Sean Greves says he enjoys working in insurance but can’t stop scanning for new business opportunities.
One day, the owner of Insurors of America was looking at the liquidation market. He noticed bin stores were trending and appeared to be doing very well.
So, he approached his friend, Brandon Taylor, with the idea of opening a liquidation bin store in Springfield.
“He said, ‘Do you know on a Saturday morning, you’ll see 100 people waiting to get in?’” recalls Taylor, who works full time for Dragos in the cybersecurity industry. “Yep, it was the case.”
The two – who met through South Creek Church, where Taylor is a pastor – decided to give it a shot.
They did an analysis of the industry’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and decided it was worth the risk, despite the timing of opening a retail outlet amid a pandemic.
“We were a little nuts,” Taylor says.
How it works
Taylor and Greves opened Bin Crazy in February 2021, at the site of a former Red Racks on Campbell Avenue.
Taylor describes it as “a perfect corridor for bargain shopping,” as a Salvation Army Thrift Store is next door and a 1/2 of 1/2 discount clothing store is across the street.
“It’s right in the thick of it, and I couldn’t be happier,” Taylor says.
Bin Crazy gets inventory from a variety of places, delivered each week on tractor-trailers loaded with 24-30 pallets of overstock, returns and slightly damaged products.
“We do get goods from Amazon, Walmart, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target,” Greves says. “Sometimes they’re returns; some of it is shelf pulls at the end of the season. Some of it is just when a manufacturer updates a model. For example, we got a bunch of Google Chromecasts because they went to a different model and they liquidated the old model.”
Taylor says it took a while for the two to fine-tune what would sell well.
“You would think Keurigs would be hot, especially for fractions on the dollar,” Taylor says, for an example. “But sometimes they sat there. Not everybody needs a Keurig.”
Taylor says people line up around the back of the building on Fridays, hoping to score the week’s new finds. Greve says customers have started lining up as early as 2 a.m.
For the most part, the early birds are online resellers looking to nab hot electronics or other items for the $10 specials. They can turn around and sell them on eBay or similar sites for closer to retail prices. Name-brand clothing and home decor items are also popular.
“Over the past two weeks, we had a $1,500 iPad go out for $10. A Samsung Galaxy S22 phone went for $10 and another for $8 because it was still there on Saturday,” Taylor says.
Bin Crazy’s pricing for items in the roughly 4- by 8-foot bins is $10 on Friday; $8 on Saturday; $5 on Monday; and $2 or less on Tuesday – the end of the sales cycle. Most clothing is $3.50 every day. The store closes for restocking on Wednesday and Thursday and is closed Sunday.
Any items that languish more than a week or so are gathered together and sold as mystery bags or boxes for $10. They each typically contain $60-$80 worth of products, but Taylor says, “Every now and again, we’ll hide an Easter egg in there. It’s a thank-you for buying those items that have been around a week or two.”
It’s a hectic schedule, but Bin Crazy employee Elizebeth Gonczi says that’s one of the things that makes it such a great place to work.
“The fast-paced energy, the customer base, my co-workers – we have great synergy,” Gonczi says.
Gonczi says the customers are a diverse crowd.
“We have resellers and remodelers and the people doing personal home improvements and buying gifts,” she says. “I really love it when a customer comes in and says, do you know how long I’ve been looking for this, or how much this thing costs, or how much I’m saving.”
Taylor and Greve both say that while most customers are just looking for great deals, they have no problem with resellers making more on the items they sell.
“We’re filling a niche there because resellers have a hard time finding products to sell,” Greve says, pointing to the time it takes to comb through garage sales, yard sales and thrift stores. “We have people buying 60, 70, 80 items a week from us.”
Taylor declines to disclose 2021 revenue for Bin Crazy, but he describes the numbers as “outstanding.”
But it took a beat or two for Greves and Taylor to find their groove.
“In the beginning, we weren’t taking a draw,” Taylor says. “We were just paying our employees. Customers would come in and say, ‘You guys are rolling in the dough.’ It was a labor of love.”
Now that the store is bringing in steady revenue, the partners have set their sights on expansion. They have yet to settle on how or when that expansion will take place.
They actively are looking for warehouse space to store additional truckloads and another location to potentially get into selling larger items, such as tools, appliances or sporting goods, Greve says.
Taylor is content to take a cautious approach.
“We’re keeping an eye on the market because a lot of people are saying a true recession is coming,” Taylor says. “We don’t want to expand too rapidly.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May the all-items inflation index surged 8.6% over the past year, the highest increase since 1981.