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. This is the final part of the article series where I have gone over my experience with various resources and techniques for reselling. Let’s continue with a few more steps in my sample.
Another Tag Sale
It’s another tag sale. This time it was a bank foreclosure on a McMansion from one of the gated communities in town. The bank took pretty much everything that wasn’t nailed down and moved it to a warehouse for sale. Although I was unfamiliar with them, I bought three unused camera backpacks for $12. These bags had a high-end suspension (shoulder strap) system on them and had not been used. This tipped me off that I should look closer. After I got home, a quick check on the Internet showed that they all retailed for over $100 each. I resold them a week later on eBay for $145. My total proceeds at this point is $451.
More Stuff For Your Own Needs
While you are looking for stuff to resell, don’t forget about your own needs. At the same tag sale, they had the high-end dishwasher out of the kitchen at the McMansion. The kitchen was undergoing renovation, and they had moved the dishwasher to the garage, making it eligible for the bank to repossess it. My dishwasher was making some funny noises and seemed to be on its last legs. For $10, I ended up with a newish Bosch dishwasher that was originally over $800. Again, don’t be afraid to take a chance and remember to shop for yourself, too. After switching it out, the “new” dishwasher worked fine. If it hadn’t, then I would only have been out $10.
Save Money On Your Preps
One side benefit of this sort of bargain hunting is that in addition to being a source of making money, you can save money on your preps. I bought a new, unused ***Royal Berkey water filter***amazon.com/Royal-Berkey-Black-filters-Spigot/dp/B017Z7JZYW for $10 at a prepper’s estate sale (valued at $300 new) and close to $1500 of cast bullets, reloading dies, and unopened jugs of powder at another sale for $75.
One last place to check out for reselling is Antique Malls. These are stores that are full of cases and display areas that dealers rent by the month and stock with “treasures”. Many of the dealers seem to buy in lots at auctions or garage sales and bring the stuff in to sell in their booth. A lot of the dealers are somewhat unknowledgeable about what they are selling, and if you are an expert in a field or two you can make good money.
Cameras Parted Out
For the past 45 years, I have been a photographer, mostly as an amateur but also as the commander of an Army Public Affairs Detachment. I used to make quite a bit of money buying and selling film cameras. However, as digital took over, the bottom fell out of the market, with some exceptions. Twice in the past year, I bought old cameras at antique malls, knowing what I was looking at. The first one was a rare Kodak magnesium framed 8×10 view camera in near mint condition that the dealer had labeled as an old enlarger for $25. That sold to a photographer in Belgium for $925. The second was one I bought just for this article.
I wanted to stop by an antique mall just to find something to resell and found a display case full of cameras. Every camera was either $25 or $50. That was the dealer’s pricing strategy. Most of the cameras were worth $5 or $10. The one I bought was a 1950s vintage Canon rangefinder in mint condition with one Canon lens and two Leica lenses. Less than a week later, they brought $805, with the camera body going to California, a flash accessory going to New Jersey, one of the lenses going to Japan, and the other two to Thailand. I guess you could say this is an example of parting out.
An End To The Exercise
At this point, I’ll call an end to the exercise. I think you get the picture, not only are there bargains out there for the knowledgeable reseller (or for someone who wants to learn and research), bur there are buyers who want to send you money for the bargains you find. The total for this two-month exercise is roughly $1,100 after various eBay and PayPal fees plus miscellaneous supplies, like bubble wrap and shipping tape.
Tips and Techniques
Tips and techniques to help you get started and keep going.
The US Postal Service provides free priority mail boxes, and they deliver them to your door. Priority mail is fast and comes with tracking, so it is great for anything you sell online. By the way, most of the time shipping is paid for by the buyer, so that works out good for you and eBay. PayPal and other sites sell discounted postage online that you print out, adding to your profit and saving time at the post office.
Postage and Packing Materials
Be sure to pack, weigh and measure the item you are selling before you post it. If you overestimate the postage, then that is money the buyers would have bid up the item with. If you underestimate the postage, the USPS can ding you for the shortage, and with enough of these eBay can suspend you. If you set up a store on eBay or other sites, they will frequently offer you free or discounted packing materials too.
Give Yourself An Out
When you describe something you are selling, give yourself an out in case you get a really picky buyer. I will usually say something along the lines of “If you are looking for a mint, never used (whatever) this is not the one for you.”
Facebook Reseller Groups
Search on Facebook for “reseller”. You will find nearly 100 groups that you can join or follow that will help you with tips and techniques. Some of them even allow you to post an item that you need help identifying. Like all of facebook, many people will be insulting or snarky, especially to new members, but stick with it and you will find the value these groups provide to be worth it. The members can also be supportive, celebrating with you when you make a good sale, and commiserating with you when you goof up. Also look for Facebook marketplace sites where you can post things locally and let nearby people buy. There are also specialty marketplaces if you have more esoteric tastes.
Places You Can Resell
Some places you can resell merchandise online include eBay, Craigslist, etsy, Facebook selling forums, Mercari, Amazon (yes, you can sell on Amazon), Poshmark, and many others. With most of these sites, some more than others, you will want to work your social media and blog to help drive people to your sites. Join some of the Facebook reseller groups and you will hear selling tips and about the pros and cons of these sites and others.
Start Your Own Tag Sales
You can also look into starting your own tag sales to make money. Go to a few, search online, maybe help out a local tag sale business, and give it a try. There are also “franchise” opportunities available if you search on line. One company is called Caring Transitions. This is a tag sale company that sells online for local pick up and works with people who are moving into nursing homes to help clear out their houses. If there is one near you, this can be a good place to pick up things to resell. If you are interested in it, you can set up your own company.
Now about Opsec. To be successful, you will need to be out there. You will need to sign up to sell, sign up for online payment processing (like PayPal or others), blog about things, and in general, communicate with others to make money. I don’t know any way around this, but you can limit your exposure to others (but probably not big brother) by being vague about your location or the item location, posting an intersection instead of an address on Craigslist, not giving anyone your name or address unless you talk to them (you call them) on the phone. Also, if you are meeting someone in person to sell something you had posted, be sure to meet in a public place, not at your home. Around here, many of the Police departments suggest that you meet someone in their parking lot to sell an item.
Finally, if you are engaging in a business, be sure you understand your state and local laws and zoning requirements and report your profit to the IRS and state department of revenue, if required. Get a sales tax permit and collect taxes. While a pain, it is better to render unto Caesar than to have to explain in court why you didn’t do so. We could keep going, but you get the point.
My last tip is to start small. Start with something you like and know something about. Research and gain knowledge about items to sell and about selling techniques. Finally, don’t be afraid to trust your gut on the value of an item. One of my favorite resales was for a “tool” that I picked up for fifty cents from an auctioneer who kept bins of tools that didn’t sell at his auctions for sale at his auction house. I didn’t know what it was, but it seemed high quality, well made, and unusual. After quite a bit of research, it turned out to be a Civil War surgeon’s bone saw. It brought $225 from a collector.
Good luck and happy treasure hunting.
- 1 – Making A Living As A Reseller- Part 1, by BIF
- 2 – Making A Living As A Reseller- Part 2, by BIF
- 3 – Making A Living As A Reseller- Part 3, by BIF
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part four 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.