In my life I have had several businesses that were based on inventory. I feel like you name it – I did it but of course that is not the case. Luckily, my husband is always on board with anything I want to try. Sure he may have questioned my sanity with my first venture or two but those days are long gone.
Irish Step Dancing
My first inventory based business was based on products for Irish Step Dancing (like Riverdance). That is a very specialized market but I did pretty well because my daughter and I were involved in Irish Step Dancing so I was already on the “circuit” as a dancer, I may as well make money while I was traveling. And when I wasn’t traveling I had a storefront at the dance studio and an online portion run out of our home. Once we stopped dancing, I lost interest and moved on. Additionally I decided selling Irish Dance shoes was difficult to do because by the nature of the dance they needed to be tight fitting and so often people bought them to large or sent them back saying they were too small only to come back asking for that same size again.
Superfeet was a very lucrative business for me. I actually started with them when I had the Irish Step Dancing storefront. Quickly I became the nation’s top seller and I loved working with them. However, once they realized I no longer had a storefront – it didn’t matter that I was the nation’s top seller, they cancelled the contract. Of course I could have re-opened a storefront but that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
This was the least profitable niche I chose. I learned pretty quickly that I didn’t want to get into the high cost inventory that a successful jewelry business would need to carry.
Clothing – Ebay
Ebay was very profitable for me BUT selling used clothing or even new clothing was very time consuming. Believe it or not you can’t just put a listing for a dress up and let customers know that it is some major designer’s dress size 8. You need to list the size as well as take all the measurements yourself and list each of those – because we all know a size 8 is not always a size 8. Inevitably ever single person who bid wanted additional photos and additional measurements. Profitable – but very time consuming. Eventually Ebay was not the only site on the market for this type of seller and they raised their rates to a level that make it far less profitable than other platforms.
Other Inventory Based Businesses From Home
Now I still do assorted inventory based sales but I rely mostly on Facebook Marketplace, Mercari, Etsy, Craigslist etc…
Inventory for Big Business
All of my inventory based businesses were considered small. Even Superfeet where I had top sales was still done outside of my normal career and didn’t require warehouses, storage facilities, etc… When you become a big business (think Amazon, BestBuy, Walmart etc…) you always need to consider Inventory Optimization which balances capital investment with the business goals and how much of a stockpile they should carry when considering supply and demand and it should always be kept in a bonded warehouse. Now in normal times there are many ways to translate supply and demand and convert that into how much inventory you should carry. But these are not normal times. Everyone (consumers) are living with the concern that there may never be toilet paper again; meat products are nearly impossible to get; and you can forget about basic staples like flour, sugar, milk, butter and eggs. Inventory optimization is more of a challenge now than it has ever been.