Thrifty Tuesday: Selling Online with Thrift Shop Finds, Pt. 2


Well. I was going to post about how eBay’s listing fees were some of the costs to initially consider, but then today they put out a rather big announcement ~ starting in May you can list 50 free Buy it Now listings in a month (more if you pay for a store subscription). This is a major change (one of several) and a positive one, I think.

There are two points from that link, though, that I’d like to mention:

1) DO take the time to poke around the rules and regulations of eBay before you start listing. I didn’t do that when I started re-listing in January and was completely shocked to discover that eBay now takes a cut out of whatever you charge for postage. That hurt my profits on a couple items because I hadn’t taken that charge into consideration.

2) Do *not* think of eBay as Auction Land only, anymore! I think there’s still a residual idea (one eBay is fighting, for good reason) that listings on eBay are only for people interested in bidding wars. This is no longer the case. People come to eBay as another market place, ready to spend their money instantly on an item if it’s the one they want. I think there are two factors for this: a) People are impatient and don’t want to wait 7-10 days to find out if they’ve won an item; they would rather guarantee their possession quickly and b) the internet is so much larger than it was several years ago. Chances are, your item is not the only one of its kind out there, so there’s no need to waste time bidding on it.

This was a huge step for me, but it has paid off dramatically. I list things for 30 days using BIN and sometimes they don’t sell ’til day 28, but they sell for a much higher price than they would have if I’d done an auction (when you’re on eBay, take a look at completed sold items and compare the BIN to the auctions. There’s a clear difference in price for most items ~ a price favoring the BIN route).

Another important point is to avoid a mistake many first time sellers make: do not try and undercut other sellers. This only drives prices down in the long run. Be confident in your product (which takes research) and match what other sellers have asked, and received, for the same item.

Again: for starting to find items that sell well, here are two recommendations:

1) visit the eBay Selling Coach blog and spend some time browsing there (caution: just noticed that one of the most recent posts has an image of magazine artwork that is, uhm, typical newsstand style). This blog is SO helpful for starting to figure out what to look for in thrift shops!

2) Look things up on eBay! Make sure you are looking at the completed, *sold* items.

~ ~

okay… now to most of the questions from last week’s post…

Hannah asked:

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?

Nine times out of ten, I go thrifting with both the children (14.5 months and 28 months). As to how do I do it: carefully, lol. I try to be aware of their needs and limitations. Right now this means I don’t spend a lot of time in the clothing aisles, because that’s as boring as can be for little people. I know I’m missing some good sale-worthy items that way, but it is stressful for all three of us to spend much time in the clothing racks. I DO spend a lot of time in the toy aisle, where there are many good finds to be had (sold a toy today for $55, me paying shipping, that I picked up for under $2). They play with toys, I dig through the racks. I also keep an eye on the clock and try to finish shopping within an hour. This often means I only get 3-4 sections of the store looked at, but I almost always find several good things to sell in that space of time.

For a long time, I was getting to a thrift shop once a week. We have three within 15 minutes of us (yes, a blessing) but we are a one car family with a crazy schedule and that’s what worked. I now occasionally make it to two in a week… one of the thrift shops is less than five minutes from our Aldi, so when I do our grocery shopping, I also do the thrift shop.

Honestly, I think I could go fewer times and still make it worthwhile. The more I learn, the easier it is to shop efficiently and find things that will sell. Last week I managed two outings and found close to two dozen itmes I think it will be worthwhile to list (ranging in online price from $10-$60, I think). This week I am skipping any thrifting at all and focusing on what we’ve got.

So, in your situation, if there was a way to work in some thrift shop time on the weeks you go to town for grocery shopping, that could be very worthwhile.  The sensory issues could be difficult, though, I understand, and I have no experience from which to offer advice there. :-/

Ashley asked:

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.”

Most of my things have come from Goodwills, as they are about the only thrift shop options in our town right now (supposedly we are getting a Salvation Army soon and there’s a small charity run one in town too, but they are in a really inconvenient location for me).

I’m going to answer this question assuming you live in a mid-size town like I do….if you live in a big metropolis (think the San Franciso bay area or something like that), I think the answer could potentially be different. The Goodwills here also put things that the staffers know are more valuable in glass classes and they’ve also got higher prices. The thing is, it is nearly impossible for them to know everything that is truly valuable in the online world. Don’t assume that that’s where the only valuable things are; most of the time there are many, many more treasures to be had in the normal parts of the store.  Since eBay is a global market place and the thrift shop only has a local presence, there are bound to be things for lower prices that will still make you money.  Do the online research (again, the eBay Selling coach blog), poke around on eBay, and then poke around some more in your thrift shop. It will look totally different to you at that point. 🙂

~ ~
More next week, including answering more questions!
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One Comment

  1. Kara W.
    Posted March 25, 2013 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    Hi there. My question is this: How do you know what to look for? How do you know what sells? Did you peruse Ebay first? I find what you’re doing interesting and useful. I also see it as a potential source of income for me, as we are about to take a several-hundered-dollar a month reduction in pay (it’s a good thing–hubs is finally coming home), but frankly, I don’t know where to begin.

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