How to make money buying and upselling cheap items
Looking for your next money-making project? Buying things from cheap high street shops and reselling them online is a surprisingly effective way to make some quick cash!
There's no denying you can pick up a bargain or twelve at a charity shop or a car boot sale. In fact, it's even possible to walk out richer than you were when you walked in – by getting your hawk eyes ready, your phone out and your money-making brain in action.
Buying items for a low price and selling them on eBay for a profit can be a great way to make money, and we're here to show you how to do it. You just need to choose your items carefully and know how to work the eBay selling game like a pro.
Here are some upselling tips to get you started!
What's in this guide?
Best things to buy and sell for profit
While there are no limits to what you can buy and resell for money, here are some of the best items:
- Books – Selling old books can be a real money maker, especially if you can find any rare or old ones. Check out our guide on how to sell old textbooks to maximise your profits.
- Branded clothes – Charity shops and car boot sales can be a goldmine for branded clothing, and our guide to reselling your clothes can help you.
- Furniture – While it's possible to find some cheap furniture to resell, there's often free furniture listed on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace. If you upcycle them to add value, you can make a nice profit.
- Limited edition items – As you can probably already guess, limited edition items can be quite rare, which drives up the price. Especially if they're no longer available in stores, prices on eBay will soar.
- Toys and board games – Old toys and board games can be a real winner online. Just have a look at these valuable toys from your childhood.
- Trading cards and comics – If you can find the right buyer, you can make quite a bit of cash reselling trading cards and comics. You do have to know what you're looking for though, as some may be worthless. Check out this student who sold some Pokemon cards for 10x the price she originally paid.
- Video games and consoles – Similar to toys, video games and game consoles can go for a lot of money online, especially if they're rare.
Is it legal to buy and resell items?
It's totally legal to resell items you've bought on the high street. Once it's yours, it's yours, and you can do what you want with it!
But be honest about the fact it's second-hand, and list any damage or faults with the item. And if you start making some serious money, you'll have to pay tax. Check out our simple guide to the rules and regs of tax and make sure you know how to submit a self-assessment tax return.
Is it ethical to resell items from charity shops?
There has been some debate online about whether it's ethical to resell items from a charity shop for a profit. By doing this, are you harming the charity shops?
While everybody has their own opinion about this topic, it's important to keep in mind that charity shops set their own prices. Staff are trained to value items, and if something appears to be particularly valuable, they can decide to put it up for auction (or list it on their own eBay stores, like the British Heart Foundation).
Whether you're buying something from a charity shop to use at home or to resell, it doesn't change the profits for the charity shop. Once you buy it, it's yours to use however you like. Plus, buying from a charity shop encourages stock rotation. This way, more new items get to be on the shop floor and charity shops can avoid having to dispose of items that aren't selling (which costs them money).
On top of that, reselling items isn't an easy task. Looking for the right items, adding value by fixing/cleaning them up, taking photos, listing them on eBay, packaging, shipping and dealing with customers takes a lot of effort. So, there's definitely an argument that you're entitled to some profit.
How to start buying and reselling items online
Here are some easy steps on how to start reselling:
Choose what to buy
Bog standard items aren't going to fetch much interest online, so keep an eye out for the more unusual items.
Topical, trending, limited or niche products will undoubtedly bring in the most cash. For example, Disney-themed items will almost always sell well online, particularly if the products coincide with the release of a new feature.
Do some quick price comparisons as well; just because it has a £1 price tag, it doesn't mean it's a bargain. You can get some items cheaper elsewhere.
Check the market value
When you come across an item in a charity shop or at a car boot sale that you've sniffed out as a potential money-maker, look it up on the eBay app.
On the eBay app, you can scan the barcode with the camera on your phone and it will automatically show you listings of the same item (you can do this by tapping the little camera icon in the search bar). Obviously, most items at charity shops won't have a barcode, so you can also type in the name of the item instead.
Doing this will show you how much competition there is for the item and you'll also get an indication of how much it will sell for on eBay. If there are loads of third-party sellers listing it at low prices, this is a sure sign the item isn't worth your time.
It's also worth turning on the "completed items" filter. This will show you if the item actually has been sold recently and for what price. If nobody has bought it in months, it may not be worth your time. Check out our eBay buying guide for more tricks!
List the item online
All that's left now is to part with your pounds and head home to list your items on eBay or Facebook Marketplace.
If you find an item that seems to be particularly valuable, there's no harm in scooping up a few to sell on if you can find them. But don't go overboard – you could end up with a box full of Disney pencil cases that nobody wants if you can't flog them quickly enough.
How much money can you make from reselling?
It is worth bearing in mind that you will incur a few charges on eBay with every item you sell. These include postage, packaging and eBay's charge. You can find out the exact details about prices in our eBay seller guide.
We've heard of people making anything from £100 to £2,000 a month by reselling stuff online. But it'll take a while to find your niche in the market and for the money to come rolling in.
Be prepared for a bit of trial and error at first. Some items might make a small loss or only break even, while others will make you some serious cash. Stick with it until you find the items and brands that sell best.
Looking to seriously cash in? If you've got any of these valuable childhood toys in the attic you could be sitting on a small fortune!