How and Where To Buy Things To Resell on eBay (Sourcing Guide for Resellers)




buy things to resell on ebay
Photo by Mats Hagwall on Unsplash

When you are first starting out on eBay, getting items to sell for making money can be quite a challenge. 

Even if you know what types of items you want to sell and make money with, acquiring those items at a low enough price to resell for a profit can be quite a challenge.

Below, we are going to discuss all the various ways I know for sourcing items for eBay. 

Each method discussed below is either something I’ve tried myself or learned from another reseller talking about it.

If you are 100% new to reselling, I recommend you check out the following articles to get some ideas for the types of products you might actually want to resell.

Best Kinds of Items To Resell on eBay

Top eBay Youtubers Show You How To Start Selling

How To Buy Items To Resell, By Paying The Lowest Price Possible

Before we talk about where to buy and source items, let’s talk about how to get the lowest price possible for these times, so you can resell something and make a profit.

Remember, when selling on eBay you have to wait for the item to sell, pay shipping expenses, and eBay reseller fees. On top of that, you have to also account for the time of making a listing and shipping the item.

Also, don’t forget! If you have a larger item, you also have to account for the space of storing that item.

To check out items to see if they are a good option to resell, do the following:

  • Look up the price on eBay and filter sold listings to get its real price.
  • Consider how long it will take to sell, by reviewing the dates of that item on the sold listings.
  • Consider the shipping price.
  • Consider how common the item is, if it’s a common item many will be listed for sale so you’ll have to lower the price to sell it faster. If you see hundreds of the same item for sale, it’s a very common item.
  • Ask yourself if the item is truly in demand and worth reselling based on how many you see listed for sale vs. actually being sold on eBay. Resellers call this a sale-through rate.
  • The average wholesale price for buying something to resell is around 10 – 30% of its sold price. For some more in demand higher end items you could go up to 50% of its sold value. Never go over 50% for any item you are considering to resell. It’s time to walk away if you have to pay more than 50% for any item.

With time, you’ll be able to program your brain to follow these rules and it will be second nature to you as you feel out items to resell.

But it will take time, patience, and some trial and error looking up prices and buying items along the way.

Now that you know how to start pricing items and seeing if they are worth sourcing or not, let’s talk about where you go to get things to resell on eBay (or any other online marketplace.)

Find Things Around Your House

When you first get into sourcing and looking for items to resell on eBay, the easiest place to start is with your own home. Go through your home and find any items you think might have some value, then start looking up prices on eBay.

If you find something of value and don’t want that item anymore, set it aside so you can list it on eBay and get some money for it.

The things you’ll find around your house are endless. To start, be on the lookout for the following items:

  • Dishes and Cookware
  • Old Electronics
  • Old Video Games and Toys
  • Old Clothing and Shoes
  • Old Music and Movies (Cassette and VSH Tapes, DVDs, CDs)
  • Anything that you know of that is collectible and don’t have an interest for anymore.

Old furniture you have around your house is also something that you can resell on eBay, but I’d only do a local sale because it would be hard to ship furniture.

In addition to doing a local only sale on eBay, you can also use Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to sell furniture fast.

The possibilities of finding things around your home for reselling on eBay are only limited to your imagination. In my opinion, it’s the best way to learn more about reselling and training your brain to be an expert at sourcing, especially before you start treasure hunting at other places.

Garage and Yard Sales

Garage and moving sales are great places to source items for eBay. But, In my experience, they are very hit or miss. Some factors that come into play for having a good experience sourcing at garage sales will be where you live and the time of year.

Where I live in Northern California, it seems like your typical garage sale is not great for resellers. A lot of times people look up the prices ahead of time and list all their good stuff on FaceBook Marketplace or Craigslist to resell separately.

In other words, you’ll never see anything but junk at 90% of the garage sales.

So it’s not worth really driving far for just one garage sale unless you have pictures from a garage sale listing and can tell if there is something of value to purchase ahead of time.

However! Most likely you will have to arrive early to buy the valuable item you saw in the pictures.

And, guess what? Your competition is doing the same.

A lot of times people are lining up hours before the seller even opens the garage door.

It’s so ridiculous at times, I’ve known people who were planning a garage sale to leave their address off a FB or Craigslist listing until an hour before they begin the sale. They did this because they were tired of people being lined up on their driveway at 5 am in the morning when they had a previous sale.

If you have a lot of garage sales in a neighborhood (aka, town-wide sale) or one part of your city, it might be worth your time to create a route and hit them all up in a short amount of time.

Where I live, town-wide sales just do not happen very often.

But for the once or twice a year during the spring and summer months that it does happen, you will see some neighborhood sales and the trip is quite often worth the time and drive.

The types of items you can expect to buy at a garage sale will vary a lot. In my experience, you’ll see clothing, toys, video games, pop culture collectibles, tools, furniture, kitchen appliances, electronics, and other junk commonly found around a house.

Moving Sales

A moving sale is essentially a garage or yard sale that has a lot of things for sale. The sellers are highly motivated and are not as interested in getting the highest price for each and every item. Because they have a lot of things to sell off before they move.

Another thing to think about is the fact that the sellers are on a tight schedule and are very busy depending on how far they are moving and how many people are in their family. They mostly only care about taking a small amount of items with them, which are their essentials and most valuable family items.

There’s a good chance because of this, they are highly motivated, have a lot of things for sale, and will make a deal if you buy a lot of items at once.

I always have a great experience going to moving sales and I like them much better than your typical yard or garage sale.

The types of things you will find at a moving sale is very similar to a garage sale. Mostly household items and junk around the house.

Every so often you’ll get lucky and find a collector who might be selling something off as well.

Estate Sales

Estate sales are my favorite and there are many of them where I live. Every week during the entire year, there seem to be at least 2-5 estate sales happening within a 10 minute drive of where I live.

And there is a lot of stuff for sale.

Essentially, an estate sale is a moving sale for someone who passed away, and the family has to sell off the deceased person’s home and belongings. If you are curious to learn more about how an estate sale works, here’s a link to research it more on Wikipedia. Estate Sales

Depending on the size of the house and the estate, you’ll find two types of sales.

Family Ran Estate Sale

One type is run by the family itself. Often these types of estate sales are a bit unorganized and are run like a big moving sale. You’ll find things are not priced or laid out very nicely. This is a great sign that you can work a deal if you buy a lot of things in one purchase.

Estate Sale Liquidation Company

The second type of estate sale is when an estate sale liquidation company is hosting the sale. The advantage will be that things will be organized and priced out so your buying experience will be better. The downside is that things might be overpriced and all the hidden treasures have been sorted out already.

If at all possible, always prioritize estate sales run by the family and not an outside liquidation company!

Where I live, I see a balance of more estate sales run by companies so I have learned to appreciate the service they provide. The secret is that I go on the second or last day of the sale when they advertise 50% off and I work a deal.

At estate sales, you can expect to find all of the things you will at a garage or moving sale. 

Which is mostly household items like electronics, kitchen appliances, tools, clothing, collectibles, furniture, and other personal items.

The big difference however between items for sale from an estate sale vs. a regular garage or moving sale is that they most likely will be vintage.

Because there is a good chance that the items belonged to someone who is from an older generation, your chances of finding vintage and antique items to resell are much higher.

This is what makes estate sales desirable for resellers, vintage items sell very well on eBay if you know what to look for.

Thrift Stores

Thrift stores are another great place to find things to sell on eBay. However, each city has its own group of good and bad thrift stores. The best thing to do is to scout out the thrift stores in your city and take notes of what your experience is like at each one.

Over time, you’ll start to remember the good thrift stores from the bad.

At some point to save time, it’s probably best to just focus on the good stores and don’t waste any time going to the bad.

The things that make a thrift store good for resellers are the following:

  • Has reasonable prices for the items you resell.
  • Has plenty of inventory to source.
  • Is clean and organized, not just a huge mess all the time.
  • The people running the store are nice and won’t raise the prices on items once you get up to the register.

A bad thrift store for resellers is one that has no inventory, high prices, and is a big unorganized mess. You’ll quickly discover these thrift stores in your community and learn not to waste your time trying to source from them.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that big thrift store chains like GoodWill and Salvation Army can be either really good or just plain terrible, depending on the city and location they serve. So it’s impossible to really rely on what other people from a different city say about their local Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift store.

It’s best to just check it out for yourself!

In my experience, I used to find great music, movies, and electronics at my local thrift stores. But then, one day, they just stopped having anything good. I quit wasting my time going to the thrift stores in my area altogether because of a lack of inventory and very expensive prices.

If you ask around online, you’ll find some eBay resellers saying the thrift stores started selling their good items online and putting all the low quality ones in their retail stores. While that might be true, there is so much stuff out there, they can’t possibly catch everything that is good, can they?

You’ll just have to see what your local thrift stores offer you and decide for yourself.

After I discovered I could find better stuff at garage sales, estate sales, and the flea market, I never looked back at making my decision to stop shopping at thrift stores.

Sourcing Online Marketplaces Like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Sometimes eBay Auctions

Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and sometimes eBay Auctions can be great places to source inventory to resell.

I say sometimes with eBay because it’s mostly a reseller platform and a lot of times the auctions will get way too high to make it profitable for a reseller, so just be careful.

You have to be careful with Facebook and Craigslist too!

Typically on Facebook and Craigslist, you’ll find other resellers selling items too, but not as much as eBay. So you’ll want to skip over the ads that look too nice or are priced too high. As you browse the ads more and more in your local area, you’ll get really good at identifying the resellers.

When sourcing from online marketplaces, it helps if you specialize in just a few categories of products, this way you can identify a good deal right away because you know the prices like the back of your hand.

This way you’ll have the advantage when you find something listed that might be worth reselling, because most of the time, you’ll have to move on it fast. Especially if it’s vintage toys or video games!

Note: If browsing on eBay and the listing is not a fixed price, such as with an auction or best offer, just put a max bid or best offer on the item and move on. If you win it, you win it. You will save a lot of time too.

Facebook, Craigslist, (and sometimes eBay Auctions) can be great for finding complete collections of items. Just go into any category of products for sale and search with the keywords “lot” or “collection”.

If you did this for books, for example, you might find an entire book collection for sale that you can part out as individual books and make money. Or pick out a few books that are worth a lot more than you initially paid and just sell those for a profit, while donating the rest.

The same strategy works well for movies, music, toys, sports cards, coins, stamps, postcards, matchbooks, and any other type of item people like to collect.

There are other online marketplaces besides Facebook, Craigslist, and eBay Auctions. You can try using them but I have found more times than not they will not be good for sourcing products and items from.

They have a lot of resellers, but not a lot of everyday people just trying to sell stuff to clear out space. These marketplaces include Offerup, Poshmark, Mercari, and the like.

Wholesale and Liquidation Companies

When you first get into the reselling game on eBay, you might be tempted to jump right into buying wholesale or liquidation pallets.

I highly recommend against doing this!

This type of sourcing should be saved for when you have experience with dealing with a vast assortment of items already. And for when you’ve built up a nice history of reselling items and actually making a profit.

So start small, then when you are confident you can handle a much higher volume of goods, start browsing and looking for reputable Wholesale and Liquidation deals.

The most important takeaway from buying a large pallet or crate of goods from a wholesale or liquidation company is that you want stuff that you can actually resell and make money with.

About 90% of the items that are available from wholesale or liquidation companies are overpriced and do not have a very good sales-through rate.

This is just reality, so when you feel you are ready to take the plunge into wholesale and liquidation deals it’s best to do the following.

  • Carefully research the company you are purchasing from, and if possible call them on the phone to arrange the deal.
  • Work with a wholesale or liquidation company close to you, this way you can visit them in person to see if they are legit or not.
  • Be careful buying a lot of items without knowing an exact inventory list of the brands and models of merchandise you’ll be buying. This way you can look up the items ahead of time on eBay to see what they sell for and if the market has a strong demand to move those items.
  • When buying from a wholesale or liquidation company for the first time, start with a small purchase first to test them out.
  • Understand the reality that it will be hard to get an honest referral to a wholesale or liquidation company because many resellers will not want to give up a legit source that they buy merchandise from, they don’t want the added competition.

Storage Auctions

Storage Auctions are a great place to source household items and collectibles from. In fact, you probably first heard about storage auctions from watching the hit A&E Show called “Storage Wars”.

The reality of storage auctions is that it’s nothing like what you saw on TV.

Finding items worth any big money is rare but not impossible. But for TV shows they are mostly interested in getting viewers to make money, not showing you the true reality of how hard it really is!

So with that said, YES you can make decent money buying up storage auctions, and you’ll do quite well if you get skilled as a bidder.

But it will take time and a lot of hard work to streamline a process for yourself.

To get started, search on Google for local storage auctions that are happening in your area. You can go see them in person or sometimes the storage company doing the auction will have it online.

Whether the storage auction is in person or online, take a careful look at what merchandise you can see (remember to carefully check out the photos if it’s online.) Then, in your mind, place a top value on that storage locker before the bidding starts.

If the bidding goes above your top value, just walk or click away to the next auction. Don’t overthink or get emotional about losing out.

Sometimes losing an auction can be a blessing because a lot of times many inexperienced buyers will be bidded up and ultimately take a loss by winning.

I’ve personally never bought an entire storage locker on my own, but I have cherry-picked some great collectibles from others who buy lockers and want to clear out their merchandise fast.

This works out better for me because I’m not a big fan of having to get all the stuff at once including the junk out of an entire locker. Plus, you are stuck spending a lot of time throwing stuff out as you pick through the items actually worth reselling.

Maybe one day, I’ll change my mind about this, but for now, my system of buying from others who buy entire storage lockers works pretty well.

Networking with Other People You Know

Networking with other people for sourcing items to resell on eBay is extremely powerful. But it will take some time to build up the relationships you need to make a consistent stream of new inventory.

The first group of people you should network with are all of your friends and family members. Let them know you are buying collections, household items, vintage items, antiques, and any other type of junk.

Tell them to ask around with other friends and colleagues if they might ever be interested in getting rid of some junk around the house.

Or better yet, in casual conversation, if some of your friends or family members know someone who is moving or planning a garage sale, maybe you can have early access to buy some of the items they have for sale. If an estate sale is being planned, even better!

The bottom line is this, the more people that know you are a reseller, the more opportunities will organically come your way for sourcing and buying items.

Outside of Your Immediate Friends and Family, Other Opportunities To Network Await You

To begin, I highly recommend you get some business cards with your contact information clearly displayed by your name. Also include a little slogan that says you buy vintage items and antiques, or whatever collectible item you specialize in.

Optionally: You can also build yourself a little website with a contact form to make yourself look even more professional. It can be just a single page that lists all the things you are interested in buying. And, you can list all the things you don’t want to buy!

Now, with your business cards in hand, every time you go out sourcing to garage sales, estate sales, the flea markets, and anywhere else for that matter, feel free to offer a business card to anyone who might have more stuff for you to buy down the road.

I’ve seen this tactic work really well for all kinds of resellers. One reseller that I used to buy things from was getting so much stuff they could not sell it all themselves. They were wholesaling to me the extra items they got.

I, later on, found out that the reseller I was buying deals from was getting all their stuff from a hauling junk removal company. That company had so much stuff left over all the time, they were interested in just selling it off to resellers for pennies on the dollar. It was mostly furniture and electronic items.

So with a little imagination and initiative in handing out business cards, you never know what types of sourcing relationships you’ll build up over time.

Running Online Ads and Posting Flyers

In the previous section, I mentioned the idea of creating business cards and even a little simple website to make it easy for people to contact you when they have items to sell you.

If you decide to run ads or post flyers, having a website will be a very important aspect for you to consider. On your flyer or in your ads, you can direct people to your website and clearly give people direction on the types of items you are looking for, before contacting you.

This has two advantages for you:

  1. You’ll save a lot of time because this will filter people out who have items you are not interested in buying.
  1. It might get the person to think about other items they have that they want to sell to you. Because you mentioned the items first, it got them thinking about all the other random stuff they might want to get rid of. This gives you more stuff to buy.

Creating and Posting Flyers

When you go out and post flyers, you could post them on bulletin boards, telephone poles, and wherever else people can clearly see them. Just make sure you include your company’s name, phone number, and website. And a statement that you are buying junk, antiques, collectibles, or whatever else you want to buy.

Be general or if you have a niche, then just list one type of product.

Running an Online Ad

If you decide you want to run an online advertisement instead of posting flyers, this strategy can be very powerful.

Just go on Craigslist under the wanted section and make a posting of what you’d like to buy from people. Include the same information that your flyer would have.

If you have a certain item you want to buy like music or video games, you could post a wanted ad directly under the section where those items are being listed for sale by others.

Just be careful you don’t get flagged and don’t post too many of these ads or people will get annoyed by looking at too many of them!

If you want to run a more advanced ad for buying things online, you could set up a Facebook or Google Ad and point people back to your website.

There is a bit of a learning curve to setting up online ads with Google and Facebook, but if you can master the skill and drive solid leads to your website for selling you stuff that you can resell, the sky’s the limit.

Running online ads requires a catchy headline, a small description, and a call to action. I recommend you go on YouTube and watch some beginner videos on getting Facebook Ads or Google Adwords set up, if you want to learn more about doing this.

Church and Rummage Sales

Church and rummage sales are charity events where they resell items to raise money for a church or certain charity. They are another great place to source household items and second-hand clothing from.

Every church and rummage sale is different and you’ll never know what is there to buy ahead of time. You pretty much just have to show up and see what is there.

Depending on the location where you live, the size of the sale and the types of household items that are available for sale will vary greatly. The clothing items will vary greatly too.

As you become more familiar with sourcing items at the various church and rummage sales in your local community, you’ll quickly learn a sourcing strategy that will work and be quite profitable.

At my local church sales, I find all types of valuable books, movies, and music.

So when you are browsing online for garage and moving sales, don’t overlook the ads and announcements for a church or rummage sale. The visit to them just might be worth it for you.

Flea Markets and Swap Meets

Just about everyone out there knows what a flea market and swap meet is. It’s an American tradition for selling used items, collectibles, antiques, and second-hand items.

Where I live in Northern California, I enjoy going to the flea market and swap meets better than going to garage and moving sales.

First off, flea markets and swap meets have a lot of people reselling items in a small location. This saves you lots of driving and from wasting gas.

The second thing I like is that I always find stuff to buy at the flea market. Unlike many of the garage sales I’ve been to. For whatever reason, where I live, the garage sales are not normally that great. (I mentioned this earlier.)

The key to finding good deals at the flea markets and swap meets is to search online for the events closest to you. Then start showing up early and browsing around the vendors and private sellers to see what is available.

If you see something that catches your eye go ahead and ask the vendor how much the item is. 

If you are unsure of the resale price on eBay, you could put the item down, walk away, then look up the item on your phone. If it looks good and a profit can be made, just go back and tell the vendor or seller that you changed your mind and buy it.

You can always negotiate with sellers at the flea markets and swap meets too. Some sellers will be more firm than others.

The big secret to getting the best deals at the flea market and swap meet is to buy from every normal day people who are just there to sell the junk out of their house or garage (private sellers.)

Private sellers are not selling at the flea market every week like a vendor does. They are motivated to move their items because they don’t want to haul anything back to their house afterward.

This means that you as a reseller can get the best items for the best price!

The best day for finding everyday people (private sellers) selling at the flea market is to go on a Friday or Saturday morning. Sundays are the worst days because it’s normally packed with vendors and all the good items would have been picked over already.

Before we end this section, you might be thinking, why don’t everyday people just have a garage sale? Why haul their stuff down to the flea market?

The answer for that is very simple, not everyone has a garage to sell out of, they might live in a condo or apartment. Another reason is that sometimes certain neighborhoods have homeowner associations that prevent any kind of estate or garage sale from happening.

Also, for a lot of people, they just don’t want a bunch of random strangers showing up to their house at all.

Final Thoughts

I hope you got something out of this guide for learning about how to find places to buy things for your eBay or online reseller business. The principles presented here will apply to full-time resellers or people who just want to make flipping on eBay a side hustle.

A lot of the information discussed here is from my first-hand experience of going out there to find places to source items to resell online. As well as watching other resellers’ source items on YouTube.

I highly recommend you check out YouTube for continuing your education on learning how and where to source items for flipping on eBay. I have two links to other articles at the beginning of this article you can check out to learn more.

I wish you the very best in your reseller journey!


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