How To Be An Online Entrepreneur With Thrift Store Shopping On eBay

Joshua Lockhart 05-09-2013

Macklemore may go thrift shopping just for the clothes, but that doesn’t mean you have to.


With eBay, you can turn yourself into an online entrepreneur by flipping items you can find nearly anywhere — online or offline. Best of all, it’s pretty darn easy to do, and this means you can turn your weekend thrift store outings into a profitable hobby.

We can’t guarantee that you’ll make tons of money as a thrift store shopper — after all, most at-home money-making “opportunities” are scams. But we can tell you that this is a valid way to make some extra cash. Just not a lot. Or… maybe a lot.

Look At What’s Selling

It’s always good to look and see what other people are buying and selling. Do some “market research” and search for items that you think would do well: books, CDs (yep), electronics, etc. Base your prices off winning bids (while taking into consideration the conditions of the items).


Likewise, look around and see what other shoppers are getting the best deals on. For instance, Reddit offers some excellent tips on r/ThriftStoreHauls, where people post the great things they find while thrift shopping.


Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate

Wanting to spend a dollar or two less on that bookshelf? Depending on the store that you’re at, it’s reasonable to make a slightly-lower offer. It’s also a bit easier to make these negotiations with cash, too. People like to be paid upfront, so just keep that in mind.

With that said, remember who’s in charge when you’re making these negotiations — not you. Also… not the cashier, either. Typically speaking, the manager of the place is the only one who can cut you a deal, so don’t get too upset if the acne-ridden teenager in the blue apron can’t help you out.

Don’t Limit Yourself

Just because you aren’t interested in something doesn’t mean other people aren’t either. It’s a good idea to buy stuff from a variety of categories: clothes, furniture, memorabilia, appliances, tools, etc. By expanding your market, you will have a much better opportunity to rake in some cash. Easy enough, eh?



However, I don’t recommend just purchasing as many random items that you can find while at the thrift store. No, no. Don’t do that. Instead, do your research – find out what’s valuable. Get clued into “thrift” history —  figure out what people are looking for while online. One item I would specifically look for are books.

People are always looking for them, right? Students, libraries, bookworms; they are always looking for something new to read. You can buy books for cheap at most thrift stores, and it’s perfectly reasonable to sell them for a slightly higher price on eBay. After all, you did the hard work of finding this stuff, right?

Go For The Discounts

Several thrift stores — Goodwill in particular — offer special discounts depending on the day. Generally speaking, it’s based on the color tag found on the item. With that said, do yourself a favor and buy discounted-only clothing when you can help it.

Granted, chances are that you will occasionally find clothes that you absolutely must buy, discounted or not. Just know that you are eating into your profits if you do this, but then again, you may not see a profit at all unless you buy that item.


Provide A Proper Description


Making things as descriptive as possible is a surefire way to selling your goods online. High-quality photos, well-written descriptions, and an honest analysis of the condition of the item are a good way to start. Fortunately, we at MakeUseOf have already put together a few articles for you to look at to help you in this area:

Find Thrift Stores In Well-To-Do Areas

My mother, who I believe I’ve mentioned before on MakeUseOf, is an avid deal-finder 3 Ways To Sell Your Wares With Social Networks Every single one of us has a few items laying around the house that we'd like to sell, but sometimes the more conventional methods of transactions can be a bit sketchy. Craigslist often has a... Read More . With that said, she knows where the top thrift stores are, and one that she regularly shops at is in a very wealthy town. With that said, items found at this store are of the highest quality, but at the same time, they can be purchased at typical thrift store prices. Pretty awesome.

Chances are that a similar type of thrift store is close to where you live. With these types of stores, you can definitely buy low and sell high. As always, thrift stores are typically going to specialize in clothing, but there’s always the possibility of finding something like fine china or high quality tools.


Always Use A Buy It Now Price


Sometimes shoppers are turned off by the possibility that someone could sweep an item right out from under them; that’s why it’s always good to provide a (reasonable) Buy It Now price. If people know that they can grab something right away, then they are more likely to put their hands on it.


Above are just a few tips to buy items in thrift shops and easily turn them around on eBay. We can’t give you all the world’s knowledge on thrift shopping, though — that’s why we leave the comment section open!

What are your best tips for thrift shopping? Have you easily turned things around on eBay? Let’s hear what you have to say in the comments.

Related topics: eBay, Make Money Online, Online Shopping, Save Money.

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  1. Jesse
    September 7, 2013 at 5:41 am

    I do this all the time. Although I don't usually venture beyond electronics, golf polos and shoes are a great way to make some good cash. I once found an AT&T MicroCell cell tower repeater for $8. After selling it and working through some issues with the previous owner, which I should've done before selling it, I sold it for $105. Not bad.

  2. Ms Hanson
    September 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Selling off my more unique items on eBay got me better bids when I began to include little stories with each. The funnier, the better. Sometimes describing the item as "scarred, scratched and abused, but works just as hard as new."

    With anything electronic, I always, ALWAYS include a snapshot of the serial number plate, both for my protection and theirs. That prevents someone buying my item, then "returning" the broken one they were replacing for a full refund.

    Great article. Will Fwd: it to my friends who are beginning to sell online.