mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Business or hobby? I don't know...

So the last few months I've been selling at more hamfests than normal. Usually I don't sell at Timonium, but I did this year. I also sold at Manassas and Berryville/Ruritan.

I've gotten quite a bit of inventory lately - I bought a bunch of computers and monitors from 2 online FDIC closed bank auctions, a bunch of Hoffman electrical enclosures from another online auction, and still have some PC cleaning stuff from an auction I went to in PA last fall.

At one of the 'fests I was at a few months ago, someone asked me if this was a hobby or a business. I said hobby, but then started thinking. It's becoming more like a business - I've been looking harder for inventory, and traveling further to find it - then when I do, traveling further to sell it. I invested in one of those folding canopies. And I keep debating if I should be doing more - going to more auctions to find inventory, going to more 'fests to sell it. I'm not pulling in a huge amount of money, but I'm doing OK - it definitely gives me a lot of extra financial breathing room to spend on things like the occasional Starbucks coffee or put away in savings in the hope of buying a new truck.

But it also requires a lot of investment in time. There are lots of people chasing stuff to resell, and some of them have outlets - like stores - where their stuff can fetch more than I can get, so they are willing to pay more. So I've been to some auctions where I've left with a ton of stuff, but I've also driven 8+ hours round trip to go home pretty much empty handed. And a weekend with a hamfest is pretty much a weekend I can't get a whole lot else done - I spend Saturday night loading the truck, wake up stupidly early Sunday morning, and then collapse in bed when I get back and spend the rest of Sunday in a state of groggy post-nap confusion. Plus my house is now full of inventory.

I also find myself kicking myself when I buy something and it sells well, and I could have bought more but didn't. But at the same time, I only have so much room to store it, and at some point the market becomes saturated for anything I'm selling.

I think my best bet is to keep my eyes peeled for stuff like the computer cleaning supplies and hoffman enclosures - they are easy to sell, don't require much explanation, don't take up a lot of space, and don't become obsolete as time goes on like computers and electronics do.

But while I like the extra money, I'm not sure I want this to take over my life. I suspect that spending weekends at hamfests and having about 40 computers in my basement is probably killing what little chance I have of not dieing single and alone. So I will probably continue to keep an eye out for auctions, but also try to be reasonable about how much I buy and where I travel to - and how many 'fests I sell at. I think expanding any more would require significant capital investment - a warehouse and a box truck - and I could never justify that. The whole having a day job thing also cuts into how many auctions I can go to and how far I can travel, but I know I wouldn't make enough doing this full-time to give up my day job - especially since it has pretty awesome benefits.


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