Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Local Bargain Finder - Steptoe's Paradise

   I've mentioned "Local Bargain Finder" on here before, but having been banned from Ebay (again) it's been a little while since I savoured its delights.

   I'm moving house soon, which gives me a chance to get back on the auction site, so I decided to have a quick nosy at what Local BArgain Finder threw up. I was impressed. Take a look at the bargains that are on here today within 50 miles of my house:

Local Bargain Finder 31.1.12
• Upright Piano with stool 99p
• Prima Breadmaker 99p
• Mobility Scooter £1.20
• Adult’s Punch Bag 99p
• Quad Bike 99p
• Electric Cooker 99p
• Ribena Branded Fridge 99p
• Double Futon 99p
• Ab Circle Pro 99p

Now, you and I both know that not all of these will go for the prices given above, but you'd only need to hit a bargain like this every now and again to make all the bidding worthwhile.

If you put your mind to it, the opportunities available via "Local Bargain Finder" are endless. Just from the examples given here I'm thinking:

  • Form a band.
  • Rent out Mobility Scooters.
  • Open a thrift shop.
  • Beds Beds Beds.
  • Appliance Spares and Repairs.
  • Cheap Appliance Rental.
  • Open a gym.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Hotpoint Willie will rise again!

   I was amazed to find so many Washing Machine repair videos on Youtube. I honestly believe that if you were to apply yourself to it you could probably learn the basics quite quickly.

Step by Step:

* Advertise on Gumtree that you'll collect broken down washing machines.
* Collect them and line them up 2 high along the wall of your garage.
* Aim to get 4 working machines out of your 24 collected machines.

One you've got the knack you'll be able to:

* Advertise yourself as a Washing Machine Repair Man.
* Do laundry for people.
* Re-sell the fixed machines.
* Rent out the fixed machines (classic hotpoint willie)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Extreme Solutions to Housing Fixed Costs

   Yesterday I was learning about all the different ways that people can greatly reduce their Housing Costs. On a couple of Youtube videos from America there was a lot of talk of tent living and trading down to the Trailer Park.

   In the UK we have a hidden community of people who live on our permanent Caravan Sites for 10 months of the year and then rent a room for the other two months (the permanent Caravan Sites only open for 10 months of the year so that the residents can avoid paying Council tax). I'm not 100% sure of the cost-saving of doing this. For a start you need to lay out cash for the caravan/ park home. Mortgages are not usually offered on these. Secondly, they have next to zero resale value so you'd have to factor in the depreciation of the unit as well. Thirdly, site fees aren't cheap anymore. At a Site nearby to me fees are £200 per month - and that is being promoted as a USP! God only knows what other sites charge. Finally, you've got to factor in the 8 -12 weeks per year when you have to move off-site. At £60 per week thats another £600 you're going to have to lay out. All in all then you are looking at a minimum of £4k per year to do the equivalent of trailer park living in the UK. I think you'd be much better (as a single man) to get yourself a little 2-bed house/ bungalow/ flat and pay down the mortgage double quick. Then by renting out the second room you'd soon be sitting on an asset (in the Kiyosaki sense of the word - something that puts money in your pocket). You'd also own something which (usually) is going to appreciate in value over time, a heritable asset.

   From the business idea side of things, how about this:

* Rent out a piece of land perhaps the size of a small carpark.
* Keep your eyes open on Ebay, Gumtree etc for old campervans, RV's or whatever they are called nowadays.
* Get these vans for next to nothing and have them transported to your land.
* Start advertising out these vans for low cost living.
* Build a small wash house.
* Get some solar panels on the wash house to provide hot water.

Don't think this is a recipe for a doss camp or some sort of pseudo communist sit-in, there will be people out there who would be interested in living here. Here are the financials:

* Let's say you can fit 12 vans onto your site. At the moment there are old vans going for £1! On average let's say we lay out £500 per van to buy and have delivered to our land.
* The basic wash house costs £3000 all in.
* The field costs £200 pcm to rent.
* You charge £20 per week for a pitch.

OK, at 75% average occupancy you are bring in £180 per week or £780 pcm. Your repayments on the finance needed for the above would be roughly £180 per month over 5 years. So all in all, you are laying out £380 per month, therefore £400 profit per month for a few hours work. I say a few hours work because payment would be required up front from the campers.

Working backwards, you'd need 5 pitches to be filled every week in order to breakeven.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

My compliments to the Chef....

   I've spent a good lot of time today watching Extreme Frugality videos on Youtube. They were EXCELLENT! One of the things I needed to get down on writing straight away was to balance my complaining with some complimentary letters and emails. According to the experts these can lead to just as many free vouchers.

The Eggs Co-Op

   I could never work with animals, I'm much too prissy. I like my animals like I like my Death Row prisoners - killed by someone else! However, surely in this day and age every village in Scotland should have an Eggs Co-Op. Take a village the size of Sauchie (8000 inhabitants), I'm sure you could find 20 families that'd be interested.

   One family keeps the chickens.
   One person does the deliveries on foot round the village.
   One family deals with dead chickens (soup and stock for all).
   One person builds the runs.
   Someone sorts out all the paperwork (if any).
   Everyone pays an annual fee of a few pounds for new stock.

Anyone up for it?

Online Layaway

   This ideas needs more development, but I love the thought:

   "Online layaway is layaway through the internet. It allows consumers to purchase items through scheduled deductions from a checking account.[8][9] Online layaway simplifies layaway for both merchant and consumer by removing the costly, time-consuming storage and bookkeeping processes. Layaways remain at the distribution center during the layaway period instead of taking up valuable retail warehouse space.[4] Just as consumers used layaway payment plans to purchase products at brick and mortar stores in the past, they can also use layaway to pay for online products and services which serves as an alternative budgeting tool and a means to avoid debt.[10] Products and services that have layaway offerings online vary from net books to home gyms and from concert tickets to layaway vacations.[11]"

Friday, 27 January 2012

Email to Sharon Fussell of "Sold, Dispatch Now" fame

Hi Sharon,

In Northampton there is a store called “The Most Marvellous Place to Shop”. It is a sort of shabby-chic place selling antiques, object d’art etc. As well as all their own stuff, a considerable amount of space is handed over to concessions. There is a cafe, a hairdresser, lots of card sellers and such like. Also, there is a considerable amount of space given over to books. If you had a place like this near to yourself, could you not take some space in exchange for half any returns (or something along those lines). I suppose anything is better than throwing them in the bin!

I remember reading that Richard Booth also had the same issues as you have down on Hay on Wye (i.e. he never wanted to throw a book away), hence the birth of his “honesty bookshops”.

Kind regards,


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Cash in Carboard

   I can't believe that so many businesses send Carboard boxes to landfill, and then so many people pay good money for boxes when they are moving house. It pisses me off.

   If you had space there is sure to be money to be made in trading this off:
  • Link up with local businesses who will be throwing out usable cardboard boxes (an example would be a small scale warehousing operation or an independent supermarket). Try to get these boxes for nothing (as you are saving their waste management costs; or next to nothing).
  • Start sorting the boxes out according to size.
  • Advertise cheap boxes for sale.
  • Look for alternative uses and income streams for these boxes.
It looks like what these guy are doing:


Easy £16.23 Profit

   What would your life be like if you put a couple of bets on, had a snack, went for a walk around the park and then came back to find you had £16.23 profit? Well that's what I did today.

   A total of 8 mins work using the 81st minute system - nice!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Year of the Dragon - Year to make money in Kids Outlandish Outfits

   Here is the lastest Press release from Alibaba on the Year of the Dragon:

The year of 2011 was a tiger year, according to the Chinese calendar, and to be honest we are glad to see the big cat's hindquarters as it slinks out the door.

Bring on 2012. It's the Year of the Dragon, which is said to be auspicious for reputation and career. It is also auspicious for companies selling dragon-related bric-a-brac, apparently. Online marketplace Alibaba.com reports that in the previous quarter there was a big surge in searches for dragon-related products, like dragon-imprinted iPhone cases, on the website.

Searches for dragon products in the second half of 2011 soared by 250%, according to Michael Lee, director of international business development and marketing at Alibaba.com U.S. Among the most sought-after items? Alibaba.com says people are going crazy for inflatable dragons. Because they are fun in the bathtub? We have no idea.

   This article really interested me - especially when I saw the ultra-cool Baby Dragon costumes. The completed listing search on Ebay shows that 18 of the last 50 listings have sold on these type of products - not a bad ratio. I'm assuming that these could be supplied via Ali Baba.


Thursday, 19 January 2012

New complaint - KFC

Sent today:

Dear Sir/ Madam,

when I visited KFC at Riverside Retail Park at Lunchtime today, I was not gievn the dips for my Dippin' Chicken meal. I was very disappointed when I found this out as I had only went to the restaurant after seeing an advertisement for this product. Could I please be reimbursed for the cost of my meal (£8.27)?

Kind regards,

Ross Taylor.

P.S. My receipt is attached.

Letter to "A Most Marvellous Place to Shop"


I visited your shop whilst on a trip down from Scotland last weekend and I was really amazed! Congratulations on bringing something "new" to the High Street. I was wondering if I could pick your brains. I currently run a secondhand book business but at the moment I am completely online. I've thought about going "bricks and mortar" but only by means of doing an honesty bookshop (i.e. not always manned - for my sticky stock only) OR appointment only (for my high end stuff). One way I could progress would be to share space with other small retailers/ craft people. Without giving any of your secrets away, what is your deal with the concessions?

Kind regards,


Saturday, 14 January 2012

Man Cave

   Saw this image on a canvas today selling for £40. It was v large - probably 4ft by 6ft or something akin to that. It got me thinking, I wonder if there would be any money in getting iconic film images but on massive canvas and selling them on the street. I heard the term "Man Cave" for the very first time the other day. Perhaps a new niche to aim for.

More marvellousness!

   Further to my previous notes, I was just thinking.... instead of chucking out the fiction that won't sell on Amazon, a good place to put them would be over in the corner of a Marvellous-style store. 10p/ 20p a go.

Back on the horse

   In the words of Christopher Reeve, when you have a setback, get yourself straight back on the horse - and that's exactly what I did.

   The late, great Oscar winner would've been proud of my £6.89 profit for two minutes "work" this afternoon:

Ross Taylor 14-Jan-2012 18:21
Soccer: £6.89
Total P&L: £6.89

C'mon the Wasps!

   Alloa are unbeaten at home and top of the League. Wowzers!




1 Alloa 19 6 3 0 16 7 5 3 2 15 15 9 39

2 Stranraer 20 6 2 2 27 16 5 3 2 22 10 23 38

3 Annan Athletic 19 7 2 1 19 9 3 2 4 11 14 7 34

4 Queen's Park 18 5 3 1 19 6 4 1 4 13 15 11 31

I've got £25 on them to win the League at 2/1. Long way to go though. I think I'm right in saying that Stranraer have never won anything ever so it is good that those chokers are our nearest rival.

This is the best shop I've been in for years

   Today I visited "The Most Marvellous Place to Shop" in Northampton. It had lots of interesting knick knacks. A good mixture of second half stuff plus cool brand new gifts and fashions. I will definitely be back.

   I think a shop like this would fit in perfectly with my system. Here is a cut from their own website:


A new shopping experience has arrived in Northampton. The Most Marvellous vintage, antique and retro centre is now open.

The centre is home to many individual trader concessions selling everything imaginable from antique furniture to vintage, on-trend fashion in a friendly and fun environment. Arts and crafts are also represented with local artists, photographers, potters and artisans showing and selling their works. There’s something for everyone.

The Most Marvellous company’s green trading philosophy is reflected in the fact that the shop -fit has been achieved using predominantly reclaimed materials and works carried out entirely by local companies. Owners Gilliy and Joe say ‘We wanted to do more than pay lip service to sustainable values. Wherever possible we have utilised reclaimed timber, signage and fittings- even our till area is made from a discarded workbench! The result is a shop that’s both quirky and lots of fun. The feedback from our customers has been amazing, they tell us they love shopping here. Most Marvellous is bringing much needed visitors to our town’.

The centre also includes a learning space where practical courses such as upholstery, jewellery making and flower arranging are held on weekdays. There’s also a tea shop open until 4pm daily.

Most Marvellous is located at 22-36 Kettering Road on Abington Square island opposite Guy Salmon Jaguar showroom and is just a short walk from the town centre and nearby St Michael’s car park.

Come and see us soon for a Most Marvellous day out!

Stung by Chelsea

   I had a big loser last week in the FA Cup when Chelsea scored 3 goals from the 85 minute onwards. This is super unusual:

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Mata (48)

Ramires (85, 87)

Lampard (90+3)


(HT 0-0) Portsmouth

Lesoon learned - avoid the FA Cup.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Free Range Friday

Interesting article - could the same thing just be made from rags?

Free Range Friday: James’s green dreamJanuary 6, 2012

It’s a cliché, but it’s sometimes true – inspiration can strike in the most unlikely places. For James Castro-Edwards, it was the sheer steel and glass cliffs of Canary Wharf that got him thinking about to introduce plants to a cityscape with restricted space.

“There’s not a lot of green space and it feels quite hard-edged,” says the full-time intellectual property lawyer and first-time entrepreneur. “I thought ‘The only free space is vertical – wouldn’t it be nice if you could cover a building with plants?’ This started me daydreaming… ”

Whimsical it may have been, but the daydream set James on a journey that has taken him to the verge of launching an innovative product that could see plants appearing on the side of buildings all over our towns and cities.

The product and its development

The Greenstack is astonishingly simple – a stack of hessian pockets hung from a horizontal rod that can be mounted on a wall. Each pocket can contain enough earth to support a plant and the whole thing is entirely biodegradable. It’s obvious when you think about it, yet no-one has created anything quite like it before.

The evolution of the product wasn’t as straightforward as the idea itself, however. Being an IP lawyer, the first thing James did was file a patent application and build a prototype using his original idea of a plastic sheet. “Each prototype was hundreds of pounds to develop and we set it up and found it didn’t work properly,” he admits.

Undeterred, he and his two associates – product developer Stuart Millington and experienced entrepreneur Ian Hopkins –went back to the drawing board and decided that being a green product, they needed to adopt an totally environmentally-friendly approach. The second version of the Greenstack used materials from coppiced woodland in Kent and was stitched together by young people not in education, employment or training, courtesy of a local social enterprise.

Creating a buzz around Greenstack

It worked, and James set about testing and promoting the product by giving 100 planters to schools in support of the ConserveMe initiative. In this case, the Greenstack became the focus of a new ConserveB project to provide Britain’s declining bee population with bee-friendly plants in unlikely places.

“At midday every day they go to see what species of bee are present. It teaches children environmental awareness and where food comes from,” explains James. “We’ve grown tomatoes and strawberries in them.”

Others have been given to an operator of social housing – where space is at a premium – James has already had interest from big retailers (think supermarkets and home improvement stores) and major construction companies. “If you operate a massive building site in a city centre, you don’t really look good for the environment,” he reasons. “But if you cover it with plants it sends a very good message. We’ve had two construction companies express an interest.”

The product’s popularity so far has led James to start thinking about its global potential, too. In this respect, he readily admits that his day job in IP gives him an advantage over many start-up owners when it comes to understanding the technicalities of international licensing.

The importance of ethics

Though not a social enterprise, ethical principles are at the heart of the company. Both the Greenstack itself and the way the business operates reflect contemporary concerns about the environment and corporate social responsibility. For example, James is currently looking for a business backer for the ConservB educational project and is confident he will find one. Like the original daydream itself, an appealing idealism characterises the whole venture.

“We’re just trying to do a good thing,” says James. “It’s nice to have a feeling of being able to make a slight difference. The bee project, for example, is a small step but the children that will be involved in it could develop an environmental awareness that they can take into the rest of their lives. They love it.

“It’s a new product. It’s a product from beginning to end, from the initial idea on a scrap of paper to something you can buy on the shelf,” he continues. “But getting a new product to market is a very long process. It takes a lot more time than you would expect and you’ve got to be prepared to take a lot of setbacks. The biggest thing I’ve learned that’s really helped us is that we’ve gone completely back to the drawing board to start again to get it right. You’ve got to be pretty ruthless with yourself. There’s more to success than just having a good idea.”

Contribute to Free Range Friday

Every Friday is Free Range Friday on Enterprise Nation and we feature business ideas that are fresh, innovative, offbeat or just plain fun. If you’ve spotted anything that you think deserves a wider audience, please send us an email or speak to us on Twitter using the #FreeRangeFriday hashtag.

A guy on the MSE Forums who seems to think like me:

I'm in my 40's with no qualifications and no skills on paper, I became self employed in 2008 trying to do a catalogue round but made nothing. I started taking on little odd jobs to eke out a living then was taken on by a bloke who does block paving and gardening services to do the gardening. From there I built my own list of customers for who I do odd jobs and things.

Recently after delivering loads of leaflets for a local kebab and pizza shop cash in had I got to talking and he asked if I would advertise with a sign board like Pizza hut have started doing. I worked out a deal with him - extra for wering a funny hat I had in the car that was by chance in the same colours. I also got a big kebab with loads of salad and drinks when I finished, I walked round the local town with the sign board on and stood at traffic lights and gave out leaflets. £40 in hand with the kebab and drinks. From that I got the job from the gaffer there to chop down a couple of giant leylandii in his garden .

I sell kindling and logs to those with the new wood burning heater stoves that have become popular. I collect wood all year for this - £1 for a kilo bag of kindling, £7 for a large bag of quarter cut logs. Drop two big leylandii for £75 and I'm quids in once it's all cut up.

Painting and decorating - nothing huge just little things , gutter clearing especially this time of year, sweeping up etc. All done cheap but if you charge a tenner and work really hard and get the job done in an hour then it;s great.

I do loads of other bits and bobs too. I'm self employed and declare most of it , the big stuff anmd pay stamp. I get no benefits as my wife works.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

I'm an Urban Lumberjack and I'm OK

   With all the storms that there has been in Scotland over the last few weeks surely there would have been (a small amount of ) money to be made by the Urban Lumberjacks.

1) Plenty of free wood to get stuck into.
2) Build up a good public image by cutting down the trees for Joe.

World Records that I think I could have a pop at

   I think breaking World records is a great PR stunt. Here are some of the World records held by Ashrita Furman which I believe I could have a good pop at (and the time and place that Ashrita set it):

T-Shirt Tearing While Wearing, most in one minute, 25, New York, June 2011

Egg and Spoon Racing, fastest 100 meters, 19.39 seconds, New York, February 2011

Book Balancing on Head, furthest distance, 20 miles, Bali, indonesia, January 2011

Water Balloon Throw and Catch, furthest distance, balloon thrown by Bipin Larkin, 120 feet 3 inches, New York, October 2010

Piggyback Running, fastest mile, 12 minutes 47 seconds, carrying Larkin, New York, July 2010

Stair Climbing with Book Balanced on Head, most stairs climbed in one minute, 122, New York, October 2009

Car pushing, furthest distance, 17.06 miles, Englishtown, New Jersey, March 2008

Star Jumps, most in one minute, 51, St.Louis, Missouri, January 2008

Pushing a 4,150 Pound Van, fastest mile, 21 minutes 8 seconds, Jones Beach, New York, October 2006

Fireman's Carry, fastest mile with a person of equal weight, 15 minutes 12 seconds, person carried - Bipin Larkin, NYC, November 2005

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Mr Frothy - I love it!

   This is one of the best ideas I've seen in ages. It's an outside bar housed in an old Ice Cream Van. Definitely one for me. Here's the details and a few pics:

Remember how exciting the sound of chimes were on a Sunday afternoon when you were young?

All of the children in the neighbourhood would chase Mr Whippy around the blocks until they could queue up and get their 99s! Mr Frothy offers all of that childhood nostalgia to big kids! As the clockwork musical chimes ring out and this cool 1970s Fiat 850 approaches, all of your anticipation will be fulfilled, but not with an ice cream! With a tasty, frothy beer!

Mr Frothy is an eye-catching, must-see mobile bar, with stunning retro design and bold colours. Available for hire all year round, Mr Frothy is occasionally present in the beautiful courtyard behind The Cross Keys in Leeds.

Monday, 2 January 2012

More Low Cost living

   I believe in the past that I may have mentioned making money through offering low cost living space. My ideas range from basic camp sites right through to custom built 1 bedroom apartments (my brother is in the building trade). This idea was also brought up recently on Business Unusual:

Sewage Pipe Hotel

On December 30, 2011, in Odd, by Jason Bax ....The Das Park Hotel is cozy and perfect shelter for the coming apocalypse.

Das Park Hotel Provides Rooms In Sewage Pipes, Austria

Ever slept in a sewer? Now you can…in style.

The Das Park Hotel rooms are like small caves inside 9 ton sewer pipes. The rooms are accessed by a digital keypad, whose code is provided by the self service website upon booking acceptance.

Cozy and perfect shelter for the coming apocalypse.