By Jacob George
Rummaging through old antiques seems like an unusual hobby for a 21 year-old, but Zubin Mushfiq is turning his hobby into big profits.
Zubin Mushfiq, of Sacramento California, is a young entrepreneur that alongside his cousin, 23 year-old Zayn Mushfiq, run a business of buying and selling antique items. The two of them use the popular online shopping site eBay as the main host of selling their items that they pick up from Sacramento and Bay Area antique stores. As of 2016, eBay had reached up to 167 million active users, and as the world of online shopping begins to grow by the year, Zubin sees this as the best time to get involved in the business.
“At this point, everybody goes online to do their shopping, not just people my age or your age, but the older people have come around and seen how much easier it is to buy with a click, and let someone else dig through the stores,” said Zubin Mushfiq. “And they’re usually gonna pay more.”
The Mushfiq family spent a lot of time in the Bay Area growing up as kids, which is where Zubin says to have found his first interest in antiques.
“We would go to San Francisco a lot on the weekends, and my Mom would take us into all these stores and look for hours,” he said. “I’d just wander around and pick up everything.”
To many, Zubin Mushfiq’s choice of becoming a self-employed entrepreneur seems too much of a risk, especially with only a high school diploma at his back, but he prefers the less traditional route to success.
“I hate being told what to do or having a boss,” says Zubin. “Even in high school I hated the teachers telling me what I had to do and when, I knew college wasn’t going to be for me.”
Zubin Mushfiq was expelled from his Sacramento high school half way through his senior year for a reason not mentioned, but says that hasn’t affected his career goals or plans in any way, except by speeding them up a couple months. Him and his cousin had been planning the business partnership for a while, and had devised to bring it all into fruition once Zubin graduated high school. After his expulsion the two were able to get a head start on the business. Zayn Mushfiq saw business potential in his younger cousin Zubin from a young age, and feels like the two are a lot alike.
“We would always be the two in the family trying to make some money off of something,” said Zayn Mushfiq. “We did YouTube videos and Vines at first thinking we’d get rich, then started doing iPod and iPhone screen repairs and shit.”
Zayn Mushfiq also remembers the weekend trips to San Francisco that the families would often take together, and spend rummaging through old antique stores. He says he first thought of the business idea after his parents would buy things from Bay Area stores and then sell them for higher prices to older relatives.
“My Mom would buy something from one of the stores and put it somewhere around the house, and at the next family gathering one of my uncles or aunties would ask how much she got it for, and right away offer her more than what she paid,” he said. “It was like a light bulb went off, but I was still pretty young.”
So how successful is Zubin Mushfiq and his business partner?
The two go through good weeks and bad weeks, some weeks netting up to $1,500, while in others losing that same amount.
“It’s all about taking risks,” Zubin said. “For every 2 or 3 items I end up flipping a profit on, I know I’m gonna end up losing a couple bucks on that fourth item, which is fine.”
Zubin Mushfiq’s day often consists of visiting multiple Bay Area antique stores, and picking up between 2-3 things a day. He picks out the few things that he is most confident he can re-sell and for a high price.
“I have to have that stock market mentality, buy low sell high.” he said.
James Cross Antique Centre in Oakland, and Keith Tower Antiques of Berkeley are two of the stores he notes that he visits on a regular basis, and often asks store owners of other places in the area where he can look to make a profit.
With the numerous amounts of online resale web-sites available today, you might wonder why eBay is almost exclusively used in the business. Zubin Mushfiq explains how the website is more widely used, and known, by people in the age bracket for buying antiques. He also notes how the easy PayPal transactions make it easier to use than credit or debit card transactions, and how bidding helps him increase his profits.
“Sometimes people just keep bidding and bidding way past the point where you’d be fine selling it at.” he said.
Zubin has recently began to bring his high school friend, Abid Allahyar, along with him to shop in an attempt to teach him the basics and expand the business by 1. He believes that with more people out scavenging for potential hidden gems, the success rate for the business will increase. Allahyar believes that he can help the business in a number of ways, and is appreciative of Zubin for letting him into the small business they have created.
“I can help bring in more items, and I’ve always felt like we have the same mentality in a way,” said Allahyar.