An Expert Flipper’s Guide to Making Money Flea Market Flipping

flea market flippingTo my friends I'm known as the ‘go-to’ guy for deals.  When anyone is looking to buy something at a discounted price, they ask me if I already own it, or they ask me to find it for them. Chances are I probably have it in my garage – I am not a hoarder I promise – just a guy who loves picking and flipping used items.

I have been scouting out flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales since I was a kid and would go regularly with my mom.  At the age of 16 I started buying items to resell them for a profit.  This was before the smart phone (if you can remember life before smart phones), and even before eBay had gotten big (eBay began in 1995 when I was 15). Back then we used the good old classified ads in the newspaper to sell items. Which I think are extinct now, due to platforms like Craigslist, Offer Up and Let Go.


Some of My Best Flea Market Flips

Over the years I've found some pretty unique items to resell. One of my best purchases last year was a huge lot of 60 king size sleep number mattresses (that's right, sixty!) from a Radisson hotel. The hotel owner listed one mattress on Craigslist, to my surprise when I went to look at it he had a whole room full of them. We negotiated the price down to $60 a mattress as long as I purchased all 60 mattresses. ($3,600 for the whole lot). I sell them online (after thoroughly washing them in commercial washing machines) for $500-$600 each.  I have about 15 left and once those are sold, the entire lot would have made me a little over $25,000 in profit.

One of my most famous flips on Facebook (that's real fame right), was a prosthetic leg.  This leg was titanium and had a very complex knee joint.  I purchased it from a vendor at the flea market for $30 and sold it the next day on ebay for $1,000!  That was one of my fastest flips.  I kicked myself after it sold because I knew I had priced it to low if it sold that fast.  But I can’t be to upset with a 3,333% return on my investment.

One of my most recent flips was an exercise bike I bought from someone on Offer Up. I bought it for $200 thinking my wife would want it for her workout room (she is a personal trainer).  She decided she didn't need it and I sold it on eBay for $2,800 the first week it was posted.  I have to say I was happy with that turnaround. The beauty of this business that I've been in for the past 19 years is ANYONE can do it! You don’t need any special degrees or specific skill set to buy and sell online.  You can learn everything you need to know in a fairly short amount of time.

flea market flipper


Keys to Being a Successful Flea Market Flipper

Here are a few tips I have if you’re looking to rock this as a side hustle gig or as a full time income.

  1. Don’t overpay for items.  Aside from the fact that buying and selling items is a fun hobby, the main objective is to make a profit.  If a person over pays on an item, the profit margin significantly decreases!  My personal goal is to at least double my investment with each purchase, but I usually make significantly more than that.  On most of my items I make a 300-500% return on my investment.  You can easily do this by not getting attached to items if they are priced to high.
  2. Have a set amount of money that you are going to invest each week/month in purchasing items.  You can start with any dollar amount that you are comfortable with.  After being in this business for so long, I'm comfortable making large purchases like my mattresses occasionally, but I still usually buy several items to flip that are in the $5-$30 range.
  3. Cross post items on several different platforms. There are so many avenues to sell items now that you can post them on several platforms to see where you will find buyers.  You have eBay, Craigslist, Facebook selling groups, Offer Up, Letgo, and it seems that new ones are popping up every day.  Some items sell best on certain sites, but I like to use them all.
  4. Be consistent. It doesn't take a boatload of time to find items, but it does take little bits of time here and there and being consistent in looking for deals.  I spend an hour or two at the flea market each weekend, check out local thrift stores maybe once a week or every other week, and look at Offer Up every day for about 10-15 minutes. It's not a lot of time, but it is every week for me, and it has shown me a large return most months.
  5. Be honest and have fun! There are some shady people who are just out to make a quick buck. They will lie about their item(s) to sell it for more money.  EBay and PayPal have made it easier to avoid these kind of people, but they still will try.  The best thing is to be honest with both the sellers you buy from and the buyers you sell to. If you don't know much about an item, tell them that. I do it all the time.  On eBay I will tell them I am selling the item as is and I am not familiar with what it does or how it functions. If something isn't working right I will always disclose that and take good pictures of the piece that is broken or in need of repair. (Some items still sell very well for parts). Don't forget to have fun doing this! Make a game out of how little you can invest and see how big of a return you can get.  Enjoy the fun items for a bit and then sell them after you used them. We do this sometimes with kids’ toys and my daughters never get bored at playtime!

While buying and reselling isn’t for everyone, it can be for anyone. If you are looking to find a way to make some extra cash to get out of debt quicker, pay a bill that has been lingering over you, or just start to save more for the future, this may be an avenue for you to do just that.  Hit me up anytime at and I would be happy to answer your questions.

Stay Connected with The Frugal Toad

Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

, , , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to An Expert Flipper’s Guide to Making Money Flea Market Flipping

  1. mimi 08/08/2016 at 9:27 pm #

    I have been juking for over 20 years… thrift stores have jacked up the its hard to make a buck…I follow FB selling groups..still sell on Ebay and Etsy…I have boxes of “stuff ” that I donated back. Don’t be a fool…takes lots of time to shop, take pics, post, ship and resell. ( I don’t work).

    • Rob 11/26/2016 at 11:03 pm #

      Hi Mimi! Glad to meet a fellow picker and flipper! My wife likes FB pages. I tend to love my flea market and Offer up the most right now for finding items.
      There have been times where I do this very part time, and times when I do it more full time. But you can do a lot in 5-10 hours per week. 🙂 Especially the more consistent you do it.

  2. Kelly 07/30/2016 at 8:07 pm #

    Definitely, in every work or side hustle, it’s important to have fun and to be honest as clients/customer would just keep coming back if you’re good to them.

    • Rob 11/26/2016 at 11:04 pm #

      Completely agree Kelly!

  3. Kristen 07/30/2016 at 7:30 pm #

    This is hustling at its core … hard to make a good margin, but it gets you in practice!

    • Rob 11/26/2016 at 11:05 pm #

      Hi Kristen!
      I love this as my side hustle! 🙂 We do pretty well with our margin. I tend to only mess with items that will at least double their money. (but many times way more.) Have you flipped items before? 🙂

  4. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank 07/23/2016 at 2:03 am #

    Congrats on being a flipper! With this side hustle, I can make some money but thanks for reminding me not to overprice things I’d sell. I think some values that I need to learn as a starter are patience and determination as it would be difficult to sell and resell items for the first time.

    • Rob 11/26/2016 at 11:07 pm #

      Hi Jayson!
      Thank you! and those are great values to have. I will sit on items for a couple months if I think I can get a certain amount of money for it. A lot of times it just takes the right person who is looking for the item I have. 🙂 How long have you been flipping items?

Leave a Reply