I am continually seeing unusual ways to make money. The more I look, the more I find. Somebody in our town just started a business cleaning up the dog poop in people's yards. Who would have guessed? After this page, you may want to also check out; Unusual Businesses. It covers odd enterprises ranging from making palm leaves into scorpions to collecting dead deer for local governments.
Selling Stuffed Animals
At a campfire in the desert last winter, my wife and I met a man who sells stuffed animals on the side of the highway. When we saw him again, in his van full of stuffed animals, I pressed him for details. He buys used stuffed animals at thrift stores in bulk and then sells them alongside the highway. Early on, he even got the stores to give him the animals, with the agreement that he would return with the money or the animals the next week.
In some small towns he can get a vendor's permit cheaply ($18/year, for example). Otherwise he just sells until they chase him out of the county. He says he hasn't been fined yet, and he claims he sold $4,000 worth his first month. I think he was exaggerating, but because of him we include used stuffed animals in our flea market stands with some success.
Trade Payments for Cash?
One way to raise cash that many people overlook is to sell a structured settlement for cash. Essentially you trade payments you are receiving from a monthly annuity, settlement payments from an injury, or even lottery payments, for a lump sum payment. It can be a workable solution if you need a down payment for a new home or want to start a new business, or for unexpected medical costs.
Unusual Ways to Make Money on EBay
Last month we met a man who bought a pair of jeans for 25 cents at a yard sale and sold them for $400 on Ebay. I was skeptical until I searched on Ebay that night and saw several pairs of jeans with the bids over $100 and even $200. I also found an old army pick for sale which was identical to the one I sold that same day for $7. The bidding was up to $14. Live and learn.
Selling things on Ebay isn't an unusual way to make money any longer, but you can sell such unusual things! A friend of mine buys things on Ebay to resell for a profit on Ebay (by changing categories to reach a better market, for example). Unfortunately for the people that were making a living doing it, Ebay no longer allows you to auction used unwashed women's underwear to fetishists.
Selling Celebrity Magnets
There is a guy who sell thousands of these on Ebay. Basically, you use a Xyron laminating machine to attach photos of celebrities to magnets. The photos are just clipped from magazines.
Selling Things in National Parks
In the Grand Canyon National Park we bought a beautiful necklace for my wife. It was on a blanket with other beautiful jewelry, for sale by a Native American woman. Her daughter stood watch to warn of any officials coming, whereupon the blanket and its contents would certainly disappear. Illegal, I'm sure, but the several people we saw buying her jewelry were happy they were there.
If you live near camping areas you can cut firewood and sell it in your front yard. It's not such an unusual way to make money around here. However, I liked the way a man in Florida was doing it. As campground host, he had free rent, power, water, and phone service, and he was allowed to order firewood. He had it delivered by the truckload, and he then sold it for $5 per bundle to the campers there.
Selling Pop on the River
Halfway down a local river on inner tubes one day, we traded a riverside resident our air pump for three beers. That got me thinking. I've watched hundreds of thirsty people float by in canoes and tubes on hot days. I haven't tried it yet, but I think there is some money to be made sitting on a sunny sandbar someday selling soda.
Several times I have picked apples in October to make some extra cash. You can bring your radio, stop when you want to eat, start early or late - it doesn't matter. The owners don't mind because they typically pay by the box, not by the hour. I made about $13 per hour when I was moving fast.
It's hard to find many people making a living selling things at flea markets. Most are retired or just want some extra cash. Flea market sales is a very low risk business, however. You can buy 80 dollars worth of used toys and stuffed animals, gather things from around the house, and for $10 or less rent a spot for the day at a flea market. Re-invest any money you make into new products and you'll probably sell more the second time around. I buy walking canes at the dollar store ($1.06 with tax), put a feather or two on them (4 cents and 4 minutes), and kids buy them up for $3 to $4 each. It is difficult to make much money, but it is also difficult to lose much.
Fixer UppersIt isn't unusual to buy a house, fix it up and sell it for a profit. It is less common to find these opportunities in the $10,000 price range though. We found that there are towns in this country where you can still find houses as cheap as $6,000! We bought a house in a beautiful little town in Montana for $17,500, paid a plumber and a friend to fix a couple things ($2,000), and after living in the house for a few months, sold it for $28,000.