Hey guys, I am Toni Thomas with Toni Thomas Vintage here. So when it comes to flipping furniture, I get asked all the time, how do you know what to flip? How did you get into the business? How do you make money? How have you priced your furniture? What kind of percent do you plan to make on each item?
So, I just thought I’d lay it all out and let you know what I do. I feel like it’s really kind of not a normal flip business. There are aspects of this business you need to understand, before your start flipping furniture.
Depending on where you’re located, furniture sells for different prices in different parts of the country. You need to really understand what your skill level & furniture knowledge is. My results are not typical for most that enter this business with very little knowledge or background. Like everything YOU CAN LEARN it, but it is going to take time, so it is a good idea to love what you do so you can enjoy the process.
So this article may be slightly different from what you normally read here at Online Auction U, but I just thought I’d share with you what works for me. All the different revenue sources that I have and how I’m making it work. I currently have seven revenue sources for my business and I am doing this full time, but of course I started my furniture flipping business as a side gig.
Where do you find furniture to Flip?
So first and most frequent question people ask me is, where do I buy my furniture? I get asked this a lot and I, I always want me to answer this magical place where they have buffets and French provincial and all these beautiful farmhouse finds for pennies on the dollar the same place everybody else finds them.
I go through Facebook Marketplace, I go to thrift stores, I find stuff on the side of the road. Like twice a year where I live in Salt Lake County to go up to Salt Lake County, they have trash pickup and so I’ll find stuff on the side of the road and once people figure out what you’re doing, you’ll get these calls, texts, private messages. “Hey, I got this for free, my grandma’s moving. She’s got this for free. You want this for cheap?” Lots of good stuff comes to me that way.
You will have them come to you, if you get in the game and stay in the game.
It does get a little awkward when people want you to pay like full retail price for something. I had to explain to people, I’m a picker, so something that you might sell to somebody else for $100, I’m going to pay pay $20. I try to invest 20% – 25% of what I believe I can sell them item for after I do any repairs and painting or refinishing.
Because if you don’t buy things for a low enough price, you’re not going to make enough money. If you pay $50 or a hundred dollars per item, it better be something that’s going to make you anywhere from like $400 to like $600 because otherwise it makes no sense.
You have to consider labor, paint, repairs, and time. It takes you to market it, and make the flip.
There’s just not enough profit, if you don’t consider all aspects of the flip. I remember years ago hearing Mr. Calvert speak at event in Florida about selling on eBay. He said something I will never forget.
“You make money when you BUY, not when you Sell”
So, keep that in mind when you’re looking for pieces. It might be the most beautiful piece of furniture in the world, but if it costs too much money, just keep on rolling cause there’s always something else.
You need the right size Vehicle for Your Business
Tip number two, have a vehicle big enough to get stuff home in. I cannot tell you how many people I see. They’re like, “I drive this little sedan and I want to flip furniture”.
Unless you want to flip little end tables and chairs, which is fine but not going to make enough money to live off of. You’ve got to have an SUV, a wagon, a trailer or some good old ropes that you can tie stuff on the top of your car with. Because you have to have a way to get it home. Secondly, you need to consider having a way to deliver furniture.
If people are buying a piece from you, not everybody is able to to pick it up, so definitely charge a delivery fee, something that makes it worth your while and have a to get that furniture to those people. If you’re a single person, sometimes I know that that can be kinda hard, but maybe you can work it out where they’ve got somebody there to help you unload and get it in their home, but you need to be able to be a little flexible on that so that way you can help get it to them.
Pick Your Paint Colors Carefully
I painted something Bright Fuchsia that just won’t sell. Here’s the deal. You have to paint pieces that are going to appeal to the masses. I’m not saying you have to paint everything white, but if you don’t have space to store, something for six months, you might consider what the current trends are.
I know a lot of people that paint really bright stuff and they sell nationwide and they’ve developed a name for themselves and that’s great.
When you are just starting out you should stick to what works for you, but don’t expect to paint something neon green and think people are going to line up to put it in their house. If y’all know this, the things that I paint, I paint a lot of white, neutrals, gray, a lot of my pieces I try to keep very neutral because I know pieces these colors will sell and sell quickly. A big part of this business is keeping your cash turning over, like any flip business.
When I do paint something a bright color, I just know that it may or may not sell, and like I’ll show you a picture. This hutch here, it was gray. I repained it gray because I was being lazy and gray covers easy.
Guess what? Crickets. Crickets. Nobody wanted to buy it. So, I sucked on my pride cause it
had been about three or four days, which some people may not seem like much time, but for me something hasn’t had any interest in three or four days. It’s taken too long.
So, I sucked it up and I painted it white. Gone. Just something to keep in mind. You can certainly do whatever works for you, but you need to come up with a style that is uniquely cute.
I feel like when people see my pieces on social media and they see that it’s for sale, they know that it’s a Toni Thomas Vintage piece. One, because of the way that it is staged, which we’ll talk about a little bit and two, because it’s my style. zzzzz
I used to try and do things that would fit what other people liked, but then I realized, you know what? I want to do what I like, what I would like to put in my home. So a lot of my pieces are pretty heavily distressed. There kind of a farmhouse because that’s what I like and you know what? people buy my furniture, and I sell alot of it.
How to Buy & Flip Furniture on Social Media
Social Media. If you are not on social media, get on social media. I will give you all the social media I am on. I am on YouTube. I am on Facebook, I’m on Instagram, I am on Twitter. I think I have a Tumblr account, but I don’t really use it, so scratch that one. And then I also have a website with a blog on there.
I don’t do a lot of writing on it, but on my blog I keep all my YouTube videos and I like to do. I do like TV appearances maybe a dozen times a year on local like news channels and stuff. And I keep all those videos on my blog.
It just kinda keeps everything up and organized. I do suggest having multiple, multiple revenue sources. So I flip furniture with the ways we have shared, but my website also creates customers and sales for me.
RETAIL Furniture Flipping SUPPLIES
So this may not be for everybody, but if you’re want to do this full time, & there’s a particular brand of paint that you love to use, you might consider being a retailer.
So that way when people are copying your ideas, which is definitely going to happen if you’re good, you may not make money off them buying furniture, but you will make money when they buy your paint & supplies because people want to know how to get that same look you create.
I help people figure out how to paint furniture and they use my product. So, I sell the supplies and I don’t just sell them just because I want to make a dollar. I sell them because these are the products I’m really using and I want people to be able to get the same results and the same colors that I’m using. People call me every week who want to sell me their mistakes. They had a great idea and color scheme for a piece of furniture that just didn’t quite work out as they had planned.
If they’re using the same products I’m using, they’re able to do that. My website is a way that people can purchase those products from me.
Now, we’ve recently expanded on my website includes more than paint. We’ve added home decor because people want to style things the way that I’ve styled them.
So I’ve got home decor in there and we’re starting to move into furniture that can be shipped. We’re working on learning how to ship furniture nationwide. Right now we’re using UPS and uShip are the two different companies that we’ve been using. Another thing that you may have noticed is we put things on our website that we can replicate.
Some people put one of a kind pieces of furniture and that’s great, but I’m not willing to put the energy and do relisting every time I do a piece of furniture, but I will put on my corbels, my candle sticks, my home decor, things that I can replenish from the manufacturer and sell again over and over.
Sell Furniture at Flea Markets & Boutiques
We’re on number five. So you’re listing on the Marketplace, you the listing on social media, but you still need to get more exposure and meet people and bring them to you. A great way to do that is to find a local market, whether it’s a flea market, a vintage market or a boutique. But a few things to keep in mind are this; smaller shows are not going to yield as many people.
It is the same work. getting there getting everything set up. Yes you will be more for your booth space at a larger flea market or booth, but if you will also make more profits for your time.
If you’re doing furniture and do you are going to move basically a whole house of furniture, go to a market where people are going to come. It’s not worth your time to do little venues where it’s like a $10 booth and you set up and 10 people or 20 people come. Go to a venue where you know people are gonna come and they’re qualified to buy your stuff. Like a vintage market where people are known to buy furniture.
I live in Utah and I put on a show, I own another business that sell unique, trendy, gifts online, so if I am going to the trouble to set up a both at a market it is going to be one where people come with trucks and trailers ready to buy furniture.
Those are the kinds of markets that you need to find in your area, where people are wanting to buy the things that you’re selling. Make sure that you have business cards, that your booth is branded and then you are talking to everybody that walks by, Hey, how’s it going?
Even if they’re not interested in what you’re selling that day, they might be interested down the road once they get to know you. Then they’re gonna want to know your brand and everything you do is just an extension of growing your business.
Proper Both Set Up for the Furniture Flipper
Okay, so this is six but also part seven and kind of part of five. I’m going to talk a little bit about booths set up, which works for markets, which was number five and which also works for happening a retail space booth space at an antique mall or something. Which is going to be number seven. So setting up your booth.
When you’re setting up your booth, make sure that you have a cohesive theme so it look through Pinterest and look at a picture and all the things that kind of go together. That’s what your boost should have happening.
Somebody should be able to look at that and clearly see your design perspective. You need to have a sign, I don’t care how fancy it is, but you’ve got to have a nice sign that people can see your name and that name should be the same name that’s on all your social media. Don’t use 53 days. It’s so hard to follow.
Like me, everything is Toni Thomas Vintage, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, everything.
So, when people come to my booth they’ll see the sign. Also, consider either making yourself a T-shirt or a apron with your logo on it if you cant afford like a big old fancy thing. A while back I took my silhouette, I made a Stempel out of my logo and I just chalked paint and painted on a T-shirt. Looks great. And actually washed pretty well too. So, just pay attention to your brand name.
Also, make sure all their things are tagged nicely and you might consider it a choosing your business card as a tag cause then when they go home they’ve got that tag with all your information on it. So that’s important thing. Also, how are you going to take payments? This kind of works through every way. You need to be able to take credit cards, whether through a square or paypal reader.
You should also sign up for PayPal because that was a really a common way to take payments. Recently I signed up for Venmo. I don’t use that most of the time, but it’s also another option. Cash is good, but if you’re going to have cash, you need to think about having change. Even when people come to your home, you need to ask them, how are you going to be paying? If they’re going to pay in cash ask them if theyre going to need change. Make sure you’re prepared. Go ahead an buy a petty cash box, it will save you a lot of time and money when it is all said and done.
Taking checks, I take checks and have never really had a major problem. With the ones I had problems with and they were all rectified. That’s completely up to you.
It depends on how you feel. Do you think people are going to be honest with you? I try to take as many forms of payment and sometimes I do a little this little, that little, this little that however it takes to sell the furniture and so far I haven’t had really any problems with it. It’s worked out really well. I will do lay away. I will take half cash and half credit card. When they are ready to buy, I am going to take the money however they want to give it to me.
RENT PERMANENT BOOTH SPACE AT ANTIQUE MALL
Well advice number seven. I just recently did this only a few months ago and I should’ve done it a long time ago. If you can find a place to have a decent, like not super expensive booth to rent that is not too far from your home, consider renting a space. The things you need to keep in mind, are overheads and how much you need to sell to make it profitable for you. Just because a place doesn’t have currently blueprint doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t willing to have you in there.
The other option is a space within an existing retail establishment.
You might consider finding a boutique or place that you like and just ask them, do you have a space where I could put some of my things to help sell them? Would you consider doing a commission or however they want to do it. I recently contacted a store that I thought was super adorable that was really close to my home and now I have a retail space there. I’m the only one that rents a space there. She has her other things there and it’s been a great working relationship. This has worked out really well for both of us so far.
So, really consider that when you’re thinking about things to do to promote your furniture flipping business. I still sell from my home but I only sell things from my home when my booth is full or when it’s a really big item that would become a pain because it’s an old house.
It’s kind of a pain to get things in and out. Otherwise, I have stuff there and then people can go buy it from them. They don’t have to have 40/200 million weird people coming to my house. It’s really been a great thing. It’s also opened it up so I don’t have to be sitting around waiting for people to come pick up items. If any of you have sold anything on Facebook Market Place you know what I am talking about.
I’ve really enjoyed having the retail spaces. It also allows me to do smaller items. To me, a 10 or $50 item, isn’t worth listing and waiting for somebody to come pick up by my house, but it is worth it if I stick it in my retail space and somebody who’s coming to buy a big thing and they find other things that they can decorate their home to create a cohesive look.
Pay Attention to Staging and Photography
People ask me all the time, how do you stage your photos? I have one area with a white wall, It’s specifically here because this is the wall where I stage 99.9% of my items. I don’t actually keep anything here.
Normally there’s nothing on it. That way when I’m ready to photograph, my wall is clean. I put something on it, photograph done. If it’s a super heavy item or you don’t have help getting in the house and you must photograph outside, consider getting a rug. The rug that you see in a lot of my photos, it’s kind of red and blue. I got it for $5 at a local thrift store and it covers up the ugly cement and just kind of makes it look a little nicer. And then my backdrop is my white garage door, which is also a good backdrop.
Last year I invested in a light weight, strong, and portable furniture moving set up that has been worth its weight in gold. Not sure how I operated without it.
So, like when I’m doing a piano or a dining set that doesn’t really fit in my house, I can photograph it outside and make it look good. Make sure you’re not photographing things at night. Good lighting is important. I installed daylight, led lights in my house. That helps a lot. And then when all else fails, you need really good photo editing software. I use a couple of apps I downloaded to my iPhone. (There are dozens)
I want people to get the best view of my item. I don’t make it so it doesn’t actually look like my item. I just make it so that way the color is as true as possible. The more you play with those editing softwares, the better they’re going to get.
Pay Attention to How you Stage Your Photos
Number nine, kind of has to do with number 8 and I probably should have included it with that, but staging your photos. It’s really important for people to get to be able to see the whole thing, but also to realize what it might look like in their home. So, a few of my techniques are this. I like to have greenery. Ikea has those great little plants with a little white pots. You see them in a lot of my things. I use those.
Secondly, some tall things that you can duplicate like two jugs with cotton stems in them. Also, a great thing, blue canning jars, if you’re in a farmhouse, that’s a really good thing to stage with, fresh flowers. I buy fresh flowers about every week and a half to two weeks and I put them in as many photographs as I can. I feel like as a natural element and it looks a lot better than fake flowers.
Sometimes I don’t always have access to them. Sometimes I’m too busy to get them. But as often as you can have fresh flowers, great, some good fresh flowers to have, Babies Breath lasts a really long time. There’s like these, Irish looking flowers.
They last for like two weeks and the places that I get my flowers at are Costco, Home Depot, Kerry’s Flowers. So those are somethings to keep in mind and always have a backup of something that you can use that’s not real flowers, so I have some really pretty hydrangeas from Ikea. I used those a lot. But you just want to make your piece look like somebody has in their home, like books.
That’s something that you can keep in mind. If you do a lot of tables, think long and skinny like a Doble, a chicken feeder. I mean this obviously if you do farmhouse decor, but just something that will take up space but you don’t want to clutter it. The main idea is people should be able to see your piece and all the detail on it and the things that you’re adding are only to enhance it and not taking away for photos. Too busy. Don’t do it. If you’ve got something on one side and the other side is completely empty, make it balanced.
If you’re looking at it and it looks uneven, then you need to spread things out and figure a way that people can look at it and it’s pleasing to the eye. I used to not worry too much about this. I just was like, “man, if they want it they could just buy it from any old picture”.
But I’m telling you that if you want to stand out from the 400,000 other pictures that are on the marketplace or in the yard sale group through your advertising or on Instagram, you need to have nice, clean photos, white backdrop, nice staging that’s not going to be detracting, make sure your photo is level and good editing software, which I already gave you some of that. All very important things.
BE the Type of Person you Would Want to Do Business With
Ten If you’re still reading this, you are obviously interested in learning how to flip furniture and I have given you some of my strategies and insights. I appreciate you. So the 10th thing that I want you to keep in mind is, be your self; personality matters.
There’s a million other people out there that are painting & flipping furniture and there’s actually probably people that are better than me. (Don’t tell anybody), but people like to buy for me because they’re buying my brand. They’re buying my style and they’re getting a piece of TT Vintage.
And I know that sounds completely generic and when I started seven years ago, nobody knew who the heck I was. But I’ve always been true to myself. Painted things that I love and stretched my comfort zone in every situation, whether it’s at a marketing, or on a local TV segment. I’ve always been myself. So to be sure that you’re true to yourself and how personality make people want to follow you, that’s important.
I hope that these 10 things that I’ve shared with you help inspire you to grow your painting & flipping furniture business and know that there’s really not a mystery to it. You just have to keep working. Take all the advantages that you can, and when people ask you to be a part of things that compliment what you’re doing, whether it’s a TV segment or teaching a class or your local home and garden show, anything that you can do, you have to work as hard as humanly possible, so again that is why it is so important to love what you do.
Get out there, grow your brand, help people know you and you can be successful. It’s not rocket science and it’s not easy, but you can do it.
This book really inspired me, and gave me great ideas when I started, if you are serious, and your probably are if you are reading this, check it out.