A neat hobby/business!

Flipping Thrift Store Items

by Robert Hoffman


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I live in Washington, DC. When my son was born, my free time was cut considerably. One thing I found to do when I did get about 20 to 30 minutes was check out the local thrift store. It was a fun activity that allowed my mind to wander. It relieved stress and sometimes I found a few items of interest that I could acquire for cheap.

One day it dawned on me that I may be able to sell items that I bought at the thrift store on eBay for a profit. I wanted to see if it could be done. I tried out a few t-shirts and dress shirts that I bought for about $5 and sold on eBay for $10 or more. It worked! Now that I knew it could be done, the goal was to find more items that I could turn a profit and hopefully as much profit as possible.

Initially, I stuck with what I knew and found some golf shirts, shorts, hats, etc. I was making anywhere from $8 profit to $15 or $20 or more after eBay and PayPal fees. It was a fun hobby and then I decided to get serious. I explored other areas of the thrift store and branched out into shoes and sneakers. These items yielded greater profits and sold more quickly. In addition, tennis racquets at my store were gold. I found one racquet for $3 that I sold for $75. I bought another for $4.99 and sold for $115! One day I bought a racquet, and within 30 minutes, I listed it on eBay and it was sold minutes later for a $60 profit. My hobby was starting to pay off and become a cottage industry!

I started researching eBay and found I could print shipping labels to save money and use the eBay App to make posting items quick and easy. It was a big time saver. I also learned proper ways to photograph shoes and how to describe an item to best position it for a sale. Along the way, I've sold motorcycle helmets, tools, jerseys, t-shirts, hats, golf shirts, golf bags, golf bag covers, framed pictures, books, watches, ties, luggage, glassware, dishes, boots, software, jackets, coats and puzzles to name a few.

Here are some tricks I've learned:

  • Find brand new items. If they have a tag, return them!

  • Use the eBay App. It will help you post and look for items that have sold.

  • Get a PayPal credit card. Your eBay sales will allow you to get direct access to those funds with the PayPal credit card.

  • Go early. Thrift stores have the best stuff and less people in the mornings.

  • Branch out! Of course, buy and sell what you know but also look around. You'd be surprised what items are unique and sought after.

  • Try to find lot or bulk items. I found a huge lot of Sapporo pint glasses that I bought for $12 total and I sold each glass online for $19.95.

  • Don't forget Amazon and Craigslist. eBay isn't the only place to sell. There are many, many others!

  • Be careful with large items and fragile items. They are difficult and expensive to ship, and if they don't sell, you're stuck with a cumbersome item in your closet or garage.

  • Don't be afraid to learn new skills. It takes time to learn about pictures, listings, eBay searches, and what products sell or don't sell. This all takes time. Be patient!

  • Have fun! If thrift flipping is starting to seem too much like work, move on. Maybe it's not for you.

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