One of the best things you can do for your financial health is to have multiple income streams.
Whether your goal is to pay down debt, save and invest more, or even retire early — increasing your income is key.
And thanks to the internet and technology, there are so many ways to make money today. This gives more people a chance to bring in side income or even to their side hustle into a real business.
But one classic money-making idea is to flip items or resell for a profit. Typically, this will be the process of thrift store flipping.
But how do you get started in flipping items from thrift stores? What are the easiest items to resell for a profit? Stick with me below to find out all that and more.
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What is Thrift Store Flipping?
Thrift store flipping is the process of purchasing items from thrift stores in your area, with the go to resell and make a profit. These items can be sold online, with apps, or even in person at your own store or garage sale.
For most people, they think of thrift stores as places to score great deals on vintage clothing, kitchen essentials, and fixer-upper furniture.
But thrift store flippers have a different perspective. They recognize that resale shops and yard sales are full of stuff priced well-below market value.
And flippers scour thrift stores in search of items they can pick up for a low price and resell for a maximum profit. They may pick up items for $2, $5, or $10 and resell them for $20, $50, or $100+.
There’s plenty of money to be made flipping
Believe it or not, you can make meaningful money as a thrift store flipper. The most successful flippers make over $100k per year reselling their thrift store finds. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find many stores of people pulling big numbers from reselling all sorts of items.
Many other people treat thrift store flipping as a fun side hustle. Whether your goal is to flip for a living or make extra money to pay off debt or fund your hobbies, it’s easy to get started thrift store flipping.
With a little patience and some research, you’ll be well on your way to making money as a flipper.
9 Easiest Items to Flip for a Profit
Not everything you can find in a thrift store can be resold for a profit. Much of the junk people clean out and donate to the thrift store is just that: junk that no one is going to pay very much for.
Your thrift store flipping success depends on sifting through the junk with a discerning eye to find stuff people want and are willing to pay higher prices for.
I’ll walk you through a list of nine of the easiest thrift store finds to flip for profit. Some of the items on the list, like designer clothing, are obvious, but a few, like broken laptops, may surprise you.
1. Designer Clothing, Handbags & Shoes
The market for used designer goods is huge. You can purchase clothing, handbags, & shoes cheaply and easily flip them online.
In addition to designer labels, there’s a healthy market for name brand maternity and children’s clothing.
2. Toys & Games
The most popular items in this category are Legos, vintage or special edition board games, vintage toys, old video games, and video game consoles.
Toys for babies and young children are good options, too. You can sell complete Lego sets or offer assortments by the pound.
The vintage toys and games are prized by collectors. Certain rare editions can sell for surprisingly high prices
3. Sports Memorabilia & Equipment
It’s not surprising that there are people willing to buy memorabilia such as jerseys, helmets, and trading cards, especially if they’re signed. There’s also a good market for used sports equipment in good condition.
This is especially true of youth sports equipment, as parents are always trying to keep up with growing kids.
Consider picking up items such as baseball bats and gloves or hockey sticks and skates and selling them as complete sports packages. One caveat: beware of purchasing items with bad smells or stains. Yuck!
There are always people looking for unique, high-quality furniture. To flip furniture successfully, be picky about quality and focus on pieces with character.
You want to purchase items that stand out from what’s available at Ikea or Target and provide customers with something that feels special.
Also look for antique pieces that can be sold as is or easily refreshed with new upholstery or paint.
5. Books & Music
We’re not talking about paperback romance novels, here (sorry Twilight!). Keep an eye out for classic novels, box sets, first editions, and college textbooks that can resell for a hefty profit.
On the music side, buyers are eager for original and rare records — and record players. I myself buy old records, but it’s not for reselling at this time.
To be successful with this category, you have to do enough research to tell the difference between the beanie baby crab worth $9K and the one you might as well give to the dog to destroy.
If you’re willing to do this, you can make healthy profits flipping collectibles such as beanie babies, funko pop figures, American girl dolls, coins, comic books, and other items.
7. Camera Equipment
Digital cameras may have taken over, but there’s still a market for old cameras and equipment such as lenses.
One of my friends had done quite well buying older camera equipment, cleaning it up, and reselling for a profit.
Naturally, you have to know what a good deal is in this space, but once you catch on you can start making a few hundred bucks with each camera flip.
8. Old Technology
Surprisingly, there’s a huge demand for old technology, even if it doesn’t work properly. Look for computers, tablets, smartphones, office equipment, smartwatches, and other old tech.
Of course, things that work will have more resell value, but you’d be surprised what you might be able to get for some technology finds.
Kitchen gadgets, glassware, and cast iron cookware are always popular. You can often find gadgets and appliances that are either still in the box or in great working conditions.
Vintage cookware and glassware are highly sought after by collectors willing to pay good prices.
Get familiar with popular pieces like milk glass, depression glass, and rare and vintage Pyrex patterns so you can spot them when you see them.
Tips for Successful Thrift Store Flipping
Thrift store flipping isn’t complicated, but there are some tips and tricks that will increase your success and maximize your profit.
Now it’s not quite as simple as picking up a random load of stuff from the thrift store and immediately selling it to waiting customers for a premium price.
But here are some useful suggestions to ensure your flips are profitable.
Quality is key
Take the time to inspect the quality of every item. When items are in good shape and of good quality, they fetch the highest prices. Selling quality goods also helps build your reputation as a reliable seller.
Don’t skip the research
Before purchasing an item, you need to have an idea of it’s resale market value. Spend time searching online to keep current on market prices for items you’re selling.
Another thing worth researching is the timing of discount days at local thrift stores. The less you pay for an item, the higher your profit margin will be.
A little elbow grease can go a long way
Some items are diamonds in the rough. Consider whether some quick clean up such as a good scrub, a new coat of paint, new hardware, or new upholstery could fetch you a higher price.
If you are not into the idea of putting in a bit of work to fetch more profit, then thrift store flipping may not be for you.
Don’t forget about shipping
Make you sure you understand the shipping costs and packaging requirements for your items. This is assuming you are selling your thrift store finds via an online store or app.
It’s important to factor shipping costs into your profit margin calculations and to pack items so they arrive safely. Plus, you don’t want to ship items and have them broken when they arrive.
Take great pictures
Most of your customers will only see your products online before purchasing. It’s important that the photos you post are clear and accurate. Take the time to find good lighting and take photos from different angles. The better your photos, the increased chance you’ll make a quick sale.
Choose the right place to sell
Some marketplaces and apps are only suited for certain types of items or target specific buyers. Many of them charge fees, and some of them are higher than others.
Weigh the pros and cons of each and choose a selling platform that gets your products in front of the right customers and only charges fees you can afford. Otherwise, you can try selling your items locally.
Where to Look for Great Stuff to Flip
What’s great about thrift store flipping is anyone can go to local stores and resell their purchases in the classifieds, online, or even with various apps. That means you can make money flipping , but you need to understand your profit margin and costs for your purchases and shipping.
So what are some of the best places to find items that you can resell for a profit? Fortunately, there are a lot of options that you can look into. Here are a few popular options:
This site is a giant online classifieds listing. Use it to search for all kinds of items close to you. Always be careful, do your research, and if you meet someone, do it in a very public place and take a friend.
These days, if someone wants to get rid of something, they often just post in on Facebook. You can find lots of flippable items, especially clothing, home goods & furniture, at good prices.
Thrift Stores Near You
Chances are good that there’s at least one thrift store close to you. Check out the big stores like Goodwill & Salvation Army, but make time to visit smaller stores operated too.
It may also be worth a trip to stores in a particularly nice area of your town or a larger city nearby.
Looking for valuable vintage items? Start with your local antique store. Some antique stores also have new items at low prices, which you can clean up and sell for a nice profit.
Local Garage Sales
Get up early on the weekends and visit local garage and estate sales. You’ll sift through a lot of broken baseball trophies and old picture frames, but these sales can also be a great place to find vintage toys, records, books, and furniture to flip.
And usually people want to get rid of things fast, so your chance of buying for super cheap is quite high.
Best Apps to Use for Flipping
It may be tempting to keep all the great items you’ve found on your shopping expeditions, but that’s not flipping.
If you want to be a thrift store flipper and not just a thrift store shopper, you have to find buyers for your items. There are several ways you can do this.
Some flippers host garage sales or post products on their own websites. If you don’t want to do that, selling your items on an app is your best bet.
The best app for you depends on what you’re selling, where you want to sell it, the fees you’re willing to pay and other factors. Let’s walk through a few of the best ones and highlight some key features.
This is the classic online marketplace. eBay has been around for a long time and is still one of the best places to sell and to do market research.
It’s a trusted platform, with high traffic and reasonable seller fees.
If you’re looking to sell items locally, OfferUp is a great choice. It’s simple, free, and easy to use, and allows you to sell any type of item.
You can offer shipping on some things. OfferUp tries to make buying as safe as possible by verifying the identities of both buyers and sellers.
The LetGo app is very similar to OfferUp, but without the identity verification and the option to ship some items. It’s also a fairly popular option, but take a look at their platform and see if it fits your needs.
Take advantage of Amazon’s huge customer base by flipping your items on Amazon. There are lots of ways to do this, including participating in the FBA program.
Selling on Amazon can be a great solution, but you’ll want to do some research or invest in some training to help you understand the fees and navigate the policies successfully.
The Poshmark app is designed for buying and selling clothes, shoes & purses. Designer and name brand items sell very well here. It’s free to set up your “closet” and list your items.
There are no fees until your item sells, and buyers pay for shipping. Poshmark customers often ask lots of questions and expect engagement from you, so be prepared to provide some customer service if you sell here.
Buyers come to Etsy to find unique and vintage items. It’s easy to get started selling, but there is lots of competition and the fees are higher than other selling apps. However, many people have created their full-time reselling business with Etsy, so it can be lucrative.
You can sell almost anything on Mercari. The app charges a 10% fee, which they add to the price you set and include in the listing price visible to buyers. And Mercari collects the fee when the item sells.
This is the place to sell used media and electronics, such as books, video games, cell phones, e-readers, and smartwatches. Legos are also a hot item and can be sold by weight.
You sell directly to Decluttr rather than to individual buyers. They provide free shipping and pay you when they receive the items, which must be in good condition. The downside is that you must accept the price Decluttr offers rather than setting your own.
Flipping items online or in-person can not only be lucrative, but can be quite fun. It can also become an interesting game to discover and learn about new products that can turn a profit for you.
Plus, getting starting with thrift store flipping is pretty easy and doesn’t require a lot of upfront capital to get started. However, you will have to spend some time shopping for items that are worth flipping and will make you money.
But there is plenty of opportunity even with tons of other people reselling too. Give it a shot and see what happens.
Who knows, you may make a few extra thousand each month (or more), pending the amount of work you are willing to put in.