Thrifting items to resell has been such a great source of income to supplement my career. In the first 4 months of doing it I made around $3,000.
Even if you aren’t planning on reselling items these tips will definitely help you snag some great items from the thrift!
Succeeding when thrifting is about knowing what to look for. I remember the first time I went sourcing I was so afraid of investing money into my business and losing it. Thats why I recommend you start out small with your COG (cost of goods).
15 Thrifting Pro Tips
1. Keep Cost of Goods Below $10
I’m not saying to do this forever but starting out, keep your costs low. One of the first items I bought to resell was a $17 Free People top that took me 9 months to sell. It is all about knowing what to “spend up” for and being confident in your purchases.
Chances are starting you, will not have that knowledge yet. Which is fine! It will come with time.
2. Shoe Department First
Shoes are what I see the highest ROI (return on investment). Shoes are generally donated with a lot of life left. They only need a little love to bring back their glory.
Shoes also sell for a higher price than most articles of clothing like tank tops or basic articles of clothing.
For tips on how to clean up shoes check out my other post!
3. Stick to Other Money Making Departments
These money making departments include Coats, Dresses, and Handbags. Some others may say denim but those have never sold well for me and require a lot of work to list.
These items are typically more intricate which lead to them selling for higher amounts. This makes it more worth your time to list, measure, photograph and ship.
4. Find Designer or BOLO Brands
Now having the luxury to do this is completely dependent on the area you live in. But if you are able to, picking up popular brands will help you tremendously.
Think about your time. Do you want to spend an hour listing 5 Wal Mart tops to earn you $30 or list one Anthropologie dress for 5 minutes and earn the same amount.
Check out my list of BOLO Brands to resell HERE
5. Don't Be Afraid of the Home Department
Buying home items second-hand is becoming more mainstream. People used to be hesitant to do so but there are so many interesting pieces to pick up that will strike interest in customers. Also, know what platform to list your items on. Vintage items on Ebay and Boho Chic on Poshmark. For more information on what platform to use, check out my other post HERE
One tip I can give you is to get items that are unique or are fan favorites. Buy things that won’t be available anywhere else because they are either sold out or they are one of a kind!
6. Look for Wicker in the Home Department
Wicker is very hot in the Boho market right now. Baskets, plate inserts, placemats, anything wicker! It will sell and it is generally pretty lightweight so shipping will be cheap if you are selling on Ebay or Mercari!
7. Check out Racks by the Dressing Room
These items were already popular enough for someone to try on so they probably have potential for reselling.
A lot of people at the thrift store are shopping for themselves. Which means that the items that they put back are not duds but could have simply not fit them!
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Check Out New Racks
I know it may seem like you are being rude to the staff by doing so, but this is where a lot of the good items are. No one else has had a chance to look over them!
I have also asked employees if they care that I am looking and they have said they are happy because it is less items that they have to sort through and put on the right rack!
9. Find Out the Sale Days
It is different at every store and for every region but I’ll let you know what information I have for Seattle. Goodwill generally put out most of their new items on Monday and mark down a certain color to $1.79 that day. Throughout the week that same tag color has decreased in size and this is the lowest they will go before it is off to the outlets.
Goodwill also does 50% off everything on Black Friday including their ‘Fashion Focus’ section which does not go on sale any other time of the year.
A tip for learning this is just googling bigger and smaller thrift stores or subscribing to email or text alerts!
10. Avoid the Weekends
Thrift stores are always busy on the weekends. It is the time when most people have off! You will lose out on deals by going then because competition will be tough. If you work a 9-5 try and go during lunch breaks while they are still bringing out new items during the day!
11. Thrift in more Affluent Areas
Affluent areas= wealthier people not caring about getting money for their expensive items and instead donating them.
It makes sense, they probably just want to get rid of the item and are not strapped for cash to the point where they want to sell it themselves.
12. Source Clothes in the Off-Season
People are less likely to buy these items in the off season. This means less competition for you and a higher likelihood that they eventually get marked down.
13. Remember Time=Money; Limit Your Time in Each Store
Sometimes you may not be finding anything good. I know I say to myself, “Oh I better check this department.”
Chances are if you did not find anything worth your while in the money making departments you will not find anything in general. Do not get in the habit of buying something to make it a ‘successful’ sourcing trip. Cut your losses and limit your trip to one store to about an hour.
14. Look out for Quality Materials
This one is important because it will save you time from checking every tag. People who go thrifting with me are always impressed at my ability to spot an item or feel for it and pull out an expensive dress.
This has just come with time and me knowing the difference between Polyester and Silk or Acrylic and Wool.
15. Get a 20% off Coupon when you Donate to Value Village (Savers)
I always have a few items to donate in my car for this reason. Just drop off a bag inside or donate in the back and they will give you a coupon.
Also note, you do not have to use it on that shopping trip. It is good for a while!