Buying Inventory to Sell on eBay

September 16, 2010 by The Selling Sisters  
Filed under Ebay, Finding Inventory, How To..., Thrifting

When I first started selling on eBay, I didn’t know how to approach buying inventory.  I went to thrift stores  and spent $10-15, trying to find the best items I could  to bring a decent profit.

I tried different types of items that I thought would sell on eBay.

I look back now and cringe….I think of all of the items I passed up because I tried to stick to my budget at the thrift store.

I think a small budget may have been a good strategy for me initially since I didn’t really know about what would sell or what wouldn’t sell. I didn’t want to waste money on items that wouldn’t sell.

In the last couple of years, I’ve changed my buying strategy.  Especially when I’m at thrift store or  a garage sale. Most of the time, I can’t go back for the item, if  I don’t buy it now, it’s gone.

For the most part, if it’s something I want, I put it in my cart and then make a final inspection before checking out.

It’s more cost effective in my opinion for me to spend $75 at one thrift store on items that I know  turn a good profit than it is for me to stick to a certain dollar limit in a store and then go to several thrift stores in a week.

I do try to stick with items that are consistent sellers for me and items that I know will sell. I’m willing to wait a few months for an item to sell  if it’s an item that will bring me a good profit.

I also try to look at profit margins when I’m making my buying decisions.

For example, recently I found a pair of 7 for All Mankind jeans in a thrift store marked at $24.99.

Most of the time I snatch up 7 for All Mankind jeans. I had these in my cart but decided to put them back when I found four pairs of jeans in various brands (White House Black Market, CAbi, etc.) marked at $5.99 each.

My investment of $24.99 in one pair of jeans (7 for All Mankind) would bring me a sale around $79.99.  That’s a good sale–a profit of $55.00.
Instead of buying one pair for $24.99, I decided to invest in four pairs of jeans at $5.99 each. I knew that each pair could sell for about $49.99-a profit of $44.00 per pair. When all four pairs sold, I would have spent $23.96 on 4 pairs of jeans and in return, I would have a difference of $176.

That’s $121.00 more than I would make by spending the same amount of money ($24.99) on the 7 for All Mankind jeans.

I look at buying inventory to resell as an investment and the option that I chose by buying the four pairs of jeans yields me a higher return.

It is a little riskier decision, because now, four items have to sell to before I receive the return I’m looking for on my investment. I believe it’s a good investment strategy for my store.

Leave a comment for me with your buying strategy.



5 Responses to “Buying Inventory to Sell on eBay”
  1. says:

    Its difficult to say how/what is one’s buying strategy should be.

    One example, I bought Griswolds cast iron skillets which always sells. I spent $12-$15 on each.

    I made a dumb mistake and bought an espresso machine for $50.WHich I think I shouldn”t have! Arggh!!!

    Yes, you definitely have to know what you’re selling. You’re right that if you know something will sell high, paying quite a bit for it is a great buying strategy.

  2. Jaime says:

    I have a question ~ how do you get such great prices for your items? I can’t seem to do it. For instance, right now I have pair of Keens (NIB) listed for 39.99 and the listing ends tomorrow… no one has bought them yet, and there are only two watchers. They are not an odd color or anything, and my feedback is 100%. Last month I had a very cute BCBG dress that didn’t sell as a Buy it Now, so I went to auction with it, where it sold for a penny. Talk about frustrated! What’s your secret to selling at a good price?

    Thanks :)

    Very good question Jaime, here’s my secret. I have an ebay store. I hardly ever auction unless I don’t care how much I get for an item. I list everything in my store, overprice them, and accept offers. I let them sit in my store until they sell.

    Sometimes, using this strategy requires patience, other times, it pays off right away.
    Best of luck!

  3. Jaime says:

    Do I have to have a store? I can do BIN and Best Offer without a store, right? I’m not sure that I would have enough volume to warrant setting up a store.

    Overprice and accept best offers? Now *that* I can do :) lol

    How long are your items usually for sale? Do you have an average length of time calculated? A week? A month?

    You’re right, you can do BIN and best offers without a store, but they will end every 30 days. The store just keeps relisting them until it sells and that’s the thing…..they are long term listings. Store listings also cost less.

    Also with a store, you have a URL to send people directly to your storefront and people can search your store for items, they don’t have to look through everything.

    I’ve personally never met anyone who opened an eBay store and didn’t like it. :)

    Some items sell the next day or the next week, some sit in my store for 6 months or more, but it’s the fact that I consistently sell the same dollar amount or more each month, that’s what I look at.

    I hope this helps!

  4. says:

    You sure do know what youre talking about. Man, this blog is just great! I cant wait to read more of what youve got to say. Im really happy that I came across this when I did because I was really starting to get bored with the whole blogging scene. Youve turned me around, man!

  5. Annie. says:

    I only list about 40 – 65 items right now in my store, but I am soo glad to have one. I have not learned how to get the best benefits from it yet though.

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