Flipping items online is all the rage these days. It used to be that when I told someone that I bought stuff at thrift stores and sold it on eBay for a living they’d be like….
These days, however, it’s more like, “Oh yeah. I’ve got a brother who does that. He’s weird too” which I guess is an improvement.
We didn’t start out our eBay journey by googling “things to look for at thrift stores to resell.” In fact, it was a mix of accident and necessity that made us start selling on eBay. Kirstie was having a really rough pregnancy (she ended up losing 25 pounds that she didn’t have to lose) and I needed to come up with a solution that would allow me to spend time with her instead of at work. I won’t bore you with that story (since you can read it here) but, long story short, I loved thrifting, had heard of other people making a killing selling their used stuff online, and I decided to give it a whirl.
While our business has since moved on, we maintained $80-100k per year for several years just selling thrifted items on eBay! So believe us, we know a thing or two about buying things from thrift stores to resell. We also know a lot about tacos but that’s not a story for now.
So whether you need to make some extra money or just love thrifting and want to make your habit sustainable, let’s talk about the types of things to look for at thrift stores to resell for BIG MONEY! Or at least a profit.
Things to Buy at Goodwill and Sell on eBay
1. High-end clothing. If you are the type to hang out in thrift stores, you probably already know that there is a lot of amazing clothing to be found. Most people don’t understand this, which is why you can use your skills to make a ton of money! My best friend (since 5th grade) won’t even think about buying thrifted clothes but is happy enough to wear stuff from Walmart. That aside, there are tons of people who will pay handsomely for the convenience of you searching out the brands they want. Think of it as a finder’s fee.
Buying clothing is one of the best places to start flipping thrift store items for 3 reasons:
- There is tons of clothing to be found
- It’s cheap to buy
- It’s easy to store and ship
So, if you want to start flipping clothing, you have two options: look around, notice what’s trendy, and try to sell that. Or, up your game by learning high-end brands (that most people have never heard of) that you can sell for up to $500! We’ve beaten this subject to death in the below articles so let’s move on!
- 60 Best Women’s Clothing Brands
- 47 Best Men’s Clothing Brands
- 21 Outdoor Clothing Brands
- Huge Profits Selling Men’s Jeans on eBay
2. Shoes. You probably didn’t appreciate it as a kid but shoes are pretty freakin’ expensive. Especially if you understand that to look nice and get long-lasting footwear, it pays to invest in quality brands. Because of this, I typically buy all of my shoes used because a used high-end brand will last longer than a new pair straight from China.
If you want to get into flipping brand new shoes, check out Chaz from Side Hustle Pros to see what he buys and from where.
However, if you want to stick to the thrift store, check our Brands and Types of Shoes to Sell on eBay article. If you’re one of those people who think used shoes are stinky and yucky…stay out of the area and leave it to us! We have literally picked up shoes that retailed for over $1,000 and have sold used shoes for over $400!
3. Mugs. Mugs might seem like kind of a let down after the first two, but I think mugs are just tons of fun! I have a cupboard full of mugs that aren’t worth selling (or are) but I just can’t leave on the shelf.
Look for mugs from Starbucks and Rae Dunn or, if you’re into vintage, mugs that are hand made or have cool content matter. Here are two that we’ve sold recently:
If you get really lucky, there are actually mugs that sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay! Just be aware that mugs can be slow to sell if you choose poorly. So do your research and be sure to pack them safely when they sell!
4. Discontinued Toys. You’ve probably seen an article like 22 Toys You Had That are Worth a Fortune Now but, as much as I hate to say it, those articles are really just clickbait. Odds are, nothing you had was worth much of anything. The reason that some oddball things sell for a ton of money is that there was something off about them, like a 1 in a million misprint. So what are the chances that you had that valuable toy? 1 in a million.
However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a bunch of money in discontinued toys! I met a lady at one thrift store who had over $60,000 in sales a year selling only baby toys and blankets. Her game was, babies lose their favorite toy and parents will pay just about anything to replace it. It works the same way with toys.
The other types of people who buy toys from eBay are nerds and collectors. So bear that in mind and pick up:
- Lego Sets
- Unopened movie or sports memorabilia
- Vintage wooden toys
- Unusual board games and puzzles
In other words, if something is a bit out of place amid the sea of broken plastic toys, trust your gut and check eBay!
5. Vintage or Unusual Decorations. Vintage decorations are one of Kirstie’s favorite things to look for at thrift stores to resell. Or not sell. I have my cupboard of mugs, Kirstie has an entire house full of vintage boxes, art, and trinkets. I promised we’re not hoarders though…
Here are a few items that Kirstie has let me sell recently:
As with most things, strangeness sells well. After all, the best things to buy at Goodwill and sell on eBay won’t be normal things. Otherwise, people would just go buy them from the store.
6. Textbooks. Being from a college town, some of our thrift stores are absolutely chock-full of text books after the term ends. Normally these aren’t the $300 engineering books (since the library buys those back) but the smaller paperback books that every person has to buy. In fact, I remember several classes that required me to buy 3-4 such books, often at $40+ a pop and I bought them used!
So look for books with the “USED” sticker on the back, meaning they’re typically from a textbook store. Also, keep a lookout for larger books or books with an unusual subject matter. One of our coolest finds in books was actually not a textbook at all but a copy of the original story of Peter Pan which we picked up for $6 and sold for $395!
7. Bags, Backpacks, & Purses. You don’t truly know pain and suffering until your kids want a certain backpack for school. Obviously they just “have to have the same one so and so has” but IT’S $70! Maybe for Christmas kid.
In fact, some newer backpacks are so expensive that we pick up a couple a week from thrift stores to resell and have sold several Oakley backpacks for over $75 apiece.
However, it’s typically vintage or unusual bags that do the best on eBay. Look for leather bottom bags, bags from outdoor brands (Patagonia, Sierra Designs, etc.) or bags that would be at home at a bohemian festival.
As you would expect, purses can also be a hot seller on eBay. Since I’m a man that doesn’t carry a man-purse (I would if I had anything to put in it…) I’m a bit lost on the purse aisle. Because of this, I typically just stroll down the aisle, feel all the purses looking for high-quality leather, and look up anything that feels nice or looks weird. Surprisingly, it works pretty well!
And that’s a wrap, folks! 7 of the easiest things to find at thrift stores to resell! If you need some more items to look for, check out 31 Non-Clothing Items to Sell on eBay!
Is thrifting a talent?
Although many people (my parents for example) might disagree with me, I believe that thrifting is absolutely a talent. That is, recognizing items of value and finding them regularly is a talent and it takes a lot of work to perfect it. However, there are people of similar talent who have way different amounts of luck at thrifting. Some days I find thousands of dollars worth of items to flip, other times I’ll come up completely dry. So when it comes down to it, success in finding thrift store items to resell is all about two things:
- The amount of time you spend in thrift stores
- The specific stores and area you thrift in
So, if you want to be successful, find thrift stores in affluent areas and camp out there!
Where to Resell Your Thrift Store Finds:
Since we first started thrifting, we have saved nearly 20,000 items from landfills. Our house has been decorated, our kids clothed, and our bank accounts filled by other people’s donated crap. However, walking into your local Goodwill knowing what to look for is only half the battle. You can’t make money if you can’t sell your stuff! Knowing all the best things to look for at thrift stores to resell will do you absolutely no good if you just let me sit around your house. So where should you unload your amazing finds?
It might be surprising to hear that eBay is not actually our first choice for most people to sell their stuff. If you want to buy things at Goodwill and sell them on eBay, go for it. We do it and so do millions of other people. The problem is, unless you’re going to do it day in and day out in large volume it can be a bit of a pain. You have to worry about taking great pictures, writing descriptions, shipping your item, and maybe even dealing with a return if it gets broken or the person doesn’t like the item. What is the solution? Sell your item locally! Try out Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, KSL, LetGo, etc. to sell your items easily, avoid shipping them, and even avoid paying fees!
If selling your items locally doesn’t appeal to you, then eBay is probably your next best choice. It isn’t, however, the only player in the game. Depending on the types of items you are trying to sell you can also make a great profit selling thrifted items on the following platforms:
In conclusion, I’m going to be corny. Don’t forget to have fun! Even if you are trying to maximize your profits, if you don’t take the time to enjoy thrifting you’re going to get burned out really fast. So have fun, find amazing things to resell, and maybe even sell them! Happy hunting!