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Where to Get Stuff to Sell Online

Updated on March 26, 2017

How to Build an Online Inventory

The advent of online sales has created a great opportunity to earn some extra income. By far, the most important aspect of a successive venture selling stuff online is finding stuff to sell. Whether you want to list them on eBay, Amazon, or other websites or apps, you need inventory. This page will take you through several channels of building an inventory. Here is a summary of what we will discuss:

  • Your unwanted stuff
  • Your family's unwanted stuff
  • Your friend's unwanted stuff
  • Unwanted stuff from people on Craigslist
  • Used books from libraries
  • Used books from book sales or garage sales
  • Estate Sales
  • Storage Unit Auctions
  • Buy Wholesale (normally from China)

Selling Unwanted Items Online

The starting point for any online salesperson is cleaning out their unwanted items. Whether it's a bunch of old books from school, lightly worn clothes, old electronics, or gifts from grandma that are collecting dust, this is the logical starting point. When you are starting out, you don't want to have to pay for your inventory. Ideally, you will never pay for inventory since it can destroy your profit.

After you have liquidated your personal unwanted items, ask your family if you can take some unwanted stuff off of their hands. It certainly cannot hurt to ask. Be shameless ! Then, go on Craigslist and post an ad which offers to remove unwanted items from people's homes. Spin it as a service, not that you're really asking for free inventory for a side-hustle designed to generate some supplemental income for yourself. You would be surprised at what some people are looking to get off their hands.

Snagging Used Books to Sell Online

Public and school libraries usually discard old books or books which have been recently updated. This is a prime opportunity for an enterprising online seller to pounce on some quality inventory. To do this, you will need to sweet talk someone at the library to let you know if and when the books will be discarded. If they are being thrown into the recycling or the garbage, you can swoop in and take the good stuff. If they are not being trashed or recycled, you may be able to pay a nominal fee for access to the unwanted books. Craigslist is another potential avenue to reach people looking to get rid of books. If you need to move books which you cannot sell, then donate them for a tax write-off. Garage / estate sales also have the potential to yield some good books to sell.

Garage / Estate Sales

You can learn about these in the classified sections or Craigslist. Go with some cash and use your phone if you are unsure about what an item is worth. The last thing you want to do is buy something only to find out it is worthless. Some phone apps let you scan bar codes to see how much something is worth. You would be shocked at some items you can pick up at garage sales. I once bought a $2,000 for 150 bucks after a bit of haggling.

Making Money at Storage Unit Auctions

This is a bit of a risky proposition, but as seen on TV it can pay off big ! The problem is that now due to the TV show, everyone knows about these. It's quite hard to know how much to bid when you can't really look inside and see what is contained in the unit. The other problem I ran into was that you go to the facility and are ready to bid only to learn that the owner of the stuff inside has satisfied the arrears on the rent and the auction is cancelled. You can get burned at storage units and I would recommend that you attend several before actually bidding on them .

Buying Wholesale Products to Sell Online

After you have exhausted all the above and have gained lots of experience as an online vendor, you can search for wholesale products to buy in bulk to sell online. Websites such as DHGATE offer access to Chinese wholesale operations which make tons of items at a very cheap price. With cheap but slow shipping, you can keep your overhead very low here. However, the difficulty is choosing what products to sell. Many of the sellers on DHGATE already have eBay accounts and you cannot undersell them no matter what. However, if you have patience and are set up to sell in volume, you can make some money this way. You need an eye for what people will buy and you need to make sure that tons are eBay sellers are not already selling these items.


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