For those of you wanting to make the move towards self-sufficiency in a career, or for those who are just looking for extra income, I am writing about buying and selling as a source of income. I think with a little practice, anyone can learn to make money by reselling things. So far, I’ve provided some background information and given some insight into pawn shops as well as ways to acquire inventory with no money or very little.
Stihl Concrete Saw and Wheeled Carriage (continued)
Let’s continue to look at an example of one ways I made money reselling through a purchase of a Stihl concrete saw and wheeled carriage, purchased for $30 from a pawn shop. I originally thought I’d disassemble it and part it out on eBay, but then I reconsidered.
Parting Something Out
In the case of the concrete saw, research showed that I could have gotten something around $400 for the parts, but I decided to try Craig’s list again to sell it as is. My thinking was that it would probably take two months to part it out, and the draw back to that on something as well used as this saw was that maybe a quarter of the folks would claim that the part was worn more than they thought it was or was not described accurately and want their money back. Besides the frustration of dealing with a complaint and the potential for hits to your reputation score, you have to mess with returns and relisting the part. I think parting something out is still a valid way to enhance your profits, but it needs to be something you are familiar with and can accurately describe.
I listed the saw on Craig’s list with separate prices for the diamond blade, the saw, and the wheeled carriage, plus I also priced the whole package at a discount. The three major components priced separately totaled $180, but then I discounted it to $125 if they took the whole thing, figuring I didn’t want to be left with just a part of the package to try to sell. One week later, after a half dozen calls and two scam attempts, I sold it for $90. This brings the total stake up to $125.
Meanwhile, with the remainder of the proceeds from the initial sale, I tried two other sources. Around here, there are a number of small companies that put on what they call “tag sales”. I know that tag sales mean different things in different parts of the country. Here, the company works with someone who is moving or with an estate. The tag sale company goes into the house, puts a price on a tag on everything in the house, and then opens it up to their mailing list to come into the house and buy things on a Saturday morning. Most of them get lines starting several hours before opening and have sign up lists or numbered cards you take in the order you show up.
Personally, I wait an hour or so after the opening so that the line is gone before I go. If I was more serious about reselling, I would probably be at the house at 5am. Anyway, the early buyers generally snap up the obvious “bargains”. By the time I get there I have to do some searching to find deals, but the hunt is part of what I enjoy.
Vintage Collins Axe
At this tag sale, I found a super clean vintage Collins axe in a plastic garbage can with a bunch of yard tools marked $5 each. A week later, the axe brought $41 on eBay. I made another $4 on it, based on the difference between what eBay calculated the postage at and charged the buyer and the discounted postage cost I got by buying postage through eBay. The postal service provided free shipping boxes, so my only cost was for a little packing tape. Paypal took about $2 for their fee to process the payment and eBay charged 10%. So, after I was done, I had around $38 from my $5 purchase. My total stake at this point is $163.
Ways To Sell On Ebay
Let me interject here. There are basically two ways to sell something on eBay– auction and fixed price. For the stuff I sell, I use auctions and start with a low, nominal bid, usually $9.95 with no reserve price. That seems to work the best for me. You can start an auction at a higher bid, set a reserve, or sell at a fixed price. You can use “buy it now” options for the auction, setting a price, and you can accept offers with either a fixed price sale or an auction with a high starting bid. You can play around and see what works best for you.
Thrift stores are another source of merchandise to resell. These include places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, DAV, St Vincent DePaul as well as others run by local charities.
I have pretty much stopped looking for bargains at Goodwill stores, because they run their own version of eBay at shopgoodwill.com, where anything worthwhile (and a lot of junk) is sold by stores from across the country. You can get some good deals at shopgoodwill.com, especially on items that are not very well described.
Let’s talk about shopgoodwill.com, and then go back to thrift stores. Shopgoodwill.com is very much like eBay, with a couple of advantages for the reseller. One being it is not as well-known as eBay, so you are bidding against a smaller market looking for the same thing you are. The other is that often, the items are listed with errors that unless you look closely at the photos or are familiar with the item being sold, keep people from bidding. You can pick up a bargain through the auctions.
There is another trick to finding bargains on Shopgoodwill.com. I debated sharing this tip, but what the heck; we are all friends here. The other way you can get a deal on shopgoodwill.com is if you buy something listed for local pick up. These are general items that are bulky, which the local store doesn’t want to try to ship. The best local pick up items are at your nearby store; however, you can get bargains at any of the stores and then find a local ship and pack company to pick the item up at the distant store and ship it to you.
I got a good deal on a large Pelican case that way. New, the case would have been over $250. I paid $20 for it and had it picked up and shipped for another $20. For this article, I bought a large, new condition European style wooden child’s snow sled through Shopgoodwill.com at the local Goodwill (pick up only) for $12. Another Craigslist ad and it brought $75. My total stake now is $226.
Goodwill Outlet Store
One other good deal at Goodwill is the Goodwill Outlet store. I have been to these in several cities. They receive bulk products from the other stores and sell them by the pound, regardless of what they are. I am not into bulk sales, but some folks I know who resell full time will pick up child’s or women’s clothing and list a couple hundred items a week for sale. The key to this is condition and labels. One Facebook reseller’s group has a lot of threads about the different labels that high-end manufacturers use and which ones to look out for. Folks who are into this sort of reselling can make well into five figures a year doing this full time.
Some of these bulk outlet thrift stores will auction off a bin or table full of stuff to the highest bidder present rather than sell by the pound. I tried this once a few years back and bought a table full for around $20. For fun I put everything I bought up on eBay instead of throwing half of it away. I think I sold everything, including a manual ice chipper that I almost threw away because it was missing the catch bin for the ground ice. I still don’t understand it, but that chipper brought $50.
Although I avoid Goodwill stores, I do check out some of the other thrift stores. For this article, I picked up a set of four VW hub caps at Salvation Army for $5 and an ***Orvis canvas and leather briefcase***amazon.com/Orvis-Bootlegger-Leather-Canvas-Briefcase/dp/B01M15BXGX for $3. The brief case brought $45 on eBay and the hub caps brought $55 through a local Facebook automobile market place. At this point, the stake is up to $318.
Go With Instincts
That’s another tip, go with your instincts when you buy something that you can’t research, but don’t throw away anything until you have a chance to look it up. I can’t tell you how many times I was about to throw something out and then decided to look it up only to discover it was worth my time to resell.
Stuff You Need
An advantage of looking for bargains to resell is that you can also find bargains on stuff that you need. The Salvation Army I bought the hubcaps from also had an older Kelly external frame backpack that looked like it had only been used once or twice. It is now set up as a get home bag in one of my cars.
To summarize this project up to this point, my initial investment was $0 and the proceeds to date are $318. Tomorrow, we will wrap up with a few more purchases and sales and some final tips and techniques.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part three of a four part entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.