Today’s post is an interview with Arlene from the blog From Pennies to Plenty.
Arlene considers herself a “part-time reseller”, and her success shows that you don’t have to dive into this full time to make worthwhile returns.
Her specialty is clothes, and she currently sells on Poshmark, Mercari, and eBay. In September 2020, the percentage of her sales (based on dollar value) on each platform were:
- Poshmark – 53%
- Mercari – 25%
- eBay – 22%
Her blog has a ton of great content for anyone interested in using these platforms, and below you’ll find details on how she got started, why she loves selling on Poshmark, and some of her favorite items that she has sold.
Take it away Arlene!
For our readers who aren’t familiar with you, can you give an overview of what you are doing?
Hi! I’m Arlene, creator of the blog From Pennies to Plenty and part-time online reseller.
From Pennies to Plenty focuses on helping women meet their financial goals using everyday ways to save money and make money. I also share my own experience and advice on how to grow a side business reselling clothes and other items online.
What was your motivation for starting down this path?
My venture into reselling happened by accident. I was doing a spring cleaning of my closet a few years ago and wanted to either pass my gently worn clothes to friends or try to sell them. I signed up to sell on a few marketplaces and made my first sale within minutes of listing my first few items. The sales kept coming in the days after that. I was hooked!
Once I sold all the items in my closet, I started going to thrift stores to find items that I could resell. I joined a few more marketplaces to gain access to more potential buyers. That increased my chances of making sales, and more sales came. I also took time to improve my business learning what brands sell best, creating better listings, and keeping track of my inventory and accounting.
A few years before I started selling, I finished graduate school with about $30,000 in student loans. I didn’t like the feeling of being in debt and stressed every day about how to pay them back faster. Even an extra few hundred dollars a month from my side business helped me feel more financially secure.
I continue selling today because it’s both fun and profitable. I enjoy shopping, so that’s the fun part. I usually work on reselling between 5-10 hours a week including shopping for items to resell, listing them, and then packaging and shipping the things that sell. It’s not uncommon for part-time resellers like me to make a few hundred to over $1000 a month.
There are a lot of variables that affect how much you can earn: the type of items you sell, the price at which you source and sell items, where you sell your items and the commission they charge, and more. In general though, the more time you put into growing and developing your reselling business, the more profit you’ll see.
Where are your favorite places to buy things to resell?
It’s hard to pick one favorite place to source items because every place has its pros and cons.
One of my favorites places is thrift stores because they’re convenient and low-priced compared to retail stores. I live and work close to several thrift stores, so I stop in and shop when I have an extra hour or two. Part of the excitement of thrift stores is that. I never know what I’m going to find. I sometimes score brand name items or items new with their tags for a few dollars.
The difficulty with thrift stores is that most items are second-hand. I have to inspect items closely for flaws before purchasing them. Sometimes thrift store prices are too high for an item to be profitable at resale. Then there are times I walk out of a thrift store empty-handed because I didn’t find anything worth buying.
Another favorite place to shop is buy-sell-trade stores like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange. Although the items cost more than at thrift stores, they tend to have higher-end brands, more in-style items, and items in better condition than at thrift stores. The stores pay to acquire items and only select what they think will sell well.
My last favorite source for inventory is family and friends. When my family and friends first learned that I sell things online, they started giving me their items to sell for them. If it’s the first time I’m selling for one of them, I’ll usually give them all the profits of the first few sales. We’ll split the profits of later sales. I’m happy to help them declutter their houses and make them a little extra money.
The best places for finding things to resell will depend on where you live and your circumstances. For example, the standard thrift stores in your area might be too expensive, but if there’s a Goodwill outlet in your area it is worth visiting. If you like going to garage and estate sales, try spending a few hours each weekend checking those out and bargaining with sellers. If you can’t go out to shop, you can source online and have inventory shipped to you.
What about favorite places to sell?
My favorite places to sell are online marketplaces because they’re easy to use and allow me to sell to millions of users nationwide and even internationally. I sell primarily on Poshmark, eBay, and Mercari.
Poshmark is great for selling popular brands and on-trend items. Poshmark has the highest commission rate of the three marketplaces at 20% of sales above $15, but I think that’s reasonable for everything the company does to help sellers like me make sales. I’ve made most of my sales on Poshmark in recent months.
I love eBay because of the wide variety of items allowed and access to international buyers. In the past year, I’ve sold a pair of Mother jeans to a buyer in Hungary and an Equipment blouse to someone in the Netherlands.
Mercari has a lot going for it too. You can list a wide variety of items similar to eBay. It has a competitive commission rate and offers lower-cost shipping than Poshmark for items under one pound. If you have buyers pay for shipping, the lower shipping cost is more enticing for making sales. These marketplaces are the best for me because I sell a lot of women’s clothes and accessories.
Each marketplace has its specialty area. Kidizen is popular for selling children’s clothing. Depop specializes in streetwear and vintage fashion. So pick your marketplaces based on what works best for you and what you’re selling.
Do you have a favorite item you’ve sold or favorite story to tell about your reselling adventures?
My favorite item I’ve sold is a King of the Mountain Bowman hunting jacket. I was surprised to find a cold-weather hunting jacket at a thrift store in San Francisco. I learned that it costs several hundred dollars at retail and resells for over $200 on eBay.
People messaged me with offers soon after I listed it. It’s exciting to find items that resell for such a high price, but those finds can be few and far between. While I keep my eye out for rare and luxury brands, I focus more on finding common brands and items that I can resell.
Some of my recent favorite sales have been Allbirds women’s flats and costumes like a new corset and a new Oktoberfest dress.
What is your advice to people who are interested in making more money but who don’t have any experience and aren’t sure how to get started?
The easiest way to get started is to find new or gently used items around the house or in your closet that you want to sell. Then set aside some time to download a selling app or two and start listing those items. Many marketplaces let you list items for free, so you don’t have to pay anything to get started selling. Once your first listings are up, you’re in business!
The next step is to adjust your listings to increase your chances of sales. Take a closer look at the marketplace you’re using. What makes other people’s listings appealing? What’s appealing about items that have sold? It might be that they have great pictures, detailed descriptions, reasonable pricing, or in-demand brands and items. Apply what you can to your listings.
If you like reselling and want to grow your business, invest at least a portion of the profits of those first sales into the business. Most sellers invest in buying more inventory to grow their sales.
For people who want to know more about you and what you do, where should they look?
You can learn more about reselling and contact me on my blog From Pennies to Plenty. In addition to blog posts, I have a free resource library full of information about frugal living, reselling, side hustling, productivity, and more.
If you enjoyed reading about Arlene’s experience, here are a few articles we recommend checking out from her blog:
Another good one is this one on developing systems. It’s specifically targeted at Poshmark sellers, but the tips can be applied no matter what type of selling you do.
We’re planning on doing more interviews and guest posts like this in the future. If there is anything specific you’d like to learn about, whether from Arlene or someone else, let us know in the comments below!