'Foolish' Small Business Idea: In some countries, American clothes are considered a status symbol. Vahan realised if he purchased unwanted garments at rock bottom prices from Charity shops, he could afford to sell them in other countries.
Start-up Capital: Arrived in America 40 years ago with $20 in his pocket.
How small business idea was launched: Vahan Chamlian visited charity shop dealers like the Salvation Army and Goodwill. Bought unwanted garments.
Sales: Sold to any country where American clothes are desired as a status symbol. Today owns more than a dozen business enterprises, employing over 800 people.
Earnings: His Los Angeles-based companies, last year, earned $78 million.
Not all the garments donated to charities are sold, because even people who visit charity shops are discerning shoppers, and don't want some of the donated clothes on offer. Immigrant Vahan Chamlian, knew that in some countries, American clothes are considered a status symbol. So he turned buying rags into riches.
Bernie Brill, president of Secondary Materials and Recyclable Textiles, a Bethesda, Md., trade association, says that if it wasn't for people like Vahan Chamlian, a lot of the clothes from charity shops would end up in landfills. Vahan turns garbage into gold, and gives extra funds to charities by buying unwanted garments. Armenia-born Vahan Chamlian, landed on American soil 40 years ago with just $20 in his pocket, before he had his small business idea. Now, 66, he owns a million-dollar mansion, a private jet and a cadillac with personalised plate, 'LA RAGS.'
His donations to charity have funded many worthy causes, and he paid for a private elementary school to be built, donating it to Glendale, California. The Armenia Fund, recently received $500,000 from Vahan Chamlian and his wife Anoush Chamlian.
All this - and $78million-a-year business empire - just from selling unwanted clothes.
p.s. Editors note- Yes this idea was a success in America, but it would also be a great idea here in the UK.