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Mystery boxes have always been exciting to me. The excitement of something choosing random (possibly extremely valuable) items and mailing them to me is just about the same as discovering a treasure chest. Or a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.
I was super excited a month ago to learn that Gulfstream Goodwill in Florida has combined mystery boxes with my love of thrift store pricing to send out mystery boxes full of secondhand clothes, shoes, jewelry, and more. Enter the Goodwill mystery box!
The launch of the Goodwill Bluebox didn’t get much fanfare but, as a full-time thrifter and reseller, I’m still astounded that it took me so long to find out about it! So of course I had to roll the dice and buy several Bluebox mystery boxes.
Am I going to make money? Find awesome things for me? Since visiting Goodwill is a mystery box in and of itself, I knew one thing: whatever I got delivered to my doorstep wouldn’t be boring.
What Mystery Boxes Does Goodwill Have Available?
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed by the number of choices that Bluebox had available. I had to narrow things down significantly when I was hoping to simply say, “send me a 50-pound box of whatever you’ve got!”
However, if you’re looking to flip some or most of the items that you get, this route will probably leave you better of.
We chose from the following options:
- Mixed Apparel Box
- Jewelry Repurpose Box
- Vintage Wholesale Mystery Box
- Mixed Jeans Box
- Repurpose Shoe Box
- Mystery Purse Box
- Ten For Ten Clothing Box
- Watch Repurpose Box
- Mystery Plus Box
- Y2K+ Streetwear Wholesale Box
- Wholesale Bulk Lego Box
- Mixed Jersey Box
- Vintage Wholesale Thrash
- Comic Book Box
- Premium Assorted Jewelry Box
Now, just because an option shows up on the Goodwill Bluebox website doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to buy it. Demand is so high that they restock once a week (Friday at 6:00 Eastern Time) and typically sell out within minutes.
To make things even more stressful, some of the boxes (such as the jerseys as vintage boxes) are curated so they don’t restock them every week. The first week I tried to order something I spent several minutes on the Jerseys page refreshing it again and again until I realized they weren’t restocking it that week. By that point, everything else was sold out and I had to wait 7 more days.
Goodwill is also experimenting with offering “brand boxes” where you can buy wholesale boxes full of brands like Lululemon, Carhartt, Patagonia, etc. I haven’t been able to bring myself to buy one as I know the margins will be quite low but it’s an option if you can’t get out and source normally!
So be decisive and fast!
What Goodwill Blueboxes I Bought (and what was in them)
Because I tend to excess (especially when it comes to buying inventory) I tried to purchase as many mystery boxes as possible. The first week, that ended up being zero. I added 5 different boxes to my cart and, by the time I went to check out, they were all out of stock.
The next week I got one (the plush box) and the following week I scored several more. I’m not done yet and have my eye on at least 4 more of the boxes so I’ll do my best to update this article as I manage to get others.
The boxes I have received so far are:
- Mystery Plush Box – 10 LBS
- Mixed Apparel Box – 10-12 PCS
- Ten For Ten Clothing Box – 10 PCS
- Jewelry Repurpose Box
- Watch Repurpose Box
I prioritized the last two as I figured that they would be the ones of most interest for beginner resellers looking for mystery boxes (and not wanting to risk a bunch of money).
So, without further ado, let’s see if I can make any money from these!
Mixed Apparel Box
This is a true mystery box. For $24.99 (and $5 in shipping) I was promised 10-12 pieces of varying gender and size. Which, to me, sounded like a minimally curated hodge-podge. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the condition and brand-quality items I got.
What I Got: 14 Items (5 New With Tags)
- NWT Children’s Place Kids Polo Shirt (Tag Price: $12.95)
- NWT Old Navy Girls Uniform Bermuda Shorts (Tag Price: $17.99)
- NWT Ann Taylor Loft Sleeveless Yoke Neck Dress (Tag Price $89.50)
- NWT LULU-B Khaki Capris (Tag Price $49.99)
- NWT Port Authority Adult Men’s Outdoor Wide Brim Hat C920 (Tag Price: $15.98)
- GAP Trpnto Mission Tan Women’s Belted Skirt
- Banana Republic Floral Spaghetti Strap Maxi Dress
- Ann Taylor Loft Floral Lace Overlay Skirt
- GAP White Cotton Peasant Blouse
- LULU-B Casual Slim Straight Pants
- LULU-B Casual Slim Straight Pants
- Ann Taylor Loft Oversized Women’s Shirt
- Kenneth Cole Women’s Dress Pants
- EXPRESS Ruffle Blouse
I would have bought a couple of these at the bins!
Am I Going To Make Money On It?
Surprisingly, yes! This box ended up being much better than I expected I will honestly donate about half of it and focus on the few high dollar items but, if you sold everything in this box it’d be worth 6-8x your money!
While I typically avoid mall brands when I’m sourcing I’m more than happy to get them in a mystery box.
And the fact that 5 of the items were NWT? Awesome!
Ten For Ten Clothing Box
I’ll be honest, my expectations here weren’t high. I expected that whoever put the box together would pretty much be grabbing anything out of their massive pile of donations that wasn’t stained or damaged. I was wrong again!
I got a handful of nice items, several basics which went into my donate pile, and a unicorn! (metaphorically speaking)
What I Got: (11 Items (1 New With Tags)
- IZOD X-Treme Function Men’s Golf Polo
- adidas Women’s Athletic Shirt
- Lacoste Men’s Short Sleeve Classic Fit Cotton Pique Polo Shirt
- Marc Ecko Cut & Sew Men’s Long Sleeve Graphic Tee
- Ann Taylor LOFT Camisole
- Mossimo Supply Men’s Pocket Tank Top
- crewcuts Girls Long Sleeve Nautical Tee
- CSG Champion Sports Gear Tank Top
- Ann Taylor Loft Marisa Skinny Women’s Dress Pants
- Grand Slam Performance Men’s Golf Polo
- NWT Banana Republic Women’s Tights (Tag Price: $16.50)
Am I Going To Make Money On It?
I sure hope so! I was pretty stoked with the Lacoste polo (since it’s actually authentic) and I’ll also list the golf polos, the tights, and maybe 1-2 other things. Because it was only $15 (after shipping) for this box it’s not much of a trick to make 5x my money or more.
Honestly, this box is a winner as far as mystery boxes go. To be able to add 10 or more items to your inventory with minimal effort is awesome. You can’t get inventory cheaper than this at any thrift store (and it’s much faster than the bins or another pay-by-the-pound clothing store).
Oof. That’s all I can say about this box. Let’s just say that it fulfilled my expectations in the worst way possible. Imagine that you went into a random thrift store, scooped up an arm full of random plush off the shelf, and took it home. That’s what this box was.
Even as far as mystery boxes go it was bad. The real mystery here is why anyone would want to buy this box.
I expected that this box would be low value (as most plush is) but it was a total bust. There happened to be two small unicorn plush that my daughters kept (after thorough washing) but everything else went right back in the box and went into my donate pile.
Even if you love selling plush, give this box a pass.
Can You Make Money With Goodwill Blueboxes?
Yes, of course, you can. However, it probably won’t be the treasure chest of your dreams.
Mystery boxes are, in general, fun but not extremely profitable. If the extent of your business plan is simply to send someone money and hope they surprise you with unusually expensive things then you probably need to rethink things.
However, a Goodwill Bluebox order can add some variety and profit to your eBay or Poshmark store when you can’t get out of the house to thrift or source in other ways.
In addition to Goodwill’s mystery boxes, consider the following options if you are looking for a profitable treasure hunt:
- Buying Liquidation Pallets (Check out our liquidation.com review)
- Buying Pallets Of Amazon Returns
- Bidding On Government Surplus
Buying Wholesale and Mystery Boxes For Resale – 4 Tips
If you’ve got a bit of money to burn (or the thrift stores by you are closed) then getting your kicks and giggles from mystery boxes is always an option.
However, there are some bad actors on the scene. if you don’t do your due diligence you can end up just getting your money away and ending up getting mailed a box of trash to dispose of. I’ve bought mystery boxes from a dozen sources and these are the best tips I’ve got for you if you want to avoid getting scammed and (hopefully) make a profit):
1. Only Invest What You’re Willing/Able To Lose
While you do stand the potential of getting a winning box, most of the time you will just make back your money plus a bit. If you get lucky or are willing to persist with the 10 for $10 mystery box you might make 4-5x your money but it will be a slog.
I would encourage everyone to get a box or two just for the experience but it shouldn’t be the core of your business model.
If you only have a bit of money to invest, prioritize yard sales and thrift stores where we’re regularly able to turn $100 into $1,000 or more.
2. Redonate The Dregs Instantly
When we first started buying pallets of Amazon returns our eBay room got out of control extremely quickly. Because the margins were so low we were loathe to donate things that were broken (but could be fixed) or were just low-value (but could still net a couple of bucks).
However, we didn’t realize that liquidation, like mystery boxes, is a volume game. If you’re not going to list it soon, just donate it so you can keep your operation running as smoothly as possible.
3. Vet The Source
If you’re a member of the reseller community you’re probably aware that there is always some reseller or another who decides to offload their old inventory as “mystery boxes”
In general, buying mystery boxes (or liquidation) from someone who is also a seller is a bad idea. While some sellers (such as RockstarFlipper) sell legitimate bulk items so they can buy larger lots (and get a better deal) you’re usually buying things that have been picked over multiple times.
No matter if you’re buying from a person or a business, look for reviews (hopefully from other resellers) so you can see what type of items you’re likely to get, their condition, etc.
Goodwill Blueboxes get an A+ here. Although there are many Goodwill eBay stores, they have all of their items donated so they aren’t leaving money on the table. You’re probably better off simply visiting a Goodwill Outlet near you but you won’t get scammed by ordering a box either.
4. Crosspost Low Dollar Items
If you’re selling low-dollar items (like we got in our Blueboxes) then you’re going to want to squeeze every last dollar out of them. Once you’ve listed everything you can, use software like ListPerfectly to post them on at least one other platform. We typically list items on eBay and then use ListPerfectly to crosspost them onto Poshmark and Mercari.
This can double or triple the eyes each of your listings has on it which means things will sell much faster with only a bit more effort.
So are Goodwill Blueboxes worth it? Sure, depending on what you’re hoping for. They’re fun and the entertainment value is high. The resale value? Not quite as high.
However, the boxes surprised me that I’ll be buying a few of their more curated boxes for a future article so stay tuned!