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Make money by flipping stuff from garage sales

A woman buys something at a yard sales.

The next time you find yourself passing by a neighborhood garage sale sign, you may want to slow down. Garage sales are the ultimate gold mine for finding inexpensive items that you can flip and make money from. As the old adage goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

But, before you spend your Saturday morning flipping through piles of used items, you will need to have a strategy. After all, the goal is to find items to flip and not to hoard.

The key to making money by flipping stuff from garage sales is to find the right items at the right price. Not sure what to look for? I’ll share exactly what you need to do.

Know what’s trending

Before you go shopping for items to flip, it’s a good idea to know what will actually sell. There’s no point in buying something if you don’t have a good chance of being able to resell it later.

To avoid buying items that’ll end up in your own junk pile, do a bit of research on what’s trending.

Etsy is a great place to start when considering craft, decor, or vintage items.

When you visit the site and click within the search bar, you can see what items are popular at the moment. This will give you great insight into what’s being searched by millions of customers around the world.

Make note of the popular items so that you can keep an eye out for them at the next garage sale.

You can even go a step further to see how much these items are selling for. This will give you a gauge of the max amount that you should spend on an item in order to make a profit.

For things like household appliances and even clothes, you should search eBay. The platform provides a list of trending items each day.

Value shop

The whole point of shopping at garage sales is to find valuable items at a low cost. Your ultimate strategy should be to look for items that are worth more than they’re priced for. It’s the epitome of buying low to sell high.

You should have an idea of an item’s true value after doing your research. However, if something catches your eye in the moment, just do a quick Google search to see what the current selling price is.

eBay also has a great What’s It Worth feature that allows you to see what price items are selling for on their platform and the sales trend over time.

For example, I typed in “blender” and was able to see the average price that a blender is being sold for, both new and used. I can also see the sales trend of the item to know if its declining or picking up. There are also sites that give a monthly recap of what’s selling on eBay based on their own experience.

Many times the sellers at garage sales just want to get rid of items and may price them well below the market value. Take advantage of this and even consider negotiating for a lower price.

How to Recognize a Good Deal

Blogger Nathan Clarke’s criteria for choosing what to buy is simple. Overall, he has to at least double in profit what he paid for the item. Generally, he sells items for 10 times what he paid for it.

For example, he bought a World of Sid & Marty Kroft patch for just $1.83 and eventually sold it for $60! This item obviously met his criteria and was a profitable flip.

A good deal would be finding an item that’s priced at $5, but is currently being resold for $25. Contrarily, a bad deal would be an item that’s priced at $50, but is only being sold for $75 online.

Know your skills

Sure, you could probably stand to make thousands of dollars flipping older furniture or vintage items, but do you have the skills to restore them?

As with anything, time is money. When you’re flipping, you want to find items that will require minimum work in terms of time and money.

If you’re going to have to spend hours on YouTube learning how to actually fix something to flip, then it may not be worth the buy.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t spend time honing your skills. You absolutely should! However, if the intent is to be able to quickly make money from flipping, start with items that require little to no work and can immediately be put back up for sale.

Find a platform to resell your items

I’ve already mentioned two platforms that you can use to sell your newfound treasures.

Both Etsy and eBay are established marketplaces that will allow you to get your items to people around the world. These generally seem to be the most popular places to sell flipped items.

You can learn how to set up an Etsy shop from scratch here.

Facebook Marketplace and antique malls are also options for reselling your finds.

It’s important that consider what you plan on selling when choosing where you’ll list your items.

For instance, if flipping furniture is your niche, selling online may not be the best option. In this case, shipping can get very expensive and become a hassle, even if the customer is paying for it.

It may be more advantageous to sell bigger, bulkier items at trade shows or even your local flea market.

Pricing your items to sell

When pricing your items, there are a few things that you should consider.

  • How much you paid for it
  • What it’s currently being sold for by competitors
  • Flipping costs (cleaning, repairing, etc.)
  • Listing and selling costs (ex. Transaction & shipping fees)

Ultimately, your price shouldn’t be too low that you don’t make a profit or too high that you don’t make a sale.

Another option when it comes to pricing is taking the best offer made by a potential customer.

Much like you may have negotiated at the garage sale, potential customers may want to negotiate with you as well.

eBay allows you to put your items up for bid and take the best offer. If you’re selling in person or on Facebook Marketplace, you can negotiate with potential customers individually.

Pro Tips for Flipping Items from Garage Sales

Things to Avoid Buying

Avoid items that are selling for $10 or less. The only exception is if you’re able to get the item for free. Ultimately, $10 isn’t worth the hassle of prepping the items, listing it, and shipping to a customer.

You should also avoid high-end designer items. Designer items are often replicated and will require authentication, which can be time-consuming. Avoid the hassle altogether by not purchasing these items to flip.

Make your items attractive

Whether selling online or in person, appearance is important. You want to make sure that your items are well polished and presentable for potential customers.

If you’re going to sell online, it’s important that you take good photos of the items that you’re selling. Make sure the photo portrays the item in the best, most accurate light.

Take photos at various angles so that customers know exactly what they’re buying.

Ready to give garage sales a try?

Remember that everything comes with trial and error, but it all starts with trying. If you’re looking for a creative way to make extra money, make plans to stop by the next garage sale that you see.

Don’t forget to do your research ahead of time so that you’ll know what to look for. Make a smart purchase and begin flipping!

–By Fo Alexander

SmartCents Mom