Thrift store flipping is a great way to make money online. Thrift stores are full of treasures at a low price and if you know what you’re doing, you can turn them into cash! But it’s not as easy as just going in and grabbing anything that you THINK might be worth something. You need to know what thrift store items will sell the best and how to get them in front of the people who will buy them to make a profit.
The thrift store flipping, also known as reselling, is booming thanks to the internet, which has made buying and selling secondhand items easier than ever before. If you know what to look for and can get a good deal on it, a trip to the thrift store can end up making you a nice profit. But which thrift store items should you buy? And once you buy some items to sell, what’s the next step?
In this article, we’ll cover how to find the best items at thrift stores that will sell for way more than you paid and how to sell them online to bring in some extra money.
How Does Thrift Store Flipping Work?
I will go into more detail below, but here’s a quick at how thrift store flipping works:
- Buy items at the thrift store you know you can sell for a higher price
- List items online for potential buyers to find and purchase
- Ship items to your buyers
- Collect your profit
For example: Say you find a pair of Nike’s at the thrift store for $8, but you see that they’re selling on eBay for $40. You make sure they’re in good condition and you buy them to resell. Once you get home, you take some photos, list the item online and wait for someone to buy it. Once someone buys it for $40, you ship it off and you get the money.
For the Nike’s, you $40 + $8 for shipping for a total of $48. Let’s say Shipping was $7.95, you paid $8 for the item, and then fees were around $6 (fees will vary based on where you sell it). Once you take away all of those expenses, you’re left with $26.05. And that’s how you turned a pair of shoes for $8 into a $26.05 profit!
Do this over and over and thrift store flipping can become a really great side hustle or even full-time income if you want it to! Now that you know how it works, are you ready to get a little more in depth on flipping items for profit?
Best Thrift Store Items to Buy to Resell
Brand Name & Designer Clothing
You might be thinking, “yeah, but no one donates Gucci to the thrift store” and I would tell you YES they do. But it’s not that common. While you won’t find Gucci on a regular basis, you should still be able to find brands that sell well for $20-$40. As much as those $100+ sales are great, it’s harder to find those types of items at thrift stores.
Knowing which brands sell well is key, but there are also other factors to consider. Style, condition, and the actual item are important too. Just because one thing from one brand will sell for $60, doesn’t mean you can expect that of every item from that brand. In fact, even some things by designer brands are hard to sell.
Make sure you research items you’re planning to pick up by looking at what’s sold recently on eBay or Poshmark, I’ll go into detail a bit more about this near the bottom, or you can check out this post on how to see sold items on ebay.
Some brands that sell well that you’re more likely to find than Gucci or Valentino are:
- Victoria’s Secret
- ALO Yoga
- Mother Jeans
There just are so many brands that sell well! But it will all depend on what you an find locally to you since some brands are more popular in some areas than others.
I know what you’re thinking: I don’t want to ship furniture! You don’t have to, you can sell it locally for a profit much easier. People donate furniture all the time and people looking for used furniture don’t always have time to run to every local thrift store to find it. This is something I’ve run into myself having moved recently. I found myself running around to different thrift stores trying to find what we needed and usually just ended up jumping on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to buy it because I couldn’t find what I needed.
So if you see a piece for cheap that could sell for a good profit, grab it! Furniture moves quickly at thrift stores because it’s a necessity and it’s so much cheaper than new so it can be hard for buyers to find what they need. By buying items and reposting them online via Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, you can help those buyers find the piece they needed secondhand and make a great profit at the same time!
Kitchen Appliances & Parts
Everyone needs to eat and there are so many great kitchen gadgets and appliances out there that make cooking easier. Blenders, coffee pots, instapots, etc. there are so many available at thrift stores because people buy them and then donate them when they realize they don’t use them as much as they think they would.
Like with anything, not all kitchen appliances or cookware items are worth money. But if you know how to look up items or what brands to look for, you can easily make a good profit. For example, I have a Vitamix blender that I bought new for $300! Now you won’t find these all the time, but if you do, you can make a good profit because they resell for over $100 easily.
Additionally, pieces from appliances can sell well too! There are people out there who need to replace a broken coffee part or other parts of their kitchen appliances. So even if you come across a broken appliance for cheap, check if the pieces that are still in good working order are worth some money.
Video Games & Consoles
Video game systems are a popular thrift store items to buy because they can be really expensive to buy brand new and secondhand video games work exactly the same. You can turn that thrifting into a profit by selling used systems, games, controllers, etc. because there are plenty of customers out there looking for them!
The great thing about video game consoles and the games or accessories themselves is that they’re pretty easy to look up. Plus, once you’ve been selling in that niche for a while, you’ll know exactly what to look for without having to look up every single item.
Electronic items are one type of thrift store item that can really sell for a lot more than you paid. Because many electronics are expensive brand new, the quality or hard to find items often have a pretty good resale value. And that doesn’t mean you can only make money with the newest, latest technology! Old and discontinued electronics can sell for just as much or even more.
Sports & Music Memorabilia
Sports and music items can be a great way to make money thrifting. There are so many people who love their favorite teams and bands and want to find shirts or other pieces to collect. These are also the types of items that people like to gift loved ones for birthdays and holidays. Vintage band or sports tees can easily go for $50 or $100 depending on the team/band, style, and how old it is.
Tips for Buying Items to Flip
Check condition & quality
Before you purchase an item to sell, you should always check the condition to ensure there are no flaws and it’s not worn out. Because these items have been donated, a high number of them are going to be flawed in some way or even just worn out so it’s not worth selling. Never buy an item from a thrift store without thoroughly inspecting it to ensure it’s in good, sellable condition.
Always research for market value & competition
After checking items for flaws, always research for market value and to check the competition for that item or other similar items. While you might think it’s worth picking up to sell, the research will give you a much better picture of what the item will sell for, your profit margin, and how much competition there is out there.
Check out this blog post where I show you how to search sold items on Ebay.
Consider storage & shipping
Make sure that you consider how you’re going to store and ship items you’re buying. Things like clothes are generally easy to store and ship, but what about shoes or even breakable items? Do you have a safe area to keep it until it sells? And do you have a plan to ship it? Will the weight make shipping too expensive to make a profit? These are all questions to ask yourself when buying items to resell.
How to Find the Best Thrift Stores
If you’re not already familiar with the thrift stores in your area, a google search will help you find most of them. The best way to do this is by searching your city and the word “thrift store”. This will give you most of the available thrift stores or thrift shops in the area.
I really recommend checking out all thrift stores AND going to them a few times before you decide if you like it or not. Because most thrift stores run off of donations, how much stuff you find to resell will be different each time.
Here are some popular chain thrift stores you can try looking up, but don’t forget all the little mom and pop thrift stores too:
- Value Village
- Salvation Army
Other Places to Find Items to Flip
Thrift stores aren’t the only place to find thrift store items. Yard sales can be a great way to find inventory even cheaper than the thrift store. The thing I love about yard sales is you’re getting access to the items before they eventually get donated so you can really find some good stuff. Plus, prices are usually negotiable!
Not a lot of people use craigslist anymore, but it can still be a great place to find inventory to sell! The best thing about using Craigslist to find things is you’re often provided with a photo and some info so you can look it up before you even contact the person to come look at it. You can also find businesses liquidating before moving or closing as well which can bring great profit!
Similar to Craigslist, you can browse listings and look items up to see if they’re selling online for more. I often see people selling big lots of clothing or other items they just want to move quickly so checking in with Facebook Marketplace regularly can be a great way to find stuff to resell.
Friends & Family
Not everyone wants to spend the time to resell items and that’s where you come in! Let people know what you do and you’ll likely have people you know contacting you about stuff they want to get rid of. I’ve had people just give me carloads of stuff they were going to donate and other people work with me on consignment where I paid them a portion of the profit from the items I sold.
Don’t have good thrift stores near you or do you need to find a way to get inventory with $0 upfront? Try Flyp! It’s an app where people put up items they want to sell on consignment and then you, as a reseller, can go on there and bid on lots to resell for them. They send the items to you and then you sell them and then you split the money based on an agreed upon commission.
Where to Sell Thrift Store Finds
eBay is probably the best place to sell online. I’ve tried half a dozen marketplaces and Ebay is ALWAYS where I make the most sales. eBay has been around for a long time so it has millions of potential buyers built-in. To be honest, it is one of the more complicated platforms to start on, but it’s easy once you’ve listed and sold a few things. Fees are generally around 12%, but vary based on several factors.
Poshmark is great for selling clothes, shoes, handbags, and accessories. Trendier items and designer items tend to do well here since the crowd seems to be mostly younger women. However, I’ve also sold kid’s clothing, men’s clothing, and styles for older women. One thing I love about Poshmark is that shipping is built in and I just print the label, however, their fees are the highest at 20%. Here’s my complete guide to selling on Poshmark for beginners.
Mercari is great place to start because it’s relatively easy to use and it’s a pretty easy app to navigate so buyers love shopping Mercari. There is no fee to list, but you do pay about 12.9% in fees on items that sell. I personally find that I don’t sell as many items on Mercari, but it’s simple to use so I continue to sell there. Here’s my complete guide to selling on Mercari for beginners and a guide to shipping on Mercari.
One thing I love about Facebook Marketplace is that people are already on there. It’s not JUST a place to shop, so people are logging in there daily and just might wander over to the marketplace to shop around. Facebook Marketplace recently added shipping options and their fees are the lowest at 5%. Here’s a post I did on how to list on Facebook Marketplace with shipping.
There are tons of other places to sell, but these are my favorite and the ones I know the most about. Before selling on any marketplace, make sure you do your research and understand all of the rules and fees.
Tips for Thrifting for Items to Flip
Know how to find the newest items
Some stores will have racks of newer items for you to browse through while others may change the color of the tags each week. Figure out how to find the newest items that have been put out so you can focus on those since they’re going to be the items that are the least picked through.
Shop sale days
One way to reduce your cost of goods (and increase your profit) is to shop on sale days! Many thrift stores have days where all items are discounted, or certain items are discounted. These days will usually be busier, but if it’s important for you to make every dollar possible this can be a good way to make more per item.
Shop where the profit is
Which sections of the store are going to bring you the most profit? For example, kids clothes aren’t usually going to sell for much so it might be a better use of your time to search through shoes or electronics. Making sure you spend your time sifting through the most profitable categories can really help you make more money in less time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Thrift Store Flipping
Is thrift store flipping profitable?
Thrift store flipping can be very profitable, but it does require a lot of work. It sounds so easy to buy a couple of things, list them online, and make money. But you really do have to spend a lot of time shopping for the right items, taking photos and listing them, organizing your inventory, and shipping. If you’re looking for a get-rich-quick type of deal, this isn’t it! But if you love thrift stores and want to make extra money doing your own thing, it can be a great side hustle.
Can thrift store flipping make you a full-time income?
It’s possible to make a full-time income thrift store flipping, but it will take time to get there. Building up knowledge and inventory takes time. I did try reselling full-time for over a year and while I love reselling, I really prefer it as a part-time income. Here’s a video on what you need to know about going full time on ebay.
How much can you make thrift store flipping?
This is a tough question because your income will vary so much depending on what you can find at thrift stores in your area, how much time and money you’re able to invest, etc. I can say that I think pretty much anyone can make $1,000/month thrift store flipping and many resellers make much more than that. In fact, I know one mom who made over $40,000 in one year while staying home with her kids
Is thrift store flipping ethical?
While thrift store flipping isn’t for everyone, but it’s not unethical. A lot of people think because thrift stores are often used by those with lower incomes, resellers are taking items directly from them. But thrift store flipping isn’t an ethical issue. First of all, the amount of items that are donated to thrift stores on a regular basis is way more than they’re able to sell. If you visit thrift stores often, you’ll usually find that the racks are full and that one of their biggest struggles is dealing with the large number of donations they get.
There is plenty to go around and I’ve come across many thrift stores that turn away donations because they don’t have room for it all. So the fact that people are worried there won’t be enough for those who need to shop at thrift stores simply isn’t true. In fact, resellers are helping the thrift stores and the environment by taking large amounts of those items and getting them into the hands of people looking for them.
Is it illegal to resell items from the thrift store?
Once you purchase an item from a thrift store, it’s yours to do with what you want. Use it, wear it, sell it, give it away: it’s yours! As far as I know, it’s not illegal to resell items from the thrift store in any state in the US. Obviously, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.
How much money do I need to invest in inventory?
How much you invest when you get started is entirely up to you. I’ve actually started reselling with $0 upfront and just sold items I was decluttering from around the house. Once I sold items, I used that money to reinvest. It’s definitely easier if you do have some money to invest, just make sure you use it wisely and invest in good inventory that will actually sell.
I’ve mentioned it a few times in this article, but one way to get inventory with no upfront cost is to use Flyp. You can browse lots of quality inventory and apply to sell them. The lots will be shipped to you and once you’ve sold the item, you keep your agreed-upon commission and send the rest to the consigner.
If you’re thinking of starting thrift store flipping as a side-hustle, it can be a great way to make some extra money! However, you’ll need to know what thrift store items will sell well online and how to successfully sell them. I hope this article gave you all the information needed to start making your own cash flipping thrifted item. Happy thrifting!