Thrift store flipping is a great side hustle to start.
And it is probably the easiest way to generate serious extra income.
Why is it so overlooked though?
Reselling perhaps has a stigma because it’s so stupid simple. Buy an item for X price and sell it for more.
It can’t be that easy. But it really is.
In fact, it was one of the first side hustles I started myself and sold $5000 worth of preowned items on eBay in the first 90 days.
This is common: cruise YouTube and you will find many successful full-time resellers who do the same thing.
The best thing about it is anyone can do it.
My first trip to a Goodwill thrift store came a few hours after watching some videos on YouTube.
Go figure I found my first item to flip within minutes.
After that I was hooked and you may get hooked too!
So where should you begin your thrift store flipping journey?
Where to find items to resell
Warning: this article is geared to those in the United States.
My absolute favorite store to do thrift store flipping is at Goodwill.
Goodwill is a non-profit donation center where people usually donate old clothing, electronics, shoes, and other household goods they want to get rid of.
But don’t be dismayed: preowned items are what sells.
And while you will often sift through plenty of junk at your local Goodwill stores, you will not only find high quality preowned items but many times you’ll stumble on brand new, sealed items as well.
One of the great things about finding items to resell at Goodwill is the sheer turnover of products.
Inventory is constantly being added to the shelves because people are constantly donating new items.
This makes it nearly impossible NOT to find profitable items after enough trips.
Usually you can gauge the quality of a particular Goodwill store after 2-3 trips.
Some are better than others but all have some hidden gems if you know what to look for.
Another great thing about Goodwill stores in particular is they rarely engage in any sort of “price gauging”.
While many thrift stores have more knowledge about specific brands, Goodwill commonly prices high end clothing and shoes at very reasonable prices.
And this is key because this is where you will find profitable items to resell.
Finally, Goodwill is great because when people donate items, they generally donate multiples.
What does this mean?
People will drop off loads of items, specifically piles of clothes.
Human nature dictates that most times people will buy the same brand of clothing over and over.
So when you find a tie or dress shirt or dress pants from a profitable brand, you will almost always find more of the same brand.
For example, if you find a profitable brand in the dress shirt section, look for the matching dress pants or dress suit to go with it.
There are other places to keep an eye on when it comes to thrift store flipping.
Many local churches operate their own “Goodwill” type stores where donations come in and the proceeds go back into the church.
These types of stores generally have even better “deals” in terms of profit but not as much inventory.
Salvation Army stores are another option to look at.
Finally, you’ll find some higher end private thrift stores.
These stores are generally priced to match market value which makes it more difficult to find items that you can profit off of. But they’re always worth checking out.
What items to look for
You can pretty much resell anything nowadays. Just take a look at eBay and you’ll see some of the craziest items being bought and sold.
Thrift store flipping involves quite a bit of preowned items.
And thats great because many times preowned stuff sells just as well as new items.
One of the easiest items to resell is clothing. Goodwill stores typically have a very large selection of clothing.
So here are some of the main items I look for when thrift store flipping:
Men’s dress clothing
Here is a great list of some of the higher end dress clothing for men. These brands sell can sell new for $100-300. You can grab preowned items like these for anywhere from $5-15 at Goodwill stores. These brands sell really well on eBay.
Also, if you can find multiple dress shirts or clothing in the same size, you can create a bundle and charge even more. People sometimes want more than just one dress shirt or pants and it makes it easier if they can grab 3 or 4 or 5 from one seller.
Men’s dress shoes
Dress shoes are a great buy for the same reason men’s dress clothing is: high end brands sell really well especially when you can get preowned ones for cheap.
Some Goodwill stores have a great selection of dress shoes; others not so much. But in general you will find at least a few pairs of high end dress shoes at each store.
The key is finding a comparable match online to determine the correct market value.
This can be tricky because dress shoes aren’t as well marked as sneakers. But your best bet is learn all about the different styles of dress shoes you’ll see which you can use to search for “comparables” on eBay.
Finding authentic vintage clothing is one of the coolest parts of thrift store flipping.
Old concert or sports team shirts do incredible on eBay because they’re so rare.
Beware: most of what you think is vintage may not be.
But how do you know if an item is vintage (i.e. 20 years or older)?
- Copyright date
- “Made in U.S.A.”
- Store address with NO zip code
- Tags with Union labels
- Unusual brand logos
- Single stitching
Everything old is new again…including VHS players.
Don’t know what a VCR is? Ask your parents.
In my experience, DVD/VCR combo players provide you with some of the highest possible reselling profits. Because most people have zero need for them anymore, you can grab these at thrift stores for anywhere from $5-20.
But on eBay?
They can sell for upwards of $120-200!
You get bonus points if it comes with a remote control and all applicable cords, however, thats not necessary.
- Charge for shipping because these items tend to be heavier (and people will gladly pay for shipping).
- Buy a cheap VHS tape and DVD from the thrift store in order to be able and test the machine before you list it for sale.
What items to avoid
Because you will mostly be looking through preowned items, generally you want to avoid anything with clear damage, rips, or looks like a knockoff.
There are also plenty of “brands” that you may be familiar with that sound like they would be easy sells.
When in doubt, make sure you are checking comparable items to see what the actual reselling market value is.
Also, always be careful with electronics like the DVD/VCR combos.
Fortunately, Goodwill stores generally allow you up to 48 hours to test them and return them in case they don’t operate correctly.
Otherwise, thrift store flipping can be an adventure.
Always keep an open mind and remember that your best bet is to “scan” the item into the eBay app in order to see similar items being sold. Just because you wouldn’t buy it doesn’t mean some else won’t!
Finally, here’s a great video highlighting what you can find at thrift stores.
All you need is some inspiration and the desire to get out there and find deals!