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One of the most accessible low investment businesses in the United States is peddling: buying consumer goods and selling them informally on the street, from cars and vans or in organized “flea markets” and fairs.

Many Americans think of this kind of work as demeaning, which is just fine with the peddlers, since many of them make a lot more money than the people who look down on them. In large cities peddlers operating out of vans are so sophisticated that they even light up their displays at night by using portable generators.

Peddlers don’t have many of the expenses a retail store does. They either don’t pay rent or pay a small fee for their space at fairs or weekly flea markets. While some peddlers go through the process of becoming licensed by the local government, many do not, and in many cases licenses are not required. Peddlers work for cash and rarely bother with the details of sales and income taxes.

For a few hundred dollars or even less, anyone can set up as a peddlar nearly anywhere in the United States. The products are easy enough to find; some wholesalers specialize in selling to peddlars. A peddler who learns to find the right products and sell them in the right places can do surprisingly well.

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