Starting a weekend business as a side hustle during the pandemic

One Montebello resident shares how he did

Harrison+Dang+and+a+group+of+customers+looking+at+some+Hot+Wheels+toys.

Anthony Aguilar

Harrison Dang selling hot wheels at a car meet parking lot

Anthony Aguilar, Community News Reporter

Whether it was starting a new business or growing an existing one, the pandemic gave some Eastsiders a chance to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit.

One such small business owner, Harrison Dang of Montebello, shared his struggles and successes starting a weekend resale business that offers rare items such as hot wheels, customized air fresheners, vinyl animated stickers, and other accessories for collectors at local car meets, which are meetups for car enthusiasts.

What made you start the business?

“It was an opportunity that was easiest. When [I] first starting, collecting, searching certain items to resell, [I saw] the value of such items jump to 4 or 5 times the price of what it’s worth because of the rarity. I also like the car community, which is where I tend to do my business most of the time.”

2. What is your goal for the business?

“Currently, the goal is to move the store fully online and also have times where I can still go to the car meet ups to sell, but I wouldn’t need to go as much once it’s fully online. So it is more to advertise in person and still network in person.”

3. Since we’re in a pandemic, what are some challenges, personally and professionally?

COVID “really affects day-to-day life for everyone. Family-wise, a lot of people got laid off. My family has caught COVID, and that’s an issue. They can’t go to work. It spreads to other people, and having family members that are elderly is concerning.”

“Currently, what I’m going through are shortages, and I’m trying to make my way through.”

There have been shortages of certain hot wheels because of rising demand for them from other sellers and packages being lost, resulting in shipping delays of weeks at a time.

“Trying to network…is the hardest part, and trying to be safe, wear a mask, and use your hand sanitizer.”

“[Sales] have fluctuated here and there. But for sure, during the time recently with the spikes of COVID… fewer people are out at car meets that I [attend] to sell my products. So, I do see some nights where it’s not the best night to sell, but surely, we still have people who still want to buy.”

Sales fell by about one-fourth after the recent COVID spike, but it’s starting to rebound.

4. How do you balance being a full-time student at Cal State LA while running a business?

“On weekdays, I like to dedicate time to school and the rest of the day checking stock on my inventory. On weekends, I spend most of the time outselling the products…I have to take some time to go search out and buy products, which is a bit hard when I mostly look for rare items to sell.

So far, it has been great. I can’t complain. I would like it to progress more, but I’d say with time and hard work, I can make that happen.”

Community News produces stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to [email protected]