How One Side Hustler Turned $65 into $35k in 15 Months


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When school teacher Claire McCann turned a $65 used table set into $300, she discovered a profitable new side hustle.

Intrigued by the potential to multiply her money by flipping furniture, Claire set out to hone her skills and scale the venture up.

Just 15 months later, Claire has earned over $35,000 in profits from furniture flipping using Facebook Marketplace and other digital platforms.

Now she spreads her hard-won knowledge so others can succeed too through her The Furniture Flip brand.

Tune in to Episode 592 of the Side Hustle Show to learn:

  • Where to source profitable secondhand furniture pieces online for low buy prices
  • Strategies to customize your outreach messages and listings so your deals stand out
  • Which furniture styles and brands yield top resale prices?
  • The economics behind leveraging movers and staging help to scale
  • Best practices to avoid prevalent marketplace scams and fraudsters

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The Best Places to Source Profitable Furniture

Claire has had the most luck finding underpriced gems on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and the neighborhood site Nextdoor. Her favorite brands to flip include:

She keeps an eye out for mid-century modern, modern, and farmhouse styles, which are currently very on-trend. Specific pieces that sell well for Claire are the West Elm acorn wood bookcase and nightstands.

West Elm Mid-Century Bookshelf
Mid-Century Closed Nightstand

Her strategy is trying to purchase inventory for 50% or below retail value. For example, if she sees that a bookcase is listed new on the West Elm site for $799, she wants to buy it for $399 or less to maximize her profit spread.

One alternative to sourcing furniture on these marketplaces is to sign-up as a local Sharetown rep. Sharetown is a reverse-logistics service provider, that helps online furniture brands with their customer return requests.

In most cases, those products end up getting re-sold secondhand, earning you $150-250 per item.

The cool thing is you don’t have to pay for the products until you resell them — making it a lower-risk side hustle.

Highest Earning Power
Become a Sharetown Rep
4.0

Sharetown reps make money by reselling gently-used furniture and bed-in-a-box mattresses. Top reps earn $4000+ per month.

Pros:
  • Low startup costs
  • Great earning power
  • No hunting for inventory
Cons:
  • Requires a truck or SUV
  • Bulky items to store
  • Not available in all areas

Standing Out on Busy Marketplaces

With so many people selling furniture online, Claire customizes her initial outreach message so she stands out from the 50 other people asking “Is this available?” She’ll say something like, “Hi, this looks great! Is it still for sale?”

And she is not afraid to follow up multiple times, which bumps her message back to the top of the seller’s inbox.

As her side hustle took off, friends and family started asking Claire how she was able to find and flip furniture so consistently. Never one to shy away from sharing, she began posting her furniture flips on Instagram and TikTok to educate her growing audience.

Follow her on social media as she reveals sourcing tips, staging tricks, and even the occasional furniture flop. One of her TikTok posts highlighting a lucrative West Elm console flip now has over 700k+ views!

@thefurnitureflip

Current Profit: $21,900 in 9 Months! #thrift #reseller #midcenturymodern #secondhand #furniture #money #facebookmarketplace #furnitureflip #upcycling #fyp

♬ Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine

So the next time you see someone trying to unload quality furniture for cheap online, take a cue from Claire and flip it to turn quick cash from your spare time.

Streamlining with Batch Processing

With her garage storage and movers in place, Claire batch processes incoming inventory for maximum efficiency. As soon as a new piece arrives, she stages and photographs it, then stores it in the back until sold.

This assembly line approach keeps things moving quickly. Claire allocates a window for her side hustle too—from 4:15pm to 4:45pm after her teaching job ends. It’s a whirlwind of activity but keeps her more organized.

Marketing Tricks to Sell Furniture Faster

To gain more local eyeballs on her furniture listings, Claire joins Buy & Sell groups relevant to her area. She’ll join 20 or more hyperlocal groups on Facebook, in addition to broader sites like Craigslist.

With so many competitors also selling furniture online, marketing is crucial. Claire builds customer trust right away in her listings by calling out dimensions, materials, and linking back to the original product page so buyers can independently verify her details.

She essentially adds a little “trust tax” by reminding shoppers about sales tax and shipping costs they would pay buying firsthand.

Claire suggests using additional keywords as a photo watermark, almost like Instagram hashtags about style, color, or room to catch more search traffic.

Moving Help for Heavy Lifting

As her inventory grew, Claire needed reliable and affordable moving help for heavy pieces. She loves Lugg, an on-demand moving service similar to Uber or Lyft.

After entering the details on what needs to be moved, you can watch as they accept the job and track the mover coming your way. Costs range from $50 to $75 per piece, and they offer various truck sizes.

For multiple stops, Claire recommends checking out TaskRabbit.

Staying Organized in a Growing Business

As any solopreneur knows, orderliness is next to profitability when scaling a business. Claire renting that garage was just the start.

Her inventory storage and delivery logistics now include:

  • Rented garage to store, stage, and photograph pieces
  • Building relationships with reliable movers
  • Renting functional space – not wasting money on more than needed

Sadly, with so many online buyers and remote transactions these days, scams abound even on reputable platforms. Claire cautions that over 60% of incoming messages are fraudulent, especially anyone asking to continue the conversation via text off the marketplace platform.

Red flags for potential scams include:

  • horrible grammar
  • repeatedly addressing you as “Dear,”
  • limited profile history — often created very recently
  • anyone asking for money upfront
  • people asking for your phone number

Trust your gut, and don’t be afraid to block suspicious contacts. For local buyers, insist on in-person payment and pickup. 

Multiple Income Streams to Diversify

Claire estimates that about 50% of her social media content shows the full life cycle of a flip: finding the item, listing it for sale, and revealing the final profit numbers.

This glimpse behind the scenes builds trust and authority.

Her audience also responds well to more vulnerable “real talk” about the struggles of running this business out of her apartment. Stories of staging fails, occasional losses, and lessons learned connect on a personal level.

And aspiring furniture flip followers love her quick tips explaining how to spot marketplace scams. This free educational content prepares the audience for when they eventually avail themselves of her consultation down the road.

Digital courses are on Claire’s roadmap once she codifies her specific furniture-flipping framework, but she already monetizes her audience a couple different ways:

These income streams allow Claire to hedge her reliance on the main furniture flipping business while leveraging her expertise.

A Day in Her Life

Claire is a teacher by day, before racing to her rented garage workspace. That’s when business explodes for a solid flurry of back-to-back decisions:

  • Scan incoming seller messages across various platforms
  • Respond to buyer inquiries and coordinate final details
  • Price newly acquired inventory for online listings
  • Photograph new arrivals while staging space allows
  • Meet scheduled movers dropping off latest finds
  • Help load pieces purchased by buyers

It’s an exhilarating routine, but exhausting. However, this drive ultimately enabled Claire to turn her $65 curiosity into over $35,000 profit so far…and she’s just getting started.

Learning Through Mistakes

While Claire makes furniture flipping look easy, she’s certainly made her share of mistakes along the way.

One expensive learning experience happened when she paid over $100 to have a used chair and carpet set professionally cleaned. Despite the sparkling makeover, the set attracted no buyers.

After eating that loss and learning larger upholstered pieces are harder to sell, Claire now follows the under 5-minute cleaning rule. If a piece can’t be quickly cleaned up herself, it’s not worth buying.

Early on, Claire also struggled to discern her own style from the latest trends. She admits to getting stuck a few times with purchases that seemed so stylish in the store, but gathered dust once listed online.

Trial and error is crucial, however, as Claire needed to find what furniture shapes, colors and brands resonate in her local market. She ate the losses from her design misfires in the name of research.

Now with tighter sourcing parameters in place and thousands of followers providing feedback, Claire rarely gets burdened with stale inventory.

What’s Next for Claire?

So now that business is humming along, what has Claire most excited these days?

For 2024, she plans to expand operations by renting a second garage. This will allow her to increase inventory and profit potential. Eventually, she may even need to hire a part-time property manager to wrangle 10+ hours of administrative tasks each week.

And Claire has aspirations to spread her wings beyond northern California one day soon. She and her partner may temporarily relocate to Europe in the coming year, transporting her entire furniture flipping enterprise overseas!

Follow along on social media to see if Claire takes her hustle global. Wherever she lands geographically, expect big things from this small business owner helping educate and enrich others along the way.

Key Takeaways

If Claire’s explosive furniture-fueled success story inspires you, here are some key takeaways as you launch your own side hustle:

Put on your marketing hat – Stand out on busy selling platforms with customized outreach templates, relentless but polite follow-ups, and attention-grabbing listings.

Mind your margins – Billionaire investor Warren Buffet famously advised that you make your money on the buy side. Be disciplined in your product sourcing, negotiate better bulk deals, and don’t overpay just because something is trendy.

Gather your “board of trustees” – Even solo entrepreneurs need their team. Build your personal mastermind group of trusting friends, family or colleagues to bounce ideas off and provide emotional support during the inevitable entrepreneurial rollercoaster ride.

And above all, now is the time to start – today. Identify that first profitable flip find waiting to be unearthed, set up your seller accounts, and change your family’s financial future for the better.

To learn more furniture flipping fundamentals from Claire, check out her website TheFurnitureFlip.online or find her social channels.

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

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