AFTER his business went bankrupt during the pandemic, Cole Brown took matters into his own hands, literally.
He was working with his father to distribute beef and seafood between Montana and Seattle when things started to go wrong.
The 27-year-old had just gotten married, he couldn’t pay rent and he was stuck delivering pizza to try to make ends meet.
In Seattle, at the height of the pandemic, things were even more expensive than usual.
After applying for 60 jobs and hearing nothing back, he knew he had to do something to start paying the bills.
As a child, he had taken carpentry lessons and had learned a lot from his grandfather, who was an architect.
He knew how to repair furniture and what people were looking for when buying new pieces.
“I had just gotten married and couldn’t afford rent, so I found as many free items as I could and started selling them on Craigslist,” Cole told the US Sun.
Hoping he would make just enough money to cover his rent, Cole continued to search for free items wherever he could, even catching some on the side of the road.
Cole set to work embellishing the pieces and selling them on those same sites.
Once he launched his TikTok, StuffInSeattle, he gained popularity on Instagram and was able to make sales on those sites as well.
Now, just over two years later, he’s far exceeded his goal of earning just enough to pay the rent, as his furniture flips sell for over $1,000 in some cases.
A brilliant good idea
When he started, he had about $30,000 in debt and “no money,” he said.
He started with free or cheaper furniture like drawers and end tables and made a profit of $200 on average.
After about six months of hard work, he started making a big profit.
“I spent, you know, almost every hour of my day doing this to pay for things because my applications weren’t going anywhere,” he said.
“I realized I could do it full time and quit the pizza delivery job in July.”
Cole refurbishes chairs, credenzas, dressers and more and was able to sell them for around $650 on average.
“If I’m not making about $300 per article, it’s not really worth my time,” he said.
He took on a $10,000 challenge to see how quickly he could earn that much.
In just two months, he achieved his goal. Here are some of the items he sold:
- Chair for $250 and sold for $550
- Dresser for $200 and sold for $700
- Set of drawers free and sold for $400
- Dresser for $20 and sold for $280
- Multimedia console for $20 and sold for $850
- Chest of drawers at $20 and sold for $800
- Dresser for $120 and sold for $450
- Dresser for $325 and sold for $800
- Set of four chairs for $50 and sold for $335
- Dresser for $200 and sold for $700
These items alone earned him a total of $5,865.
Cole said he tries to spend no more than $400 at most when buying coins to flip, though he rarely goes over $200.
He still finds most of what he returns at garage sales, thrift stores and on sites like Offerup.
However, he said the majority of his sales come from Instagram.
Even if they don’t stay with him too long, each piece he repairs has a special place for him.
“I was able to have more furniture that I liked and never thought I could because you know, you would only have a few dressers that you really should own,” he said.
“But I was able to have those and chairs and sofas, and provided like everything in my house was pretty much free or nearly free.”
Over the years, he’s spent about $3,000 in total on tools to run his business, but he said the only thing anyone really needs is a vehicle to move the parts around. His truck is by far his biggest, he said.
He sometimes delivers items, but he was actually able to hire someone to help drive him.
In college, he was a wedding photographer, which helps him shoot announcements.
He also has a degree in communications, so he knew how to market himself to make sales.
His social networks are not monetized, so all his income comes from sales.
If you want to try your hand at furniture flipping, Cole has some tips.
He suggests avoiding products from stores like Target and Ikea because they don’t hold up well or offer big profits.
When looking for a piece to flip, it says to check the dovetail joints in the corners, which look like two puzzle pieces fitting together.
Older pieces usually have the original manufacturer stamped somewhere, which you can research to see how much they sold for.
If you have a smaller car, you can start with items like side tables or bedside tables until you can move larger pieces around.
The Sun shared a side hustle from Google where you can earn over $100 an hour — it’s free to get started.
And check out our exclusive on the hustle and bustle of the “home” side of a stay-at-home mom.