4 Steps: Make Money Online Selling Simple Household Items

How to Make Money Selling Things on the Street


Choosing What to Sell

  1. Sell something you have.
    • Select something to sell that you enjoy and that there is a demand for in your city. What is hard to find? Do you have wholesale access to something on the cheap from which you might profit?
    • Used books, newspapers, and zines are often sold on the street. This is something you can purchase at yard sales or Goodwill stores and mark-up for sale at Farmer's Markets or high-traffic street fairs. Or, if you've got a mile-long book collection, it could be a fun way to clear out the old and make some money for new purchases.
    • Antiques and novelties can likewise be purchased cheaply at yard sales and second-hand stores, then marked-up for sale outdoors. Acquired a porcelain doll collection from a relative that you've got no room for? Sell it to someone who does!
    • Decorative swords and knives are available in bulk packages on call-in television sales channels, and are often marked up for sale at music festivals or other themed events.
    • Firewood is always a useful and necessary sale item in rural areas or near campgrounds. If you have a supply, selling firewood can be as easy as putting a sign in your driveway.
    • Fruit and other produce is commonly sold at roadside stands and farmers' markets. If you've got an apple or cherry tree whose fruit always goes to the birds, it may be a good idea to package up your produce and sell it. In rural areas, it's also common to put out produce like peppers and eggs with a collection jar, operating on the honors system. It can be a good way to get rid of excess produce your family can't eat, and make a little money while you do it.
  2. Sell something you make.
    • Have an artsy compulsion that results in a lot of stuff? Start selling it!
    • Pottery is often sold at farmers' markets and street fairs. It goes well alongside food products, but is also versatile enough to sell alongside paintings and other art. Sell cookware, cups, pots, and vases as well as small sculptures and clay novelties.
    • Paintings and photographs are often popular items at outdoor markets. In high-traffic areas, a striking visual sells itself. Learn to price accordingly, as most people don't carry lots of cash around, even at street fairs. Consider offering deals for multiple purchases.
    • Jewelry, especially around holidays, is something everyone wants to buy--either for themselves or for a loved one. Around Christmas is a safe bet, but jewelry is a popular birthday item as well, so stay out there!
    • Sculptures, woodworking, and leather crafts are popular at outdoor events like renaissance fairs and harvest festivals.
    • Screen-printed t-shirts that you can make on and order-by-order basis are a safe bet for music festivals. Allowing people to decide what to put on their shirts cuts down on the work you do before hand, but make sure you bring enough supplies to keep up with demand at the event.
  3. Sell something you cook.
    • Does everyone rave about your homemade tortillas? Is your ice-cream to die for? Share your delicious treats with the rest of us!
    • Tacos and tamales are commonly sold, even from backpacks in some neighborhoods. Make them ahead of time and wrap them in tin foil to make them clean and easy to handle.
    • Popsicles and ice-cream sell like crazy at hot outdoor events. If you've got a way to keep them cool without breaking the bank (reusable ice packs are a must) then you've got a reliable seller in the summer months.
    • Candy like homemade chocolate truffles or cookies or bars is a sweet indulgence and makes for a welcome break from beets and arugula at any farmers' market.
    • Lemonade or specialty drinks like coffee, shakes, or malts can be tailored to any event. Sell warm beverages like cider in the fall and creative lemonade flavors in the summer. Basil-watermelon lemonade in August? Yes please.
    • TIP: Creative local flavors like huckleberry and salmon in the Pacific Northwest or acorn-fed pork from Virginia will have locavores throwing their money at you. Work with other vendors to collaborate on ingredients, making your product--whatever it is--truly unique.
  4. Sell something you do.
    • Are you the best delta blues guitar player in town? Take your talents to the street like they did back in the '30s and collect coins in a hat or coffee can for added authenticity.
    • Painting faces at events where there will be lots of children will create a welcome break for parents and babysitters alike.
    • Draw caricature. If you have a talent for humorous exaggerations in your drawings, caricature is particularly popular in tourist locations, such as bigger cities. Give a traveling couple a unique gift from your hometown.
    • Perform puppet plays at outdoor music festivals to give sun-drenched revelers a spectacle of a smaller scale. They'll love it.
    • Mime doesn't have to be the butt of awkward jokes if you do it right. If you've always had an interest in this tradition, take it to the streets and get people laughing for real.

Finding Suitable Places for Selling

  1. Work in a high traffic area.
    • Is there a high traffic area in your town, where you're likely to come across lots of people? Centrally locating yourself at a park or town square will maximize the traffic for your sales.
    • If you're selling food, an office park can be an excellent idea during lunch hours.
    • If you're selling goods, a farmer's market or street fair is likewise smart as a way of distinguishing your jewelry or sculptures from the food of the other vendors.
  2. Make sure your desired location isn't in a restricted area.
    • Just because it may be a great location to sell things doesn't make it legal.
    • You'll need to register with the county clerk and research available locations that are zoned for commerce before you start doing any selling on the street. See Step Three below for more information.
  3. Don't inhibit other vendors or businesses.
    • Likewise, playing music just around the corner from another musician will cut down on both of your operations. Make sure you're out of earshot of anyone else trying to be heard.
    • The most convenient place, though, isn't necessarily the best. Your front yard would be a great place to sell your apples, but not if you live on a county road no one drives down. Your neighbors will only buy so many before they're as sick of them as you are.

Making Sure It's Legal

  1. Get the correct licenses and permits.
    • Sales tax permits are required from your local and state government revenue agencies.
    • A food handler's permit is necessary if you're planning on selling food products, which means you'll have to take the food handler's test, usually available online.
    • A business license from the city or county clerk's office is required.
    • Additional location-specific vendor permits may be required. Check with both the city clerk's office and with any organizers you might be working with, including the farmers' market or festival organizers you may be working with.
  2. Make sure what you're selling is legal.
    • Obviously selling illegal drugs is...well, illegal, but what about selling pickles at a music festival? What about selling your chicken eggs in used cartons? Hidden regulations govern all sorts of food items, so you need to be very careful about checking for your state's laws. Washington state, for instance, does not allow eggs to be sold in used containers, but Idaho does.
    • Pets are commonly sold, but you need to make sure they're registered and legal animals. No selling endangered turtles or reptiles, for instance.
    • Copyrighted material including movies and music can get you into Federal trouble if you're selling it. Don't sell any pirated music or movies unless it was created by you or you have the express permission of the creator to sell it.

Using Good Business Practices

  1. Determine your overhead.
    • It seems like a fun idea to be self-employed, working your own hours, but will it be cost-effective?
    • Keep track of your expenses. Like a brick-and-mortar business, street sales depend upon good financial practices.
    • If you're selling 0 bucks worth of ice-cream a day, that's great, but not if you're spending 0 on organic milk.
  2. Price your goods or services appropriately.
    • After calculating your expenses, price your products so that you'll profit.
    • Don't forget to calculate the cost of labor. Your time is one of the biggest expenses you have in street sales. Account for it. In the beginning, you may make less than you hope, so you'll have to balance out what's possible to sell and what's possible to make.
  3. Brand yourself.
    • What's your story? Even though you're not going to be paying for prime-time commercials like Pepsi, it's still helpful to give some thought to the way you present yourself to the consumer.
    • If you're a mother-daughter jewelry operation, name your business something that resonates with that experience.
    • Consider promotional tactics, like buy-on-get-one-free sales to get the word out about your delicious tostadas, or play open-mic nights to let everyone know you'll be busking for dimes during the music festival next weekend.
    • Free business cards are available online. Print some up with your contact information and a description of your business.
  4. Use good business practices.
    • Customer service is where a business fails or succeeds. Even if you've got the best wood carvings in the tri-State area, nobody will buy them if you treat their presence like an inconvenience.
    • Consider what to do if someone doesn't like your product. What if your perfect caricature, which you've just spent an hour laboring over, makes the customer mad? Will you try to make them pay? Will you offer to draw another one free, losing out on the cost of materials?
    • Consider possible no-win scenarios to practice before you have to confront an uncomfortable scenario.
  5. Dress the part.
    • Your appearance should match the customer's expectation of the service. If you're selling food, you need to look clean.
    • Even if you're playing dirty blues on the street corner, make sure you look like you're supposed to be doing it. Wearing cargo shorts and a basketball jersey might be a strange choice.
    • Hygiene is your first concern. If you're handling food, make sure you've got hand-washing materials available at your booth.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Is it legal for me to sell my used clothing on my front lawn without a vendor's permit?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If you sell it on your own property, you are fine. But if you try to sell your stuff on someone else's property, you would need a permit or permission from the owner.
  • Question
    Do kids have to be licensed to sell things other than food on the street?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Usually local ordinances dictate street food vendors. Where you live, it is possible that the law would say something like all food vendors have to be licensed or have a permit. This would include kids. If you're only doing something similar to a lemonade stand. Then that is fine. No cop will ever shut you down for that, unless you turn into some famous big time vendor, then you would probably want to look into getting some permits.
  • Question
    Can I sell smartphone accessories on the street?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If you have a permit to do so, yes.
  • Question
    Do I really need to have a permit to sell lemonade at the end of my driveway?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No. You don't need a permit to sell lemonade from your driveway. If you were trying to sell it at a public place, then you would.
  • Question
    I make my own skirts and tote bags in Detroit. Do I need a permit?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If you are going to sell just inside your garage with gates open, you wouldn't need a permit. However, if you are planning to have your own store built, you need a permit.
  • Question
    Can I sell fruit on the street corner?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You could do but you should ensure that it is ripe and washed. Have a sign stating such, as reassurance for buyers. You might also consider selling smoothies or fruit juices made from some of the fruit, as an additional way to obtain some money. Of course, you'll need a blender or juicer and electricity for that.
  • Question
    Can I sell wood carvings on my lawn?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, you can sell whatever you want on your property as long as it's not illegal and it's safe.
  • Question
    Is it illegal to sell food in public areas in Colorado?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You need to have a permit or license to prepare and sell food in public. Food vendor permits are not hard to obtain, and the fee to get the license is usually no more than 0. If you are caught selling food or beverages without a permit, you will probably be fined.
  • Question
    Do I need a permit to sell merchandise at a park?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, you need a permit to operate a commercial business.
  • Question
    Is it legal for people to loiter in front of my business and sell their products to my potential customers?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If they are on your property, then no, it is not. If it's not your property, then it's perfectly legal for them to stand there (though they may need a permit).
Unanswered Questions
  • Can I set up a small stall selling baked goods and drinks in a local park?
  • Is it legal to sell slime in front of my house?
  • Can I sell Krispy Kreme donuts on the street for extra cash?
  • Can I sell my handmade jewelry on my driveway without a permit? I love in Florida.
  • What type of license do I need to sell food items near parks?
Ask a Question
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Quick Summary

To make money selling things on the street, start by choosing what you want to sell. If you’re the artsy type, you could sell your creations such as jewelry, paintings, or pottery. Additionally, you could take your talents to the street by painting faces or drawing caricatures. Or, if everyone loves the way you cook, think about selling your homemade tortillas or chocolate truffles. Just make sure you check with your local and state government for what permits you will need and that what you are selling is legal in your area.

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  • Encourage friends or family to provide advertisements, such as poster boards, signs, etc.
  • Go through your attic, or used storage area. Collect old junk that you could make a fortune out of.


  • Try to avoid working by yourself. Individual vendors can be targets for theft or violence. There's safety in numbers, so find a business partner.

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