Based out of Westmont, IL, George Rodenak has been growing his online and flea market business for over ten years. Here he tells Liquidation.com how he overcame challenges to build a profitable business.
How long have you been operating your business?
Over ten years - started very small.How long have you been buying from Liquidation.com?
Almost three years - started April, 2008.What types of product do you sell?
All types, from general merchandise, to tools, to electronics, to housewares. Originally, I started with office supplies and then migrated to tools (which is still my mainstay) and then branched out based on where I could get good deals on the purchase price. I attend liquidation auctions for local businesses closing their doors as well as reducing inventory, fixtures and equipment. This is in keeping with my philosophy that you make your money when you buy the item versus when you sell it.How did you decide which product(s) to sell?
Studying trends and feedback from customers.What resources do you use to study consumer trends?
To study trends:  I watch advertising both print and TV;  I look to see what items are selling on eBay not just being listed;  I attend trade shows;  I read trade journals to see what items are coming that will have the 'marketing push' to the consumer; and  I use my intuition.Where are your favorite places to sell inventory?
Online via eBay and direct sales at flea markets.What advice would you give to somebody who is trying to get started in this space?
Don't be afraid to try and sell a product just because you never use it and definitely listen to feedback and requests from customers (former, current and future).How has the industry changed since you got started?
The average consumer has become much more aware of the relationship between price and quality; he/she demands a lower price for a higher quality of product.What do you enjoy most about running your business?
Since I'm now retired (put in 25 years on the railroad), the best thing now is freedom to set my own hours in an unstructured environment. The interaction with my customers is a very close second.Why did you decide to get started buying and reselling surplus inventory?
An early opportunity to purchase returns proved to be a good business decision, so I repeated the effort again and again (with some refining of supply sources). Also, I was looking for a regular supply of items that would match my customer demographic (willing to sacrifice new condition for a good price).What was the biggest challenge you faced when getting started? Do you have any tips for others going through a similar situation?
Biggest problem was time management inasmuch as the business was a one-man operation which was solved by establishing priorities for tasks and following through. Second problem was access to capital and that solution was addressed by beginning small and growing (markets, products and/or methods) each year. I'm happy to say that we've made the transition from part-time to full-time.