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Ways To Make Money From: Collecting


VIRTUALLY ANYTHING IS collectable. Most people, at some point in their lives, have built up a collection of something, such as the ‘usual’ things like stamps, coins, football programmes and records, or something far more weird and wacky.

If you know where to sell these items auctions and collectors’ fairs for Example you can make huge profits. Here are 20 potentially profitable collecting related business opportunities:

  1. Stamps

The classic item that people often collect in their youth, there are many thousands of stamp collectors of all ages for certain stamps and first day covers, although most collectors are in it for the enjoyment and will way more modest prices for relatively easily obtainable items.

To obtain stock, and advertise your services at the same time, advertise in local newspapers, specialist philatelic publications and young persons’ magazines to buy up stamp collections for cash, as well as buying in bulk from stamp dealers and from the post rooms of large companies and mail order businesses.

Approximate selling prices for stamps are given in books such as the Stanley Gibbons guides which can be obtained from all good bookshops.

The ideal way to sell stamps is by post. Set up a stamp club by producing a monthly catalogue advertising your stock, advertising in the above publications, perhaps as an incentive. By mounting the stamps in a booklet (group them according to country, date, theme and price) and sending them directly to your customers they can pay for what they keep and return the rest.

Alternatively, take out a stall at markets and collectors’ fairs, or even sell your stock from a suitcase. Related products such as stamp collecting guides, albums, wallets and posters can also be sold. Support services you could offer are a stamp-finding service or international correspondence club.

  1. Coins and bank notes

Probably a close second to collecting stamps in terms of popularity, coins and banknotes can be bought and sold in very similar manner. As with stamps, setting up a club and producing a monthly catalogue / magazine is the best way to encourage continuous and repeated mail order sales, and you can buy stock and advertise your service in a similar way.

You should produce a good quality catalogue featuring photographs of the coins and banknotes along with their selling prices. Related products to sell are plastic wallets, cotton gloves, pictures and posters, and grouped coins from people’s year of birth.

  1. Coin and stamp products

Any coins and stamps you get that are worth very little the can be put to very good use.

Being light and durable, coins can be used for jewelry and can be polished and modified to make excellent earnings, brooches, belts and watch straps, for example. Coins can also be used to make unusual and very desirable three-dimensional pictures, which can then be sold in art, gift and souvenir shops. Similarly, mosaics and collages can be constructed from used stamps and sold as above.

  1. Records

Following the rise of the compact disc the humble vinyl record has become increasingly rare and collectable. Vinyl junkies all over the country gather at record fairs in search of those hard-to-find items, and this is something you can take advantage of.

Buy up secondhand LPs and singles from junk shops, jumble sales, house clearances and record fairs, or negotiable bulk-buying deals with record shops. To set your service apart from others try specializing in a particular era or genre of music -50s and 60s music in general remains particularly popular, as does jazz. You could import records from the USA or elsewhere –US jazz imports, for example, can command high prices with collectors.

A record shop or a stall for selling at markets and fairs can be easily set up, although a more original idea is to create a ‘single club’. Send out a catalogue / magazine every month to get people to join the club, for which a fee could be charged, offer a free single every month.

  1. Fine wine club

An original and largely untried idea, the fine wine club could tap into large market of people who fancy themselves as wine connoisseurs.

One dimension of this service is to offer a similar service to that of wine cellars (you will need the necessary licenses and documentation), except by mail order, charging  an joining fee and offering a free bottle of wine each month. By negotiating bulk deals with wine cellars and manufacturers you can obtain stock and charge a high mark-up, making it a very profitable service if marketed correctly.

A less ambitious scheme could be set up a home-made wine club selling wines that people have made at home on a sale or return basis, earning a commission on every bottle sold.

Bottle labels taken from classic wines and spirits from all over the world will also sell to particular collectors – they can steamed off the bottle and sold by mail order.

  1. Secondhand books

Shops and stalls selling second hand books are commonplace and can be profitable. Purchase initial stock from other bookshops and wholesalers, as well as from house clearances, junk shops and so on (once you are established most of your stock could be bought and sold from customers coming into the shop).

Setting up a mail order secondhand book club is and inexpensive and ‘novel’ variation. Produce a brochure consisting of writers, titles, genres, publishers and prices, perhaps charging a joining fee, and offer free books as an incentive. It may be good idea to specialize – in fiction, crime, arts and crafts or nonfiction for example – perhaps selling rare and / or first edition books and print plates if you can obtain them.

Other options are to set up a collectors’ magazine or exchange the mart, offer a book finding and valuation service, or sell related products such as bookmarks, bookends, covers and cataloguing systems. A particularly original idea is to hollow out thick books and insert a lockable container to create a security box.

  1. Antique and repro toys

Antiques are always popular with collectors, and toys are one particular area you could specialize in. Dolls’ houses and dolls in particular are highly prized by collectors, who will pay well for them.

Develop contacts with antique dealers, who will be able to help you obtain them. Jumble and car boot sales and house clearances are also good sources.

Reproduced versions of old toys such as rocking horses, hobby horses and dolls houses are also becoming popular with collectors.

  1. Postcards

Another item popular with collectors is the postcard. Particularly in demand are cards featuring photographs of cities and towns from times gone by, as many people will collect cards relating to one place, and they can also be framed and mounted.

Other themed postcards you could buy and sell are those featuring capital cities, exotic beaches and religious shrines for example, or saucy, political or satirical cards. These can be bought and sold in much the same way as the above items.

  1. Transport memorabilia

Pictures and other articles relating to trains, boats, trams and aero planes are very popular and highly collectable, especially when associated with wartime. Items from, and pictures of, famous trains, boats and planes will sell very well.

  1. Fossils, rocks and crystals

All over the world people collect examples of fossils, rocks and crystals – not just geologists either. By advertising in suitable publications and sending out a catalogue they can be sold by mail order, perhaps setting up a collector’s club and magazine to promote the service further.

Although there are collectors of all ages from all walks of life, schools could be a good market to concentrate on. In addition, the rise in New Age culture has meant that people now often buy crystals for different purposes, such as their healing properties. Again, these could be sold as mail order items.

  1. Computer games and software

With computers now so widespread, any business selling computer games and software is almost bound to be successful.

Many people collect computer games and you could specialize in selling games for one or more types of computer system such as the PC, Amiga, Commodore, Atari or Apple Mac, or concentrate on certain types of game and software such as role-playing games, arcade-style games or educational games. Games for the Sony PlayStation, Super Nintendo and Sega systems are also likely to be collectable and popular.

  1. Art and photographs

Photographs, paintings and other works are very often purchased by collectors interested in one particular subject, style, or artist. For example, you could collect, frame and sell photographs of the Lake District, Scottish Highlands or Welsh Valleys – all very popular subjects. Alternatively, you could just sell English landscape paintings, or the works for Impressionist painters.

By specializing in the stock you buy and sell you can often buy more cheaply as you develop contacts in the business and sell at higher prices to collectors as you become more established.

  1. Matchboxes

Yes, matchboxes are a collector’s item! Rare and old examples can fetch high prices with collectors, sometimes selling for over $100 pounds a box. Matchboxes, and similar household items such as soap, sweets, tobacco and cigarettes, are very collectable if they are old, unused, in good condition and contained in their original packaging. There is a market selling to people building up a collection of perhaps one or many types of old (as in Victorian, Edwardian and pre-war) and unusual household items. Museums and the prop departments of film, TV and theater companies will also buy these items from time to time. With newer and less collectable items you could package up, say, 10 matchboxes at a time and sell them in bulk. Being relatively light, these items can be sold by mail order too.

  1. Replica gun club

Replica and antique guns appeal to all kinds of collectors. Car boot sales, antique shops and junk shops could be a rich source of stock, and there are various manufacturers of repro and replica guns could also buy from.

Produce a catalogue and advertise in local newspapers, style magazines and specialist gun magazines.

  1. Comics

Popular with the young and not-so-young, comics have a particular cult appeal and hence are often highly collectable.

Especially in demand are the old Marvel and DC comics featuring superheroes such as Batman and Superman, although established British titles such as the Beano and Dandy are also popular, and many current titles are making a bid for collectability.

You could set up a comic shop, although there are also the options of selling at markets and collectors’ fairs, or selling by mail order and / or setting up a comic club. Advertise to buy up back issues and people’s collections and search through jumble sales and junk shops for your stock.

Another option is to buy comics in the UK and post them on to British expatriates and foreign collectors, charging a fee for the service.

  1. Butterflies

Given the ease with which they can be mounted, packaged and posted, butterflies make an excellent mail order item that will be popular with nature lovers and enthusiasts everywhere. Obtain stock by advertising your internet specialist publications all over the world – you can also sell through these publications.

Why not sell other insects too?

  1. Programmes

Whenever people go to a pop concert, football match, sports event, play or musical they very often buy a programme. Very often, at a later date, these will change hands between collectors for significant sums of money.

The business of selling old football programmes continues to prosper, as there is huge potential market of football fans, and programmes for significant matches such as the cups and international games are particularly prized.

To set up a business selling football programmes, build up stock by advertising to buy up people’s collections, buy wholesale from programme dealers and negotiate to buy back issues in bulk from the clubs themselves. Advertise your service in club programmes, fanzines and the local press, although

You should be reasonably careful what you buy, and it may be wise to specialize in some way, don’t forget that while a secondhand programme today might only be worth a few pounds, if the act involved was to become world famous it might be worth ten or 100 times that amount in the future.

  1. Beer mats, cans, tops and more

Many people are more interested in collecting beer related products than drinking it. Britain’s healthy interest in beer has meant that there is a lot of interest in collecting beer mats, bottle tops, cans and bottles from all over the world.

Once again, as well as buying and selling there is the option of setting up a collector’s club and selling by mail order. There are many possible places which you could advertise, although the national press, CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) publications and men’s magazines may be good places to start.

  1. Place and time themed products

Some collectors, instead of collecting certain objects, concentrate on collecting a whole range of artifacts relating to a particular time or place. For example, a collector of Victoriana might collect clothes, furniture and household object (not necessarily antiques) relating to Victorian era England.

Alternatively, a collector of Americana would collect anything with and American theme such as flags, signs, toys and souvenirs. People may just as likely to collect items with a Welsh, Scottish or Irish theme.

Depending on what you are selling there are a whole range of places and publications in which you could advertise, although in the UK there are likely to be certain newspapers read by, and certain bars frequented by, Irish and American immigrants and tourists, for example.

  1. Collector’s fairs

Now you have an idea of the scope of businesses selling collectable items, why not make some money from organizing collector’s fairs? These could specialize in one single product, such as records, or could be more wide-ranging, general purpose affairs.

Contact potential stall-holders for bookings by advertising in local newspapers and specialist publications, and by canvassing at other markets and fairs. A suitably-sized space should also be booked – church halls and community centres tend to make good venues.

Close to the date you should put up posters and distribute leaflets to advertise the event and also try to get it listed in your local press. Any stall holders should be charged a certain amount to be there, and you may wish to charge people to come in also.

Once the hall is paid for any money left over is yours. If the event is a success then you can organize many more, perhaps becoming very rich in the process.

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