Thrift Store Flipping: The Ultimate How To Guide

thrift store flipping
Photo by Prudence Earl via Unsplash

Thrift store flipping is an easy and potentially very lucrative side hustle. There’s a lot to be discovered inside thrift stores that could return a decent profit.

Walking inside can seem very overwhelming sometimes. You have to know that if you plan on making a profit from thrift store flipping, you need to designate time to sift through everything!

There’s plenty of people who make a full time living by flipping used items from the thrift store. Whether you’re looking to make this your full time gig, or a side hustle, you need to know what you’re getting into. If you don’t do it correctly, you can easily end up with a lot of junk that just doesn’t sell.

Why would you want to start thrift store flipping? Well, it’s an easy side hustle to take up and there’s a few reasons.

  • It doesn’t take a lot of time
  • It doesn’t require a large investment
  • There’s good profit opportunity

We are going to cover everything you need to know on how to to flip thrifted items. From where to look to what to look for, here is your complete how to guide to thrift store flipping.

Thrift Store Flipping: Where?

There’s plenty of places to search for items to flip. The most obvious would be thrift stores, but don’t limit your options. You have to see the potential everywhere!

Estate Sales

Estate sales often get looked over, but this is the first place you need to start. They typically occur Friday-Sunday, and you can always find them online.

Try these sites:

The best thing about estate sales is you can pick and choose which area of your city you want to look in. The wealthier parts of your city is the place to start. Go where the old money is and you will find all the valuable vintage items.

A lot of estate sales will post photos of what’s for sale online. Use this to your advantage. You can save a lot of time simply by having an idea of what there is to find at the estate sale. This will help you to determine if there’s something worth purchasing, or if there’s something valuable that may sell really quickly.

Use the online platform to reach out to the seller to potentially hold an item for you. Some people may say no, but a few will probably honor your request. So, what we’ve learned is the first place to start looking for items to flip is estate sales.

Flea Markets

thrift store flipping
Photo by Charisse Kenion via Unsplash

Flea markets are goldmines when it comes to these things. At flea markets you can find sellers who have already spent time curating a good collection. Because of this, you can save yourself a lot of time sifting through junk.

The best thing about flea markets, is there is a good chance you can haggle the price down. A lot of the time sellers just want to make the sale. If you notice a few things you want, ask them to bundle things together for a better price.

Don’t be afraid to ask. Unlike a store, there’s no set sale price. I have used this tactic plenty of times and have gotten a few bucks at least knocked off some items.

ebay

Believe it or not, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home to find valuable items to flip.

Ebay is one of my favorite places to shop for specific items. You can instantly narrow down your search for items to flip saving you a lot of time. Ebay is also a great place to go to compare prices, which we’ll actually get to later.

I think ebay is super underrated and isn’t utilized to its full potential by a lot of people.

Thrift Stores

Yes, thrift stores are clearly the most obvious place of them all. That’s what this post is about anyway! Let me tell you a secret, though.

I live in Southern California, so there are a lot of available thrift stores near me. I don’t typically go to the ones that are the closest to my house. Why? Because if I drive inland to a less populous area, there are better options.

Typically, the shops near me get sifted through before I can even get there to look. Going to the less popular stores means greater chances of finding great items, so try this tactic.

If that’s not practical for you, then be sure to go to the thrift stores near you on a regular basis. Each day, there are new things being donated. If you skip a few months before going back to the same store you are missing out on a lot of opportunities. A lot of valuable items are found by chance!

Auctions

Auctions are also a great place to find items to flip that are in good condition. I think this is something that gets looked over rather easily.

Auctions will typically post what is going to be up for sale. This allows you time to scour the online website to determine if there’s anything worth purchasing.

The amount of time spent searching for an item, and the amount of time it takes to sell an item are losing you money! Take advantage of as many online resources as you can.

Thrift Store Flipping: Which Items?

When you’re looking for things to flip, you need to have a general idea of what to search for. Here are some ideas for items that you can usually make a good profit on.

Instruments

thrift store flipping
Photo by Halacious via Unsplash

Instruments can catch a good profit online. For example, I recently was looking at accordions on ebay. Most of the accordions I saw were $500+ and I had no idea!

Furniture

If you have a knack for refurbishing and refinishing old furniture, you can turn a huge profit. Find an old table that has potential and add a new coat of stain. Voila, you have a brand new table!

Vintage Clothes

Vintage clothes, especially recently are super popular. Double plus points if you find something vintage and name brand. Vintage Levi’s nowadays are selling for over $100 depending on the condition!

Vintage clothing has a huge sale potential, but be aware about the quality. We don’t want any vintage clothes riddled with moth balls.

Exercise Equipment

Photo by Humphrey Muleba via Unsplash

A lot of people will offload old equipment and just dump it at the thrift store. That’s the easy way out, but one man’s trash… or so they say. Try scouring for old exercise equipment to turn a big potential profit.

Gaming Consoles

Finding a gaming console that’s in good working condition can fetch a lot of cash. A lot of vintage gaming consoles are collectable items and people will pay a lot of money for them. These items are where you need to pay attention to the quality. A gaming console that’s completely broken isn’t going to be worth anything!

Designer Brands

Designer brands will definitely catch a good sale. Be really careful about quality and potential fakes.

You never want to deceive your buyer into thinking they’re getting something that they aren’t. The better your ratings are as a buyer, the more sales you will continue to make.

Lamps

Lamp I found
Lamp I found for $30!

Certain types of lamps are expensive. I recently found a double globe lamp, which you can see above, for $30 at my local thrift store. These beautiful vintage lamps actually cost into the $100s and more.

Be sure to check for comparable lamps and look for any sort of branding. Branding can go a long way, which we will talk more in depth about.

Jewelry

If you consistently hit up the thrift store, you might one day find a diamond in the rough! Jewelry is something that is often looked over at the thrift store, so take advantage of the opportunities that lay in plain sight.

Jewelry is another type of item you need to be careful about. You don’t want to be fooled into buying fakes that won’t make you any money reselling.

Thrift Store Flipping: What?

Now that we’ve determined what types of items to look for, we need to consider some other criteria. Sure you can find a Gucci bag, but if it’s got a huge hole in it, then it may not be worth as much as you originally thought.

Some Things To Consider:

  • Brand
  • Quality
  • Comparable Sales
  • Price
  • Potential Shipping Cost

These five things are really important when trying to determine what to sell. Let’s break each category down even further to understand why.

Brand

If you can, search for name brand items. It won’t happen often, but there will come a time if you’re consistent in your search that you run into something designer.

A thrift shop that’s selling a Gucci bag for $10 because they didn’t notice the label, whaaaatt?? Yes, it can happen!

So maybe high end designer items are a really rare find, but other name brands aren’t. Check for things like Steve Madden, Guess, Topshop, and other mid-end to high-end brands.

If you get something that already comes from a nicer brand, then you know it’ll catch you a good sale price.

Quality

So we’ve determined to look for brand names, but what if it’s full of holes or stretched out and worn down. It probably won’t sell for that much. Make sure the items you’re selling are in good condition.

The last thing you want is to deceive the buyer into buying a “nice” item, but it’s actually full of moth balls. Let’s be honest business people here.

You could also look for items that aren’t necessarily a well known brand, but are really good quality. Quality is everything when buying and selling second hand. A nice quality item can last a long long time compared to something cheap, and thrown together.

Comparable Sales

This is the part where ebay becomes your best friend. Ebay is where you will determine what items are worth. Sure, you can buy something and price it however you want to, but that’s not really going to work out in the long run.

You need to know how much things actually sell for, not how much they’re listed for. For example, if I find a pair of vintage Levi mom jeans, I’ll go to ebay and search “vintage levi mom jeans”. From there I can filter by “sold” and immediately see what buyers are willing to pay for.

You need to be searching comps for everything you think is worth flipping. If you have an idea about how much you want to sell an item for and see it only sells for $10, then you can decide it’s not such a worthy investment.

This is also where you will determine if something will even sell! If there is no market for an item, it won’t sell. You are risking buying something that people are not interested in buying.

Price

Money
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck via Unsplash

Yes, this might be an obvious thing to consider, but consider it! Some thrift stores just charge too much, looking at you Salvation Army. If you’re going to search for the right item to flip, then you have to make sure you can sell it for a reasonable profit margin.

There’s a couple things to keep in mind regarding price. When you’re trying to resell for profit you generally will want to make about a 50% profit on the item. What does that mean? If I bought something for $50, then I want to sell it for $75 and make at least $25 from the sale.

If you’re buying something small and trying to flip it, you want pull at least a $10-$20 profit. This is all up to you, but consider time as well.

If I buy a $1 item and sell if for $5, but it takes me a couple days to make the sale, it’s not worth it. Sure it’s a 400% profit, but $4 every few days definitely doesn’t add up.

Potential Shipping Cost

One of the most important things to consider when running any business is cost vs. profit. If you’re selling a $10 item, but it costs $10 to ship, then that might not be a great sale.

You also need to determine who is paying for shipping. You can make an item look more desirable when you tag it with “free shipping”. That will entice buyers, however you will be in charge of that bill.

If you plan on selling most of your items online, it would be best to set up a Shippo account and sell through a Shopify store.

If this is just a side hustle for extra income, then I recommend using a platform like ebay, but we will discuss this more.

Thrift Store Flipping: How?

So you have sourced your items, but now you have to sell them! How are you going to sell? There are tons of different platforms that are all tailored towards certain types of sales and certain items.

Poshmark

Poshmark is the perfect platform if you’re selling used clothing. I have used Poshmark multiple times for clothes from my own closet and have sold tons.

Their platform makes it super easy to make the sale and they generate you a shipping label. You can decide to pay for shipping or request that the buyer pays for shipping. Be aware though, fees for items above $15 is 20%. A 20% fee is pretty high.

Mercari

Use Mercari to sell clothes as well. I moved over to Mercari from Poshmark because their sale fee is only 10%. It’s still higher than I would like to pay, but half as much as 20%!

Mercari will also generate labels for you. The seller is responsible for shipping costs when using Mercari. You have the option of using a generated label, or you can ship on your own. It’s nice that the platform lets you decide how to ship.

ebay

I am a huge fan of ebay! Ebay has low fees, and is very intuitive to use. They help walk you through listing an item, and help decide what to price it as. Ebay also helps you choose keywords to make sure your item is seen by many people.

There is also the option to ship internationally, which not a lot of platforms have. Having that option increases your chance of potential buyers immensely.

Offer Up

Offer Up has a lot of potential for selling items. This is the best platform for selling locally. Selling locally means you can expand what types of items you sell.

Obviously if you’re trying to sell furniture, you won’t really be able to ship it. Use Offer Up to your advantage to sell larger items that can fetch you a higher sale price!

Facebook Marketplace

This is another great platform for thrift store flipping if you plan to sell locally. You can also use the marketplace to see what is posted for free and potentially flip those items.

Facebook Marketplace is a great platform because a lot of people are going to see items coming through there.

Check out the Finance page for more inspirations on making and saving money!

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