Thrifting For Profit

by Katy on February 29, 2024 · 24 comments

The popularity of thrifting for resale is through the roof right now, which I support with all my heart. Secondhand goods finding new homes while supporting small businesses? Hell, yeah!

I’ve been selling on eBay since 2005 and I’ve learned a thing or two. I’m not intimidated by the shipping process, but there are still a few categories that I prefer to sell locally. This is either due to the impracticality of shipping, (furniture, I’m looking at you!) or because of local stores that’ll buy my items for a quick and easy flip.

One of my absolute favorite items to thrift are vintage lighting globes. This may seem odd, but let me explain. There’s a groovy store in my neighborhood that upcycles old globes into colorful lighting and will always buy from me. This is not based on selling a couple of times, but dozens of times.

So when I saw this $3.99 globe sitting on a Goodwill shelf this afternoon, it was a no brainer to pick it up and sell it ON MY WAY HOME!

A no brainer. (The decision, not the woman in this photo.)


In case my description wasn’t colorful enough:

Will I get rich off this single thrifted category? Absolutely not, but turning $3.99 into $20 with almost no effort is worth it to me. Let’s estimate that I’ve sold thirty vintage globes to this store over the years.

30 X $15 = $450. Worth it.

Of course, glass globes are just one of the many items I’ll thrift for profit. Just a scrap in my patchwork income.

Want to learn more about selling on eBay? Check out this blog post from a few years back.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen in Santa Cruz February 29, 2024 at 10:24 pm

Oh, I wish I had a lighting store like that near me. I remember a couple of times when you sold glass vases/plant containers to a floral store. I wish I could get up my nerve to ask if a store near me would buy those from me. Love a nice little hustle. A little flip like that globe makes my day!


Katy February 29, 2024 at 11:23 pm

That’s a terrarium store that’s in the neighborhood. It’s a bit embarrassing to ask if a stranger will buy my stuff, but I just take a deep breath and do it.


Vickey March 24, 2024 at 12:16 pm

If you go in there often enough, they won’t be strangers.


K D March 1, 2024 at 1:44 am

It’s hard to beat the quick bucks. It is a win-win-win: the thrift store wants items purchased, the “groovy store” needs stock, and you benefit by being the middleman.


Katy March 1, 2024 at 10:43 am

It sure beats researching, measuring, photographing, listing, storing, packing and mailing!


A. Marie March 1, 2024 at 5:16 am

My guess is that Portland, as a large city, probably has more different types of (and just plain more) consignment stores than my medium-sized city; otherwise, I’d be doing a lot of this kind of reselling myself.

And, from my point of view, eBay is becoming a hassle–as a friend with an eBay account and I discovered last year when I tried to sell some books through her account.

But I’m still very happy to keep thrifting for the main reason I’ve always thrifted–to score bargains for self and friends!


Katy March 1, 2024 at 10:42 am

Oh yes, I’m sure this is true. Keep in mind though that this store isn’t a consignment store, I just happen to sell to them.


Jill A March 1, 2024 at 6:00 am

What a great resource. I also like the extra cash from selling online. Every little bit helps.


Katy March 1, 2024 at 10:41 am

Every. Little. Bit.


Sandra March 1, 2024 at 7:20 am

Long before Ebay I knew that thrift stores, garage sales, and rummage sales meant value. I probably learned that at my mother’s knee. Rummage sales were awaited with eager anticipation. I can remember Mother proudly showing us her finds.


Katy March 1, 2024 at 10:41 am

Very cool sounding childhood!


Ava March 1, 2024 at 7:20 am

I have sold that exact light cover on Etsy and I have a similar one listed now. There are no cool light stores near me.


Katy March 1, 2024 at 10:40 am

That’s funny. My husband and I bought these exact light covers from Home Depot in 1996/7 when we bought our 1914 house. (That makes them vintage at this point!) We liked them because they had a vintage aesthetic without a Rejuvenation price tag. We replaced them through the years with actual vintage globes, but I still think they’re cute. The internet was not filled with design inspiration and ideas at the time.


Ruby March 1, 2024 at 7:34 am

I had a wretched experience on Paperback Swap with a complaint about a book I mailed out that put me off ever doing any selling type transactions. However, DH and I have had good experiences selling musical instruments and old coins and jewelry to dealers we can talk to in person.

Thrifting for a profit is very big around here. I go to the big Goodwill looking for clothing for myself, as my wardrobe is very small after losing a lot of weight, and nearly get run over in the aisles by people flipping through the racks and grabbing the current hot labels. Their carts will be completely full and they don’t check the garments condition the way I do.


Katy March 1, 2024 at 10:37 am

I’m sorry that you had a negative experience selling on paperback swap. I used them once maybe fifteen years ago, but since I can easily get free books from the library, my need for them is zero.


Marie March 1, 2024 at 3:58 pm

Paperback swap was invaluable when we moved to the country in 2006. The town my zip code relates too didn’t offer library if you weren’t in town. Now 2024, yes library!


Katy March 1, 2024 at 11:11 pm

Hooray for the library!


Mary Ann March 1, 2024 at 7:46 am

I totally agree that resale of thrifted goods is great. I read many people being negative because things are “picked over” but that is an example of the free market in action which despite its bad press is really the reason America has the strongest economy today. Enough said.

A couple of other good reasons for this cottage industry is that while searching for a bargain, you are extremely aware of the value of money This is really the reason I thrift. My hourly rate right now doesn’t encourage much thrifting, but when I do it as a hobby (which is very relaxing to me) I become very budget minded. Win win.


Katy March 1, 2024 at 10:36 am

My take on why thrift stores seem like they’re worse than in the past is because fast fashion/fast furnishings/fast home goods ARE worse than the past goods, and the thrift stores are simply a reflection of what’s being sold in standard stores. Crap from Amazon becomes crap at Goodwill.


Christine March 1, 2024 at 9:10 am

I do the occasional sale on FB Marketplace. I don’t put a lot of effort into it, so I guess I reap what I sow. I do, however, buy secondhand for needed or wanted items whenever I can. I also donate goods to my church’s thrift shop, the local Salvation Army store and the St. Vincent de Paul society which has a donation box in my town. These three use the money they make to make positive changes for the poor in our midst. I have to add, the main reason I like to thrift, resell and donate is to keep perfectly good items out of the landfill. It’s very satisfying to know I have a small part in this.


Katy March 1, 2024 at 10:33 am

This, 100% this! This glut of already manufactured stuff is killing our planet and buying used can start to make amends for the damage.


Bee March 1, 2024 at 11:52 am

It is so smart of you to have multiple outlets for your thrift treasures. I started reselling in 1999. I had an antique booth at that time. Then I started selling on eBay in early 2001. It was a bit of a challenge to sell on eBay then, but it was so profitable! In those early days, everything was sold at auction, at huge margins, and scammers were few and far between. Goodwill still sold items for $0.29 and there was little competition for the good stuff.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, I quit selling on eBay in 2005 after a terrible experience. eBay had grown too fast. However, I started back again in 2016 after reading the article about eBay that you referenced in this post. I have ambivalent feelings about this platform. I think that it no longer protects the small seller, yet it does gives the all sellers access to the largest market of any reselling platform.
Again, after two really terrible experiences during Covid in which eBay allowed items worth approximately $1000 to be taken from me. (Long stories) I decided to limit what I sold on this platform. Generally speaking, I do not sell anything over $75 . I don’t ship internationally and I don’t sell anything that I paid more than $10 for. I find other ways to sell anything that is truly special or of value.
George the Antique Nomad from YouTube has some wise words. I paraphrase : In order to sell things quickly on eBay, It should be the best, the cheapest, or the only.


Blue Gate Farmgirl March 1, 2024 at 5:00 pm

My husband specialized in fishing gear, when he passed, he left me with a double garage sized shop bay full of stuff. I inquired about a person willing to buy the lot and sell in his show booth. He was a greedy guy, thinking I didn’t already know what the value of ea thing was (I love a spreadsheet…) So, I’ve been slowly selling everything in it’s own time. I have given some things to fishing clubs to make money to provide scholarships to kids (free ocean trips, guided trips, etc).
I only allow myself to pick up for re-sell what will fit in my hallway hutch. I’ve actually done very well with clothes purchased at garage & estate sales for consignment at vintage boutiques. I also belong to a re-sell co-op that puts on 2 sales every quarter. The tables are $20 ea and they do all of the advertising/signage/security.


Jenne March 2, 2024 at 5:51 am

My husband is a musky fisherman, so I will eventually have a similar situation. I should sit down with him during his annual hook sharpening extravaganza and log all of these lures and rods and reels and electronics.


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