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Over the years I have done many odd jobs to make money: lawn mowing, shoveling driveways, painting, consulting, tutoring, and teaching music lessons, among others. I got the side hustle bug from my Grandpa, who often worked three or more jobs at once. Grandpa had an incredible work ethic, but he was also always on the lookout for items to flip to score a profit.
When I was just a boy, Grandpa and I drove around to flea markets, garage sales, and stores in search of items to flip to make money. Grandpa was a pro, and he successfully flipped many items, particularly dozens of utility trailers, for crazy profits. As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Grandpa knew that, and he was willing to comb through piles of junk in search of items with value or potential.
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If you have a similar mentality or are willing to learn, there are many ways to find items to flip yourself and make hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month. In this post we’ll identify over 25 of the best items to flip, where to find them, and how to sell them. This isn’t just a side hustle you see on TV – real people are doing it right now in your area, and you can get started yourself if you follow the steps below.
Step One: Know What Items to Flip
The number one key to successfully flipping for profit is knowing what items are valuable. Whether you are searching, you need a clear vision of the items that will actually resell for a profit.
There are always exceptions to every trend, as most experienced flippers will tell you, but in general, the following items tend to carry good resale value:
- Antiques (all varieties) – People love old items, and nostalgia has a funny way of affecting an item’s value.
- Tables and chairs made of real wood – You can find these at almost any thrift store or estate sale. They often need sanding and a new coat of finish to look brand-new, which makes your potential profit margins high.
- Vintage lamps – Lamps can be hit or miss, but many vintage lamp styles are currently in style.
- Upholstered chairs – I have seen many disgusting chairs get new life after a professional reupholstering. Older chairs with wooden legs were built to be reupholstered, not just thrown out when they experienced wear and tear. You can do it yourself or pay an upholsterer.
- Record players
- Jukeboxes – Many people are in the market for record players and jukeboxes which have been retrofitted with Bluetooth speakers. If you’re a competent DIY-er with a bit of creativity, you could make a big profit on this project.
- Porcelain sinks and bathtubs (rare, but a good find if they are in good condition) -This job isn’t for the faint of heart, but reglazing clawfoot bathtubs can often be profitable. Here is a helpful guide.
- Canvas paintings – Often old canvas paintings are worth very little, but once in a while you may find a good one!
- Picture frames – Vintage picture frames are highly-sought after items. They tend to stay in families for generations, but sometimes they pop up.
- Brand-name clothing with price tags still attached – This is a big potential money-maker! Be sure to inspect clothing very carefully, as most sellers will not honor returns or refunds.
- Outdoor furniture
- Old coffee mugs
- Vintage kitchen tools, such as meat grinders, butcher tools, etc.
- Vintage Pyrex and Tupperware containers
- Original edition board games
- Sports memorabilia
- Light-up ceramic decorations – My parents still have a light-up ceramic Christmas tree that my aunt made for them when I was young. They have become very rare finds.
- Vintage Mason jars – Concerns surrounding BPA and other chemicals have made Mason jars very popular.
- Video game consoles (Atari, NES, SNES, etc.) and game cartridges – Many old-school video games are worth far more than the average person understands. If you are or were a gamer as a kid, this is your chance to put that knowledge to good use! You can often find games for as cheap as $1 and resell them for over $50 if you are smart. Read more here.
- Vintage rugs
- Most older items with “Made in the USA” tags or imprints
- Vintage globes – You’ll be mostly limited to local reselling of globes, but it can still be quite profitable.
- Records and record sleeves
- Old cameras and camera lenses – I’m not a photographer, but I have heard that many older SLR lenses work well on newer camera models.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a great starting point for newer flippers. You can often resell many of the items without repairing or refurbishing them, while items in need of repair may not require too much effort or special skill.
I recommend keeping a fully-charged mobile device with you when looking for items so you can quickly check their value online using Google, Ebay, or other sites. This will help you determine the approximate value of an item you are considering purchasing and also quickly calculate potential profit after any necessary expenses to repair or sell the item.
Step Two: Where to Find Items to Flip
Once you know what items to flip for a profit, you can begin searching for new items to get started. Your own home is a great place to start, as you likely have many items sitting around in your basement, attic, or garage. If you’re in doubt about the value of a specific item, a quick Google search can usually give you a ballpark figure.
After searching your home, garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores like Salvation Army and Good Will, and discount wholesalers like Big Lots are good places to turn. At garage and estate sales in particular, flash cash to score the best deals on items to flip, and don’t be afraid to leverage “walk-away power” in your favor. People used to chase me and my Grandpa down the street as we drove off to give him the deal he wanted after he ended negotiations!
Step Three: How to Sell Your Finds
After you’ve purchased items and repaired/refurbished them (if necessary), it’s time to sell them. Thanks to the power of the internet, this task is much easier today than it was for Grandpa many decades ago.
First, I recommend trying to sell your flipped items in the least expensive way possible to start. If you have many quality items ready to sell, have a garage sale. List them for sale on your personal Facebook page and post well-lit pictures. You can also find and join local garage sale and item swap Facebook groups in your area and request to join them. Many people try to use these groups to unload junk, so your quality finds will really stand out, especially if you take crystal clear pictures and provide vivid item descriptions.
Second, selling items on Craigslist is still a perfectly legitimate way to flip many items. Your exposure will definitely be higher than on Facebook groups, but the Craigslist interface is a bit old and clunky, in my opinion.
Third, Ebay and Etsy are other options for selling your items. Even if you’re not already familiar with them, listing items is easy.
Some people may have personal and ethical reasons why they may not want to flip items for profits. I personally believe there are both honest and dishonest ways to find items to flip and make a profit. If you can resell items that provide value to others, help them save money, and also earn money for yourself at the same time, go for it! On the other hand, if you’re ruthlessly out to put your local thrift stores out of business, it’s probably time to reevaluate your approach.
Whether you’re looking for an interesting money making hobby or hoping to earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month, finding items to flip for a profit is a great opportunity. It requires patience and a discerning eye for diamonds in the rough, but you can make significant money if you build your business the right way.