Thrifty Tuesday: Selling Online With Thrift Shop Finds, Pt. 1

What do all these items have in common? They’re some of the thrift shop finds that I’ve sold on eBay since January.

Remington Curlers: bought for $3, sold for $42 (I paid shipping).lesweater

Lands’ End Cashmere Sweater: purchased for $3, sold for $18 (plus shipping).


Vintage Play Food: purchased in a bag of misc. toys for .89, sold for $18 (plus shipping).
ornamentHallmark ornament: purchased in a large bag of ornaments for $3.60. Cost breakdown for each ornament came to under .50. This one sold for $39 within 24 hours (I paid shipping). I’ve got another one from that bag waiting to sell for around $40, and another at $15.

These items, and several others like them, are why I *really* don’t get saying there’s nothing good thrift shops. As far as I see it, money sitting on the shelves is a good thing. 🙂

In high school, I had the opportunity to connect online with several homeschooling mothers who were selling books online on eBay. This was before the days of smart phones and selling on Amazon too, with dial-up modems and scanners that took foooooreeeevvvver getting images of books. But it was such a fun time! The moms I chatted with weekly were so encouraging and helpful to a teenager learning about online sales and eBay… and there were *good* sales to be had. Library book sales became a driving force on week-ends, digging through stacks of books, trying to find ones that would set off bidding wars. There were lots of $20-$30 books, a few $40-$50, and I remember one that ended up at over $200 in the last five minutes of the auction.

Later I moved on to antiques and collectibles from our great-uncle’s house. We had a digital camera and faster internet at that point, although the system was wont to crash occasionally.

Then I started college and got completely bogged and overwhelmed by life. I left eBay alone… for years. Until January, when a friend started talking about how much fun she was having with eBay. The Strider’s job, thankfully, more than supplies our family’s needs but I still thought it would be fun to try my hand at it all again. I was also running out o freasons to go to the thrift store and needed to either stop going or to start making money from it. As you can see, the latter method is working quite nicely. 🙂

Next week I’ll talk more specifically about how I’m doing it right now and how eBay is different from when I started back in the late 1990s. Right now I want to encourage you if you are desperately looking for a way to bring in some extra income. In 2010, my husband spent three months *without* a job and some of this income would have been very helpful at that point. It is so easy to feel defeated about earning extra money because the economy is hard, because we’ve got kids at home who need us, because we don’t have a specialized degree with years of job experience, because we don’t have lots of cash to invest in a business, because we don’t have space, etc. etc.  But this IS a way of earning some extra money that works, if we are willing to put the work into it. You can put a small amount of time and work into it if you need supplemental things like money for music lessons, for extra gas for a vacation, to pay off a credit card…. or you can start seriously investing resources like your time (skip Pinterest and FB for a while!) and provide major extra income help if the economy is taking a serious hit on your family’s income.

Like I said: I’ll share more specific tips and ideas next week. ‘Til then, I thought I’d leave you with this link to a blog by Suzanne Wells. Her site is a rich resource of information (presented in a completely encouraging way, which I appreciate) about selling on eBay. It’s been a major help to me.

(by the way, I plan on using a smart phone soon, but the $300+ in sales I’ve had on eBay since January were done entirely without one 🙂

1) Do you sell on eBay? I’d love to hear about it!

2) If you’re contemplating selling online, what questions do you have? I’ll try and address them next week. 

3) Finally: what good thrift shop items have you found in the last week? Please use our linky to share them ~ I love seeing what other people find? 


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  1. Hannah Elise
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Well, first off, I’m curious about the time you spend thrift shopping. Do you take advantage of the times Strider is home to go thrifting without the little ones? As a mama of an infant and a toddler, I’m curious about how you manage if you DO take them with you, especially since once of your little has some special needs (our toddler is being evaluated at the end of the week for some speech delay and sensory issues, the latter of which can make getting errands done quite an adventure).

    Also, what’s your usual “radius” when it comes to thrift store shopping? We only have two “main” thrift stores closer than about forty minutes (in good weather), with a third, smaller church-run one that I’ve only managed to get into -once- because they have such obscure hours that they’re not usually open during the times that I am actually in town. We typically go into town once every two weeks – to pick up my hubby’s paycheck, deposit it, and do whatever grocery shopping needs to be done in that town. I guess I’m just curious as to how far you range (our “child-safe” vehicle only gets 15mpg highway… we are too scared to calculate town mileage!), and how often you go, to make it worthwhile enough that you actually find plenty of things to sell?

    I’m sorry if those weren’t quite the most straightforward questions, but they’re what came to mind. 😉

  2. TheHeadGirl
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Love these questions, Hannah! And I prefer less straightforward ones… helps give me an excuse for my rambling. 😉

  3. Paula
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I’ve made some decent cash just selling off my extra shoes and bags (had a spending problem for awhile). I’ve found a few things that sold well on ebay like Coach items. I try to only purchase items that I like and can use in case they don’t sell. I also sold off some homeschool curriculum that I wasn’t using anymore. I’d like to know more about antique items that I could be looking out for.

  4. Ashley
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Wow! Now I’m inspired! I always love shopping our local thrift stores, but never really considered finding things to sell online.
    My question would be, what type of thrift stores do you find these types of items that have good resale value? My favorite local spot (St. Vincent DePaul) keeps items that the staffers know are more valuable in glass cases near the checkout lanes and those items are priced accordingly. There still might be room to make a profit, but not as much as you are getting in your examples.
    I’m sure it takes some practice to learn what could be resold and what couldn’t. I might need to explore some other shops to find ones that aren’t quite as “picked over.”

  5. Mother Lydia
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t found anything quite so valuable. But I picked up a gorgeous children’s atlas last night for $2.49.

  6. Amy B.
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    My husband and I have been selling on Ebay for several years now. It has become a full time business for us on top of my husband’s regular job…he is a pastor and a writer/producer of a children’s audio drama. It has been a huge blessing for our family of eleven! We homeschool and this has been a great learning tool for our children. Our oldest daughter has worked right along side of us and used her earnings to go to Bible school…debt free! Our other children help out as well, by doing anything from cleaning items to listing to photography or babysitting so Mama can work. We sell anything you can think of…sewing machines, vintage toys, electronics, clothes, you name it! We are starting to specialize into auto parts. My husband and boys will take a junked car apart (another great learning experience) and we sell it piece by piece. My favorite sale was selling a Singer Featherweight sewing machine that we purchased for $18 at a thrift store for $725. That was the one that got me hooked! Thanks for your post and blessings on your thrifting and sales!

    • Nina
      Posted February 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Pay? For Bible school?

      Where I come from Bible school is free. And fun!

      • Headmistress, zookeeper
        Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        I think you misunderstood. Bible college is probably more accurate.

  7. Posted March 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I used to browse the charity shops and sell on-line, but with more children and life getting generally busier I found I no longer had the time to make it worthwhile. However, a few of us run an e-bay shop for our church. Especially as busy mums with not a lot of spare cash to donate, it is an effective way to volunteer our time. One trip to the Post Office with a screaming toddler is much easier than trying to visit three or four charity shops! We often have people donating random things to the church which can be sold on-line. And, sadly, when parishioners die, they often leave the contents of their houses to the church. We have sold items such as antique cane-handled golf clubs, Chinese jade jewellery, stamp albums, and a truly hideous collection of pearlised porcelain unicorns. It brings in a small, but steady quarterly income for the church, and is also a constructive way of using both our time, and the more bizarre donations!

  8. Posted March 13, 2013 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    I used to sell Playmobil on eBay. However, as listing fees and postage went up, it became less and less worth my time. I can only assume that neither of those factors has gone down, which makes me hesitant to start again.

  9. Kristin H.
    Posted March 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I love your family blog, but I can’t say I’m 100% on board with this “resell thrift goods” trend. I have a close friend who scours thrift shops for antiques and has made herself a lucrative online resale business (she resells on Etsy). She has to watch her profits though…for tax purposes. I suppose if you’re really broke, it’s better than other ways of making money. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but it seems like a rotten thing to do to the Goodwill’s and Salvation Army’s of the world. It’s no different than the antique dealers who prey on block sales looking for housewives eager to give away grandma’s best crystal for pennies on the dollar. $40 profit for used curlers is unthinkable! Those who engage in this kind of “at-home” business should consider giving some of those profits back to those organizations.

    • TheHeadGirl
      Posted March 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      I do keep track of profits for tax purposes and was going to mention that in a future post. Thanks for the note on that. 🙂

      And I will try to give your concern a full response now and include it in a longer post later. Short version: I’m not sure why $40 is unthinkable for used curlers (please note, too: it was not a $40 profit. I paid for the shipping, which was not cheap, and there are eBay and PayPal fees to be paid)… someone in another state wanted those curlers very badly and couldn’t find them where they lived. Am I supposed to send the curlers for free? Not sell them at all? Leave them without the curlers? How much of a profit *is* too much? Where do we draw the line? Is it wrong to buy books at library booksales to resell on Amazon? Is it wrong to buy children’s toys at a yard sale and take them to a children’s consignment store? Is it wrong to buy ingredients at a grocery store, where profit margins are very tight, and bake cookies to sell for a profit?

      I don’t think it’s a rotten thing to do to the thrift shops either. Goodwill’s stated purpose is “to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.” By spending my money there, I am helping with that. They do not have the resources to track down every valuable item and place it in an international marketplace (although they do also sell online). One decades old magazine I sold to someone in Ireland (for $10) ~ our Goodwill couldn’t reach that person. That book may have ended up in the trash if no one in my town wanted it… Goodwill could have lost a sale on it, and several other things I’ve purchased.

      I do additional work that the Goodwill staff do not have time for. Along with the research, I spend quite a bit of time cleaning and organizing my finds. That bag of toy food I posted about? There were about ten other pieces in there… some of them were worthless and I just threw them away, some I kept for my kids to play with, some I kept as a gift for others… no one at Goodwill has time to do that work for everything that comes through their doors. Another stuffed animal I got required lots of cleaning before he was worth what I sold him for. Is my research and work time useless?

      As for giving back, I definitely appreciate the added ability to share financially with others because of my earnings. I have had money to help in several situations recently that I wouldn’t have had before. I don’t donate financially to GW and SA, just because I know of better places to do it, but I frequently donate items to them. And I plan to continue buying 90% of my household goods from them too. 🙂

      whew. I guess that was not such a short response… I hope it helped share my position a bit more!

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted March 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      I think you misunderstand what Goodwill and Salvation Army are all about. It’s not a rotten thing to do to them at all. They set their prices and they like it when consumers buy from them. Some thrift shops choose to do resale over the internet themselves. Others prefer to essentially remain as ‘wholesalers.’ And I would really like to know what your standard is for determining that a forty dollar profit is ‘unthinkable.’ (not that there was actually a forty dollar profit, mind you).

      I’d also like to suggest this post:

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