A lot of business ideas don’t sound very feasible the first time you hear about them. Take Post-Its, for example. Who would have thought that those tiny yellow notes with weak adhesive would become one of the most successful products in history? And here’s another example: Instagram. Who would have thought that a social media platform where people post selfies and photos of their lunch would become big?
The world is full of unlikely success stories, and I’m here to talk about my own — I run a successful balloon selling business! It doesn’t sound very exciting, but what is exciting is the money I make from this business. Granted, I don’t make Bill Gates money, but I make enough to live comfortably. It’s a great way to make money, and I suggest you give this a shot, too.
What sets my business apart from other balloon sellers is where I chose sell balloons. I sell my product in places where balloons where needed, but not always available. Places like bakeshops and kid-friendly restaurants.
And the best thing about this business is that you could start small. At the beginning, I didn’t even buy balloons wholesale! This article will cover the start-up phase of my business. If you want to make money selling balloons, I hope this article gives you a few ideas and inspiration.
The Eureka Moment
I never planned on starting this type of business. I mean, there are already tons of balloon and party supply shops out there, right?
The idea came when I was buying a birthday cake for my sister. One of the kids in the shop was throwing a tantrum because he wanted a bunch of balloons to go with his own cake. The bake shop was selling a few party supplies, mostly birthday candles, but no balloons.
That’s when I realized that selling balloons in places like bakeshops had huge potential. That was my eureka moment! When I got home, I made a list of places where I could sell balloons. That initial list included:
- Dentists’ clinics (Balloons can be given away as rewards to well-behaved kids)
- Kids’ barber shops (Same as above)
- Fast food restaurants
- Food parks
- Daycare centers
My plan involved selling balloons on consignment in those establishments. It’s true that some of those places, such as fast food restaurants, will already have partner suppliers for party supplies. But those are usually for events and parties.
Few of those places actually sell balloons to customers. They never considered doing so, because selling balloons isn’t really part of their business. And that’s where I come in. I would strike up a deal with the owners of the establishment. I would then set up a small selling booth, and for every balloon I sold, the establishment would get a cut of the earnings.
You should start with local bakeries. They tend to be easier to strike up a deal with, and you’re likely to sell a lot of balloons there. Larger establishments like fast food chains have franchise managers you’ll have to deal with.
But first, you’ll need to get your merchandise. And you don’t even have to buy wholesale yet! Just go to your dollar store and buy balloons from there. Get as many designs as you can. Inflate the balloons (you’ll also want to get a bike pump), but them in a secure container (I stuffed the sticks into a bucket to keep the balloons secure).
Finally, take them to the bakery and profit!
Let’s say a one-dollar pack of balloons contains 10 balloons. That’s 10 cents per balloon. You can sell each balloon at the bakery for $2. It may seem high, but remember, things cost more in certain places. For example, a hot dog costs more when you buy it from a vendor during a baseball game. Bottled water costs more during concerts. Same goes for balloons in bakeries.
You’ll have to split your earnings with the owner, of course. So you’ll make $1 for each balloon sold. Minus the cost of the individual balloon, you’ll have 90 cents profit. Sell a whole pack of balloons, and that’s $9 profit on a $1 investment.
Try to set a sales target of ten balloons per hour. Assuming the bakery is open for ten hours, you’ll be making $90 per day. In a month, you can make $2,700… all for selling store-bought balloons in a single bakery!
Scaling it Up
It’s tempting to just coast on that starting level. But you can make even more money if you scale up your business. You can look into selling more balloons to bigger establishments with higher foot traffic. This gives you the opportunity to sell considerably more than ten balloons per hour! At this point, you should also start buying balloons at wholesale prices to increase your profit margins.
Dealing with Bigger Establishments
Honestly, I didn’t plan on increasing my sales output by much. But a local fast food restaurant wanted me to sell at least 50 balloons an hour. The restaurant had a lot of customers, so selling 50 balloons per hour was doable.
I couldn’t just walk into a dollar store and buy 500 balloons per day. That was the point where I decided to make this a professional venture.
When you start dealing with larger establishments, you will also have to be ready to level-up your business the same way I did.
Most local balloon suppliers couldn’t provide the quantities I needed. So I turned to Alibaba, a Chinese selling platform for suppliers of… just about anything you can imagine. That place is a wonderland, and I’ve found a few things to import and sell apart from balloons (but that’s a topic for another day).
There is no shortage of balloon suppliers on Alibaba, and they all offer a wide variety of customization options. The language barrier can sometimes be a challenge, but it’s nothing you can’t overcome.
The balloons I bought cost just 1 cent per piece. Even with shipping to my state, that’s an insanely low price. I did have to buy in bulk, usually 5,000 pieces at a minimum. But since I was selling 500 balloons per day, 5,000 pieces was actually a small amount.
On an average month, I would buy up to 50,000 balloons. The wholesale price was so cheap, it became easy to expand. I started supplying to even more establishments.
Professionalizing Your Operations
But to supplying to more establishments meant I had to hire more people, and invest in an office and warehouse. I had to professionalize my operations. I kept rolling the money I was making back into the business. In about a year’s time, I had a medium size warehouse, five delivery trucks, and about twenty employees. Since I was already building contacts with overseas suppliers, I started importing other goods to sell.
All this happened because I saw a little kid crying in a bakery… maybe I should hire the kid!
Selling balloons doesn’t sound like a way to build a lucrative business, but it is! You need to be creative and find alternative places to sell your products. You will also need to start small. But if you keep putting your earnings back into the business, prepare to see your profits, ahem, balloon in no time!
This review is based on my own experiences starting a lucrative balloon-selling business. Now it’s your turn to share. Have you tried importing and selling balloons, or any other items? How did you market it, and how did your business grow?
Let’s hear your stories!