How To Make Extra Money: Reselling Thrift Store Bargains


goodwill storeThere are tons of ways to make money in this world. An endless amount of opportunities and new business ventures await those who put forth the effort to claim them. Like most people out there, I could probably stand to put forth a little more effort into making extra money. Instead of sitting on the couch watching TV, I’ve been thinking about how I could make some additional money in my spare time. I’ve brainstormed a bunch of ideas over the years, and never really took action on any of them. This time I think I’m motivated enough to at least attempt to make a little more scratch. I figured I would share with you guys my plans to try and bring home a little more bacon each month.


In some of my previous articles I’ve mentioned I’m a huge fan of Craigslist, thrift stores, and Ebay. I’m always browsing Craigslist and Ebay to see what items are for sale or up for auction in hopes I can get a good deal on something I want. In the same vein I often visit the local thrift stores to see what treasures they have to offer. I’ll usually stop by one or two thrift stores once every week or two. I usually just browse as there is only so many cheap work shirts or funky glassware items that my closets and cabinets can hold. Occasionally though I will buy an item if it catches my eye and makes sense to my wallet.

Combine What I Already do to Make Some Extra Money

This brings me back to my thoughts on how I could make some extra money.  In my brainstorming sessions I figured that a good way to make some extra money would be to try to increase my selling of items on Craigslist and Ebay, making it a more of a side hustle then just an occasional transaction. The main thing I would need however is items to sell. There are only so many things I already own that I could sell. I would quickly run out of inventory and cut my selling adventures short. This means that I will have to find a way to get items that people want on the cheap so I can sell them for a higher price.

Well what better way to get cheap collectibles then to turn my thrift store browsing trips into inventory building missions! Having been around flea markets, yard sales, Craigslist, Ebay, and other sales sites for a large portion of my life I have a generally good idea of what types of things are considered collectible. Browsing around the thrift stores there are tons of things that people would pay good money for that are often priced way lower than their actual value. The key to being successful at buying and reselling these items is being able to judge whether or not there are potential buyers for said items and if you can make a profit selling the items.

Can I Find a Buyer?

Judging whether or not you can find a buyer can be tricky. Certain items might not have the appeal you think they would. Items that are extremely specialized to certain collectors might sit on your shelves gathering dust for years. There just might not be a big enough audience for certain things to get them sold quickly, so be mindful of that. Big bulky items can pose a problem too, as generally they limit you to local buyers due to transportation concerns and costs, reducing your pool of potential purchasers. Extremely common items can also sit because they are so readily available elsewhere. Keep those thoughts in mind when deciding on whether or not to purchase an item for resale.

Can I make a Profit?

The second big thing you need to think about when buying an item for resale is can I make a profit? This one is extremely important. When picking something out, you’ll need to have a good idea of how much it costs you to buy, how much you can potentially sell it for, how much it will cost to ship if not selling local, what it will cost you to store the item, and how much time and effort it will take to advertise, promote, and sell the item.

One of the tips I’ve picked up over the years is a good way to quickly get the values of most collectibles that I find in thrift stores. I simply pull out my handy dandy smart phone and go to my Ebay app. In the Ebay app it gives you the option in the search features to only display completed listings. This section will show you what price previous auctions ended up selling for, or it will also show you if an item did not sell. The completed listing is more valuable than the current listings as those don’t show you what items have actually sold for, only what someone is asking for said item which may be way too high. If there are a ton of completed listings then your item will probably be easy to sell. If there are a ton of listings that ended without a sale, then you might have a hard time selling your item, especially if there is already a bunch listed on Ebay.

In addition to the Ebay app I also occasionally use the Craigslist app or just a simple Google search. If the item is still being made, Google will usually bring up new items with prices in Google Shopping. If you have the new retail price, then you can do some quick mental math and figure on your used item selling for 50-75% of the retail price depending on condition.

What Item's Should I look For?

So now that you know the basics on how to identify price what type of items should you stay on the lookout for in thrift shops? Well basically I’ve got to go with the old cliché here of stick to what you know. Personally I have a good general knowledge on audio and electronics, board games and toys, beer and bar paraphernalia, video games, army surplus, and some other random collectible categories. I can generally go do a quick scan around the thrift store and identify which items in those categories are worth money and which ones aren’t.

Some things I’m always on the lookout for are Nerf Guns, Legos, Kinex, old speakers, rare or old board games, bar signs, beer mugs and glasses, old furniture, army surplus uniforms and gear, camping items, collectible video games, collectible dvds, and whatever else catches my eye. Armed with the Ebay app I can quickly make my way through the store identifying if things are good buys or not.

Hopefully with this new found motivation to come up with a side hustle I am able turn this thrift shop habit into more money in my pocket and not just an excuse to get onto an episode of hoarders :p I think armed with some general knowledge and a smartphone, anyone can find items to resell for a profit and end up with a nice way to make some extra money.


Has anyone out there ever bought and resold thrift store items? What are some things you do to make extra money?


About Potato Head

What's up everyone. I'm in my mid twenties and live in PA. I helped to start this blog so I could share my thoughts and experiences with making and (sadly) losing money. Hope you enjoy my posts and feel free to drop me a line if you ever want to chat or ask me a question.


  1. What a novel way of making a few extra dollars - I had never thought of this before. I imagine you would sometimes have a few duds that you just couldn't get rid of though.
    Monster Piggy Bank recently posted...Super Cheap Hobbies For People On A BudgetMy Profile

    • Yeah, there are two Goodwill stores very close to where I live and you can sometimes find some pretty good stuff that could be resold. You have to get to them early in the morning though or the good stuff will already be gone.

    • Potato Head says:

      Yea, you will most likely end up with a few items that don't sell or take forever to sell. The cool thing is though if you really can't get rid of it, you can always re-donate it back to goodwill and then write that off on your taxes, so not a total loss at least :p

  2. We need to know that we have a market before we invest/buy. For me it would be far too risky to buy on spec! Every thing that you can't sell wipes out the profit from a number of successful sales - unless your profit margin is over 100% of course! This is the skill of the true trader - seeing the sale before you make the purchse.
    John@MoneyPrinciple recently posted...Insurance for landlords – why you need itMy Profile

    • It isn't 100% foolproof but if you have an eBay app on your phone you can check previously closed auction prices for many of the items. It doesn't work for all items (some are just unique) but you can mitigate some of your potential losses by seeing what people are willing to pay for the same or similar items.

  3. My buddy started a business based around this whole concept. He's been doing it for a few years now. It definitely takes some time and effort, but it can really pay off. Good tips!

  4. Great article! I go thrifting all the time searching for high-end clothing to resell on eBay all the time. While clothing is the main product i sell, I do try to go to the toys, electronics and movie sections from time to time. I always bring my smartphone to search the completed listings on the go.
    Adley recently posted...What can I sell on eBay for profit? Part 1My Profile

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