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WEST COVINA - Daniel Brown has dreamed about owning his own business since he was a kid, when he would set up lemonade stands and charge neighborhood children a nickel to tour his haunted house during Halloween. Brown's dream came to fruition three years ago when an outdoor yard sale he held at his Covina home every week turned into a popular mini swap meet. 

Building on that success, Brown, 49, in July opened "The Yard Sale Depot: Where there is an indoor yard sale every day," a thrift store at 853 S. Glendora Ave. in West Covina. "It's working out. It's something I've always dreamed of as a kid," he said. 

"I've always had the itch to have a store of my own and here I am. It's pretty neat." The 880-square-foot store is covered wall-to-wall with a variety of items and appliances, including dinner plates, tools, furniture, makeup, lamps and antique toys ranging from 10 cents to $100. "I know how the economy is doing and everyone is in the same spot I'm at," Brown said. "I can sell it cheap and it helps everyone at the same time." 

Walnut resident Linda Crosser, 60, has been a loyal Brown customer for a year. haven't been to many yard sales in my whole life better than his," she said.
"It's a fun little store that has a wide variety of stuff. You never know what you're going to get. 
There's something for everyone."

Although things are looking up now, Brown was down on his luck when he decided to pursue his dream. The 18-year carpenter lost his job three years ago during
the recession. Out of a job and not being able to make ends meet, Brown began holding yard sales. He would go to estate sales to gather unique items to sell. Later he made a deal with a local liquidator to clean out items left over from the estate sales. In exchange for his labor, he gets to keep any items he wants. 

"To my surprise, there was a lot of generous people willing to help," Brown said. Brown also searched the classified advertising website Craigslist and solicited donated items. "And I got such a huge following. On a bad day I was making about $800 and on a good day about $2,500," he said of his weekly yard sales. But the swap meet disgruntled neighbors, he said. "I had a choice - either open up a store or end the yard sales and see where life leads," he said. 

Brown opened the second-hand store on July 15. "He was given a bag of lemons and made great lemonade," said Edward Ocampo, a business consultant who helped Brown start up the business. Sales and regular customers - about 90 currently - are growing daily, he said. "As soon as we had people in here, they loved the store," Brown said. 

Brown hopes to expand the store to about 1,900 square feet if he can get the space next door.  "I have enough stuff at home to open two more stores," he said. "My backyard is my warehouse right now." He also plans on turning it into a nonprofit organization and give proceeds to an AIDS foundation and breast cancer research facility.

"The more I have, the more I can donate and provide people stuff that they can't afford," Brown said. "I just want everyone to be happy."

juliette.funes@sgvn.com 
626-962-8811, ext. 2446