Over the years, I have spent countless hours in thrift stores shopping for inventory and I’ve discovered that traveling to a nearby metro area and spending one or even two day’s shopping can be extremely beneficial. It allows you to get a bunch of inventory in a short amount of time and spend the rest of the week working.
Three Hour Radius.
Anyone who lives in a rural or smaller town is typically within three hours of a metro area where they can spend the day shopping. I don’t believe in the excuse that you can’t find inventory and I know first hand that it can be done consistently. That is my ‘three hour radius’ belief.
Car Full of Gold.
Traveling to a metro area also allows you to be more selective with what you purchase. You don’t have to settle for the same old stuff you see locally because there are so many more options. So many more stores. This is the ‘car full of gold’ belief.
I have been using this strategy for years but I’ve always wondered…what is the return? When I travel to another city to buy inventory, how much do I make? How long does it take to sell? What can I expect from my shopping trip?
As many of you know, it’s hard to track that information but I was determined to try to figure it out. This leads me to my ‘Thrift Store Experiment’. I wanted to find answers to these questions.
The Thrift Store Experiment
On January 9th, I left my house at 7am and headed for Des Moines which I consider to be a mid-market area. You can’t go to every thrift store in one day but if you move quickly you can hit a decent amount of them. I arrived at 10am and shopped all day long until the last store closed at 9pm that evening.
The primary thrift stores in Des Moines are Goodwill and Salvation Army with a few smaller ones mixed in. The Salvation Army’s in this area are GIGANTIC stores. You could literally spend hours in one store if you wanted to. I chose to be selective about which parts of the store I spent time shopping in and moved on to another.
On that day, I was able to shop at 15 different stores.
For the most part it was a very average shopping day. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. I found a decent amount of items (91) that I believe will all sell in a fair amount of time but no big hitters that will sell for an abnormal amount of money. It’s a perfect shopping trip to test my questions.
- It took us about three days to process the group of items including prep, photo and list. By listing all of the items within the same period, I can track how long it takes for items to sell.
- I assigned each item a specific inventory number. This allows me to track each item.
- I keep a running spreadsheet of each item that sells AFTER we ship it out. This is true data and eliminates non-payment buyers.
- We listed each item on a five-day auction.
- If the item didn’t sell on auction, we flipped it into a buy it now.
Money Spent on Inventory: $399.53
Amount of Items Purchased: 91
Items w/ Flaws and Unusable: 4
Total Items Listed: 85
Average Price Per Item: $4.39
As of 1/24/17:
Sales Made: $1155.97
Amount of Items Sold: 37
Average Price Per Item: $31.24
Where We Stand:
Amount of Items Remaining: 48
Overall, it’s great to get a feel for where this thing is going. In less than two weeks, we have almost tripled our initial investment. That’s great! However, what may be even more exciting is what is still to come. We have 48 items left to sell and are averaging over $30 per item sold. That’s a PIPELINE of future sales to come down the road.
It’s also good to know that we sold through 43% of the items within the first couple of weeks. Things aren’t hanging around, taking up space and are moving quickly.
I will continue to update this ‘experiment’ as time goes on and share it with you. It will be interesting to see the END results.
UPDATED RESULTS 2/22
We have continued to track this experiment and have the latest results. We are loving the data that it continues to produce.
$1786.77 in sales
57 items sold
Average Price Sold $31.35
Remaining Items: 28
Overall Profit: $1387.24
In six weeks we have sold 67% of the items purchased.
How About You?
What part of this experiment interests you the most?
What would you like to know more about?
Let me know in the comments below…