Over the years we’ve dealt in LEGO parts, we’ve seen a lot of change in our inventory. At first, we kept the inventory in a couple of old shoeboxes and a small Sterilite bin, sitting on one shelf of a bookshelf in the guest bedroom. Today, LEGO has its own room in our home. I’ll be talking about how we developed the system we have for storing parts, and how we have made that system scale to over a quarter million parts in that bedroom.
The first distinction in inventory is between new and used parts. Once pieces have been connected together, they are officially used. Our used inventory is fairly small, but it covers some old parts and colors that aren’t being made any longer. Some is old enough that it includes pieces made from an older plastic and even “Pat pending” bricks, made when LEGO was still a pretty new idea.
As the inventory grew, it moved into our bedroom, where we could devote an entire shelf to it. We used old Amazon boxes to store inventory, breaking it into more categories as existing boxes filled up. This is the stage we were at when we realized we wanted this to keep growing and actually bought something to help store the parts. Enter the plastic drawer units.
As inventory would get too large for a particular box/drawer, it would either be moved to a larger drawer or be split into two smaller ones. At first, we put all of the plates into a single drawer. Today we have separate bins for plates that are only 1 stud across, plates that are 2 studs across (but not 2×4 or 2×6), a third bin for 2×4 and 2×6 plates, a 4th for plates that are 3 studs across to 6 studs across, and another drawer for plates that are 8 or 16 studs across. Finding natural joints to divide at which split the inventory such that each category fits into a bin can be a challenge.
As we continue to grow, we’ve got space to expand. Because the plastic shelving has wear and tear issues and isn’t the best for storing a great weight of parts, we’ll be moving towards bins sitting on shelves as we continue increasing the size of our inventory. We still have a little time before we need to move to a larger house to accommodate the parts.
We love giving guests a tour of the LEGO room. But if we can’t do that, you can always browse our inventory at either BrickLink or BrickOwl. 268,382 parts at the moment and still growing!