The idea is simple. Pick up boxes and sell them. Almost 36 million people moved in the United States in both 2012 and 2013. It takes an average of 70-80 boxes to pack a 1,500 sq ft home. Cardboard boxes usually range in price from $1-2 each on the lower end, to $4-5 each on the higher end. It’s easy for someone to spend $100-$200 on moving boxes. However, it’s what people do with the boxes when they are done that I want to bring your attention to. They usually give the boxes away for free to anyone willing to take them off their hands.
How a box business can work in a nutshell
People move, unpack, and then give all their moving boxes away for free, usually on Craigslist. You go and pick up as many as you can, or as many as you can fit in your vehicle. Then, you bring them back home and list them for sale.
What kind of boxes do you want?
You want to get boxes that can be folded down flat for easy transport and storage. I wouldn’t get many fruit boxes. Thicker boxes are usually more desired, as are newer boxes
What kind of boxes do you NOT want?
Fruit boxes because they don’t collapse. Really small boxes aren’t worth much and aren’t as desirable. People aren’t going to want boxes that have gotten wet and aren’t as structurally sound anymore.
Other things to consider before picking up boxes
How far do you have to drive and how long will it take to get there? Do the math and figure out approximately how much the boxes are worth. Figure out how many boxes you need to get in each pickup for it to be worth your time. It’s not worth spending a half hour picking up 4 boxes.
How much can you sell used boxes for?
Used boxes will usually sell for 50 cents to a dollar a piece, and going as high as $2 for larger and more heavy duty boxes. I would set a minimum amount that someone needs to buy, or sell them in packages of 10,20,30,40 etc.
What are some extra ways to make money?
You can offer to deliver the boxes for an extra fee, or build the delivery amount into the total price and offer free delivery. There are many people, especially during a time of moving, that would gladly pay a little extra to save themselves the time.
For in town moves, offer to come and break down and remove all the boxes afterwards for free. For those with larger number of boxes, even offer to buy them back. Remember to factor time and gas into how much you can pay for the boxes and still be profitable.
What value are you adding?
To the people that are getting rid of their boxes, you are providing them with a quick way to get rid of all their boxes to one person. You show up on time and don’t flake out, which is a huge problem in the free section.
To the people that are buying boxes from you, you store them yourself during slow periods of when people aren’t moving as much (certain times of the year) You provide the needed quantity of used boxes in one trip. You have used boxes in stock at the moment people use them. Not everyone has the time to sit on Craigslist for hours trying to land free boxes. You can offer to deliver the boxes as not everyone has a car or the ability to pick up boxes. You can also offer to buy them back for a small amount, or pick them up for no charge afterwards. There are a lot of ways to insert value.
Selling boxes can be a great way to make some extra cash, and for the right person, in the right city, it could be turned into a nice little business. For everyone else, I hope I’ve helped you better understand the cardboard box market.
Have you ever sold any boxes? I know there are a handful of you out there that have done this, or have thought about doing it! I’d love to hear your stories.