An illustration of a person sitting in a basket with thrifting items
Finding a thrifting niche will help you build your brand and a loyal audience. (Illustration by Julie Chow, University of California, Berkeley)

Thrifting Is the Perfect Side Hustle for Fashion Lovers

With internet access and a keen eye for clothes, you can turn your passion for secondhand shopping into a profitable business venture.

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An illustration of a person sitting in a basket with thrifting items

With internet access and a keen eye for clothes, you can turn your passion for secondhand shopping into a profitable business venture.

Do you have a passion for thrifting but find yourself low on funds? Why not use your great eye for spotting trendy pieces to make some money? If you enjoy shopping at thrift stores and finding name-brand items at bargain prices, this article is for you. It’s possible to use your passion for fashion and your keen eye for popular clothing and footwear in a way that will enhance your wallet, not deplete it.

This guide offers advice to beginners, such as what items to look for, which apps to use when selling products and other recommendations and warnings when thrifting and selling.

What Should I Sell?

After deciding you are interested in making thrifting a side hustle, it is important to narrow your focus. Just as college students major in a particular subject, you want to choose the kind of items you already know well. For instance, a “sneakerhead,” or someone who loves athletic shoes and sneakers, should buy and sell shoes. Someone interested in interior design should consider thrifting for home decor.

The same could be said of someone who is knowledgeable about handbags, jewelry, clothing brands, records or anything else. Evaluate your thrifting habits and determine what you are already an expert at finding. Your background knowledge of expensive name brands will only help you as you begin establishing yourself in the marketplace of buying and selling.

Even if you don’t have an area of expertise, you can research the current market to see what is selling and make that your focal point. Initially, it might feel like you’re restricting your potential to make money, but reducing the variety of items you sell will actually enable you to become more profitable in the long run. It will make it easier to market yourself on social media outlets and selling platforms, and you will more easily be able to recognize popular brands when thrifting. Moreover, you will create a consistent target audience that will lead to repeat customers.

Where Should I Go Thrifting?

Upon determining what products to sell, the next question to address is where to shop for your products. Don’t know of any thrift stores in your area? Try looking up “thrift stores near me” on Google. Typically, you will find several within just a few miles of your door. Whether you use Goodwill, Plato’s Closet or independent local shops, many thrifters discover a lot of their great finds close to home. Depending on the products you are looking for, there are also other avenues you can explore, such as antique shops, yard sales and estate sales.

Another suggestion when shopping is to use vacation as an opportunity to discover new hot spots for thrifting. Keep an eye out for potential bargains or big brands. You never know what you might find at a thrift store when on vacation that you wouldn’t see when shopping at home. You can also use the same online platforms you sell your products on to find and purchase other items.

How Should I Sell My Products?

In the world of online shopping, selling products is simple. You don’t even have to leave your house to sell your items; all you have to do is package them, print off a label and set up a porch pickup for the mail carrier.

There are numerous platforms you can use, like Craigslist, Mercari, eBay and Etsy. Do your research on each to determine which platforms you want to sell with. Prefer to sell your products face-to-face? Try Facebook Marketplace or VarageSale.

If you want to go bigger, look for craft shows, conventions or marketplaces either near you or in another city that you can participate in. You’ll be surprised to find how many events happen under your nose. For example, sneakerheads have huge conventions multiple times every year in different cities across the U.S., and thousands of people come to buy and sell shoes.

Be creative and go outside your comfort zone — not only will you sell a large quantity of your inventory at one time at one of these events, but you will also be able to network with other sellers, buy more products to sell and discover new and popular trends.

What Should I Know When Thrifting?

There are multiple things to be aware of when venturing into the world of thrifting. For instance, each selling platform has a different way of operating. Some charge a flat fee each month regardless of how many products you sell, while others take a percentage out of each sale.

Another thing to consider is that the shipping process can look different depending on the platform. Many platforms allow sellers to pay for shipping through the site, whereas others leave that for users to do on their own. There are also various methods of setting up the sale of an item, and you’ll have to decide if you want to include the price of shipping within the product cost, or choose if you want to charge it as an additional fee.

Additional Thrifting Tips

Here’s a useful tip for making thrifting a side hustle for beginners: Learn when thrift stores drop their new inventory each week. While not all stores release new items at the same time, some stores, such as Goodwill’s outlet stores, bring out bins and racks of new products all at once. Learn your go-to thrift stores’ schedules of product releases, and make sure you’re there each time to discover your next greatest find.

Another recommendation is to market yourself along with your products. The more your customers learn about you, the more likely they are to keep up with your accounts and buy from you.

Marketing yourself can include online and in-person tactics. Establish social media accounts for your thrifting business. Create a YouTube account where you share videos about tips and tricks of the trade, like how to style your products or how to refurbish items. Make business cards to hand out and send with each sale so your customers know how to follow along.

Finding a hobby you love, like thrifting, is great, but finding a hobby you can turn into a side hustle is even better. Discover what kind of items you’re best at finding when thrifting, and start selling them on a platform of your choosing. Profit from your passion.

Make thrifting not only an activity you love to do, but also something that you can continue doing without having to stress about money. You just might find that you enjoy thrifting more as you explore alternative shopping options and share your finds with the world.

Writer Profile

Julianna Steen

Auburn University
English Literature, minoring in History

A few of my favorite things include reading romance novels, watching action movies, baking (and consuming) anything chocolate, creating for my business, He is Simply Goodness, and going on adventures with friends and family!

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