Have you been hearing the term “flipping” more and more? Maybe you’ve come across videos like “Best Places to Find Items to Flip” or articles like “How a 16-Year-Old Made $1.7 Million in Revenue Reselling Scarce Goods” on your social feeds? Well, there’s a reason for that. Flipping items for profit is easily becoming one
Have you been hearing the term “flipping” more and more? Maybe you’ve come across videos like “Best Places to Find Items to Flip” or articles like “How a 16-Year-Old Made $1.7 Million in Revenue Reselling Scarce Goods” on your social feeds? Well, there’s a reason for that. Flipping items for profit is easily becoming one of the most popular ways to earn money on the side.
Its growth in popularity can be seen across social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok! On these sites, you can find whole accounts dedicated to this practice where they walk you through tutorials, behind the scenes, and even post their flipped items for sale.
In this blog, we’ll cover:
- What it means to flip items
- Where to find items to flip
- Easiest things to flip
- How to flip items for profit
What is flipping and is it legal?
Yes – flipping is completely legal! Consider the concept of retail arbitrage – which is purchasing products from a retailer at a lower price and reselling them for profit. If done right, buyers-turned-merchants can sell the products at a much higher profit margin than the original discounted price. While you could go store to store buying discounted items and resell them for slightly below the original MSRP, you can also “flip” items just as easily. Oftentimes, items can be found on the curb, at garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, and estate sales!
Can you buy items to flip in bulk?
You can also consider buying in bulk rather than seeking out single items to flip. This method will give you more inventory to work with at once, plus buying in bulk saves you time and money. Retailers will often offload their overstock, customer returns, damaged, and liquidation inventory by the pallet. These are deeply discounted and available for business buyers on their official liquidation marketplaces. We’ll touch more on that later!
Considerations before flipping items
There are three main questions you want to ask yourself before you start flipping:
- How much money and time do you have to invest in this?
- Will you source a lot of inventory at once?
- Where will you resell them after?
Where to find items to flip
To start your treasure hunt, you need a map. Think of these places as checkpoints in your flipping journey. But remember, you will have to spend a good bit of time browsing aisle after aisle or carefully scrolling the internet. Here are popular places to find items to flip:
Pro Tip: It’s helpful to have your phone on you so you can quickly search what items are going for or if there is any value in flipping them. Google Lens is a nifty tool that allows you to use your phone’s camera to search the web for similar objects. For example, say you’re perusing Facebook Marketplace to find furniture to pick up and see a used nightstand for $150, you then upload a screenshot to Google Lens and find the same nightstand on Target’s website for $125. This can help you gauge if you’re getting a good deal or not – which in this example, it wouldn’t be!
For more inventory sourcing know-how, read The Art of Sourcing Inventory for Resale.
Easiest things to flip for profit
There are definitely certain categories that do better flipping than others. For example, grocery and cosmetics probably aren’t where you want to start. These come with ‘sell by’ dates and selling restrictions on most platforms (like Amazon for example). Something simple, like a collection of books, might be lower risk and easier to find. Let’s go over some easy things to flip below!
Books are one of the easiest things to start flipping. Finding used books isn’t hard by any means and fairly cheap, too! If you can find complete sets (like from a popular series) or first editions, you can earn even more. It’s unlikely someone is looking for Harry Potter books 3 & 5 and not the whole series. Don’t forget other miscellaneous items you can flip that tend to be grouped in the same category like comics, baseball trading cards, stamps, coins and currency, movies, and vinyl records.
Apparel is incredibly easy to source at your local Goodwill, secondhand shop, or thrift store. Whether you’re going trendy or vintage, there’s tons of opportunity to flip apparel like shirts, blazers, denim, dresses, slacks, and even shoes. If you’re looking at designer labels, be sure to verify their authenticity. There are a few tricks to dating apparel, one way is to check the tags! Certain brands will print the date in a shorthand code like “SU 13” for the summer of 2013. You can also date vintage apparel by the country it was manufactured in, use of a zip code by boutiques (since these weren’t invented until 1963), and even zippers all tell a story.
If you’re flipping apparel, catch up on 10 Best Platforms for Reselling Apparel Liquidation!
Furniture is one of the most popular items you can flip right now. Old, antique pieces are being cleaned up and polished or just reimagined into something more modern – so if you’re the crafty type, you should go for it! Have fun with replacing the hardware, staining wood, or painting furniture a completely different color. Plus, finding furniture to flip can be as easy as getting in your car and driving a few blocks! We’ve all seen piles of discarded furniture on the curb as people get ready to move or renovate their homes. If it’s on the curb, it’s almost always up for grabs – or look for a sign that says ‘FREE’. Follow accounts like @clintonaverytharp to get a lighthearted intro to flipping furniture. Below you can see his process of buying, preparing, and successfully flipping furniture.
As you can see, a $200 investment was almost immediately recovered by selling just one of the chairs for $150! Of course, this is the simplified version, but get the basics down and you’re more than halfway there! Be on the hunt for chairs, dressers, entertainment centers/ TV stands, side tables, coffee tables, and more – if they don’t match, don’t worry. You’re still likely to be able to flip them considering mismatching furniture is in right now.
If you see used power tools at a yard sale or Facebook Marketplace, definitely try your luck with flipping them. Tools like hand drills, chainsaws, shop vacs, handheld sanders, nail guns, and yard equipment can cost a pretty penny regardless if it was only used a handful of times. They could’ve been discarded to free up space or because they have dead batteries, purchased an upgrade, or were only needed for a specific project! And when you consider most home & garden inventory, which power tools fall under, you always have steady demand and high returns. If you can make simple repairs, even better.
As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Flipping PCs or laptops, either that you’ve built or fixed up yourself from outdated or broken parts, is incredibly popular. If you know a thing or two about computers, this is probably the category for you. As you find computers for sale on eBay or part by part, make sure you share specs (like part numbers) and benchmark results for popular games – as most computer enthusiasts will likely ask you during the reselling process.
Vintage video games, electronics, and consoles are highly sought after on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Nostalgia is one reason, but another reason is its value. Nintendo, Sega, Playstation, and Xbox are the heavy hitters. You can find rare games, special editions, and collectibles at estate sales and thrift stores, as well as possibly luck out on hidden gems at a used game store. And for newer games and consoles, scout out sites like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp. Always test electronics before flipping them! A quick repair on a cracked screen can go a long way.
You can also buy consoles in bulk to flip and do your own testing – you may still find functioning items like in the example above by @theretrofuture on YouTube!
Mobile phones are definitely a category that requires more specialization. Simply flipping discounted smartphones, your own old phones, or doing light screen repairs is one thing. But if you’re looking to flip, resell, or refurbish mobile phones on a larger scale, you will want to stay above board and get R2 certified.
Important note: If you are flipping used consumer electronics and mobiles, we strongly encourage you to read about R2 certifications. These are important for refurbishers to get better pricing for materials that they use to fix broken products, which they then turn around and sell to end-users, as well as resellers who want to go direct to the source for parts.
How to flip items for profit
Once you’ve found items to flip, you will want to follow these steps before selling. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but a good place to start!
Clean it up
We mean this quite literally. You should wipe screens of dust or fingerprints, get rid of any scuff marks on items, use Goo Gone to remove price stickers and labels (if needed), or get some stain remover and scrub it down. Depending on your inventory, you will want it to look free of any smudges, dirt, and stains. Of course, general wear and tear is a different thing, but take these small steps to make items you’re flipping as appealing as possible!
Restore to factory settings
For consumer electronics and mobile especially, data wiping is important. If you find smartphones, computers, tablets, or any electronic device that has had a previous owner, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to data wipe it and restore it to factory settings.
Change the batteries
Unless it’s otherwise specified, people are looking for a clean bill of health when purchasing flipped items. You will definitely want to test what battery health is like on mobile devices and other consumer electronics and then replace them as necessary. For items like power tools, you can find battery replacements at stores like Lowe’s or The Home Depot.
Do simple repairs
There are simple repairs and then there are more specialized repairs. You can easily take care of most cosmetic imperfections with a good Magic Eraser, screen cleaner, etc. but when it comes to technical repairs like a cracked screen, scratches, or broken charging ports you may want to pay to have a professional look at it. You could risk damaging the item further or selling a faulty device to your customer. For apparel, you can also get professional repairs done for things like broken zippers, sole repairs, stain removal, and more.
See what the current going rate is
Is this a rare and collectible item? How old is that model? Is there a new style on the way? You want to see what the current going rates are for items you want to flip. That way you can calculate if it will be worth the effort of cleaning it up, listing, shipping, and overall time and energy.
Sell, sell, sell!
It’s time to list the items you’re trying to flip. Remember, different categories do better on different sites. Generally, Facebook Marketplace is great for selling things locally versus a site like eBay that is great for reaching wider audiences with niche interests. You want to offer a good deal while still keeping your profit margins in mind. It’s okay to start small and experiment with less valuable items just to get the hang of things. You will learn how best to price items you’re trying to flip in time. And always, always, always provide good customer service!
Start sourcing on B-Stock
If you’re looking for…
- More bang for your buck
- Bulk buying options
- Faster growing inventory
- More flexibility
…start buying liquidation pallets! If you want a quick and efficient way to start flipping items for profit, B-Stock can help. Our private B2B liquidation marketplaces are ideal for sourcing a lot of inventory at once directly from big retailers and manufacturers. Read Buying Basics: How to Become a B-Stock Buyer Part 1 & How to Become a B-Stock Buyer Part 2 for more details.