In 2017, then-14-year-old Matthew Fiore was "too young to get a job," he says, but still "really eager to make some money." The local ice cream shop wouldn't hire him, but it occurred to him he could sell some of his duplicate Lego pieces on eBay.
"I've been building with Lego ever since I was young, about 4 years old," he says. "I never grew out of it." As such, he'd amassed a collection of pieces, some of which he didn't mind getting rid of.
Selling his old Lego pieces over the first six or so months brought Fiore about $200. Fiore, who is about to turn 18, has turned the side hustle into a business, Summerfield's Toys, through which he sells different Lego sets and minifigures online both on eBay and dedicated Lego marketplace BrickLink.
Since starting out, he's grossed more than $30,000 altogether. Earnings get saved, invested, or used to buy "Lego for my own personal collection," he says.
Here are three strategies Fiore has used to build his business.
A lifelong Lego fan, Fiore has a knack for figuring out what unique combination of pieces and sets he can offer that Lego aficionados might not otherwise be able to buy.
Take "Star Wars" Stormtroopers, for example. "Everyone loves Stormtroopers in the community, and people are constantly building armies of thousands and thousands," he says.
The problem is, when bought new, the Stormtrooper minifigures only come in a package with other items, and that "gets really expensive when you want to buy hundreds of them," he says. Plus, you end up with other items you didn't necessarily want.
Fiore buys the typical Stormtrooper sets, takes them apart, and then puts anywhere from 20 to 100 Stormtrooper minifigures in a sealed bag to sell them as a package. "It allows someone to enhance their collection without buying the full set," he says. He'll do the same with other Lego pieces from the sets, too.
Listings on his eBay store can go for anywhere from $1 to $2,000.
Since January 2020, Fiore has expanded his activities to selling other people's Lego collections for them while taking a cut for himself. To find customers, he put out a Facebook note both on his personal and business accounts letting people in town know he could sell their sets. Soon, he began taking requests from both kids and their parents who wanted help getting rid of their Legos.
Most recently, Fiore partnered with a man in his town who needed help selling his entire collection of more than 500 sets.
When he sells on behalf of other people, Fiore typically takes 25% of the profit.
Fiore started a blog where he posts weekly articles reviewing sets and covering other topics of interest to the Lego community. The blog helps bring traffic into his stores. "I've been getting a lot of comments and interactions on various Facebook groups and Instagram pages," he says.
Fiore wants to keep growing his business and reaching new audiences of Lego lovers. The only obstacle now is space in his house.
"My basement and my bedroom are filled with thousands of pieces," he says. His father, Steven Fiore, agrees: "It's getting harder to find spots in the house."
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