One of the best ways to start making money on the side is flipping used items that you find at garage sales, thrift stores, auctions, or online marketplaces.
There is no barrier to entry other than being willing to spend your own time and you can make a lot of money once you get good at finding deals.
It’s also incredibly fun.
Going to yard sales and auctions looking for potential flips can feel a lot like a treasure hunt, and it’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning.
This post is going to be an introduction to used item flipping for beginners in the form of a list of FAQs.
How much money can you make from flipping?
This depends on a lot of factors, but I know people who make a full-time living (and then some) doing nothing but flipping used items.
It’s not impossible to make $100,000 or more, especially if you are doing it full time (and combine it with retail arbitrage, which is mainly flipping new stuff on Amazon).
When you first get started, you will obviously not be making anywhere close to that amount. How quickly you make money depends on things like the amount of time you have, the amount of money you can spend, and luck.
I had one of my team members who had no experience buying and selling stuff take on the flipping challenge I mentioned above. He has been posting weekly updates here on the site, and he was able to cross the $1000 threshold in under a month. You can read about that here.
How much money do I need to get started?
Any amount is enough, that’s what makes flipping such a great way to get started making money.
Here are some examples of things I’ve either personally flipped or seen someone else flip that cost $5 or less to buy and sold for $20 or more:
- Mario Kart N64 ($25)
- An old single speed bicycle ($80)
- A baby carrier ($35)
- Tires ($40)
- A window A/C ($30)
- Cast iron dutch oven ($40)
- Old Coke cans ($20)
- First edition of The Little Prince ($100)
I know money is a sticking point for many people, which is why I designed the Flipping Challenge with you starting with $0. You do this by selling 5 items you already own as the “seed” money for the rest of the challenge. The goal is to have $1000 by the end of the challenge, and to reinvest all of that into more flips and expanding your business.
So you don’t need anything to get started.
I can get started flipping for free? Does it actually work?
Yes, you really can get started for free. Money does not need to be an obstacle.
Like I said above, I recommend getting started by selling items you already own.
If you don’t want to sell things you already own or can’t for some reason, there are still ways to get started without any money. You’ll want to pay very close attention to the Craigslist Free section and move quickly as soon as you see something valuable.
Furniture is a great thing to look for if you have a truck. Many people put their old furniture up simply because they want it gone quickly and don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving it.
If you don’t have a truck, look for smaller items.
“Curb alerts” can be especially lucrative. These are when people decide to clean out a house or garage and just drag everything to their curb for people to take on a first-come basis. If you get to a curb alert first, you can leave with a very profitable haul.
In my experience, children’s toys are a regular find in curb alerts, and they are relatively easy to resell as well, especially if you clean them up a bit.
What are the best places to find used items to flip?
The best places to look for used items to flip are:
- Garage sales
- Estate sales
- Thrift stores
- Flea markets
- Facebook Marketplace
- Other apps if people use them in your area
What are the best places to sell used items?
In my experience, the best places to sell used items are:
- Facebook Marketplace
What are the best items to flip?
I wouldn’t get too caught up looking for a specific list of items when you get started. You can find profitable flips in just about any product category imaginable.
Some of the more popular categories you’ll hear people talk about are books, video games, electronics, tools, antiques, toys, and name brand fashion. Books and video games can often be found in big bins or piles for cheap because the sellers don’t know the value and don’t feel like going through it all.
Products related to your own hobbies are worth paying attention to as well because you will be more in tune with what things are worth.
How can I figure out what something is worth?
There’s no one best way to do this. You just have to look the item up online and try to find what it sells for.
This is an area where inexperienced flippers often run into trouble because they’ll convince themselves they have found a great deal because “it sells for $1000 new” or “it’s listed on eBay for $150 more than what these guys are asking”.
A high price when new doesn’t automatically correlate to a high used price as well. Some items depreciate very quickly because people greatly prefer to buy new for some reason.
High asking prices also don’t mean much if the item isn’t actually selling. One thing you can do to get a more accurate picture is view completed listings on eBay rather than current ones.
What if someone lowballs me?
Getting offers significantly below your asking price is just part of selling used items online. You will run into this on the majority of your listings on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
Often times these are other flippers trying to get a great deal.
If the offer is extremely low and not profitable, you should probably just tell them no. If they are near a price that you would like to get, you can negotiate a more favorable price.
If an item has been up for a very long time (several weeks or more) and all you are getting are what you think are lowball offers, it may be time to consider that you had overvalued the product to begin with.
How do I negotiate when buying?
The most basic way to negotiate is to simply offer a lower price. You can do this on almost all purchases. The only exceptions are when someone claims they are firm on price, but even then there is often a little bit of wiggle room.
A better negotiation tactic is bundling.
Instead of just saying “Will you take $20 for the bike?” when they were asking $35, you can say something like this…
“I like this bike over here, but I don’t think it’s worth quite that much. What do you think of $45 for both of the bikes and that box of video games?”
Bundling is great because it is a win-win scenario. You get more items for cheaper, and they get more money overall.
One thing to avoid is lying about having other options. This is a very transparent bargaining tactic that will make sellers not want to deal with you.
How do I negotiate when selling?
When selling, you will get a lot of offers below asking price.
Most of these offers are below what the potential buyers are willing to pay, so asking a higher price in return is a smart move.
On lower priced items, there usually isn’t enough room to do multiple rounds of offers. On items that are worth $100+, you can often go back and forth multiple times, so keep that in mind when making your first counter offer. You don’t want to start off too low and leave money on the table.
The longer an item sits, the more you should be willing to negotiate.
Get Started Today!
If you want to make more money and an online selling business is something that intrigues you, flipping is a fantastic way to get started. Like I said in the intro, there’s no barrier to entry and it’s actually a lot of fun too.
There’s really no excuse to not get started this week (or today even).
The entire arbitrage market (buying low and selling high) is a tremendous opportunity right now thanks to the internet, and I expect it to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below! Good luck!
19 thoughts on “Flipping 101: 10 FAQs About Flipping Used Items For Profit”
Thanks for the great tips. I have been selling items at consignment shops. Do you think it compares with online selling when comparing ease of selling? Would really value your opinion on this. Thank you.
Thanks for your comment.
I’ve never personally sold at consignment shops, but if it’s as easy as dropping off the items you want to sell and then you get paid when the item sells, then selling online is probably a bit more work.
The reason is that you have to ship your items either to the customer, or to Amazon’s warehouses if you use FBA. Using FBA is probably the closest you would get to the consignment shop selling.
The big benefit to selling online is that your audience can be the entire United States, or pretty much every country depending on your settings. This allows the ability to sell a much larger variety and volume of items.
If it were me, I’d test out selling a few items online and see how you think it compares.
Thanks for the guide! Really needed this as i am wanting to start a side job. Also been wanting to try this ever since my friend reccomended this to me, it seems really fun to do!
Hi. I’m currently in college and am about to move on campus. I have never done flipping or anything but I have been doing a lot of research on it the last couple days and am very excited about it. Do you think it would be possible to start while in college? My tentive plan was to start small obviously, and sell mostly everything through eBay. I also wanted to start with selling things I already own and do not use anymore to get a feel of things on how ebay works and what strategies you think would work best working through a college dorm. Thanks!!
This is definitely possible to do while in college, that’s when I started. I’d recommend exploring flipping textbooks as well, that’s something I did a lot of in college.
I know I was put here to create, expert at selling, have a great eye and love doing this type of stuff. Thank you, I am so excited.
Thanks for the comment, and great to hear you are excited to start!
I get stuff that people throw out on the side of the road, clean it up and fix it and flip it. I post on marketplace and OfferUp and places like that. Is there any else I can be doing to sell things better or faster?
Hello, Ryan, i live in Mexico City, can i do Retail Arbitrage from here in the united states? what do you recommend?
Thanks for the comment. Yes if you are able to setup a seller account on Amazon.com then you would be able to sell in the United States.
To keep things simple if I were you I would recommend starting on Amazon’s Mexico marketplace. This would make it easier to start, and wouldn’t require getting a US tax ID.
Why am I so nervous about getting started? Reading this just makes me want to start today! Thank you for the encouraging words!!!
Seems interesting. I saw that you go into walmarts and scan items. How do I do that. Was a mgr at walmart and I know their seasons well. Think that would be a great opportunity. Do I need a website to sell? What are the steps?
Check out this post:
Retail Arbitrage: A Complete Guide for Beginners (Amazon FBA 2021)
Good information, Thank you!
I have been watching Flea Market Flip lately and think it looks like so much fun! I really want to try this out. What kind of tools do you need to flip some good bones furniture? Any suggestions?
If your are talking about buying old furniture and updating it, the main things you’d need are a hammer, nails, screwdrivers, screws, wood glue, a palm sander and sand paper, paint brushes, a staple gun, and maybe an upholstery kit. Then you may need paint, new hardware, new uphostery, etc depending on the furniture and what you want to do to it.
Thanks for the great idea of flipping… I will post my opinion in the future after my first flipping…
Thanks for the information, I really want to try this.
Thanks Lori! Give it a shot and let me know how it goes 🙂