I would like to start a company trading in bulk LEGO. I have been told, however, that trading in volume is quite difficult and good discounts are only really given to the likes of Walmart and other huge players. So I would be interested to know if there are other secondary sources in Europe or North America, where new LEGO can be bought in bulk.
You can buy LEGO in bulk at any official LEGO store. It is called the PAB (Pick-A-Brick) Wall. They will sell them to you buy the cup, or if you need really large quantities, you can also ask them for full boxes. Keep in mind that the selection changes seasonally, and you will not be the only seller who buys parts this way, so there will be competition.
Other than that, your only other option is to take advantage of sales at retail stores. Right before Christmas is an excellent time to stock up as many stores have great deals. Also, right after Christmas when stores are clearing out last year's stock to give room to new sets (LEGO always releases a whole range of new sets in January).
LEGO does not sell parts in large bulks to individuals, unless you become an official LEGO Certified Professional. However these people get access to huge amounts of LEGO not because of reselling the pieces, but because they are creating art. In general LEGO does not like resellers and will not support them in any way. You will have to find your own resources/angle if you want to get into the business.
Trading in LEGO isn't an easy way to make a lot of money. The margins are much smaller than they were, and you'll face stiff competition. That said, it is possible to make a profit if you do your research and you're willing to put the effort in. Few of us make a fortune, but many of us make enough to fund the odd purchase for our own collections.
To trade LEGO successfully, you're going to need several things:
- A lot of dedication and enthusiasm for the product.
- A good source of information.
- A regular supply of cheap LEGO. Not just any LEGO, but LEGO that is of interest to your target market.
- A reliable place to sell your LEGO.
So, where to source your LEGO?
I am given to understand that TLG won't deal with you at all unless you're able to take substantial quantities of stock - I've heard the figure £40,000, but I can't recall where, and to be honest I question its accuracy. Nevertheless, you're going to have to sell a lot of LEGO if you want to deal with them directly, let alone get the big discounts that are reserved for sellers like Amazon and TRU. The remaining ways to buy LEGO from TLG - such as PAB and the replacement parts service - tend to be expensive and unsuitable for bulk purchases. (And forget LUGBULK - the T&Cs prohibit reselling).
You may be able to find a wholesale distributor of LEGO, but this isn't an area on which I am qualified to comment. Furthermore, it may be possible to buy remaindered or damaged stock from wholesalers or resellers. I don't have a lot of experience in this area either, but some time ago I came across auctions for pallet loads of goods, some of which included LEGO. Whether or not this is still a viable approach I couldn't say.
An alternative - the approach I use - is to buy LEGO from regular retailers when it is on sale. If you research the market you will be able to find sets at substantial reductions, and by combining offers you can pick up 10s of boxes of LEGO at a good discount. Of course, you need to be choosey, as the cost of storing, selling and shipping LEGO quickly eats into your margins. Even though I've been at this game for a while, I still make small losses from time to time. Fortunately, these can be offset by the wins. The main problems with this approach are that (1) the risk that you won't get the returns you expect, (2) supplies are limited to what is on offer at the moment, and (3) you may need to hold on to some sets for a while: getting a good price for your LEGO is often more about timing than anything else.
My final idea - one I have yet to try, but which certainly looks viable - is to consider buying used LEGO from private sellers with a view to selling at a higher price. The two general approaches to this are (1) to pick and choose individual sets where you can see a market and a profit, or (2) buy bulk loose LEGO at low prices. Either way, you may end up spending a considerable amount of time sorting, cleaning and replacing LEGO parts.
Also define what you mean by "Bulk LEGO" - just the pieces in bulk, or are you planning to purchase sets in bulk and resell them online (so basically becoming a LEGO retailer like Walmart/Toys'r'us and the likes? The latter would probably be something you can get set up by working with TLG directly (I have no experience though).
To resell pieces I would think you would need to go the route outlined by @TheBrickBlogger.