I’ve bought used washing machines and clothes dryers several times. In lean times, it makes sense to pay a third of what a new machine costs.
I’m not the only one who thinks so, which is why you can make thousands of dollars a month buying and selling used appliances.
Building a Side Business Selling Used Appliances
I recently spoke to Kirk Pomerleau, who started buying and selling used appliances in a small community an hour west of Toronto, Ontario. He explains:
I really only deal in washers, dryers and stoves; fridges are too bulky for my minivan. I find sets on Kijiji.com in good condition and negotiate a better price. I take them home in my minivan, give them a good cleaning and repost them with a lot of good clear pictures and good ad copy using buyer keywords like “Outstanding” “Must be seen” etc.
So how much does Pomerleau make? He buys washer/dryer sets for $200 to $300 and sells them for $400 or so. Right now it’s an extra source of income, but Pomerleau says it “could definitely prove to be a sustainable living,” as long as he can find a better place to store and test his purchases. He has a market niche that gives him an added advantage: he is surrounded by a Mennonite community, most members of which do not drive, and he delivers, which clinches his sales. (Click to tweet this idea.)
This is not a difficult business to start. Pomerleau doesn’t even bother with repairs; he just buys clean, functioning units. As for his expenses, there is the gas for his van and the $20 he sometimes gives his son or brother to help him load and unload the machines.
Here in the U.S., Craigslist is perhaps the best place to both buy and sell used appliances. You can even find them in the free section from time to time. But Pomerleau tells me that in his part of Canada, Kijiji is more popular.
A Full-Service Washer and Dryer Business
Ryan Finlay makes a decent living buying and selling used appliances in Portland, Oregon. He explains how with “no money, tons of debt and a family to support,” he started buying and selling anything he could find on Craigslist. He adds, “I now buy and sell appliances almost exclusively, selling anywhere from 20-30 appliances a week.”
He makes a profit of $75 to $200 per appliance, and has learned how to do installation, repairs and more. Here’s how he explains what he does:
I will go and purchase good deals immediately, often times buying multiple appliances at a time. I do all the work, including the unhooking of hoses, cords, vents, etc., and removal of the appliances from the seller’s home. This makes for a very quick and pleasant transaction for sellers.
On the selling end of transactions, he removes the old appliance, installs the new one, changes out the dryer electrical cord to match the receptacle, and offers other services.
On ApplianceSchool.com, where he teaches people how to do what he does, Finley says, “You can make $1,000 to $2,000 a week in profit, without working long hours.”
As an example of a transaction, he explains that he bought a washer on Craigslist for $25, put a new $5 lid switch in it and sold it the same day for $175. He hauled away the buyer’s old washer, repaired it in a few minutes and soon had it ready to sell — increasing his profit.
Other Revenue Sources
As you start to sell those used appliances, you’ll notice a number of related revenue sources you can develop. For example, Ryan Finley inspects the dryer ducts going to the outside of the house when installing his dryers, and offers to clean them for a fee (in addition to reducing the efficiency of the machine, lint-filled dryer ducts cause thousands of fires).
You can also sell parts with service. For example, if you’re installing a dryer and notice that the customer’s vent is leaking air, you can offer to install a new one for $35. It will take you five or 10 minutes in most cases, and the vent hose itself might cost you as little as $10 or $15.
You can charge extra for hauling away old machines. It’s often best to include this in the price, but if the customer has other old appliances to get rid of, you might as well charge a fee to take those too. Sell the machines for their scrap metal value if they’re not repairable. Finlay says he gets between $8 and $22 for washers and dryers, though washing machines usually fetch better scrap prices.
Also, if you learn how to repair used appliances for your own resale business, you’ll be developing a marketable skill. Then you can reasonably charge $50 per hour for repairs.
Refrigerators are more complicated than washers, dryers, and stoves, so you may want avoid dealing in those at first. But in any case, this is a home-based business you can start with $100 and build into a nice side income, or even a good living.
Your Turn: Would you consider buying and selling used appliances?