Making A Living As A Reseller- Part 4, 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. 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*** 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.

Antique Malls

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.

Start Small

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.

See Also:

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:

First Prize:

  1. 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.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. 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,
  4. 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),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. 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,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (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.


  1. There have been a couple of comments around how much time I spent finding items and selling them, as well as drive time and storage space.

    All told, I probably spent less than 10 hours over two months to gather, research and sell these items. Total mileage was around 25 miles, as several of the places I stopped were along my route to the grocery store or something else.

    As to space needed, not sure how to answer that, other than I had a corner in my shop for most of it, and shelves beside my desk for the rest of it.

    These questions are more important for someone doing this for a living, less so for someone like me who does this as a hobby.

  2. Excellent series didnt know that kind of money was out there to be made. To me a few hours and storage space doesnt mean much as a farmer I’ve worked on smaller profits with larger layouts of income for it. Great job.

  3. Quick profits may be important to some, there are other advantages in buying and selling things you know and like. I know of collections worth hundreds of thousand of dollars, that cost the owners nothing more than hours of fun and a bit of haggling.

    I happen to enjoy antique tools and mechanical stuff! Looking for it is not work and buying and selling is pure fun.

    It is healthy to stay interested and engaged in something more than just keeping your head above water! It can also make you wealthy.

  4. I sell on eBay for a living and I enjoyed your article. I started selling while I had a full time job and now it is my full time job.

    My advice to anyone thinking of starting an eBay business is to shop on eBay first; experience it as a customer so you know how PayPal works and what a good buying experience feels like. Then you can try to offer a similar positive buying experience to your customers. Start selling a few inexpensive items you already have laying around, like clothes the kids have outgrown, so there is no pressure to make money. Use these trial sales to learn the ropes. This will teach you how to list, how to ship, how to communicate with buyers, and you will also learn what it costs to sell and ship an item, as well as some of the frustrations inherent in dealing with occasional buyer who is never satisfied. When you have some experience, you can make an informed decision as to whether you think selling on eBay is fun and worth your while or a hassle you would rather not deal with. (Believe me, it’s not for everyone.) If you decide to proceed, then you can start listing more items and build your business one step at a time.

    Whether you sell on eBay simply to clean out your attic, to make a few extra few dollars, as a hobby, or to build a business that can support you, it can be rewarding and fun.

  5. As a potentially interesting side note – I have spent the last 20 years as a freight broker and a couple of my customers are e-bay / craigslist sellers that need to ship items that are too heavy or bulky for UPS or the postal service. So they go through me to get discounted rates and to guide them through the ins and outs of the “common carrier” and “owner operator” rules and regulations (to basically keep them out of trouble that could otherwise be expensive). There are many people like me doing business out there but we are not easy to find because most of us don’t advertise. If you need to find one you can always google “freight broker”. Call a few and compare prices and service levels because pricing is not a set thing – like UPS or the post office. So an unscrupulous broker can charge whatever he feels you will pay. Also, make sure they are backed by a large company because there are some shady scammers out there. Buyer beware on these last two points. Also important to mention is that on used items carrier liability may be reduced in the event of loss or damage. Find out ahead of time what those liability amounts are – they differ by commodity and by carrier. I hope this might help someone.

  6. As a stay at home dad, I’m a full time reseller, mostly on ebay. There was nothing I could find fault with in this series of articles, and that’s saying a lot!

    For anyone saying, “it’s too much work for too little money” or “you’re not counting your time as anything, or the space it takes up” or whatever, I can only ask one question and make one comment.

    Would you leave a $20 bill on the sidewalk if you walked past it?

    There are always reasons NOT to do something.

    If you don’t want to spend any time developing a business or paying hobby, to generate an income stream that doesn’t depend on you going in to work for someone else then fine. DON’T. It doesn’t mean that other people shouldn’t. I don’t know of any job outside of government work that requires no effort and guarantees income.

    Reselling is a great way to make money, pay for a hobby, or cover the cost of preps. Sourcing the stuff exposes you to great items for your home and prepping.

    I’ve saved literal thousands on items for my family and for prepping. I’ve made thousands selling stuff online and on craigslist. I make great part time income for part time work. I treat it as a JOB. It’s one I enjoy, but it does take work. Track your expenses. Declare your income. Keep good records. Start small, and with stuff you know. You will soon learn to recognize when an item is worth money, even if you don’t know what it is. Use ebay’s search, always looking at SOLD items to determine what things should sell for.

    Unless you have special knowledge, stay out of “commodity” items where you have lots of competition.

    It helps tremendously if you can fix, clean, or otherwise repair minor things wrong with items. There is almost ALWAYS something wrong, but don’t let that stop you. Often it just needs cleaning, or a power supply, or a simple fix. And you can always sell it “AS IS – For parts or repair.”

    There are hundreds of youtube channels put together by resellers. LEARN FROM THEM. Do you want to grind away making $3 to $5 on clothing? Or are you a collector with higher value items to sell? there are people doing both.

    One last piece of advice- stay away from buying in bulk, like at BULQ or That is a crowded space, and takes a bigger investment of time, space, and money.

    By starting small, and working up, you can develop options in your life, and live better on less. What could be better?


Comments are closed.