Looking to make a little extra cash? Or maybe you want to buy and resell items as your full-time gig. Either way shopping at thrift stores for items to resale can bring in some much needed dough.
Over the years I’ve bought things from second-hand stores and sold them on different websites like Ebay, Mercari, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc. I’m going to share some of my best tips to buy and resell items online to make extra money.
Plan and Research
When you’re trying to figure out what to buy go online to the specific platform you’re going to sell on and do some market research. Think about things that you love to buy; shoes, clothing, jewelry, video games, etc. Search for specific items and look for…
- Current prices – are they increasing or decreasing over time
- How long does it take for items to sell (shorter = better)
- Are there a lot of the same type of item or a lot of variants
- Shipping costs
Take all of these into consideration and make a list of your favorite products. It’s best to choose things that 1) you’re interested in and 2) have some background knowledge about. I might know a lot about an item but not really like it or vice versa, love something but not want to take the time to learn the specifics.
For example, shoes are a very specialized area that many people love but unless you’re willing to devote quite a bit of time learning about all of the different versions of Nike’s (or whatever brand you want to sell) I wouldn’t bother. You’ll need to become an expert on whatever niche you choose to compete with other sellers, especially in specific categories like luxury brand clothing, shoes, or video games. To buy and resell items you need to know a lot about the different types of items or subcategories and you want to make sure it’s something you actually like or you’ll get bored quickly.
Have a Niche
A niche is a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service. It’s important to have a niche so you can specialize or become an “expert” in one area and not get side-tracked. It’s always better to know a whole lot about 1 area then a little about 10 areas. I say ‘areas’ rather than products because it’s more broad.
If you’re specializing in VHS tapes (yes, this is a real niche that surprisingly sells pretty good) then you’d want to know what are the best selling VHS tapes, which ones are “rare” and garner the most money, what condition should you look for, etc. You could niche down and only specialize in comedy VHS tapes if that’s your thing.
No matter what you choose or choses you (sometimes things have a way of choosing us after all), you need to become an expert. This will allow you to make the most of your time when researching, shopping for items to resell, and customizing your listings. It will also give you more clout in the online selling world when people see that you specialize in an area. You never know, perhaps they’ll remember that you sell vintage tricycles next time they’re looking to buy one for their grandson, or whatever your niche is!
This is where branding comes in and is the hallmark of a profitable business. If this just a side-gig for you then you might not care about branding but it’s something to think about if you want to scale your business into a full-time gig in the future.
Make a List
Once you have a good idea of the types of items you want to sell, I would narrow it down to a specific list or niche. You can look for electronics, name brand sweaters, baby clothes, and housewares but in my experience you’ll wear yourself out, get distracted, or waste time and end up with a lot of random things or nothing at all.
Some people like to keep paper lists and others use the notes section of their smart phone. I’m a paper/pen kinda person so I keep my list with me and refresh my memory before I go thrifting. That way I can focus on a couple of different things rather than looking for everything in one trip. If you can do it all then by all means do it but most people need to break things down into smaller chunks. Breaking it down into categories will also save you time at the store. Instead of shopping all over the store for buy and resell items you can go in and throughly check out one or two sections then leave and go to the next store.
I suggest getting to know the employees or at least one or two of the employees at your favorite thrift stores. Read more about why that’s a great strategy in this article.
Whether you’re selling clothes, shoes, DVD’s, or household goods like fine china, you need to be very picky about the condition of the items you’re purchasing. Unless you’re great a fixing things, sewing, or getting out stains I would recommend only buying things that are pretty much ready to be sold.
Now, that may limit you at first. So, when you feel comfortable I would expand your knowledge about cleaning stains, making shoes white again, fixing clocks, whatever it is that needs to be done to make your item more sellable.
With electronics I often find that they are missing the remote. Do a quick check online because you can often find the correct remote or an universal remote on Bay (or similar). Having the remote will go a long way in selling the item as most people don’t want to mess with purchasing the remote themselves.
The only time this advice probably wouldn’t apply is if you are in the antiques business or buying items that are truly rare. Antiques with blemishes are acceptable and in some circles preferred. Rare items are so unique that people will pay pretty much no matter what the condition is. However, for that run-of-the-mill Champion sweatshirt you’re going to want to buy it without any stains, rips, or tears.
Okay, so you’ve figured out your niche and you’ve gone shopping at your favorite thrift stores or flea markets and found some AMAZING things. Whoo Hoo, go you!! Now you’re ready to list them online and have the money rolling in. You’re ready to become the queen/king of buy and resell items online! But which one should you use and how do you do that?
- Read articles about how to buy and resell items on specific platforms like Ebay, Etsy, etc
- Subscribe and watch YouTube to learn how to buy and resell items, as well as, tricks to optimize your listings.
- Use the platforms “Help” section to learn as much as you can about how to buy and resell items on that particular selling site.
- Purchase books or ebooks to learn about how to buy and resell items online
Choose 1 selling platform to start and learn everything you can about it. It’ll make it easier on you to research products, understand the in’s and out’s of the platform, and keep up with inventory and sales. You can always expand later so don’t overwhelm yourself unnecessarily.
Alright, you get the point – you have to learn more to do more! So get your research glasses on and get to learning all you can about the best way(s) to buy and resell items on the platform or platforms that you’ve chosen. There are plenty of people making a part-time or even full-time income from selling online. It’s not as hard as it may seem at first but you definitely need to do your research, pick a profitable niche, and optimize your listings for the selling platform you choose. With effort and patience you can do it! Good luck and let us know how it’s going! We’d love to hear from you!
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