2009 might look gloomy to many, but it promises to be profitable for those who spot the opportunities hidden within its dangers. So what’s good for sellers to focus on in 2009? Here are some products that will roll in the revenues this year.
- Second-hand clothing. Rummage through your closets and drawers; chances are you’ll come up with more than a handful of clothes that you’ve never worn, worn once, or a couple of times, that have outgrown your taste, or that you’ve outgrown yourself. Someone, somewhere will want these, especially if they’re designer clothes or vintage apparel, and you’ll be able to sell these online without incurring any inventory costs. On eBay there are many listings for used clothing, and the conversion rate is close to 70%! If you can get your hands on the unwanted and unneeded apparel of your friends and family, you can have a thriving cottage industry here.
- Plants and gardening supplies. With the recession in full swing, many cost-conscious, proactive people will be looking to make their idle backyards productive by growing their own fruits and vegetables. Raspberry, asparagus, onions, squash, and nut-bearing plants are very popular, easy to grow, and produce crops that are expensive when bought in stores. If you have the space, you may also want to start a nursery for dwarf fruit-bearing trees, such as apple, pear, and cherry. Naturally, you’ll want to look at the prospect of selling garden supplies. Soil, pots, plant boxes, and assorted garden implements such as hoes and trowels will be in high demand once people start working their gardens. There aren’t too many sellers doing this yet on eBay, although independent websites abound that sell seeds, plants, and garden supplies.
- Bikes and bike accessories. There are many compelling reasons for people to start riding bicycles. Bikes are a good source of exercise and so offer health benefits, they help save on transport expenses, and they don’t emit fumes or use up fossil fuel. You can expect more people to start pedaling, and the market for bicycles to skyrocket! While Detroit struggles to survive, Pacific Bicycle, the largest bicycle retailer on the US West Coast has been selling upward of five million bicycles each year for the last three years! Bike accessories are a natural after-market, and you should look into selling replacement parts, add-on gadgets, and bike ornaments.
- Tools and DIY items. “Make do and mend” is the new zeitgeist. With scary economic times ahead, it makes sense for people to think about learning how to do things like building, wood-working and plumbing. DIY maintenance is much cheaper than buying a replacement or getting in a tradesperson. Not only is this a good cost-saving measure, it also contributes to what blogger and environmentalist Mikey Sklar calls the rediscovery of our humanity. DIY kits and books are popular on eBay, as are individual tools.
- Home entertainment solutions. To watch a movie at a theater, people need to fight traffic, find parking space, and shell out close to US$30 per person (including popcorn and drinks). These days, it makes much more economic (and common) sense to stay home and look for alternative entertainment. Books, crafts, board games, parlor games, video games, musical instruments, and DVD players are popular product categories with established markets and attractive conversion rates on eBay that could get even better. The hobbies sector could also grow, as more people take to their passions.
- Cost-saving technology. Netbooks, for example, allow people to remain connected to the Internet, but at a lower cost (they sell for between US$200-600). Cell phones and internet communication are also doing well as people rein in their budget by getting rid of landlines.
- Homeware. Alas, we are gadget creatures, and will always be on the lookout for the latest work-saving gizmos. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Coffee grinders and brewers, for example, are inexpensive, and let people save on getting their daily caffeine fix from coffee shops.
The onset of the current recession may have adversely affected many businesses, but at the same time it has given us the opportunity to look at things differently. As these ‘businesses for the times’ demonstrate, opportunities still exist, especially when sellers focus on products that help people cut costs and cope with the difficult times.