June 04, 2021 Make Extra Money Browsing Flea Markets, Thrift Stores, & Yard Sales
Flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales can be a great way to make extra money. Ahhh, so many awesome flipping finds can be found in these three places. Besides my favorite local selling apps, these are three places I’ve added to my routine to increase my flipping inventory.
If you are not a flipper, you may be viewing flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales in a whole different way. Maybe they are considered to be places to spend a little money getting items at a discount that you can use for yourself.
But what if you shifted your focus for a minute to being a flipper to make extra money?
What if you went to flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales being a little more intentional with the idea that you could make some extra money?
Believe me, there is money to be made from all three of these places! We have literally made a full-time income by adding in these three sourcing opportunities to our routine and it has really paid off!
And you can do it too!
With a name like “Flea Market Flipper,” you can probably guess that flea markets are one of my favorite places to source amazing items to sell!
I get an extra skip in my step on Saturday mornings when I am going to the flea market! It’s exciting. There are so many opportunities to find great items to source to make extra money. Many times I find great stuff, while other times I may strike out and not bring anything home.
It definitely doesn’t deter me! I know sometimes I will win some and make extra money, and sometimes I’ll come home empty handed . But if I remain consistent and continue to show up week after week, I will get some great items to resell.
The great thing about flea markets is its one stop shopping to make extra money
These vendors a lot of times will purchase storage units from auctions and then bring the items to the flea market to sell.
When I come to the flea market, they have already done a lot of work for me. They’ve found the storage unit and purchased it, and now instead of purchasing the whole unit, I can go through all of the items and find the items that will bring me a profit.
I can take a couple hours of my Saturday morning and source some high dollar flips
At flea markets you can choose from vendors with small items that have great value all the way up to larger, more profitable items that could be freight shipped.
My whole goal is to source undervalued items that I can purchase locally and resell on a larger platform like eBay to make extra money.
The downside for those at the flea market who sell is that they have a limited market. They know there is only so much that they can get for the item because there isn’t a large market for their items.
But here’s what is great for me
I can buy these items locally, often for hundreds to thousands less than they are worth. Then I list them on eBay with 182 million registered users and I can ask top dollar for the item and I usually can get it!
Tips to Get the Most for Your Money at Flea Markets
- Learn to walk away
- Learn to negotiate
- Decide what you will spend before negotiating
The Art of Walking Way
Walking away is something we all have to learn if we can to make a living flipping items. I always say the money is in the buy. If we pay too much or we force the deal, it won’t end well for us when we go to flip it.
In my early years of flipping, I had a hard time with this. In the beginning, I would have a mentality that deals were scarce and I had to jump on every deal – even forcing some deals to close by paying too much.
This would either make it impossible for me to sell the item because I would have to price it too high to make it worth my while. Or I wouldn’t be able to get enough out of it and sell it just breaking in or making just a little profit.
Those aren’t the deals we are looking for.
My goal is to make 10X my investment and in doing so, I will need to walk away from some deals.
When negotiating at the flea market, I have in mind how much I want to pay for the item. Most of the time I will offer lower than that. Sometimes I can get a great deal if they are trying to offload the item. If I can’t make a deal right there, I will have room for negotiations.
No matter what, if it isn’t going my way and I can’t make a decent profit that is worth my time, I walk away. Yes, I look to make extra money, but after almost a quarter century of flipping, I can walk away now — EASILY!
I know now that deals are everywhere and if I have to walk away from a deal or two because they aren’t going my way, it’s ok. Because right around the corner there are tons of other deals waiting for me.
Learn the art of walking away. It will save you time and energy and frustration later.
Learning to negotiate in order to make extra money
Negotiation is crucial in this business. I know for a lot of my course members, there can be some hard lessons to learn in negotiation.
First and foremost, don’t feel bad about making an offer and having them not accept it. It’s ok. You know your bottom line and you know what you can spend on it. It never hurts to make an offer.
You never know what’s going on in the mind of the seller. They could be thinking, “Gosh, I would like to just give this thing away because I don’t want it anymore.” I always recommend just making an offer and not feeling bad if they can’t make the deal.
I’ve even made an offer that they refused and walked away from the deal – only to have them chase me down and make the deal with me at the price I offered.
There is definitely an art and a learning curve when it comes to negotiation. Never be afraid to make offers. If you are pleasant and respectful, there should be nothing uncomfortable about making offers on items even if they can’t take your offer.
Deciding What You Can Spend BEFORE You Make An Offer
Knowing how much you want to spend is crucial to not paying too much for the item.
When I find something at the flea market, I usually walk away and do my research before I go back and talk about price. I look up the item using eBay or google and I find out how much it is selling for or how much it is retail. Researching to find out a little bit about the item before I go back and try to negotiate gives me the knowledge I need to make a good decision.
This way I can calculate in my head how much I can sell it for, minus any fees I would pay and shipping, and this will really give me the advantage when it comes to making offers.
This puts me in the driver’s seat and helps me to be at the top of my game when it comes to negotiation. That way I will never (almost never) pay too much for an item and I will have a great experience when I go and try to flip the item.
Do not get attached to the item
I have a really good idea what I can pay for the item in order for me to get a great return on my investment and I am prepared with all of that information before I make the offer on the item.
Doing your homework before an offer comes out of your mouth is crucial and it is necessary to do before you negotiate the deal. This will keep you from making poor purchases that will not be worth your time to fip.
Over the past few years, we have added thrift stores into our normal routine for finding great deals to flip.
It seems like everywhere you go there are thrift stores popping up on every corner. We have a routine of thrift stores that we frequent often. Our favorites are Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity, and of course we have a couple local stores too.
Thrift stores have huge varieties of items to ship from larger, more expensive items to smaller items. People donate their unused items to them and in turn, the thrift stores sell them to make a profit to support their mission.
Thrift stores are a great deal for everyone
We all want to make extra money. People do not have to throw their items away, and they can make a tax-deductible donation. In turn, they can resell the items at a deep discount. This is perfect for people like me who want to flip some amazing items and make extra money.
Our top picks from thrift stores are:
- Double Strollers
- Sporting goods
- Commercial exercise equipment
- Small appliances
- Brand name shoes
We have literally made hundreds of dollars by making brief stops at thrift stores before we head to the flea market or just adding it into our routine.
I think when we think of thrift stores, we think of aisles full of junk that isn’t worth anything. But there are a lot of really valuable items that you can pick up for not a lot of money.
One of our course members has a routine of three thrift stores that she stops at. She recently stopped at a Goodwill and picked up a commercial Lifecycle exercise bike for $10! These exercise bikes retail for over $1500. She flipped it locally within a couple of weeks for $440!
Not a bad return on a $10 investment.
Melissa and I had no idea how much baby stuff was worth until we had our own kids. We started seeing double strollers all over the place and some of them retailed for hundreds of dollars! For our own use, we got several high-end strollers to use for our own kids and when we were done with them, we flipped them and got our money back!
We have purchased Bob, Uppababy, City Select, and many more high end strollers from thrift stores that really hold their value. Then, we take them home for a few bucks, clean them up, and often can make hundreds of dollars by selling them both locally and on eBay.
Small appliances are another really popular item to flip from thrift stores
Everyone wants the latest and greatest small appliance, but then quickly realize they can take up a lot of space on their countertops for the few times they use the appliance.
You know what that means? It ends up at the local thrift store when they get sick of it on their counter. Thrift stores tend to price these very low and you can end up with a high end small appliance almost brand new for just a few bucks.
We’ve had our course members find rotisseries and small convection ovens they pick up for pennies on the dollar and turn around and sell them for $150-$200.
The options are endless to make extra money
You will have plenty of items to pick from thrift stores that are valuable, are great flips and will help you make extra money.
Make a list of thrift stores in your area and make a routine of stopping by to take a look whenever you get the chance.
One of our course members makes a game out of it. She stops for 15 minutes every day on the way to pick up her daughter from school. She’s making great use of her time and will often come out with items worth several hundred dollars in just 15 minutes invested!
Thrift stores are everywhere and they are full of great items to flip if you take the time to look.
Tips to Get the Most for Your Money at Thrift Stores
- Negotiate the price – thrift stores get the items donated so they don’t have a personal attachment to the item.
- Get to know the staff
- Visit thrift stores regularly – they have a constant flow of new inventory
Did you know you can negotiate the price at thrift stores? Most people think because the item has a tag on it that that’s the end of the story.
But wait a minute. These thrift stores get the items for free! They don’t have any personal attachment to them. Not only that, they get boxes and boxes of new inventory every single day so they are very motivated to move inventory and not pay to store it.
When I’m thrifting, I will often look over the items and find something maybe missing from the item or the condition is not top of the line. I will then call a manager and bring to their attention the problem with the item and ask if there is any way that they can take a little bit off the price.
You’d be surprised how many times they say yes. This just adds to my profit margin and it never hurts to ask. Often, managers are motivated and interested in selling items to get their money out of it so they can move in the next batch of inventory.
Always ask for a discount or lower price.
Getting to know the staff
At your local thrift store will definitely pay off! We are regulars at several thrift stores and just by being friendly with the staff members and managers, we are able to get better discounts.
By being regulars and always being friendly, the managers already know the kind of items we tend to look for. If they find it before they put it on the shelf, they may even shoot us a message with a photo to let them know new inventory has arrived that we may be interested in.
One of our shoe flippers in our course members group who know the thrift store staff well. The staff will contact them when they have shoes they know they are looking for. They will actually hold the shoes for him in the back until he comes to get them!
This means more money in his pocket and he doesn’t even have to do the searching!
He has picked up thousands of dollars worth of shoes to sell just because he has made relationships with his local thrift stores and I highly recommend you do the same!
Don’t be afraid to tell them what you are looking for and be super friendly to them and communicate with them often. When you go into the store, be sure and find them and make yourself known.
Making friends with the thrift store staff will pay big dividends
Every day, they add new inventory to the shelves and you don’t want to miss out.
Being consistent in this business is important. The more often the staff sees you in their store, the more they get to know you and the more they are willing to communicate with you when they find what you are looking for.
Make it a point to stop by your favorite thrift stores and stop by often. It will definitely pay off in your flipping sales.
Ok, I will admit it, yard sales are not my favorite. That’s Melissa’s gig! But they are still a great way to pick up some amazing things to flip.
With the housing market in high gear and people selling their homes within hours of listing, you can imagine how many yard sales there are popping up every weekend.
People are trying to quickly downsize so they can move less stuff
You can find anything from clothes, to furniture, to appliances, to exercise equipment. People are getting rid of some valuable items at a deep discount. They are oftentimes motivated to negotiate just to downsize their move.
You name it, you can find it at yard sales. The great thing about yard sales is they will have super low prices and people are usually willing to negotiate. No one wants to sit out in the hot sun all day and not sell their stuff.
That’s the whole idea. Downsize and get rid of unwanted clutter that’s been lying around for months and sometimes years! They’d rather get a little money out of it before they donate the rest to their local thrift stores.
People are having yard sales for one purpose
The people that have yard sales are trying to get rid of their stuff and usually it’s to make it go away fast!
That’s good for us, right?
Even though they are not my favorite, I find myself tagging along with Melissa and I will often find some really great things to sell.
There are even some apps that you can download on your phone that will map out your yard sales for you. The app will pick up all of the yard sale advertisements.
Tips to Get the Most for Your Money at Yard Sales:
- Look for people who need to clear out stuff fast
- Stop at the end of the sale
- Ask for certain items even if they don’t have them out
When you are at yard sales, talk to people and find out if they are motivated to get rid of their stuff! Find out why they are having a yard sale. The more information you can get from them, the better position you are in for negotiation.
If you constantly hear the sellers tell you what the item is going for on eBay, walk away! It’s ok, not every yard sale will be for you. You aren’t looking to buy at eBay prices. You want yard sale prices!
It’s ok to walk away and move on to the next yard sale
But if you find out they are moving next weekend and they are taking offers, then hey, you may have hit the jackpot! Take some time to look at the items they have. The sellers are motivated because they are moving and wanting to lessen the move. It’s a great time to practice your negotiating skills if you find a few items you can flip.
Pay attention and listen to them talk to other people. If you hear them say everything is negotiable, you have yourself a great yard sale to shop at!
You know what the best time to go to a yardsale? At the end of it! The sellers have been at it all morning and now it’s 2 o’clock and they don’t want to load up anything to take to Goodwill.
In fact, they are extremely motivated! Often they will be offering things at 50% off or just giving them away. It’s a perfect time to go and take a look at what they have.
You are helping them save a trip to the local thrift store! Don’t worry about missing out by going at the end of the sale. I’ve gotten some of my best, most valuable flips at the end of someone’s yard sale!
Here is a trick I’ve learned over the years
There are certain items I sell a lot of and often. They are my go-to sales. I know I can find them and know I can do well with them when they sell.
So when I go to yard sales I will ask specifically for certain items even if I don’t see them out for sale..You’d be surprised how asking can bring to memory that valuable cooktop that is sitting in their laundry room or a Nordic track that’s been stored under their bed for five years that they forgot about.
I’ve gotten some amazing items to flip that were not even out for sale. But because I have a list of popular high dollar items in my head, I just ask to see if they might be available.
Asking is a great habit to get into. You will be amazed at what the sellers end up finding for you!
The sky’s the limit when it comes to making money at flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales. They are everywhere and there are limitless flipping opportunities at each one.
Have you been focusing on stopping at these three places to help you make extra money?
If you haven’t been, you definitely need to add them to your weekly routine because there is money to be made and the options are limitless!
Are you thinking about flipping, but haven’t taken the plunge to sell your first item? Check out our FREE intro workshop to see if flipping may be for you!