Thrift store flipping is one of my favorite ways to earn money, mainly because I love thrifting. I have been thrifting for the longest time way before I even considered selling the items that I’ve bought.
Even when I was still earning a huge amount of money from my employment, I still buy most of my clothes and other household items at thrift stores. Saving money is the primary reason why I thrift. Another reason why I love shopping at thrift stores is that a lot of clothes I find at thrift shops are less boring than those that I see in shopping malls.
And because I frequently go thrifting, I have accumulated (my euphemism for hoarding LOL!) a ton of clothes and other stuff that eventually ate up all my storage spaces at home. I started selling my thrifted finds to free up some space in my small apartment and the rest is history.
What is thrift store flipping?
Thrift store flipping basically means finding items at thrift stores with a potential high-profit margin thus enabling the flipper (or the thrifter) to earn money from it.
I personally started with buying designer and branded bags from thrift stores and then I moved on to clothes and some household items and also collectibles. I usually buy anything that I see from thrift stores as long as there’s a potential high-profit margin.
How do you make money from thrift store flipping?
I list all the items that I have bought from thrift stores to online shopping websites. The key thing to remember in thrift store flipping is the profit margin. The selling cost of the item in the online marketplace should be worth more than the cost of the item and your operational cost in order to turn a profit.
If you are new to this, it may be a bit overwhelming at first because you’re not familiar with the brands that sell way higher than the other clothing brands. However, if you keep on doing this, then eventually, it’ll be your second nature and you’ll be able to memorize which items are worth buying/flipping.
How much will it cost you to start a thrift store flipping business?
Don’t be afraid to start small! I started with just buying my own personal stuff (which I eventually sold online) and usually my thrift store budget only ranges from $20 – $60 (approximately P1000 – P3000) per visit.
Another benefit of starting small is that you don’t get overwhelmed with all the tasks needed in order to build this business. Most thrift store flippers that I know also have other responsibilities in life such as their employment or their studies.
If you start small, you will also mitigate the risk of losing money from common mistakes of newbies in this business such as buying stuff that no one wants and not understanding your target market.
Start small and grow your business gradually.
What are the best items to sell for profit?
These are not the only items that you can thrift and sell online. You can sell almost anything that you might find valuable to your target market. However, these are the items that I have been consistently buying and selling in the past couple of years.
Clothes, Bags, and Accessories
Designer Brands Bags, Clothing, and Accessories
In my experience, this is the easiest thing to flip and also, the one with the highest profit margin. Years ago, it’s so easy to find designer label bags at thrift stores. Not many people here were familiar with the designer labels back then. However, things have changed and it’s now a huge challenge to find one.
Eventhough it’s now difficult to find designer bags at thrift stores, there are still many designer clothing pieces to be found.
Name Brand Bags, Clothing, and Accessories
I have separated designer bags with popular name brands because basically they’re two different things. Examples of designer labels are Jean Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci and some examples of popular name brand bags include Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Anne Klein.
The resell value of second hand or preloved designer labels are way higher than the popular name brands.
Other Clothing and Accessories
I used to ignore non-branded clothing items and accessories mainly because I initially thought that they don’t have any resell value. However, as years go by, I realized that a lot of them actually have a good resell value if you know your target market.
Over the years, I have found that there are tons of non-branded or not popular brands in my country that have very high-quality clothes. A huge chunk of my inventory is actually non-branded/non-popular brand items.
And although they don’t sell as much as a designer or popular name brand clothes, I noticed that they are selling fast because I usually priced them to target the lower end of the market.
For non-branded items, I have a specific target market in mind. I am targeting employed women who like fashion but don’t have the budget to buy expensive clothes. Having this in mind, I buy workwear that is a bit avant-garde, dark-colored (usually black), and of high-quality.
Home Appliances and Accessories
Unlike in the USA or other countries where thrift stores sell almost anything under the sun, our definition of thrift stores in the Philippines is usually shops that sell second-hand clothes. However, we do have Surplus Shops (Japan or Korean) that sell second-hand household items.
Japan Surplus Shops are the best place to find unique, artsy, and sellable home decors. Some of the home decors that I often buy to flip include painting, vases, figurines, and other artwork (sketches, etc).
I never thought that I will enter this market however, I find myself buying and selling a lot of kitchenware such as plates, saucers, teacups, teasers, etc. If priced correctly, they sell like pancakes.
Furniture and Electrical Appliances
I have never flipped any furniture nor any electrical appliances since I don’t have any space for them. However, I have sold a lot of these items (personal items) whenever I move to another apartment. As long as they’re priced lower than your competitors and as long as they are in good working condition, then you can easily sell them online.
Vintage and Antiques
This overlaps with the above categories that’s why I opted to separate this to put more emphasis on this category. Vintage items are basically things that are 21 – 99 years old and antiques are items that are 100 years and older.
The word vintage is commonly thrown at eBay posting or at any other shopping website. Please bear in mind that not all second-hand clothes are vintage. Most people think that since it looks old, it’s automatically vintage.
Selling real vintage and antique pieces are what I aspire to grow this business into. Vintage and antiques can fetch a huge price if you find the right buyer. However, this is also a game for the biggest players in flipping. Why? Because it takes years of experience and consistent learning in order to identify the real vintage and antiques.
Where to sell your thrift store finds?
eBay is one of the biggest online marketplaces in the world. It is also my favorite website to sell my thrifted items on.
Top Benefits of Selling in eBay
Global Presence: As I have mentioned above, eBay is one of the biggest websites to sell your thrifted items on. There are millions of eBay users in every part of the world. You might be selling your items from the USA and you might end up shipping your item to the Philippines.
Popular Website with Great SEO Benefit: eBay is one of the oldest players in the game thus having a high authority in the search engine page results when it comes to online selling.
Trusted by Buyers: eBay has a feedback mechanism that allows buyers to gauge sellers. Trust is the most important factor in online selling. And if buyers can’t trust you, they won’t buy any of your items. eBay makes it easier for people to trust sellers because of the rating system that they have in place and also because the feedback earned by sellers are publicly available to prospective buyers.
Local Online Selling Platforms
Depending on where you are in the world, there may be other similar websites like eBay that you can post your listings to. Some of the popular websites to list your items on are Depop, Craigslist, etc.
If you’re in the Philippines, check out this list of free buy and sell websites.
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Social Media Websites
Social media websites are great platforms to promote and sell your items. Even though they’re not created initially as selling platforms, they became a huge hit when it comes to online selling because of the huge number of users that they have. The most popular social media websites that you can sell on are Facebook and Instagram.
Related Post: How to Sell on Instagram without Spending Money
Thrift Store Flipping Tips that Will Help Your Grow your Business
Identify your Target Market
Before you start building your inventory, you should identify who you want to sell to first. This will be the foundation of your online selling business. If you know your target market, it will be easy for you to choose the right product for the right customers.
Know Where to Source your Items From
To be efficient in buying your inventories, you should identify the thrift stores in your town and nearby area first. This will help you save time and money when you go out thrifting.
As your business grows, it will be also wise to expand your sources of inventory. I started going to other towns and cities once I was able to stabilize my income at a certain level. This helped me build a better inventory because by traveling to other places, I was able to identify other thrift stores to buy my inventories from.
Stay Focus on Quality
When I started I was always tempted to buy for as much as I could. Yeah sure, the volume of your inventory will always increase your earnings. But be very careful. AS long as you don’t sacrifice the quality of your merchandise, then you’ll be fine. The quality of your clothes will be the reason why your customers will keep buying from you.
Also, focus on the quality of your listings. Are the pictures clear enough? Did you write a complete and accurate description for each listing? Is the price competitive enough? These are just some of the questions that you should always ask yourself as you go along in this business.
Grow your Business Gradually
I have said it before and I will say it again, start small and grow your business gradually. This is the best way to avoid getting burned out quickly. And this is also the best way to avoid losing money. Thrift store flipping can be overwhelming. I’m in this game for a couple of years now and I still get overwhelmed sometimes.
Make a growth plan so you can stay focus without burning yourself out. For example, target posting 20 listings per week in your first three months. Then increase it by 50% by posting 30 listings in the next three months and so on.
Related Post: Thrift Store Flipping Routine – My Weekly Tasks
More Eyeballs the Better
The goal aside from increasing your inventory gradually is to post your items to as many websites that you can manage as possible. Aside from listing on online selling websites, you can also promote your store to other websites. Here are some ideas on how you can promote your online store:
- Create a Youtube Channel and create content about your weekly thrift hauls and thrifting tips
- Write a guest post to a relevant blog and share your thrifting tips
- Create a TikTok Channel and share your thrift finds and some tips on how to thrift
Online business is a cut-throat environment. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small-time side-hustler or if you’re an owner of a big corporation. The fundamentals are the same. Competition grows every single day. Technologies change in a blink of an eye. If you don’t continuously educate yourself, you might get eaten alive by your competitors. I didn’t write this to scare you. I wrote this because it’s a business reality that we all need to know and understand.
Read side-hustle blogs or blogs about thrifting. Watch Youtube videos about thrifting and online selling. It’s amazing to be alive and to do business at this time because almost all the information that you need is in the palm of your hands.
Anything worth doing requires time to grow and time to flourish. Be patient. As long as you’re doing your due diligence in growing your business, then it will grow.
Be Strategic with your Earnings
Earnings from your business are not the same as your earnings from your employment. Monthly earnings tend to fluctuate depending on a lot of factors. If you plan to make this side-hustle as your full-time hustle then you should learn how to be strategic with your money for as early as possible.
This is the biggest mistake that I shared in one of my recent posts (click here if you want to read it). I reinvested all my earnings to my thrift store flipping business, and when the lockdown was announced due to the COVID-19, my earnings suddenly stopped.
I should have reinvested a portion of it back to the business, saved some on an emergency fund, and used the remaining to grow other sources of income. Learn from my mistake to help yourself prepare for situations like this.
Thrift store flipping business in my opinion is one of the easiest ways to make money but know that it’s not a ‘get rich scheme’. If you play your cards right, you might end up having an amazing cash flow machine.Thrift Store Flipping - How to Make Money from Thrift Stores Click To Tweet
Do you also own a thrift store flipping business? Feel free to share your tips and recommendations on the comment section below.