Last week, Greg published a post called Increase credit card spend (and get most of it back): What still works September 2017. Some readers might be surprised to hear that I’ve never bought a gift card or made a Plastiq payment to meet a minimum spend. That’s not to say that I don’t buy gift cards and use Plastiq (I certainly do), but I don’t usually have any trouble meeting the opening spend requirements with actual purchases because I’ve long been comfortable with reselling. In today’s post, I’ll highlight a few things I’ve resold lately with the hopes that I encourage those interested in reselling to think outside the box a bit when considering what to resell.
Note about sourcing
Unlike collecting signup bonuses and shopping portal points, reselling is a competitive business. When you have more competition, whether on the sourcing end or the selling end, it gets harder to make a profit. For that reason, I try to focus on things with low competition in both areas. For the same reason, I’m not going to list sources for all of the things I’m including in this post. The point of this post isn’t to be a guide to exactly what to buy and where to buy it — truth be told, that guide wouldn’t be useful as both are constantly changing. Rather, the point of this post is to highlight the fact that there are a world of things to resell — opportunities abound if you’re willing to take a little risk.
That out of the way, here are just a few things I’ve resold over the past month.
Item 1: DuroMax 10,000 watt hybrid dual fuel portable generator
This first one was an easy call for me as I bought one a year ago on a whim and flipped it quickly and locally. I don’t know a lot about generators, but I know that as we come into the winter months, someone is always looking for a generator to have for a hunting camp or outdoor event or to have “just in case”. Over the summer, Factory Authorized Outlet put this generator on sale for $599.99.
Lucky for me, they did so on a day when I had a bonus offer for 10% back in Ebay bucks. If you look closely in the screen shot above, you’ll see that it says I would also earn $60 in eBay bucks.
Last winter, they put this generator on sale for $100 less and I sold it for $700. This time around, that would only mean a $100 profit, but combined with the $60 in eBay bucks that seemed like enough of a margin to justify the $600 cost. On top of that, I had recently opened a card with a $2K spend requirement for the signup bonus. This generator would get me almost a third of the way towards the $2K in a single purchase.
I didn’t expect this one to sell quickly, so I knew I would have to store it for a bit. However, sure enough, I resold it last month for $700 after holding it for about 10 weeks. Many places (Factory Authorized Outlet included) are selling this generator for $1500 right now, but Home Depot has it for $980 before any sort of discounts. The buyer was willing to pick it up himself, so my time cost was low on this one. It was an easy win-win as he got a great deal at $700 and I moved it out of the garage.
Item 2: Heatcraft Hermetic 3/4 horse power condensing unit
I’ll be honest, I still don’t really understand what this thing is. I saw an opportunity to buy it from a liquidator for $300. I Googled the make and model and saw that somebody on eBay was selling it for more than $1500. Similar to the generator, I expected to have to float this one for a while before getting paid off, but I hoped I’d be able to get somewhere between a thousand and twelve hundred dollars, making the wait worthwhile. I listed this one on every Craigslist within a distance I’d be willing to drive on a weekend (about 4 hours). I also would have been willing to sell it on eBay. Many people get intimidated by the idea of freight shipping, but I’ve found that it is not nearly as expensive as you’d probably guess. I’ve used Uship.com many times for items including motorcycles, boats, kitchen appliances, pellet stoves, and more. I’ve been happy enough with the results not to shop around much. I’d guestimate that I could have shipped this thing coast-to-coast for about $300.
All that said, I found that I grossly overestimated the existence of a market for everything. I held onto this unit, gathering dust in a family member’s barn, for more than a year. I had one interested buyer sometime last year who traded a few emails on Craigslist and talked on the phone before falling off the face of the earth…and then radio silence. A couple of weeks ago, I got an email about it and spoke on the phone to a guy who owns a refrigeration business and was interested. He asked if I’d take $800 for it. Yeah, I would. It took more than a year, but I more than doubled my money. I was glad to unload it and make a buck doing so. Of course, being in the business, the buyer was planning to resell it as well — he said, “You know, I might sit on this thing for a year before I find someone who wants to buy it.” Tell me about it, buddy.
While I’m happy to more than double my money in a year’s time from a financial perspective, I’d rather take a smaller profit a bit more quickly. I’m not sure I’d buy another one of these.
Item 3: Pellet stove
I buy a lot of things I find that are being liquidated for one reason or another. I found a store sitting on old stock of a pellet stove that they apparently weren’t moving and I was able to buy a few well below sticker price. Oddly, I’ve found pellet and wood stoves very profitable — I haven’t yet found a metal box in which to burn wood that I can’t sell for a profit.
In fact, a pellet stove was how I first got into buying larger items. My wife convinced me to pay about $900 for a pellet stove with a retail value around $3K, her argument being that we must be able to at least get our money back out of it (and even if we lost a little bit, how much of a loss could be it?). I listed it on Craigslist in both the “for sale” and “barter” sections. Someone offered to trade a used Honda Shadow 1100 motorcycle for it. In the end, it turned out that the bike had these really cool custom handlebars….that were too wide for to get it inside his storage space. Winter was coming and he was looking to make a trade. I sold the Shadow on eBay a few months later for $3600 and shipped it to Texas. After fees, I pocketed more than $3,000 (the buyer paid for shipping).
Not every stove is such a big win, but when it gets cold I can usually find a buyer without much effort. I paid $410 each for the stove pictured above. I listed it locally for an asking price of $1100 (which happens to match what the big-box stores charge for this stove before tax). I didn’t expect to get that much, but wanted to start with a high anchor knowing that it’s the right season. I sold the first one about a week ago — the buyer offered $900 and wouldn’t go any higher. Sold. One down, couple more to go. Here’s to a cooler fall.
Item 4: Kindle Fires
I don’t focus much on consumer electronics these days, but sometimes a deal is too good to ignore. That was the case with these Fire tablets. Last month, we posted about the opportunity to buy the Kindle Fire 7 for $15 plus tax or the Fire 8 for $25 plus tax. At those prices, they seemed like an easy item to resell. While I have long resold larger items via Craigslist, the market there has been gradually drying up. I find it to be almost a complete waste of time for small items like this as I get a million emails from unreliable people and get stood up, wasting my time. Instead, my wife and a family member sell things like this via local Facebook marketplaces. I find that buyers are much more comfortable with Facebook. However, I also find that most Facebook buyers are looking for cheap things. These Fire tablets seemed to fit the bill.
We’ve only had them for a couple of weeks and haven’t tried very hard (figured demand will probably increase closer to the holidays even if Amazon releases a newer model), but so far we’ve sold:
4x Kindle 8 for $180 total ($45 each to the same buyer)
2x Kindle 7 for $75 total (also one buyer)
So far, my total cost for those six tablets with sales tax was $140.40 and I’ve sold them for $255. As it was only two buyers, time cost was low. A family member met these buyers for me and we split the profits for about $52.50 each so far. That’s not a killing, but it’s also not a bad return on investment. With items like this, I generally wouldn’t make a special trip to meet anyone. But if they can meet me somewhere that is already on my route, why not make a few bucks? I honestly didn’t plan to take $45 each for the Fire 8’s, but getting rid of four at once reduces the time spent messaging and meeting with other buyers, so I took the offer. I have quite a few more to go here.
Item 5: Marshall speaker
This was my dumb impulse purchase of the post. When I’m on the road for one reason or another, I’ll sometimes keep an eye out for a store that sells liquidation items. Whether it’s a chain like Ollie’s / Big Lots or a more local box store that sells bargains, I’ll keep my ear to the ground for opportunities. At some point last year, we were driving through a city and already had a pickup truck and enclosed trailer with some other items we were picking up to resell. We caught wind of such a store and figured we had space. We bought a variety of items that day, including cookware, Mikasa china, small kitchen appliances, and two of the above-pictured Marshall Acton Bluetooth speaker — all of which were open-box items. The speaker was marked at $84. At the time, the speaker was going for more than this, but today’s Amazon price for a new one is $169.99.
I bought two of them, and with the volume that we purchased, we got a small discount. Still, my cost on this speaker was in the $80’s after tax. I finally (after about six months) sold one of them for $100 on Craigslist last week. Luckily, the guy came to meet us at the doctor’s office where we had an appointment. He was late, so I did have to walk out from the office visit for a minute, but it was a simple and quick exchange. Still, not worthwhile for the small profit margin on this one. If there is a win in this, it’s that I love how these sound, so I won’t be terribly disappointed if I keep the other one.
Item 6: Hunting Bows
Like the pellet stoves above, this one is about season. I was able to snag four previous-model hunting bows during the off-season for well under their original prices (I paid $375-$475 for each bow, with original prices in the $800-$1500 range). I sold them all for $700-$950. When I come across an item like this that I know absolutely nothing about, I’ll put the item make and model into eBay and select the “sold listings” check box on the left hand side to get an idea as to what people have been paying for the items recently.
Ebay will then show selling prices. Some of them are just a green number and others are crossed out:
When it is crossed out, as in the first of the two listings above, it means that the buyer made a “best offer” that was accepted. A solid green number (like the second one) means that there was a flat selling price (no negotiation).
That’s one tool I use to determine how much something is worth before buying it, and that helped me to know that I could make some money on these bows. Not an absolute killing on these, but enough to make it worthwhile.
Do you win every time?
Nobody wins every time. I recently took back a couple of returns from Amazon — including an Apple Watch and an expensive bluetooth speaker. I’ll lose something on each of those. However, if you spend more time focusing on those items which have low competition in both sourcing and selling, you’ll find that you win much more often than you lose.
Additionally, when you choose items with low selling competition, it increases your bargaining power. When you find the person who wants your item, you know that they don’t have many alternative options, so you can extract a good value while still giving them a good deal. Finally, scammers are much less likely to target a pellet stove or generator than an Apple Watch. I still have to check the Apple Watch that got returned to figure out whether or not the buyer returned the actual watch or a counterfeit and whether or not it has water damage, etc. I spend less time with those types of concerns when I focus more on oddball items like those above.
Where can you find deals like those?
Again, this post isn’t about where to source, but rather what to think about when you’re looking to source stuff. Now and then, it’s OK to jump on the bandwagon with a Kindle Fire deal like I did, but at $15 or $25 each, it’ll take a while to meet your minimum spend goals. Looking for an item that is out of season or overstocked or going to be in high demand soon would be smart.
Reselling can be a viable way to meet minimum spend goals and make a small profit while you’re at it. Some people would rather spread out risk by purchasing many smaller items, and there is wisdom in that type of risk management. However, I have found that low competition on both the sourcing and selling ends tends to provide nice profits — and I don’t usually struggle to meet a minimum spend. Keep in mind that you’ll need to start with an amount you’ll willing to float — that is, an amount you are willing to pay off even if you’re unable to make all of the necessary sales. But if you keep your eye out for interesting opportunities, you can find yourself on the right end of some big wins.