If you’re brand new to thrift store reselling, I’m going to give you some tips I’ve gathered in my 6+ years of thrifting and reselling. Hopefully they’ll make it easier for you to flip thrifted items for a profit!
Go With an Open Mind
Thrifting is an acquired skill and it could be said it’s an acquired taste. When I first started thrifting I was a little leery of touching a bunch of old used things, but the excitement of uncovering treasures soon outweighed my fear. That being said, I’ve been to so many thrift stores over the years and while some are disgusting most are pretty clean. When I get my items home I disinfect all clothing by either steaming them with a hand-held steamer or steam sanitizing in my washer and dryer. For hard goods I use disinfecting wipes. You should also be prepared for the chance you must go home empty-handed, as buying items just to say you did will not result in profits.
Thrift in Wealthy Areas
As you might expect, you’ll probably find higher value items when you source in areas of wealthier residents. This doesn’t mean you have to make a trip to NYC or LA in order to source inventory, but it might be worth a drive to your nearest city if you live out in the country. When I lived in a small rural/suburban city I only had to drive 20 minutes to my favorite thrift store, where I consistently found designer and luxury items to resell. Whenever I know I’ll be traveling to larger cities I do make plans to stop into the local thrift stores.
Start With What You Know
Don’t try to be the master of all niches at once, or ever. One of the best ways to be successful at thrift store reselling is to be an expert at what you sell. Become the go-to seller for your niche, and you’ll have lots of repeat customers and referrals.
Avoid Broken or Damaged Items
It’s tempting to buy damaged goods with the intent of repairing them, but I currently have a death pile of items needing a little love. You may never get around to fixing them, and they’re a risk to resell. Should the item break again in transit your customer will be unhappy. It also takes time to disclaim damages in your listing. I have learned the hard way to stick with items that are new with tags or in excellent condition.
Many people make this common reselling mistake when thrift store sourcing: they find an item, pull up their reselling app and see what others have it listed for. What you need to do is filter those listings to only show SOLD listings. It doesn’t matter what an item is listed for, it only matters what people were willing to pay for it (if anyone is buying it at all). The one time I do look at list prices is when my goal is to list mine below all others. Sometimes listing just a penny under the lowest price is smart since customers often filter results by lowest to highest price.
Take Advantage of Sales, Discounts and Coupons
This doesn’t apply to all thrift stores, but most I’ve visited do at least one of these things. Many Goodwill stores have a color of the week that’s 50% off. Others offer discounts to senior citizens, public safety workers, or military. One of my favorite thrift stores has a loyalty program that gives you cash back once you spend a certain amount. I’ve heard that some thrift stores offer coupons, though I haven’t personally seen this.