If so, it may be right in front of you, as it was for Paul and Morris Secon in 1949.
One day Morris’ wife came home from a yard sale with several stoneware pieces created by well-known designer Glidden Parker. Those pieces should have been very expensive but she paid just a dollar for each one. How did this happen?
Bewildered, Morris spoke with Mr. Parker and learned he had three barns full of “platters, plates, pitchers, cups and saucers” and other merchandise he couldn’t sell to his upscale retailer clients because all of it was flawed.
A nick, a crack, or any other slight imperfection and as beautiful as it otherwise was it languished unsold in those barns.
As Morris thought about it, it occurred to him: Buy the inventory at a huge discount, acknowledge the imperfections, and sell it well below retail to the public.
Everybody would win. Mr. Parker could turn his inventory into cash and clear out his barns. Morris and Paul could open a store and potentially make a great deal of money. And shoppers willing to accept slightly flawed Glidden Parker pottery could buy it at big discounts.
The Secon brothers purchased 2,500 stoneware pieces for just $2,500 and they rented a store in a modest area of Manhattan for only $35 a month. Each week, Paul or Morris would load a family station wagon with Mr. Parker’s flawed or discontinued pottery and drive it to their store.
Being on a very low budget, the Secon brothers had no racks or shelving to display the pottery. It was stacked on crates. But then as now, the public loves a great bargain and their store became successful.
What is the name of their store? One you probably know well, the Pottery Barn. And this is how it began.
Today the Williams-Sonoma owned store chain has 197 stores in the United States and Canada.
So if you’re trying to think of a good business idea, look around you. Is there something someone else is stuck with that you could turn into cash? Or perhaps something they manufacture well but don’t enjoy the sales process, and would love for you to handle it for them?
If you can write a small check as the Secon brothers did, and rent a tiny storefront or office, you could be off and running. Today, you would likely setup a website as well and for a miniscule fee of about 10 cents a click, a search engine like AOL, Google, MSN or Yahoo could display your product to prospective buyers all over the U.S. or even all over the world.