Thrift Store Experiment #2 – Kansas City

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I received the following text message on Friday, March 10th from a chain of thrift stores in Kansas City.  This was a unique sale that was previously unannounced (one day notice) and only sent out to text subscribers.

Red Racks thrift stores typically has one 50% off sale each month and they make a big deal out of it.  They announce it on their website, have handouts they give to each customer, they advertise with large signage and even have those funky blow up figures that move in the wind on sale days.  They go to great lengths to let you know that they are having a sale.

This message was sent at 4:03 in the afternoon and fortunately I was able to move some things around to make it to work.  I live in Lincoln, NE (Go Huskers!) and Kansas City is a three-hour drive for me but it’s not uncommon for me to drive to KC and spend the entire day thrift shopping.   Most of the time I will leave early in the morning but on occasion I will grab a hotel the night before if it makes sense to do so.   Because I wanted to be there right at open I decided to get a hotel and stay the night.

I use Hotwire for booking my hotel and look for a hotel that is at least 85% recommended for around $50.00.  After booking my hotel I made it to Kansas City around 10:30 pm Friday night.

The next morning I began my journey at 9am to shop at all Red Racks & City Thrift Stores in the KC metro.  My goal was to find as much inventory as possible that made sense to buy at $4.00.  This chain of thrift stores is very similar to larger metro areas – large store with higher prices and in order to really make money you have to buy things when they are on sale.

When I arrived at the first store I was surprised to see only a few other shoppers in the store.  Typically on a 50% off sale the entire building is packed right at open.  I guess the difference being that this was for clothing only and not everyone that shops at these stores is on their text message list and wasn’t aware of the sale.

I was PERFECTLY okay with that!  I wasn’t dodging shopping carts or crazy people…you know who I’m talking about.   That being said as the day went on it was busier and busier at each location but that was to be expected.

Inside Red Racks

Inside shot of Red Racks.

I was able to shop at eight different stores on Saturday and was finished up by around 4:00 in the afternoon — which is a record for me.  I came home with exactly 100 items and spent just over $400.00 on inventory.  It was a good day – lots of bread and butter items with a few special ones mixed in.

EXPERIMENT:

If you haven’t had a chance to read a recent experiment I did shopping Des Moines, you can read about it here.

I was trying to test/ answer similar questions:

  1.  What does one day of shopping actually produce in terms of profit?
  2.  How long does it take to sell thru each item?
  3.  Comparatively, how much difference is there between markets?

OUR PROCESS:

Similar to our previous experiment we (my wife and I) took about four days to process the inventory – prep, measure, photo and list.

  • We assigned each item a specific inventory number for tracking purposes.
  • We only record items that have been sold, paid for and shipped.  No fluff in our data.
  • We listed all of our items between the dates of 3/14 – 3/19 on a five-day auction.  (Auctions ended 3/19-3/24)
  • If the item did not sell on auction we turned it into a buy it now.

            

RESULTS:


At this point we have a pure profit of $650 after ONE WEEK!  That’s pretty good considering that we still have 62 items to sell through.  If we continue our average price of $34 we should profit another $2300 over the next few months (minus eBay & PayPal fees).

There are a ton of different ways to do this business and we continue to tinker with different types of inventory.  We have found that paying a little bit higher price for items typically produces a higher outcome in sales and profits for us.

We have included a slide show of the 38 items we have sold to this point.   You can see the types of items that typically do well for us and remember each item you see cost us only $4.00 each.

 

One thing to note:

Our average price for this shopping trip is $34 where as the Des Moines shopping trip was around $30.  After the spring seller update, we increased all of our starting prices by $2.00 and it seems to be showing in our average prices.  Coincidence?  Not sure – but thought it was worth pointing out.

LET ME KNOW:

I’m curious – does anyone else see the value in making a one day shopping trip?

Do you do it?  If so, how and what is your strategy?

If not, what works best for you?

 

Thanks and have a great day!

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