I feel like there are two types of people in the world: Those who love the thrill of a thrift store hunt, and those who would rather not set foot in one. For the latter, I’m more than happy to do the fashion foraging for them. Well, for a marked up price, of course.
I’ve been thrifting for decades, scoring some finds you think are just the stuff of second-hand legend. Tall tales from someone who has spent a lot of time digging through piles of cast-offs. But, nope, I’ve come home with Versace flip flops, Prada bags, a vintage Gucci evening bag, and Christian Louboutin gold spike and gem-encrusted pumps — seriously. And I found all of it at my local thrift store in my New York suburb on Long Island.
As a side hustle thrifter, I’ve made over $82K in sales on Poshmark alone. That doesn’t even include additional cash I’ve made from selling on eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. Because of this, people always asking me how to start thrifting. What actually makes good thrift store finds versus things you should skip? Well, I’m gonna tell my secrets: Here’s my crash course in thrifting and why it pays to dig deep and not give up.
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I buy home decor items for cheap at thrift stores, then flip those pieces when I’m ready for a change.
My parents always found incredible stuff at antique stores, yard sales, and on the curb off the side of the road. The amount of times I’ve heard, “Can you believe someone got rid of this?,” is probably in the hundreds. Needless to say, thrifting, picking, treasure hunting — whatever you want to call it — is in my blood.
Shortly after my now 17-year-old daughter was born, a thrift store called Savers popped up 15 minutes from my house. Ever since, I’ve been one of their top customers. As my taste and home style changes, thrifting makes my decor updates so cheap and easy. It’s not unusual for my husband to come home to a completely transformed home, with me exclaiming “Everything you see totaled $30 and came from Savers!” Plus, when I get tired of the decor, I’ll flip it on the marketplace or Poshmark and make a profit.
To make money thrifting, look for handbags with thick leather, plus details like substantial hardware and refined stitching.
It’s shocking some of the incredible things people donate to thrift stores. I’m not just talking about middle-of-the-road designers like Coach, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors. These types of buys I consider my “gas money” items. I won’t make hundreds from these brands of bags, but they’re easy and quick flips. This quick cash covers my gas money to and from the thrift all week. For example, a Kate Spade bag that I scored for less than $10 will usually sell for around $50-$80 on Poshmark. Even though Posh takes a 20% fee, I love the ease of their app and especially how simple they make the shipping aspect. With Poshmark, the buyer pays, then the seller prints out a label and sticks items in the mailbox. That’s how easy.
The high-end designer items are a little tougher to seek out, but I usually find at least one big ticket thrift weekly. (By big ticket, I’m talking about an item that yields at least $100 profit). These types of finds are often hidden amongst the dirtiest, most used, common, and undesirable merchandise, so when I spot one, it’s truly like finding hidden treasure.
Through my years of scouring for designer thrift store finds, I can now tell when something is high quality from the touch. There is a difference in the way it feels. The thick luxurious leather is always a dead giveaway. Observations, like substantial hardware and perfect stitching, also let me know I’m holding a quality piece. Just be cautious with the amount of counterfeit designer bags on the market right now as it is sometimes hard to tell apart the real thing. I rely on various Facebook groups and paid services to help ensure I’m not reselling fake items.
I have accumulated a lifetime sales record of 82K on Poshmark.
This brings me to my next point of why I love thrifting. It’s provided a side hustle both when I was working my full-time tech job as well as when I was out of work, raising my preschool-age children. Throughout all the phases of my life, I’ve always been able to fit in quick trips to the thrift, leaving with something I can double my money on.
My total lifetime sales on Poshmark totals $82K. Of course, that’s not pure profit. I had to pay for the inventory, but I would venture to guess that I spent less than 1/3 of that amount. Thrifting provides another stream of income for our family. It’s been impactful and critical at times. So next time you see a thrift store, give it a chance. Does it take some time to finding the most profitable items to flip? Sure. But with a little time and effort, you’ll get the hang of what people want and what they don’t.
Related: 39 Thrifting Tips From a Professional Thrifter to Save Your Sanity
These are my favorite recent thrift store finds:
Black Prada bag, $4.99
For reference, this was Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s favorite Prada bag.
Gucci slides, $9.99
Tiffany readers, $3.99
These start at $350 for reference.