I just came back from my local flea market and business was booming at the stationery guy’s stall. At the beginning of every school year there is a rush from parents to get their children’s stationery sorted for the new year. Tap into this seasonal business demand to make some extra money, whether alongside your existing business or to supplement your income as a sideline business.

Getting started
The goal is to know what to buy, so to keep your stock relevant. If you don’t have kids try to get a list of the stationery supplies needed from other parents.

Common items usually include
Blue and/or black ballpoint pens
Pencils
Exercise books
Hard cover books
Brown paper
Plastic covers
Plastic sleeves, flip files
Colouring in crayons
Rulers
Pritt, glue stick etc.
etc.

Finding a supplier
Look around for wholesale suppliers in your area, this means you will have to buy multiple qualities at a time which will require a bit of an investment but this will help you get good discounts, this usually means dealing with manufacturer/distributor/supplier. There are places that sell smaller quantities for cheap as well so look around. I know places like Osmans Wholesalers and Park Avenue Stationers sell stationery in smaller quantities but I don’t know how they stack up pricewise compared to major retailers (which is important).

Marketing your business
Depending where you currently operate from or work, leverage this existing client base and if you can get good prices this is a business that can benefit from word of mouth as lots of people want to avoid the shops as well. I usually don’t advocate small businesses selling on credit, but if you have access to sell to a workplace with permanent staff you can offer them on credit till the end of the month (allowing you to charge a premium as well). A lot of people will be short of money this time of year.

Make hampers to sell more
Depending on how much variety there is in what supplies are needed school to school you can also make up hampers of the most popular items bundling them together. This will also be popular with people who want to give stationary as a gift but have no idea what to buy.

Almost every month in South Africa there is an opportunity for a seasonal business, whether due to climate, religion, holidays. Always look around for opportunities to make extra money.

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