Making A Living As A Reseller- Part 3, by BIF

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.

The Saw

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.

Tag Sales

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

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, where anything worthwhile (and a lot of junk) is sold by stores from across the country. You can get some good deals at, especially on items that are not very well described.

Let’s talk about, and then go back to thrift stores. 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 I debated sharing this tip, but what the heck; we are all friends here. The other way you can get a deal on 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 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.

Salvation Army

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*** 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.

See Also:

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:

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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.


  1. So the profit so far is $318. But how many hours did the author invest in this project, including driving time to local thrift stores? & how much physical space was required to store the items?

    1. Hi Chris, For the three items sold thus far in the article, I would say I invested around 3 hours total. This includes driving time, time cleaning up the item if needed, time researching and posting and interacting with the buyer. The thrift stores and pawn shops I check out are all less than six miles away, and some of them I can check out while going to the grocery store, etc.

      The physical space to me was not a concern as I just put them in the shop in my garage. Time and space to become a concern if you are doing this for a living. Many people wil lput in 30 to 40 hours a week, and make as much or more than a full time job.

    2. Chris,

      Thought I responded but don’t see it, so sorry if this is a duplicate. All told on these three items, I spent around 3 hours total. Some of the places I check out are on the way to the grocery store or other places.

      Time and space are definitely important if you are doing this as a living, and I know people who spend 30 to 40 hours doing this as a full time job. I just put these in a corner of my shop, so not much space required.

    1. JIMA, I don’t know, I spent three hours or so making around $100 profit per hour. Not sure what your job pays, but that is pretty good around here. Besides, this is a hobby that I enjoy. Full time resellers will work at it like a regular job, spending 30 to 40 hours a week, but then if they know what they are doing, they can make five and even six figures doing it.

      1. I picked up a 3Kw generator at a yard sale for $15.00. The seller said it didn’t run. It had compression and spark. The tank was dry and clean. I took it home and looked it over. Fifteen minutes later, a broken wire on the on/off switch spliced, I had it running. Twenty minutes of typing down the road, it was listed on Craigslist. It sold the same day for $200.00. I invested more effort drinking a beer than fixing that genny. Yeah; I’ve lost on some deals too, but on average, the return on investment is really good.

  2. I suspect in his searches he’s getting great deals for himself. If you’re not working a full time job there are deals to be made. It s a bit like fishing. The thrill is in getting “the big one”. But catching smaller ones can be enjoyable. It’s not for everyone but. I think it beats sitting around and doing nothing profitable like watching TV.

    1. Sis, exactly, I enjoy doing this as a hobby, and it does beat watching TV. There is also an option for folks anywhere, including in the American Redoubt, to invest more time and effort and do this for a living.

  3. “Major” in things you know. I’m a ham operator. I was in a Salvation Army Thrift Store, waiting for my wife to do her picking. I walked by the “consumer electronics” shelves. I don’t usually buy consumer electronics used (ham radio excluded), as the usual reason they’re being sold is that something’s wrong with them. Sitting there though, all alone amongst the junk, was a Kenwood base station ham radio microphone, circa 1986. I recognized it because I actually had the station it went to at home. I took a chance and picked it up for $10.00. I took it home, tested it on my radio, and then sold it on Craigslist for $75.00. Another time, at a 2nd hand store, I came across a chrome-plated Vibroplex CW (Morse code) keyer, in excellent condition. The store owner had no idea what it was, and sold it to me, once again, for $10.00. Anyone who knows what these are KNOWS the kind of deal this was. I looked this one up by serial number, and found its worth to be over $150.00! What I’m getting at here is to concentrate on what you know well. You have the best chance at getting a good deal, and the least chance of ending up with junk. Also; be open to looking in places you normally wouldn’t find your “specialty.” Oh; and if at all possible, sell “privately…”

  4. One summer back in the early 2000’s my son and I bought old motorcycles and parted them out. Sold them on ebay. Made a lot of money. Downside is we had a lot of crap left over that didn’t sell. The back of the barn was looking like a junk yard. Thank goodness for township clean up days.

    1. WOJO, I think parting out is the way to go if you know what you are doing. Parted out items seem to sell for up to 10 times what the non-parted out item does. Right now I don’t have the time or inclination to work on this, but when I retire, parting out is probably the way to go.

      BTW a good tip when selling parts is to mark them either with an engraver or some sort of indelible or invisible ink, a lot of crooks by a part from a seller and try to return the defective part they are replacing in its place. eBay is siding more and more with the buyer on disputes.

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