Thrifting has always been a fun hobby for Americans, but its popularity has increased in recent decades with the advent of reselling platforms such as eBay, Mercari, Poshmark, and Bonanza. But how do these two things connect? Now people can actually make money from thrifting by finding items that are in demand, vintage, discontinued, or otherwise hard to find, and resell them for a profit.
This holds true even more so with the current push to recycle rather than add to landfills. Not only can people get things cheaper than new, but they can feel good about their purchases as well. If you’re looking for an innovative way to increase your revenue stream, thrifting for resale provides a lot of opportunity. Before jumping in, learn as much as you can about the process to avoid making costly mistakes.
Where to Thrift
If you are thinking about thrifting, for yourself or to resell, Orange County has plenty of stores to explore. There are the traditional non-profit choices like Goodwill and Salvation Army. In addition to the normal retail locations, OCGoodwill also features boutique stores and RARE locations which offer luxury goods and branded apparel. You can even thrift online at shopgoodwill.com. For other non-profit options, look for smaller thrift stores operated by local churches and community organizations like the Assistance League. Now and Again is a popular thrift shop in the Orange Circle operated by the Assistance League of Orange. Orange Circle is in Old Town Orange where you’ll find over 20 antique and vintage shops to seek out thrifting treasures.
In addition, for-profit thrift stores offer plenty of money-making opportunities – check out Savers. And if you’re looking for more sources for thrifting, there are also garage sales, flea markets, consignment stores, liquidation stores, and auctions. Any of these places are easy to find by searching online for your area. There are also garage sale and estate sale apps that make finding local sales a cinch. You have to be quicker to find a good deal but its nice to be able to do it from the comfort of your couch. Also, pay attention to coupons and deal days at your local thrift stores. You can maximize your profits if you can get the cost of your goods even lower and a lot of stores have set discount days or offer discount coupons if you donate a bag of clothing.
Thrifting for Resale
If you plan on thrifting to resell, there are things you can do to help ensure a profit. First, do your research. With any potential item, check recent solds on a reselling platform such as eBay. What is the item selling for? Has more than one sold recently? Is your item in similar condition? And don’t forget to factor in the costs associated with the sale. Did they offer free shipping? These are all issues to consider. If only one item like yours sold recently, that might not be enough to indicate yours will sell too. Look for a recent trend. It also helps to know what items are hot right now by using social media to join reselling groups and get tips.
Second, the cost of the item is important. Thrift stores have raised their prices significantly in recent years so not everything you find is suitable for reselling. If you pay a higher price for something that a similar item is currently selling for online, you’re unlikely to make a significant profit. When you’re researching sales trends, be sure to also take into account what those items are selling for.
Third, the condition of the item will always affect its resale value. If it’s clothing, are there holes, stains, or pilling? If it’s electronic, does it work? With toys, it’s important to check for missing pieces. The lighting can often be dim in thrift stores so it is crucial that you inspect items carefully before purchasing, especially since most thrifts do not accept returns. You can often find ‘testing stations’ in thrift stores where you can plug in and verify things work before committing to buy.
When deciding if an item might be a profitable flip, it is necessary to factor in the fees outside of the cost of goods. Gas, time, and energy are all vital components of reselling as well. If it took 45 minutes there and back to drive to the thrift store and an hour to find one item, that one item should earn enough profit to make that hour and 45 minutes worth it. Otherwise, it isn’t a profitable trip. Time is money is a cliché because it is true.
Furthermore, reselling platforms charge fees (usually anywhere from 10-20%), and there are associated fees with payments on top of that. You will also need to decide if you charge for shipping & handling or offer free shipping and work that into the price that you charge. Buyers like to see the ‘Free Shipping’ label on items but there are downsides.
Returns are a factor to consider as well, especially with clothes. Work out your potential profit with all of these elements in mind so you know exactly what you stand to make should it sell.
There are two different philosophies when it comes to thrifting to resell: slow dime or fast nickel. With slow dime, you pay up for an item expecting it to take a while to sell but with a high profit margin. If you have the capability to wait for a bigger payout, then this can be a lucrative business model. Fast nickel means what it says – it is a faster payout but you put less money into the item and should expect a smaller payout. You can also go back and forth between the two, depending on where you are financially or just how you feel.
Thrifting can be a lot like a treasure hunt, whether you’re on the hunt for yourself or to resell online. It is a lot of fun but you can also get burned. Keep to low dollar investments in the beginning so if something doesn’t sell or turns out to be flawed, you aren’t out too much money. As you learn more about the different markets and what people are looking for, it will be easier to spot the treasures in thrift stores, be it a vintage Harley Davidson leather jacket or new-in-box Sony Walkman. Some people choose to thrift for resale full time, for some it is just a side hustle. The great thing about it is the flexibility inherent in the work. You can choose how in it you’d like to be, which is a truly beautiful thing.
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