I have said before that I love thrift stores, garage sales, antique shops, and the like.
Digging through dusty shelves in a thrift shop is like treasure hunting. Most things I buy are intentional, but every now and then I come across something curious and will buy it just for fun. These things usually end up getting flipped on eBay.
Flipping is a term that refers to purchasing an item below market value, then selling it at a profit. There are people out there that have turned flipping thrift store treasure into a full time job and earn a comfortable living from it. I just do it as a little side hobby. There are months I might earn a couple hundred dollars, and months I don’t sell anything. I have noticed, though, that my success rate is directly related to the amount of effort I put in, which is to be expected with any undertaking.
One of my recent successes was a Salvator Ferragamo handbag that I bought for $1 and sold for $52. (Pictured below- ignore the dates.) This was an excellent example of coming across something interesting, buying it out of curiosity, and figuring out the rest later.
I had no idea what Salvator Ferragamo bags were. I’m not that cool. But the tag inside said Italian leather, and that sounded fancy, so away we went.
Turns out- Salvator Ferragamo is a high-end, designer brand whose bags sell upwards of $1200 new. This is why I follow hunches, folks.
It potentially could have sold for much more, but one of the zipper pulls was broken and I really didn’t know what I could reasonably list it for. Doesn’t matter. The point is- junk flipping is a thing.
There are several things to keep in mind, though, if you think you might be interested in giving this a try:
Shipping is the bane of any eBay/Etsy/Amazon seller’s existence. I have found that using only USPS first class and Priority Mail flat rate mailers (the ones that advertise “if it fits, it ships”) are usually the way to go. I say usually because sometimes there may be a cheaper option.
This means in the beginning, KEEP IT SMALL. You may love that antique mirror and you’re pretty sure you can make a killing on it, but what will your profit be after you pay $60 for packing materials and shipping? Work up to the big stuff. Just something to keep in mind.
My approach to shipping has been to give the cost my best guess, build that amount into my pricing, and advertise as FREE SHIPPING!! Ain’t nobody don’t like free shippin’!!! (<- You like that?! That’s a little Tennessee talk for ya. No charge.)
Diamonds in the rough
Any good thrifter/treasure hunter/junk hoarder knows that if you want to find the good stuff, you’re going to have to look past the grime, dust, dirt. Some people don’t have that ability. That’s why they would rather let you do the digging, then order it from you online.
Before you try to sell something, ALWAYS clean it and/or repair it the best you can. This will maximize you’re profit, and besides that, it’s just good business. One thing you should never do is try to hide flaws from a buyer. It’s going to make them angry, cause a headache when they want a refund, and make you look like a big loser. Just don’t do it. If you miss a tear, scratch, dent, etc. when looking over the item before you buy it, just disclose it, add a picture of the flaw, and lower the price a bit. You’d be surprised at what people will buy.
For instance, I found a 20 year old cross-stitch kit (like the one below- keep an eye out for these) at a thrift store for 50 cents. The outer package was banged up and held together with no-longer-very-sticky-and-kinda-gross Scotch tape. After a bidding war, it ended up selling for over $40.
When you’re first giving this a try, choose one platform and stick with it for awhile. After you get the hang of it, you’ll have a feel for what sells better on eBay, brings a higher price on Etsy, and moves higher volumes on Amazon.
If you start trying to cram all that information into your head at the beginning, you’ll be overwhelmed and throwing your hands up in the air before you know it. It can be frustrating, but the rush you’ll get when your phone makes that “cha-ching!” sound makes you want to do it again.
Flipping is a fun hobby for people who enjoy thrift-store-treasure-hunts, and an excellent way to earn a little extra cash. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of shipping, try selling stuff on the Let Go app, or Facebook yardsale groups. No one is getting rich doing this, but I highly recommend it if you’re saving up for something, need some extra Christmas cash, or -like me- just enjoy saving neat things from the junk pile.
What are your thrifting tips or favorite finds?