When my husband finished law school, we put our house on the market and thankfully sold it quickly. We sold most of our furniture and large items to cut down on moving costs and storage costs. The best part was that we turned a profit on every piece of furniture, every household item and every toy that we sold. Essentially, we not only furnished a portion of our house for free, but made money in the process!
First I want to share with you some of my secrets to success for coming out ahead when buying used. Then, I’ll share several tips to help you get started buying used to resell. I would love to hear your ideas and success stories in the comments!
3 Keys to Making a Profit Selling Your Stuff:
Buy almost everything used
Just like a car loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot, most household items also lose value when they are no longer new, though many household items hold their value better than cars. Let someone else take the loss associated with buying new. You will save (and earn!) so much by being willing to buy used instead of new.
We all have our own personal preferences about things we won’t buy used and that’s fine. As an example, I’m a little squeamish about used mattresses. Other than those preferences, most of your other home furnishings can be purchased used. You may have to wait a little longer to find exactly what you’re looking for, but it will be worth it. Some of the best interior designers I know follow this rule and maintain a unique and classy look and feel to their homes.
Don’t base your resale price on the price you paid
Many people think that when you resell items that you have used you should sell them for less than you bought them. That is generally true when you’re talking about things that you bought new and then want to resell after you’ve used them. That rule of thumb does not carry over to items you bought used, then want to resell.
Base your price should on the market value of the item, not what you paid (whether it was a lot or a little). In order to know the market, you’ll have to do some research before you list your stuff for sale.
The profit comes at the purchase, not the sale
I love hunting for a good bargain, especially at yard sales, estate sales, and thrift stores. When I’m looking for something specific, I scour Craigslist and local buy-sell-trade groups on Facebook in addition to looking at thrift stores and yard sales, until I find the best deal.
My rule for buying used is to only buy things that I know I can resell for a profit. That means I have to know that what I’m buying is a great price and know the potential mark-up either now or in the future.
Getting Started Selling Your Stuff
Are you ready to start buying used with the intent to eventually (or immediately) resell? Whether you’re going to sell online or sell locally, here are some tips for beginners:
Focus on only a few niches
You can’t be an expert in every area. Start with things you are interested in and already know about. Maybe that’s tools, electronics, furniture, or kids stuff. Gradually build your expertise as the need arises or interest piques.
My expertise grew as our needs and wants grew. I started with furniture and specific household items. Then naturally added in kids stuff. When we started cloth diapering, I became an expert in cloth diapers. Did you know there is a resale market for cloth diapers?
Know price ranges for your niches
Learn what prices are a steal and will sell fast. This is when you want to buy. Learn what a fair price is that will sell to an interested buyer. This is the price range you will sell your item at. It may take a week or two to sell, but that’s okay.
When we needed a table, I learned about the market for tables. In fact, I found several great tables that were priced really low and bought them all! For a while we had several kitchen tables in our garage. I was fine with that because I knew that I could easily resell each one for more than I bought it for. We picked the one we liked best and sold the others for a profit, more than paying for the one we kept, because I had learned what price the market would sustain when it came to used dining tables.
In many niches, knowing brands is essential. What gives the item value is the reputation of the brand. If people are hesitant to buy used, having a name brand often assures them that they are purchasing quality and not getting scammed.
When we were shopping for a jogging strollers, I learned all about them and learned that the name brand strollers held their value better. I waited until I found a name brand jogging stroller for a good price on Craigslist. Two years later, when I needed to upgrade to a double jogger, I sold the single jogger for twice what I paid for it.
Inspect items carefully
Inspect potential purchases well before buying so that when you are ready to resell you know that the items are in great condition. Any decent seller gives a full disclosure about the items they sell. There’s nothing more disappointing that realizing that your “great find” is somehow terribly flawed and not really worth anything.
We had so much success selling our used items, that I started buying things that I didn’t need myself, but that I knew I could sell for a profit. There are people who have entire businesses based on that concept (think ebay sellers).
What about you?
- Have you sold used things for profit? What tips do you have? If not, why not?
- Do you look specifically for items to resell when you are shopping at thrift stores or garage sales?
- What was your best find?
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