Regardless of where the stager lives, USA or Canada, we recommend shopping for inventory at “To the Trade Only” sources. The main reason to do this is to maximize earnings and control cashflow.
We most likely will shop retail when we get our first job, but what holds stagers back from setting their business up properly from the start is usually a lack of personal funds to invest for marketing and inventory growth. It’s astounding how many people expect to be hired as a stager, without investing in education, marketing, business systems or inventory. At CSP International™ we have a private lender who will fund inventory purchases for $10,000 or higher, otherwise crowdfunding, an angel investor, personal/family investor, grants, or small business loans are alternative options.
Sadly, most stagers just reinvest their earnings, job by job, because they are not confident sales will flow (this needs a solid business and marketing plan, but that is another subject). Once business is rolling it is a good practice to set aside an amount monthly for inventory investment.
To eliminate some of the scary parts of starting out buying wholesale here a few answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Q; Are there legal documents needed to purchase?
A: You need a registered business license and a Tax ID number. Some provinces and states also require a re-seller license (which means you won’t pay tax on the purchase until you resell).
Q: Do I need insurance?
A: All businesses need insurance to protect yourself from risk. It isn’t uncommon for solo business owners to think they are exempt because they work on their own. Do you know, 43% of solopreneurs surveyed reported being threatened or involved in a lawsuit? Even if you are not at fault, you could easily rack up large legal fees. CSP International has a partner who provides preferred pricing and huge savings to our graduates. You need General Liability Insurance, crime, and fidelity as well as Professional liability.
Q: How much stuff does one accumulate before securing storage?
A: Well, that will really depend on what space you have available at your place of living. Many think they will clear a space in the basement to start off, however once you truck up and down several times to prepare for a job, you will know right away that you need a better solution. The garage is the next place for consideration; shelving for storage, plastic bins labeled. If you live in the heat the garage needs to be air cooled to prevent mold, if you are in the cold areas, you will need to heat to prevent cracks and freezing to death while you pack a job. The best solution is to secure a storage unit with climate control and lighting. A loading doc is totally awesome and if you can drive in, even better for security & convenience.
Images: 3000sa.ft. warehouse – Impact Home Staging, Debbie Halloran, CCSP secured this warehouse one year after
starting her staging business, having over high six-figure sales in that year.
Q: Do I need to buy in bulk?
A: Most places have a “minimum buy” amount requirement; some as low as $100 others higher and almost all require a min $1,000 annually, to maintain the account. Initially, though I would say not to buy in bulk unless it is towels, cushions, or greenery.
Q: Are all the wholesalers in the USA? If yes how is the border handled?
A: No not all of them are US based. We provide our students with a list of Wholesalers in USA & Canada. (approximately 100 vendors). It is best to build relationships with the vendors closest to you. You could attend Trade Markets in USA or Canada. High Point North Carolina is a popular one, upcoming in April 2023(www.highpoint.org) or the Toronto Gift & Home market at the Toronto Congress Centre will be held Jan 29th– Feb 2nd, 2023. Toronto buyer registration (cangift.org)
Q: Any Tips?
A: Don’t buy just because it is a good deal, there will always be good deals. Don’t buy for a specific style of house or a specific job. Keep neutral in your selections so they will be appropriate for 80-90% of your jobs. Transitional in style and white, beige, warm gray, black are great foundation colors. DO NOT buy bright startling colors, contrary to popular belief you do NOT want a “pop” of color.
Two great workshops to round out your knowledge: (click for details)
Mandy Patterson, CSPM InHanceIT Staging.com
There is no better time than right now to take the plunge if you are interested in starting a home staging business or training a team member to be your in-house stager at your brokerage. Contact me, Christine Rae today to learn more! Or request our information booklet to become a home stager and start your real estate staging business with staging certification from CSP International™!