We are all looking for ways to make extra money and one way that has risen in popularity over the last several years is known as thrifting or, simply, “flipping items.” It can be a great way to make some cash and can be a lot of fun as well, especially if you spot an amazing bargain or stumble across a rare or unique item. There’s definitely some thought involved with the whole process though, so let’s take a look at how to make money thrifting and flipping items.
What is Thrifting?
Thrifting is the process of buying items in places such as thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets and then selling them at a higher price. It is often known as thrift store flipping or flea market flipping.
Not only can you make money from it but you can also play your part to help reduce the number of things being thrown away by reselling them. Some people even get into hobbies such as up-cycling secondhand items to increase profits but that’s a slightly different process. Plus, it can actually be really fun!
If you enjoy looking around local thrift stores, visiting markets to hunt for bargains, stopping in to garage sales or even keeping a watch on the Marketplace or your local yard sale groups on Facebook, you will enjoy thrifting. And this article will show you how to make money thrifting!
Where Can You Find Items to Sell?
1. Thrift Stores
The best place to find items to flip for profit is a thrift store. Thrift stores are usually donation-based stores that are operated by non-profit organizations. People donate anything from clothing to household items to books to electronics. When donations are dropped off by people, the store then sells them secondhand, usually at a much lower price than they would be originally. Most thrift stores are brick and mortar stores but you can find a few online thrift stores as well!
2. Yard Sales
Yard or estate sales are a popular option to find items to sell. They tend to be cheaper than thrift stores but people might want to haggle a bit more over the price, so this option might not be ideal if you are uncomfortable with this.
Discount stores can sometimes be worth checking as the quality of the item is often higher than thrift stores as these are new items, not second-hand. You may pay a bit more for them but if you know there’s still potential profit, it can be worth investing in.
3. Flea Markets
A flea market is an area where vendors come to resell various merchandise. Often times, the items at flea markets are very unique (homemade, antique, etc) or just dirt cheap!
Typically in a flea market, you’re buying directly from the “owner” of those items so you can usually do some hustling and try to get a better deal on the items you want if you’re a good sales person!
4, Online Resale Sites
The beauty of finding items online to flip for profit is that you have a lot more options at your fingertips! But you may have some more competition with other online shoppers.
The best places to buy thrift items online are:
- Craigslist – This is an online classified listing site that can be a great place to buy cheap items to flip. Just do your research, and if you meet someone in person, do it in a public place and take someone with you.
- Facebook Marketplace or Facebook Local Yard Sale Groups – People are always giving things away or selling them for a low price on the site so keep a look out for bargains.
- Online Antique stores – While these tend to be more expensive, you can find some bargain vintage items.
- Major Retailer Clearance – Keeping your eye on end of the season clearance from your favorite retailers can make for a huge paycheck when you you’re needing to know how to make money thrifting. Not only would you be buying NEW items but you typically can be multiples of that clearance item! As an avid deal hunter myself, I’m always looking for the best online deals (literally every single day). And I’ll bring the deals TO YOU when you follow my Everyday Thrifty Facebook Page!
Don’t forget that one of the first places to look for items to resell is at home. Many of us will have items in the attic that we no longer need and that could potentially turn a profit when sold. Gather them up, do some research to see how they might sell, and then you have a great start to your new side hustle.
How to Make Money Thrifting
The first step in knowing how to make money thrifting is to be familiar with the best items to buy at a good price that will sell for enough to make a profit margin. Here are some tips to help you with this.
Do Some Research
It is a great idea to have a list of the types of items that you are going to look for and you can get quite specific about this. By researching what items are in high demand and what is making more money, you can focus your shopping efforts on the right items to get those high prices when you sell.
Make a list of things like brand name, style number, and even the inner fabric care tag so you know you are getting the exact item that you have seen. Get to know the brands in the area of items you want to thrift, so if you want to focus on handbags, look in department stores to see what are the big name brands and what similar items sell for lower prices so might not be as worth purchasing.
You’ll need to have current knowledge of pricing for the items you plan to shop for when buying items to flip. Because if you purchase an item that is basically the top dollar for what you could sell it for yourself, you won’t profit anything. You’ll want to aim to buy items that are approximately 50% less than what the current resale price is so you have wiggle room in your profit margin.
Inspect the Quality of the Items
The best items to flip are ones that you buy at a thrift store but don’t look like they came from a thrift store. You want things that are in excellent condition and look almost brand new. Good condition can work for some ideas, such as video games or board games if they have all the elements needed and work properly. But for something like a designer handbag, you want it to be in top condition to get as much money as possible when reselling.
Have a simple checklist of things to go through with each item:
- Inspect it thoroughly to see if there are signs of wear or flaws that could lead to it selling for a lower price.
- Check for damage such as stains, rips, and tears or missing things like buttons or zippers on clothes.
- Make sure everything works as it should or can easily be repaired without affecting the reselling price.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t do a bit of work on an item after you buy it if you think it is worth it. A little elbow grease can go a long way with some items to improve their value, with things like a new coat of paint or just a good scrub making a big difference. Just be sure that putting time into working on the item will increase the value enough to be worthwhile.
Look at Niche Items
There are always markets for common household items, clothes, and sports equipment but don’t be afraid to look at niche markets where your thrifting business could make a bigger income.
Things like retro video games and consoles or textbooks from college courses can all have plenty of potential buyers. And some areas, such as vintage toys, can have a fanatical following that is ready to pay a lot of money for their favorite items.
What are the Best Flipping Items?
1. Clothes, shoes, and handbags
Trending, popular brands, as well as luxury items or even midrange fashion, have good potential for resale but do your research as not all items will have a good resale price.
2. Household items and cookware
This can include things like dishes, kitchenware, pots and pans or even vases and decorative items. Look for well-known brands and full sets or complete items.
3. Toys and games
You’ll want to look for items that are retro or are no longer available in retail stores for the best chance of making money thrifting.
4. Sports equipment
Good quality sports equipment are perfect thrift store items to buy due to the fact that kids always need new stuff as they grow and parents want to save money where they can. So buying from you could be cheaper than buying new products in the stores.
5. Camera equipment
Lots of people love to take photos but buying brand new camera equipment can be very expensive. If you can get the best items at a good price and resell them, you can definitely make money. Also, look for older and vintage items that have a niche following.
Keep a watch for quality furniture items or things that have a bit of character to them that will draw the attention of buyers. Don’t just go for things that are found in retail stores but look for great items that are a little different. There is a huge market for used furniture since many people consider older furniture to be of higher quality than furniture found in retail stores today.
7. Books and music
Once again, look for things that are a little different or unusual. Examples can include box sets, first editions, signed books, or even college textbooks. The same goes with music items such as vinyl records that are rare or original, unused items.
When you want to know how to make money thrifting, it can take a little more research to know the difference between a standard item and one worth a lot of money. But if you can get into the niche and understand popular items that resell well, you have a chance to make some serious money on items such as collectibles.
9. Old technology
This one might sound strange, but there’s a big market for old technology, even if it doesn’t work. From tablets to smartwatches, office equipment, and even computers, it can be worth researching if you spot this kind of thing in a thrift store.
How Can You Make Money Thrifting?
When you have a good eye for pricing, you can easily make money off thrifting by buying items at a low price and reselling them at a higher price than what you paid. There are people who make a legitimate full-time income by flipping items for profit.
When you buy items from thrift shops, you want to sell them as quickly as possible, especially if there’s a chance that the value could decrease. So it is worth gauging for the item’s relevancy to current buyers before you even purchase an item to flip for profit.
Here are the most common places to sell your thrift items:
1. Social Media
Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook (via the Marketplace or in a local yard sale Facebook group) can be great places to sell thrift store items. More specifically, Facebook will be the more popular of the two for reselling thrift store items.
Both are some of the top online spaces to reach a large number of potential customers without needing to pay any upfront listing fee. If you plan to sell on Facebook Marketplace and need to ship an item, you will have to pay Facebook a small percentage of the sale. However, if you sell the item locally, there is no fee.
You’ll also want to consider any fees that you may incur by using PayPal to accept payment from your buyer if you use that service as well.
You can also use Facebook groups dedicated to selling items and these can be a great option if you are a little unsure of the selling price and don’t mind a little haggling.
2. Online Marketplaces
eBay and Etsy are probably the best-known online marketplaces where you can sell items. Although, Etsy is more limited as you can only sell handmade or vintage items there. eBay is great for selling just about anything and is a huge online marketplace that has been around for a long time. You can even create an online store on it to have more of an official storefront for your side hustle.
You can list items for resale on Amazon as well and it is so easy! Either sign-up to list individual items or if you buy multiples of things and have several of the same kind to sell, you may want consider being a FBA merchant on Amazon.
Other examples of online marketplaces can be places like OfferUp where you can list things for free.
3. Niche Marketplaces
You can also find specialist places to sell particular items, such as baby clothes or shoes. If these match with the right type of product that you are selling, these can be a good option as their audience will be more targeted towards those specific items. They are also more likely to know high-quality items and be willing to pay the right price for them.
Decluttr is one to use for used electronics, books, cell phones, smartwatches, and video games. There’s also a big market for LEGOs on the site. With this app, you sell directly to the company rather than to buyers, but this also means they set the price and not you.
How to Sell Online Successfully
Most of the time, selling thrift store items online is going to be the best way to make some money but there are a few things to remember when selling via this business model:
- Make sure you list the item with a competitive price tag based on similar items on the marketplace or app to increase the chance of selling your item.
- Take high-quality photos of your item to show its real-life condition of it and use a unique and detailed description of it, including any faults, issues, and information about the quality of it.
- If people ask questions about it, consider updating the listing to include this information and cut out the need for people to keep messaging you to ask it.
- Don’t be surprised if people want to negotiate on the price of the item and be willing to at least chat with them.
- Understand shipping costs and methods so you offer realistic expectations to customers and still maintain your profits.
- Have solid customer service processes such as dispatch time and how to deal with returns so buyers can be confident purchasing from you.
How Much Money Can You Make Off Thrifting?
You can make a full-time income by thrifting items for profit if you put the time and effort into it! Realistically without too much effort at all, you could easily make $5000 fast. And if you put more work into it, you could make between $10-$30K. There are many households that earn a plush income by flipping items for profit full time and earn over $100K annually.
Truly, you’re in charge and determine your own income potential based on how much time and skill you have to invest into flipping thrift items as a business.
Successful Thrift Store Flipping
There’s a bit of research and some legwork involved with starting to flip items from thrift stores, but there are plenty of success stories out there to show that you can make good money once you learn the basics.
Make sure you do your research, know the best places to sell the items you buy, and ensure you understand what good quality looks like for different types of items. Then good luck with your new venture!