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How To Build A Successful Furniture Flipping Business In Your Spare Time

My husband is a stay-at-home dad, a college student, and what he likes to call a “part-time business owner”. You see, my husband built a successful furniture flipping business, while being a dad and going to school full-time. It’s really quite impressive!

My Husband’s Story

He started this business three years ago, when he kept coming across items on the street and in our community’s “free items” storage space. I was sick of him bringing home junk, so I told him to find uses for all of it, or get rid of it. Instead, he chose to fix it all up and sell it.

Since then, he’s brought in a little over $12,000 a year, just from flipping furniture as a side hustle. That’s $1,000 a month!

And when I say he does it part-time, I mean it. He only works on his projects about 5-10 hours a week.

My husband loves refreshing and restoring old furniture. So for him, this is like a fun and money making hobby. But he also knows that he can sell and do more with his furniture flipping business if he chooses to in the future.

A Few Of My Husband’s Flips!

Not sure what you can flip or how to make money with it? Sometimes some examples and pictures are the easiest way to convey what’s actually going on. So here we go!

The Couch

Furniture Flipping Business - Couch

This had to have been the easiest flip ever. My husband was at a thrift shop when a couch was donated. The owner had absolutely nowhere to put it, so he offered them $5. They took it!

We used it for a while, did absolutely nothing to it, and later sold it for $100.

The Side Tables

Furniture Flipping Business - side table before

This project was pretty cool. My husband got this side table (there were actually two of them) for free. The top was pretty beat up and the legs were unfinished.

He simply painted the legs and added some marble contact paper to the top (don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out this video!). He then sold them for $40 a piece!

Here’s the after photo:

Furniture Flipping Business - Side Table After

The Chairs

Furniture Flipping Business - Chairs

He got these stools for free as well. The seats were stained slightly and the legs had some signs of wear and tear.

He scrubbed at the seats a bit and got the stains out and then he stained the legs!

Boom! He turned those freebies into $50 ($25 a piece)!

Initial Tips – Before You Build a Furniture Flipping Business

Now that you know his backstory, I’m going to share with you his tips (in his own words, I’m just writing them out!) on how to build a successful furniture flipping business, whether you only have a few hours a week, or want to make it your full-time gig.

1) Know The Difference Between Refreshing and Restoration

Now, I’ll be honest here… I’m not handy. I mean, that’s what I have my husband and landlord for. However, my husband says that there is a big difference between refreshing and restoring furniture, so I’ll take his word on that.

Basically, refreshing a piece of furniture is just “sprucing” it up.

You might sand it down a bit, give it a fresh coat of paint, change out the hardware, or give it a good shine. But restoration is when you basically break the piece down and transform it into either a new and better piece of furniture, or give it a major face-lift (like reupholstering).

If you’re looking to make quick flips, and don’t mind selling pieces for slightly lower prices, refreshing furniture is recommended.

If you have special carpentry skills, know how to reupholster large couches, or want to get super creative with your furniture design, you can make more money with restoration. Keep in mind though that restoration will take more time and tools.

2) Know How Much Space You Need

The second thing you need to think about before starting a furniture flipping business, is how much space you’ll need. When my husband first started out, he was only refreshing furniture, so he was able to do that right on our (tiny) balcony.

Now that he focuses more on restoration, he needs more space, so we rented out a garage from our apartment complex for him to work. It costs him about $70 a month, but it’s well worth it for him. He’s able to keep all of his tools and work items in there as well, which means less clutter in the home.

How to Start a Furniture Flipping BusinessIf you have a…

  • basement,
  • spare room,
  • garage,
  • or even have a big enough living room…

…you should be able to refresh or restore furniture with ease.

If not, you may have to think about renting a space that can fit your needs.

3) Think About Transportation

Last but not least, before you get started in your business, you need to know what you can and can’t grab. My husband had to learn this the hard way when he bought a gigantic coffee table and couldn’t fit it into the back of our sedan.

Measure your trunk space, backseat, and even front to back if you will be able to put some seats down. If you have a truck or large SUV, you should be able to grab just about anything. If you have a smaller car or SUV though, measuring is going to be helpful. That way, you know what you can grab, and won’t have to rent a truck or call a friend every time you purchase a piece of furniture that won’t fit.

How to Start Your Furniture Flipping Business

Still interested? Here’s what my hubby recommends you do!

1) Build Up Your Toolkit

Okay, now you’re ready to get started flipping. Again, you can start small with refreshing furniture. If that’s the case, you only really need the following items:

  • Sandpaper (or a sanding tool to make sanding faster)
  • 3-in-1 wire brush
  • Neutral paint colors (white, black, sand, and grey are all great options) and paintbrushes
  • Paint top coat
  • Wood stain (for wood projects)
  • Tack cloth
  • Furniture spray cleaner
  • A tarp or drop cloth
  • Gloves (disposal or non-disposable, just not made of cloth!)
  • Wood filler
  • Painter’s tape
  • A simple toolbox – including items like a hammer, screwdriver, pliers, wrench, and measuring tape

Now, I know that may sound like a lot. But many of these items can be found for $10 or less at your local hardware store. And you can always purchase kits (like a pre-made toolbox), sample paints, and more to cut costs even further.

Once you start wanting to restore items, you’ll need significantly more tools, including a jigsaw, worktable, fabrics, and hardware pieces. But you can always work on building your inventory and take it one piece at a time.

A big up side is that many tools last for years, so once you buy them, you’ll be able to use them again and again.

2) Look For Free Items First

When you’re ready to start flipping furniture, it’s important to start as cheaply as possible. This is especially true if you aren’t sure if you’ll stick with it long-term. The best ways to find furniture for free is by using what you already have at home (if you’re looking to declutter) or by using Craigslist or buy nothing groups on Facebook.

You can also look for furniture on the side of the road, or even near dumpsters. For example, people in our complex will leave furniture pieces outside of the dumpster, away from the trash, in case someone can get use out them.

Be careful with this though. Look over the piece, and try not to pick up fabric pieces (because you have no idea what they hold). When you bring the item home, immediately disinfect it and store it away until you’re ready to work on it.

This is how my husband was able to start, and he made $2,000 from free items alone in his first few months of flipping.

3) Thrift Wisely

Once you’ve flipped a few free pieces, you can venture out into paid items. My husband usually takes one weekend out of the month to go thrifting and find pieces that he wants to flip.

He’s come home with:

  • filing cabinets,
  • coffee tables,
  • bedside tables,
  • bookcases,
  • and more.

But, he says there is a key to thrifting wisely vs. making absolutely no money. The key is to make sure the item is in good condition before you even flip it.

For example,

  • if drawers are broken in a dresser, it will cost you significantly more to replace them.
  • But, if you grab a dresser that just needs a good clean and paint job, you can flip it much faster, and without spending as much money.

Now, if you choose to restore furniture, the above tip won’t really apply. My husband has grab furniture pieces that are completely wrecked. But he’s able to transform them into beautiful and new pieces.

His favorite restoration piece was a TV console that he turned into a flip-top storage bench.

The item was only $5 but had broken legs, broken drawers, and more. He saw the beauty in it, even when I couldn’t.

If you choose to go this route, he recommends bargaining and negotiating on pieces that will need a lot of work, so you don’t overpay.

4) Get Your Side Hustle/Business In Order

Of course, a furniture flipping business can’t be a business if you aren’t making money from it.

So remember these tips:

  • Charge for delivery if you offer delivery. If not, have pick up locations added to your listings when you sell your items.
  • Keep track of your inventory, expenses, and sold pieces/income. That way, when you file your taxes, you know exactly how much you spent and made. Also, by keeping track of your inventory, you can see what you’ve sold, how long it takes to sell something, and your profit per piece after expenses.
  • Stay professional. Not everyone will want to pay your prices, and yes, rude customers are part of any business. Don’t let people mistreat you, but don’t stoop to their level either.

Of course, you’ll always learn something new when you have a furniture flipping business. And what works for some may not work for you. But, by treating this like a real business, you’ll be able to grow faster and see more progress.

5) Where To Sell Your Items

Of course, to make money, you have to actually sell your items. Here are a few different places you can start.

Craigslist

Craigslist is still super popular, even after all these years. Of course, stay safe and keep an eye out for scammers. But overall, my husband has seen good success with Craigslist, and recommends it.

Facebook Marketplace

This is my husband’s favorite platform. He says that it’s less of a hassle and back and forth with people. Plus, with Facebook Marketplace, you don’t have to give out your email or phone number. People just contact you through messenger.

There are plenty of articles out about selling on Facebook Marketplace, but of course, safety and common sense always come first.

Your Own Online Store

If you really want to take your flipping business to the next level, you can always have your own online store. You could get started for as little as $9 a month on Shopify (if you build a website out separately). Or you can use the premium Shopify version, or a site like Squarespace, for a few dollars or more a month.

Of course, it’s important to note if you only deliver or have pick up locally, or if you can ship to other areas.

Social Media

Social media is another great way to get your pieces seen. I’ve seen a few thrifters use Instagram, Pinterest, and even Twitter to sell their items. Again, remember to list your location and if you’ll deliver or ship.

Selling Apps

A few other ways to sell are to use apps like OfferUp or Poshmark (they have a “home” section now). My husband doesn’t prefer these apps, but has seen others have success with them.

Start Your Own Furniture Flipping Business

There you have it, how to start flipping furniture part-time or full-time, and how to make money doing it!

If you love designing, woodworking, or being creative with your hands, you can make money restoring and refreshing some great items. And no matter what, have fun, and get creative!

Do you think you’ll start a furniture flipping business? Why or why not?

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AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard

Kim Studdard is a strategy consultant, product launch expert, and mastermind behind the www.theentrepremomer.com. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or crying over This Is Us, you'll find her teaching other mompreneurs how to scale their business without scaling their workload.

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