts to just sell at cost to attract buyers, but I'm not at that point yet or really willing to take that risk I guess.
There are a lot more pointers and failures I could share as well. I would say I was an experienced buyer on BL way before I was really a seller. Those experiences definitely helped with the type of store and service I liked and wanted to be like.
I/we will definitely be doing a lot of research first. I've been a buyer on Bricklink for about twelve years or so and I think I have an idea of the kind of store and seller I want to be.
It occurs to me that they way I sort my own parts collection would be wholly different to how I would want an inventory sorted.
On eBay when I've sold stuff there, I've never felt I made much on a transaction after all the fees and I've had some bad experiences with buyers (not selling Lego fwiw), do you encounter many problems with buyers on Bricklink.
Elspankdog, I'll have a look for those videos too, thanks!
I run a store along with having a part time regular job. So I don't depend on store income. Paychecks can help fund my store along with reinvesting proceeds.
I go for part value well above 2 times set cost. Usually sets have to be 30-40% off to be cheap enough. People in this thread have said both; they're different ways of expressing the same concept.
Parting out new sets is less hard than sorting through used lots, but I do either when the opportunity presents itself.
An interest in LEGO helps, but there's a lot of work behind fun stuff. If you want some parts yourself, you can sell the rest; there's synergy there.
Last year I spent about $4600 on LEGO, $1900 on related expenses, and took in $4700 - down $1800 with $6600 of inventory.
This year - $3300 merchandise, $2200 other and $6000 revenue - $500 profit and added $3100 inventory
Parted out 2 #75141, 11 more #41233, 3 #41143, 3 #70594, 3 more #70349
Busy sorting the stuff I just parted out and with a bunch of small to medium orders. Behind a day or two on any but the simplest orders.
Like usual, I did some price cuts including tiered discounts in categories that happened to come up while I was managing inventory.
Lately I've had some small orders that weren't so simple because I had trouble finding the parts and stayed up late because I kept thinking I was almost done.
Started using tenth cent prices up to 5c instead of 2c; the flexibility helps on low value parts.
Scored big with 50-70% clearance at WalMart. 3 or 4 part out ratio when I often go for around 2.5
2 #41172, 3 #41232, 4 #41233, #41300, #41301
Haven't listed the 3 #41185 yet or #10834 and #41118 from previous visits
Particularly focused on price cuts as an end of month sale and so I don't overestimate the value of sets containing those parts
I've decided to shift my entire parts inventory in one go in order to make room for various things, and am currently stock-checking, packing, etc. everything up ready for shipping.
I'm sure I'll be back at some point!
At some point recently I passed $10,000 in inventory
Parted out #41004 from a garage sale. Used - Like New except the contents of a still sealed small bag as New
Also listed #41129 extra parts (which I got on clearance for myself)
Another garage sale had 7 6 quart Sterilite tubs for $2, much better than even great sales new. That's the model I already use, and more of the same helps for reasons like stacking better. I ran out with recent inventory additions.
Incredibly productive evening of part sorting and repricing
Two more decently sized orders the night of the 31st, to finish July on a high note
Trying to thoroughly sort bags rather than just pull the parts I need for a current order. The last parts I needed for 2 orders were in the same bag.
More WalMart clearance partouts - 6 #41142, 3 #60100, 3 #70351
@TheFew Gotta start somewhere, and 17K parts is a lot more than my initial inventory, hopefully you'll get going quicker
@TheFew what's your store link? admittedly I won't look too closely, being on the other side of the Atlantic
well, you've already learned that listing mixed parts is even more time consuming
Minimum buy is appropriate when you don't charge fees beyond postage. I have no minimum buy but charge handling to cover fixed expenses and make *something* on small orders.
people using another currency can select yours and PayPal will charge them the appropriate amount in theirs, so the currency line seems superfluous, so you might want to remove that or add a similar explanation of how PayPal handles it.
@Aryton1310 @Daragh I part out everything that's a good enough deal. Friends part value is a little lower so I need a better discount on it. Most of my recent additions are Friends because that's much of WalMart has on clearance. Speaking of which - 3 #10728, 3 #41118, 3 #41124. And #41142 and #44185 from other girly themes. 2 #41123, #41127, #41129 not yet listed.
I list minimum postage charges and their weight tiers rather than typing out the whole rate table. [some buyers complain about S&H even when they qualify for the lowest rate. reminds me of patrons of brick and mortar locations ignoring signs.]
Next order had some parts from #41142 and #70594 so I sorted much of those. Since I can't mail on Sunday anyway, there's less of a rush to get an order out.
Getting less wordy when labeling bags
How many weekly sales do you average based off of how many parts do you have? I have about 10k listed so far, made five sales last week (just one so far this week though).
What is your average order value? For me it seems to be about $10.
I'm still working on a big order from this weekend because I was busy with part sorting and a few other orders. Sometimes I can't ship as fast as I'd like. I got 6 paid orders tonight. One of those is simple and the buyer talked aobut how quickly they'd get it
A couple current orders might call for the Priority Mail Small Flatrate Envelope. I have only 2 left, so I ordered more, 15 instead of 10. I holds about 2 pounds of pieces. For light packages and close zones, it isn't much cheaper but is still a free mailer. Above that it makes a big difference on postage.
Since I boguht small bags in bulk, I've used slightly over 500 2x3s and slightly under that many 3x5's
Finally finished the big order from the weekend.
I've reached a bit of a milestone today, with 50,000 items in stock!
When I started my store a couple of years ago it seemed like a reasonable target; and I'd like to thank everyone who's ordered from me and made it possible :-)
As a little bonus to Bricksetters, please mention your name when ordering during the next couple of weeks and I'll do a special deal on the P&P :-)
Still busy. I got 2 orders so close together that the numbers were consecutive. (maybe I pay attention because I'm also a paper currency collector where serial numbers are a big deal) I've been more okay with waiting on buyers. Took me a couple days to get to some very simple orders. Sent some apologetic messages.
PayPal eChecks don't bother me much, but I don't like how they're filed under the sent date rather than the clear date so I have to dig through the activity log. My feedback comments usually include how fast payment was made including a comment about the eCheck
Usually I bag all of a lot together, but people often want just 1 of a minifigure, so I separate those, which saves time and avoids errors when filling orders.
I make sure my prices are below average, but now I'm making sure they're at least 5% below. I use only certain increments for prices, which might combine to over 5%. I was already doing this for tiered discounts. (with one exception - 42 is cool even though it's only about 4.5% less than 44)
I want my lot to be on the first page of US results, which might mean much more than 5% off. Perhaps that indicates median price is lower than mean price.
I used 1.5x2 bags rarely enoguh that I didn't want another inventory item, so I didn't buy more.
Parted out #41179
BL now lists minifig and minidoll hair separately, which I find odd since they're generally compatible with each other
BL maintenance beginning to annoy me - not much absolute time, but really disrupts workflow even knowing the schedule. Is there some good technical reason they need to take the whole site down for 10 minutes every night and an hour every month?
Being new to Bricklink and being a bit thick I have manged to list half of my new and used minfigures as "sets" and the other half as "minifigures". Do you think this makes any difference to how people will find my stock and use my shop?
From what I can gather, a listing for a Minifigure as a set, all the extras (e.g. swords, weapons , stands (For CMF's) etc) would be expected to be included.
A listing for a Minifigure is just that, nothing except the build that makes up the figure itself.
So in response to your question, it will depend on how they are searched for and what the purchaser expects to get.
Much order packing and part sorting, still nowhere near caught up.
3 TLBM CMF (from bags I bought on [email protected] to fill out an order) - Orca, Pink Power Batgirl, Red Hood
Parted out 2 more #40165 and updated pricing on all lots in it
Other price cuts include most next shields
Minifigure listings, CMF or not, include headgear/hair, and neck accesories, but not hand accessories.
A CMF set includes hand accessories and the stand.
Some sellers list in the other category with an item description explaining the difference.
Some people list non-CMF figures under the set they're from. Even listing as an incomplete set with an item description, that can get confusing.
Yes, that's correct :-)
Relatively easier to check prices on different colors of the same part, just use dropdown menu on the catalog page
Recent part outs - 2 #70910, #75156 without some figs
Reorganized my DUPLO inventory as I finally sorted some such partouts.