What is Thrift Store Flipping and What Items Should You Look For?

I am sure that you have heard of Flipping Houses, right? But, have you heard of thrift store flipping? I know, that is the same thing I thought when I first heard the term. We live in a culture that has become obsessed with the find, the fix, and the flip. Real estate investors find homes a great bargain, fix them up and resell them for a profit. That is similar to what happens in thrift store flipping. With thrift store flipping you are looking for items that are popular that you know will sell fast, but you have to find them at a price that will allow you to make a profit in the process.

If you are committed enough, thrift store flipping has the potential of being more than a hobby; it can become a legitimate income stream. Allow me to be painfully honest, the chance of finding a Picasso at a thrift store is not likely — not that it has not been done before. Finding high ticket items for little to nothing is a long shot, but there are a lot of items at thrift stores, swap meets, and flea markets that are inexpensive enough to allow you to earn a profit by reselling it.

If you are going to seriously engage with this opportunity, there are few things that you need to know. When you understand how things work, you will be able to capitalize on the opportunities that are out there. Following are some tips that will help you make the right moves when attempting to buy and flip merchandise from thrift stores.

  1. Always Check Online as Your First Option. When it comes to thrift store flipping, your smartphone is your number one asset. In order to ensure that something you want to buy at a thrift store will sell for a profit, conduct a quick search of eBay before buying the item. By checking eBay, you will gain a general idea of what the item will sell for.
  2. Check for Markings. If you are not sure that an item is worth anything significant, look for markings that will identify the brand and model. Once you identify the item, look it up online and check the typical resale value. Even jewelry will have a stamp on the back of a pendant or the clasp of the necklace and bracelet.
  3. Shop High-End Locations. When you visit higher-end locations, you will find that you will have a larger selection of items that will produce a profit upon resell. You will consistently find better quality products at high-end locations.
  4. Take advantage of Discount Days. Because thrift stores have to rotate their inventory rapidly due to incoming donations, they will generally designate certain days of the month where they will offer significant discounts. Some will have days in which items will be discounted as much as 50 percent to 75 percent off on a given day. When you purchase items at such a high discount, it leaves a lot of room for profit when you resell the item.
  5. Clean it Up. This is the equivalent of renovating a home before you flip it. When you buy an item, you want to make it look as new as possible before you offer it for sale. With this in mind, you may not want to mess with delicate clothing, unless they are high-end designer items. The reason you want to avoid these types of items is that it will be difficult to recoup your investment.
  6. Consider the Shipping Costs: One of the big mistakes newcomers make is that they don’t figure in the shipping costs when making their purchases. If you are not going to charge a shipping fee, then you have to figure shipping into the cost. You can do a quick search online to check what shipping costs will be for a certain item size with all of the major shipping companies. The alternative is to add shipping at the end of the purchase to cover the cost.

If you are wondering what some of the most profitable items to buy at a thrift exchange are, here are a few that generally produce a profit.

  • Books and textbooks
  • Video games
  • Picture frames
  • Glassware
  • Name brand clothing
  • Vinyl records and record players
  • Sporting equipment

There are other things that you will simply have to have a feel for, but the items above consistently produce a profit. You can sell these things on eBay, Craigslist (be careful), yard sale, swap meet, flea market, or farmer’s market. You can even create your own site to list items on, which can be a great way to sell and ship products without ever having to deal with someone face to face.


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