3 Virginia students buying pools, selling them for profit while public pools remain closed

Around the South

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Many local public pools are closed this summer due to the pandemic, but some students are taking advantage of this opportunity, offering families a solution, and making money in the process.

Emmanuel Mahgerefteh, a rising sophomore at Virginia Tech, Suraj Lalchandani, a rising senior at Cave Spring High School, and Gurbaj Singh, a rising senior at Hidden Valley High School, have been selling above-ground swimming pools for the summer, and business is good.

Mahgerefteh got the idea a few days before leaving for an internship in Dallas, after noticing the demand for pools due to so many public options being closed.

“If I went into a store and I saw a pool, instantly I’d pull out my phone, go on different online marketplaces to see and try to compare the prices, and then, of course, at that point, I had to calculate the fees, shipping costs, and to see if I can get an end profit,” said Mahgerefteh.

After researching, Mahgerefteh got some pools of his own to sell on eBay and the Facebook Marketplace, and sell they did. He made five figures in less than a week.

Mahgerefteh realized there was a lot of money to be made, so he brought on some help.

“He was like, ‘Hey man. I’ve got this pool idea,'” said Singh.

“Once we started, we were doing a few pools every week, but then it started to get where we were getting 50+ pools every day,” added Lalchandani.

The three operate out of a storage unit, taking in the orders from online. They even have their own daily FedEx route.

Wednesday was a slow day, with only a few pools. However, the driver, Greg, says the most he’s picked up from the three students is 62.

“We saw the numbers going and we just kept going,” said Singh. “We saw an increase and we didn’t stop, we just kept going at it, making more and more.”

“I made a spreadsheet with where we got it, how much we got it for, who paid for it, and it would just show us everything down to the penny of where all of our money went,” Lalchandani described, scrolling through dozens of orders on the spreadsheet he had on his phone.

“We have shipping, we have fees, we have taxes to pay,” Mahgerefteh said. “We are doing all of our business legally.”

The three have been accused of price gouging, but they say they’re not even the most expensive supplier in the area. In addition, they say the markups are only because there’s a low supply and a high demand.

“These are swimming pools, and people don’t need swimming pools,” Lalchandani said. “If they have the money and they want the swimming pool, then they can get it.”

The three have sacrificed time that could’ve been spent on other jobs or with friends, but they all say this was, in their minds, a great way to spend the summer.

“I used to prioritize other things, and this really helped me step out and focus on my goals toward life and prioritize the main things that are really going to affect me in the future,” said Singh.

Lalchandani and Singh intend to apply to Virginia Tech for the 2021-2022 school year. Both of them have dreams of majoring in business.

Along with scholarships, the two plan to apply for financial aid. However, these two are hopeful that these profits from selling pools will help pay their way through college, debt free.

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