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6 Thrift Store Flipping Tips to Help You Turn a Profit

Posted by MoneyKey on July 28, 2019
thrift store flipping

Have you walked by a garage sale in your neighborhood and immediately stopped to see what they’re selling? Maybe you’ve driven by a flea market or thrift store and gone in in hopes of unearthing some hidden gems. If you’re willing to spend the time and effort, sifting through another person’s junk may just lead you stumble on something else’s treasure.

If you know how to go about it, thrift store flipping – the process of buying things from a thrift store and selling them for a profit – can help to put some extra money in your pocket. While you probably won’t be able to find an item with a lot of value on every trip to the thrift store, learning more about thrift store flipping may give you the skills you need to find an item here or there on your next trip that could be worth reselling.

When understand what you should be looking for, you’ll know how to spot the items with the highest resale value. You’ll often just need to clean the item, get some minor repairs done, and sell them. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find a buyer, the more you know, the better chance your hard work will yield some extra cash.

Let’s look at these six tips to help you with your thrift store flipping.

1. Check the price online

Your phone can be a handy tool when you’re thrift store flipping. When you’re out on the hunt for items to flip, always have your phone on you so you can quickly check eBay to see if you can find a price for the item you just found. This should give you some idea of how much your item can be sold for and can act as a reasonable starting point when you decide to sell it. If you don’t know whether your item is a collectible, see how many are available on eBay, what the average current bid is, and any additional sales information you can find. Keep in mind that the condition of your item is going to have a big impact on how much you can sell it for, so when you’re doing research, see how much you can sell it for and make sure that you’re looking at items in a similar condition.

When it does come time to sell items, here are some places for you to start. If you’re selling clothes specifically, you can also check out these online consignment stores.

2. Look for markings

look for pottery markings when thrift store flipping

Are you looking through the pottery section at a flea market and not sure if what you’re looking at as any value? Search over a piece for a stamping, search that stamp online, and see how much it’s worth. If you don’t know where to look this information up, start with Kovels. They have an extensive directory of pottery stamps for you to look through. If you’ve stumbled on a piece of jewellery that you think might be worth something, look for a stamp, and then check it against the stamps you find at Lang Antiques.

3. Shop in affluent neighborhoods

If you’re looking to find some designer or higher-priced items at a discount, start your thrift store flipping search in affluent neighborhoods. These areas often pull in higher-end items in their thrift stores, so you may have an easier time finding high-end brands and better-quality items in that part of town.

If you want to find even better deals and bigger discounts, there are a couple things you should find out about the thrift store you’re going to in advance:

  • Find out if they have any discount days coming up. Thrift stores will often have at least one discount day every month to clear the racks for new arrivals. This means you’ll be looking at discounts on clothes that are already discounted!
  • Find out when they restock. Thrift stores usually won’t put out new clothes at the same frequency as big retailers, so when they get near the end of their restocking cycle, they’ll often have been picked clean of some of the higher-end items that they put out. If you know when they restock their shelves, you’ll have a better chance of getting to the high-end items before everyone else.

4. Clean it before reselling it

clean clothes when thrift store flipping

You should always try to make sure that you can wash something before you sell it. If you find some delicate clothing that needs to be dry-cleaned, you might want to stay away. If it’s a high-end designer piece, that’s one thing, but if it isn’t, you’ll probably have a hard time selling it for more than the original price you paid, plus the cost of dry cleaning.

Search each item thoroughly for any stains, and if there’s a stain, a bad smell, or if the item needs more work than a simple wash and running a lint roller over it, stay away.

When you’re looking through housewares, keep an eye out for things that don’t have any significant signs of wear. Things that are made of materials like silver, ceramic, or glass might need a little polish before you sell them. Remember to check online before buying an item, since you may find that some items sell better when they’re not polished.

5. Keep the cost of packaging in mind

Unless you stumble onto a real treasure or you have the skills to fix a potentially high-priced but broken item before reselling, thrift store flipping margins can be very slim. This means that you need to consider anything that could potentially add a few dollars to the cost of your flip, like the cost of packaging. For example, something simple like the boxes you pick can have an effect on the cost. If you’re using a box that’s bigger than you need it to be and then have to stuff it full of packing material, you’ll end up paying more than you need. Places like Office Depot or even Amazon are good places to look for boxes that actually match the size of the item you’re shipping.

6. Consider the cost of shipping

get the right sized box when thrift store flipping

When it comes to thrift store flipping, shipping can be a huge factor in deciding whether an item is actually worth the trouble of flipping. The heavier and bigger something is, the higher the cost of shipping. It’s important to compare the shipping options you have available to you to find the best and cheapest option out there. Some places you might want to consider are:


Be smart about thrift store flipping

If you’re living on a tight budget and looking for a side hustle, or maybe just an avid thrift store shopper looking to make some extra cash, thrift store flipping can be a great way to earn a few extra dollars. But if you walk into a thrift store or flea market without any idea of what to look for or how to validate whether an item is worth reselling, it may end up being a waste of your time.

So, keep the six tips we’ve listed in mind next time you head out to do some thrift store flipping, and hopefully you can turn a profit!


Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute financial, legal or other professional advice. For full details, see MoneyKey's Terms of Use.

Posted in: Lifestyle

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