Your Guide to Thrift Store Flipping

Thrift store flipping is about buying things from flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores at lower prices and reselling them online to make a profit. It’s become a trendy way to make extra money with accessible platforms like  Facebook Marketplace and Etsy at the ready. 

 This is an accessible side hustle that doesn’t require a significant investment.

What is Thrift Store Flipping?

This is about jumping on the difference between a purchase price and the potential market value of items in those stores. The trick is to recognize items priced lower than what they’re worth. 

Successful flippers consider different factors like brand, condition, rarity, and demand. Websites like Poshmark and eBay are popular.

Thrift Store Flipping for Extra Cash

This side hustle requires specific steps, beginning with sourcing the items and then selling them online.

Research the different store items in locations that have resale value. To find these items, you can visit the stores or estate sales, those in a garage, plus flea markets.
 Evaluating what they are worth versus the cost is the next step. Check out different online marketplaces to see what similar products are going for.
 You’ll need to restore, repair and clean the items to get the most for them and learn how to negotiate your purchase price.
 High-quality photographs from different angles are essential. Find the right online platform and create an honest and detailed description that includes relevant information like measurements.
Respond quickly to any inquiries. When something sells, make sure it gets packaged and shipped quickly.

Benefits of Thrift Store Flipping

This practice has some excellent benefits, including the following:

Startup costs are low, and flippers can start with a small budget. It’s a low-risk way of learning the ropes of buying and selling.
Searching for hidden treasures in garages, flea markets, and thrift stores is exciting. This type of flipping appeals to people who enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
 It can also be lucrative if you take the time to develop the needed patience and skills. Some flippers look for a specific niche, like electronics or antiques. Online marketplaces have a global reach, meaning sellers have broader target markets.

Thrift Store Flipping Tips

Here’s some advice on how to sell items.

Start with a small budget you can afford to lose as you learn. It’s essential to focus on the thrift store items you are interested in.
 Researching the potential resale value of items is critical if you’re selling online.
 If you’re searching through yard sales, ensure items are in good condition. Try to avoid things that need extensive repairs.
 Vintage clothing and other accessories are highly sought after.
 The same goes for vintage cameras, consoles and video games.

First editions and vintage books are popular. The same goes for solid wood furniture and pieces with unique designs. Both are good for extra cash.

Finding the Right Local Thrift Store

Understanding the market is the secret sauce. Look for stores in your area online. Google Maps offers ratings and customer service reviews.  Instagram is an excellent social media platform for research.

You’ll need to visit several stores to understand their inventory of thrift store items and assess the quality and turnover—location matters. Stores in upscale neighborhoods have better quality donations and better prices.

Key Strategies for Successful Flipping

Success strategies must include the ability to appraise items, understand demand, and research market trends.

Researching Market Trends

 Paying attention to the sold listings on platforms like Amazon and Etsy will give you a sense of market value.  Follow communities and influencers on different social media platforms like Instagram.

 Appraising and Understanding Demand

 Do some research on different item categories like furniture and clothing. Understanding what’s essential regarding materials, brands and manufacturing details is important. You’ll need to understand seasonal trends like outdoor items in summer and winter clothing. Local demographics play a role. 

Spotting Valuable Items at Thrift Stores

 Follow these tips to find items that will sell well.

 For Rare Find Items 

Look for the things that stand out and have unusual craftsmanship or features. Look for artist signatures and production stamps.

For Items From Vintage Thrift Stores 

Do some research on different styles and eras. It helps if you know the difference between vintage-style reproductions and the real thing. A vintage piece of clothing from local thrift shops can have a nostalgic brand tag.

For Branded Goods 

Branded goods need to be in good condition to be worth top dollar. Discontinued and limited edition items are of good value. 


Finding ItemsLook for undervalued items in thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales.Focus on items in good condition and in demand.Local thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales.

Item EvaluationAssess the resale value and condition of items.Use online marketplaces for price comparison.Online marketplaces, appraisal guides.

RestorationClean, repair, and restore items as needed.Learn basic restoration techniques for higher profits.DIY videos, restoration guides.

PhotographyTake high-quality photos from various angles.Use natural lighting and a neutral background.Camera, smartphone.

Listing ItemsCreate detailed, honest listings with clear descriptions and measurements.Use relevant keywords and be transparent about the item’s condition.Online marketplaces like eBay, Poshmark, Etsy.

Pricing StrategyPrice items based on market value, condition, and demand.Factor in shipping costs and potential negotiation.Price comparison tools, shipping cost calculators.

Selling PlatformsChoose the right platform based on the type of item.Different platforms attract different buyers (e.g., Poshmark for fashion, eBay for variety).Poshmark, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy.

Customer InteractionRespond promptly to inquiries and negotiate prices if necessary.Good customer service can lead to repeat business and positive reviews.Email, messaging apps on selling platforms.

Shipping & HandlingPackage items securely and ship them as soon as possible.Use tracked shipping for security and customer reassurance.Postal services, tracking tools.

Scaling Your BusinessExpand by sourcing more items, exploring different niches, or increasing online presence.Reinvest profits into the business and consider branching out into related products.Social media for promotion, business expansion guides.

Using Apps for Thrift Store Flipping

There are different apps that you can use to be successful at flipping. The following can help you price them, list them and sell them. 

Etsy is best for handmade and vintage items. It specializes in older items and attracts specific buyers.
Poshmark is the app you want to use for certain home goods, fashion accessories, and clothing. They provide pre-addressed prepaid labels to make shipping easy.
ThredUp has a user-friendly platform. You can send in second-hand clothing, and they do the rest. They offer in-store credit or direct payout options and do all the photographing and listing for you.

   Look for features like the ones at Poshmark. They can provide data on how similar items sell and how much for. Most of the ones you want to work with have integrated payment and shipping systems.  Try to find an app that supplies shipping labels.

Maximizing Profits from Flipping Thrift Store Finds

  Here are a few tips for maximizing resale value. These include effective listing, presentation and restoration strategies.

A thorough cleaning can make an item more valuable. Learn how to remove rust and refinish wood.
 Natural lighting works excellent when you’re taking pictures. Use an uncluttered, neutral background.
 Listing items means being detailed and honest. Describe an item’s history with relevant keywords included.
 Don’t forget to factor in shipping costs when you’re pricing what you will sell.  

Best Practices for Thrift Flipping Online

Understand the best practices for places like Facebook Marketplace. It’s informal and geared towards local buyers. Make sure your Facebook profile looks trustworthy and credible. Clear, well-lit images and thorough descriptions sell on this platform.

Avoid shipping delays and provide tracking numbers.

Most Profitable Items to Flip from Thrift Stores

Following are 24 items that can make you money. These are the ones that you can buy at local stores and sell online. They have resale value and are in demand.

1. Vintage clothing, particularly designer brands

Vintage clothing is sought-after because of its nostalgic appeal and unique styles. Shop for well-known vintage brands and those in good condition.

2. Rare books and first editions

Collectors are always looking for first-edition books.  Classic literature and specific topics in nonfiction are good choices. Look for books with the original dusk jackets and signed copies in local thrift stores.

3. High-end kitchen appliances

 High-end kitchen appliances are in demand because they have a reputation; they are durable and of superior quality. Buyers should make sure all the functions are working.

4. Brand-name electronics in good condition

These electronics have a high resale value in the tech market because of their advanced features and trusted quality. It’s best for resale if they come in their original packaging.

5. Vintage furniture, especially mid-century modern pieces

Thrift stores, garages, and even estate sales are good places to look for vintage furniture. Looking for solid construction and items in good condition can make you money.

6. Collectible toys and games

The demand for vintage games and toys is driven by nostalgia. Collectors look for the things they loved to play with when they were young. Original packaging is a good selling feature.

7. Musical instruments

When these come from well-known brands, they increase in value over time. Buyers need to verify the authenticity of the name.

8. Sports equipment, like bicycles and golf clubs

These hold their value because they are durable and have brand prestige associated with them. Make sure the equipment lines up with current trends.

9. Photography equipment, including cameras and lenses

 This equipment, including lenses and cameras, has a high resale value because there’s a big demand for quality imagery. Make sure to check the operational condition of any equipment.

10. Handbags and accessories from luxury brands

Even second-hand designer handbags hold their value. It’s all about brand recognition and making a fashion statement. Look for brand hallmarks that make the piece authentic.

11. Artwork and decorative items

  Decorative items and artwork carry big resale value because they’re driven by aesthetic appeal and the artist’s reputation. Make sure to authenticate the origin or the artist whenever possible.

12. Vinyl records, especially rare or vintage ones

Vintage and rare vinyl records have an aesthetic appeal. Watch out for warping and scratches on the vinyl.

13. Antique jewelry and watches

 These have historical value and sometimes even contain precious materials. Buyers need to look for unique features and assess the condition of any piece.

14. Footwear, including designer shoes and boots

 Designer shoes and boots sell well because of fashion trends and the quality of the materials.  Make sure to check each piece for signs of damage and wear.

15. Board games and puzzles, especially vintage or collector’s editions

These have the highest resale value when they are Collector’s Editions. They often retain value because of nostalgia and their uniqueness.

16. Outdoor gear, such as camping equipment and backpacks

High-quality products sell well because of brand recognition. Make sure all the zippers and clasps are working for camping equipment. For backpacks, check all the straps.

17. Power tools and workshop equipment

Established brands are highly sought after. For power tools, check the battery health and ensure all equipment or tools are compatible with safety standards.

18. Unique home décor, like lamps and mirrors

  Older lamps and mirrors are often excellent accents for interior design. For lamps, buyers need to check over the hardware and wiring. If a mirror is ornate or vintage, check the frame’s condition.

19. Quality cookware and utensils

  Quality cookware and utensils have an excellent resale value because they are essential to a kitchen. Look at the cooking surfaces and watch for wear and tear or warping. 

20. Gardening tools and equipment

  Gardening equipment and tools have excellent resale if they’re durable for outdoor use. Buyers should look for rust and check the condition of the handles. Make sure the moving parts are in order, and look at the engine health for larger equipment.

21. DVDs and video games

   Look for cult favorite titles and other ones that are rare and classic. The collectible value goes up when you can find accompanying booklets and artwork.

22. Children’s toys and baby gear

  Look for safety features and durability in children’s toys. Check for cleanliness and ensure all the safety mechanisms work for strollers and or car seats. Make sure to check to confirm there are no recalls.

23. Crafting supplies and sewing machines

 Both of these products have a steady demand on the resale market. Crafting supplies need to come in a full set. Sewing machines need to operate smoothly and look for additional accessories like bobbins.

24. Office furniture and supplies

Home offices are supplying a steady stream of sales here. Look for ergonomic features, chairs, and desks with minimal wear and tear. Office supplies like keyboards need to be in good working order.

25. Collectible coins and stamps

 For coins, buyers should be looking at their historical value and rarity. Focus on how well stamps have been preserved and whether they are part of a series or a complete set.

FAQs: Thrift Store Flipping

Here are the answers to some common questions.

Is thrift store flipping profitable?

You can make money if you have a good eye for undervalued items and understand market demand.

Can thrift store flipping be a full-time job?

Implementing effective sales strategies can help if you want to do this full-time. You’ll need to have a knack for sourcing and restoring valuable items.

What is the best thing to resell from thrift stores?

Unique home decor, electronics, stamps and coins, brand-name clothing, and vintage furniture sell well.

What are some legal considerations in thrift store flipping?

You need to report your taxes from reselling items and might even need a business license. Your area has shipping and export laws and possible consumer protection laws.

Image: Envato Elements

This article, “Your Guide to Thrift Store Flipping” was first published on Small Business Trends