Buying and selling government surplus could make a good part time, sideline business for you

A few years back in the city where I live there was a shop called the Army and Navy Stores.

Not the famous department store that used to be in London. This shop quite literally sold ex-army gear. Maybe there used to be one in your town? You don’t see them very much anymore.

Now, this Army and Navy Store was a treasure trove of all kinds of surplus equipment at bargain prices. It was your first port of call for gear for school trips and soggy camping holidays.

And walking past the old Army and Navy shop the other day it struck me. Isn’t buying and selling surplus gear a glaring extra cash opportunity just waiting to be exploited?

It could be perfect for right now.

Times are tough. Lots of people want to buy good quality used goods rather than new at the moment. Surplus goods fit the bill perfectly.

Army surplus goods have lots of uses in the civilian world. There’s a large potential market just waiting to be tapped. Think campers and caravanners …. kids on school trips …. walkers and hikers …. builders …. farmers …. anglers …. mechanics …. motorcyclists …. DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists …. schools …. scouts and guide groups …. outdoor pursuits centres and so on.

Not all army surplus goods are clothing and camping gear. You can get lots of other useful, good quality products too. Like catering equipment. Furniture. Textiles. Office equipment. Tools and plant. DIY stuff. Spare parts. Vehicles, boats (and even aircraft if you really want to). It’s not all green either.

I happen to know lots of sources where you can get army surplus (in fact all kinds of surplus) goods at bargain prices. Here are just a few possible buy-sell examples I found recently:

  • Military style watch. Trade price £9. Possible retail £19.99?
  • Thinsulate gloves, suitable skiers? Trade price £3. Possible retail £12?
  • 100 litre rucksack. Trade price £3.50. Possible retail £9.99?
  • High quality cargo trousers, suitable workwear? Trade price 60p. Possible retail £5?
  • Gore-tex parka. Trade price £4.30. Possible retail £12?
  • Overalls. Trade price 70p. Possible retail £4.99?
  • Quality binoculars, bird/plane spotters etc.? Trade price £28. Possible retail £40?
  • Leather motorcycle jacket. Trade price £18.50. Possible retail £35?
  • 14×14 ridge tent. Trade price £75. Possible retail £150?
  • Folding spade, camping etc. Trade price 90p. Possible retail £4.99?

So then, how could you sell on surplus like this for a profit?

I’m not suggesting you start a shop. High overheads are probably what did for a lot of these useful old Army and Navy shops in the first place. You need to think low cost and good value …. to fit in with today’s scrimping-and-saving mentality.

eBay is the perfect place for selling army surplus for a profit. Have a look on there. There are already loads of sellers, selling clothing, camping and hiking gear to name just a few things. This is a busy, ready market just waiting for you to tap.

Then there’s car booting. You really can’t go wrong with that as a cheap way to test any product idea. Used goods are perfect for car boots and cheaper-than-cheap bargains always sell. You could even try a market stall if you wanted to turn it into a regular business.

Then there’s always direct mail. Run small, cheap classified ads. in magazines that appeal to campers, hikers or anglers or whatever customer group you’re aiming at. Put together a simple catalogue of whatever lines you decide to stock and mail it out.

Any of these could make a neat little sideline business offering things people want to buy at good prices. (And still make good margins for you if you keep your costs low.)

For more expert secret sourcing techniques plus extensive listings of wholesalers, dealers, distributors, auctions and official government contacts for army and government surplus What Biz Opp recommends the Secret Source Directory.