Two southwest Houston high school students have been running a garage sale business that offers start-to-finish services such as pricing items, advertising, managing the sale and leaving the property holder a cleaned-out garage. KUHF intern Jeremy Klaff talked with Ben Weissenstein, who owns B&E Garage Sales.
"I got started last June when I called my friend Eddie Ackerman. I called him up and asked if he wanted to be my partner. So we went to a Chinese restaurant to talk it over, and when we got there I told him all the ideas that I had about the business and he thought it was a good idea, but he wasn't sure yet if he wanted to do it. But then after the meal, he opened his fortune cookie and it said something along the lines that we were going to start a new business that would be very successful."
Weissenstein's business partner, Eddie Ackerman, says when they manage garage sales, they do everything.
"We make sure that you do absolutely nothing. We show up on Friday, we make sure that everything's there, we clean everything, we take everything out, because we can do the heavy lifting. We're 16 and 18—we can lift stuff for you. But, what we usually do is, and then on Saturday we come, but we come at 5:30, we don't just come at eight, and we stay 'til about three, usually. Make sure that everything's clean, we clean everything up, haul stuff off, and we pressure wash your driveway and garage."
Weissenstein says part of the service is to advertise your garage sale.
"We put out flyers at local grocery stores, like GMH and Krogers and once we get more money, we're going to start advertising through direct mail, as well. To advertise their sale, what we do is we put an ad in the Houston Chronicle. We also send out an e-mail to a following of people who come to all of our sales. And so we get a lot of them that come to all of our sales. We have a sign-holder, as well, and the sign-holder stands on the busiest street near the sale, and a lot of people come into the sale because they see the sign-holder."
Ackerman says his parents are his inspiration.
"I've had a few influences, actually. My parents fled from Czechoslovakia during communist rule, and I've sort of drawn inspiration from their story becasue when they came to America they basically didn't know English." They didn't have any business skills. And they sort of went along the willpower and the power to just get the American dream. And really, I'm 18 and I'm here in the U.S., and I've really found that there's so many opportunities available to me, and if I just pick one up and just work hard at it, I can really make it something."
More information about Weissenstein and Ackerman's business is available online.