One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Taken literally by Walter Brown, who owns the company Blue Click – a business focused on upcycling people’s unwanted items.
From a young age, Walter spoke about how he has always been a person who doesn’t like wasting and throwing things away. He jokingly said, “I will be a hoarder when I am an old man. I am terrible.” But he told me how he has always been curious to fix broken objects by separating them and putting them back together again.
After school, he decided to work for 14 years before deciding he wanted to turn what he loved doing into his own business. He started working from home, but the company outgrew his two-bedroom house, so he decided to pay for a storage unit in town to store his products. But he soon found out that the unit didn’t have the right amenities, and it wasn’t the perfect place to run his business from.
For the past year, he told me how he has been visiting Louis Pearlman Centre to see if they have any units available. One day they contacted him to enquire if he was still interested in a unit that had become available, and like a shot, he was in. He has now been based at the centre for just over six months.
Having the perfect location for your business is one thing, but finding the correct name is another and Walter told me about how his business wasn’t always called Blue Click. When he started his business ten years ago, it was initially called Ultimate Emporium. Unfortunately, this Image for his company was dated and needed a rebrand to fit in with the modern world as some people are not aware what an emporium is, and he emphasised the importance of finding the right name for his company and services it provides.
On choosing the name, “it had to be short and straightforward, so it would be easy for people to remember.”
He decided to go down the route of ‘green click’ with green representing the recyclable side. The idea of ‘Click’ was inspired by his wife. His wife said, “you are always clicking on that mouse of yours.” But he eventually decided he didn’t want the ‘green’ and instead went for his favourite colour, blue, thus creating the name ‘Blue Click’.
For ‘Blue Click’ to work, he needs to build up many contacts who can send him unwanted items. Today his collection of partners he works with consistsof scrap merchants and recyclable companies in the city who send him unwanted objects, from businesses that have gone out of business. Also, through word of mouth, he has found that being at Louis Pearlman Centre, he has had calls from the staff asking if he wanted any unused items that a business has left behind. He will then look to see what he can do with them; if he can’t do anything with these items, he will try to recycle them.
Although Walter likes to try and find a second life for people’s unwanted items, the only items he won’t work with is anything hazardous. Generally, he will work with items that have a multi-use and are non-hazardous and will make every effort to find a way to give them a second life.
Many of the items he has comes across, he will first try and fix them for their first intended purpose, though sometimes he comes across high-end electronics that are out of his skill set. Most of the time, if he can’t fix something, he will have contacts whom he can send these items too. Walter tells me how he sends high-end electronics to someone who has the skill set to fix it, and he even keeps board game pieces because he knows someone who sells second-hand board games and might have some missing parts.
As a small business, the best site to sell his products is eBay and Facebook Marketplace. When his stock sells locally, he finds these sites helpful because it saves on postage and packaging costs. He has used Amazon Market place, but he soon realised this company works best with high-end businesses. Working on his own, he doesn’t have the workforce to keep up with the requests through Amazon.
Working with these sites allows him to choose how much he wants to sell online. He told me how the market constantly fluctuates, and since the pandemic, money has been tight for people, so people wish to buy items for a reduced rate. When finding the price for an object, he will search online to see if there is anything for a similar price. Fortunately, a large part of his stock he receives for free so whatever he makes on it, is a profit. Some stock must be paid for, and he still must make a profit.
Asking him if he had come across anything unusual, he said, “that’s the thing, my whole ethos is the unusual”, telling me how many of the items he has come across are everyday things for him. An exciting story he told me was a time when he stumbled across a Terry Pratchett game. He describes it as the strangest item because he had received a lot of electronics items from a company to find at the bottom of the box was a sealed Terry Pratchett game. At the time, he didn’t think much of it, but after some research, he found out this game was valued at £150. “It was a shock to the system. No matter what you get in, you think it might only be worth two pounds, but this game card was a collectable.” Asking if he kept the game, he said that he sold it because it was during the time he was building his business, so he must reinvest back into the business.
Looking around his unit, Walter would point out the different items he has come across and has decided to keep for himself. One time he found a lovely stainless-steel plate which he took home for doing some DIY work. He describes himself as a ‘gadget man’ and admits he likes to hang on to items for a while till he gets bored of them, then he will move on to something else that has come in. A prime example of something he comes across that comes in handy is tools. He told me how companies are always throwing things away, and at the bottom of these boxes, you will find sockets, screwdrivers and spanners.
He was telling me the story of how the Greyhound Trust donated a collection of decorative plates, which they were going to throw away until Walter said he would help sell the complete collection online. This resulted in the trust receiving a considerable donation.
When talking about his plans for the future he spoke about how he would like to employ more people for his business to grow. But he said he needed to find the right person for the job, someone who is happy to rummage through boxes of unwanted products or who doesn’t mind going through a repetitive stage of trying to plug electronics in to make sure they work.