After an hour of digging through a stranger's abandoned boxes, 32-year-old Mark Meyer is growing worried.
The $225 he paid a local storage company for a truckload of someone else's abandoned things is looking like a losing investment since he hasn't unearthed anything worth anything.
Then Meyer stumbles upon something. Tearing back the carefully wrapped packing paper and bubble wrap, Meyer reveals hidden treasure — he recognizes the 2-foot-tall clown figurine as a Capodimonte painted-porcelain statue imported from Italy and cracks a smile.
"It's not chipped or broken in any way," he tells CNBC Make It. "I don't like clowns, but I like money."
For more than a decade, little finds like these have propelled Meyer to financial freedom and to the rank of a six-figure professional reseller, hawking his goods as Mike Meyer Here on eBay and Amazon.
After a few more hours spent searching through boxes, Meyer photographs the clown and several more finds and posts them online where he expects to make over $4,000 in net profit off the single load, including potentially over $250 for just the Italian figurine.
"With one unusual piece, you can basically make your money back," he says. "It's always what I'm trying to do, that means everything else is profit."
A Long Island native, Meyer has been flipping other people's discarded belongings to make money since he was 15, when he bought a model ship for $5 at a yard sale and sold it for $65. The windfall inspired him to resell full time. Right out of college, Meyer bought his first abandoned storage container (storage companies sell customers' stored items when they fail to pay storage fees) with a $400 loan from his parents, and his business was born.
Now, he estimates his business spends roughly $5,000 buying inventory every month — mostly through police auctions, liquidations and abandoned storage sales — that he's able to turn around for nearly $15,000 on average per month.
"I never applied for a single job," Meyer says. "I applied for my business license straight out of college, and I've never looked back since."
Meyer spends roughly 10 hours per new inventory load going through items with his two employees. He's built up an inventory of over 1,400 items, which he neatly stores in his garage until they are purchased and shipped out. On weekends, he takes the more unique items to local markets where he thinks they'll have a better chance of selling.
"It's not easy. I work really hard," he says. "But I'm making a six-figure income off of selling people's stuff when most people have struggled."
But more than just a paycheck, Meyer says his job has given him freedom and notoriety. His work as a professional flipper even landed him a role on Travel Channel's "Baggage Battles," a reality series dedicated to the craft.
"I've understood that by buying and selling items, I can live an abundant life, and that's worth more to me than $80,000 at a finance firm, working for a boss I don't like who's going to be rude to me," Meyer says. "I'd rather be my own boss and be kind to my employees. It's a much better way for me to live."
Curious to see how much work it really is? Watch the above video to see how Meyer was able to uncover gems in his latest load.
— Video by Zack Guzman.
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