The resale market in the United States has snowballed in recent years. Reselling is when you source a product second-hand to resell for a profit. ThredUp, a popular website to resell clothing items, reports the resale market, now valued at around $28 billion, will grow to $64 billion by 2025. There are many theories about why the resale business is exploding. The global pandemic is producing cost-conscious shoppers. The rising unemployment rate means many buyers are looking for bargains. Another theory is that the younger millennial consumer base cares deeply about resources used to make clothing and find second-hand shopping more comfortable. Finally, widespread access to technology to resell items has made the industry much more mainstream and efficient.
Storage auction bidders have been reselling items for decades. Reselling is their business, and they were doing it long before the internet provided easily accessible places to resell items. Storage bidders have been sourcing goods to sell since before eBay and the dot-com bubble. Their success and the popularity of storage auction TV shows led to an explosion in the resale trade. Unfortunately, the TV shows glamorized a business that is much more than an easy side hustle. Many people don’t realize when they start bidding on storage units; buying and selling items from storage auctions is a material, legitimate business. It is a resale business. Here, we will share some tips with you to be a successful reseller.
Setting Up Your Resale Business
Success in any business requires a lot of pre-planning. First, you will want to obtain your business license from your state. See here for a state-by-state guide for obtaining a business license. If you plan to have a second-hand store or sell items in person, you might want to consider getting liability insurance. Liability insurance provides protection against claims due to injuries or damage. Insurance will protect you, your employees, and anyone who visits your shop. You will also need a resale permit. This permit allows you not to pay sales tax when you buy your inventory. You will need to charge sales tax when you sell the items and then report your sales tax collection each year. You can get a resale permit from your state’s Department of Revenue.
Besides licenses and insurance, you will need a way to track all of your purchases and sales. Think about purchasing an accounting program, like QuickBooks or Zoho Books. You should have a business bank account separate from your personal account. Co-mingling your personal finances and your business finances could lead to a tax nightmare in the event of an audit. It is important to know which purchases were made for your personal use and which ones were made for the business.
You will also need an inventory management system. When you are ready to file your taxes, you will need to know what sold and for how much. Additionally, you will need to know what you purchased that did not sell. Zoho offers an inventory management system with a free edition. eBay also offers the Easy Auctions Tracker. The Easy Auctions Tracker is an Excel-based spreadsheet, but it is sophisticated and robust.
Do Your Research
What are you planning to sell? Do you know what typical prices are? Some reseller pros recommend finding a niche market. Still, as storage auction bidders, it is difficult for you to pre-plan your inventory, so you might need to become an expert on selling many different types of items. Below is a list of things you might find in a storage unit to resell:
- Video games
- Clothing & shoes (especially sneakers)
- Sports equipment (varies by season)
- Kitchen appliances and parts
- Auto parts
- Plush toys
Resellers can get overwhelmed when it comes to shipping items to their items. One problem is there are so many shipping methods to choose from. Another problem is online sites, like eBay, have shipping fees built into their platform. If you don’t have a clear understanding of how these fees work, you can end up overpaying. Do you want to set up used fixed shipping fees or use a shipping calculator? You also do not want to price yourself out of the sale if your shipping rate isn’t competitive. It is worthwhile to learn about how shipping works unless you plan only to sell locally. You can consult the United States Postal Service about the weight of shipments and shipping rates. You can get free boxes and mailing envelopes from the USPS. Many of the online resale programs also offer guidance on shipping. For example, you can find out about shipping with eBay here.
Where to Sell
There are so many websites you can use to resell items. Some sites, like OfferUp or Letgo, allow you to sell almost anything. However, several sites like Poshmark and Etsy have specific requirements for what you can sell. Other sites specialize in a certain type of goods. You could get more money selling on the specialty sites than you might on a general resell site. Be sure to look at all different places to see where you might get the best return for your items.
- Poshmark – designer brands, on-trend fashions, and shoes
- ThredUp – new and used women’s and kids clothing and accessories
- The Real Real – jewelry and designer goods
- Kidzien – kid’s clothing
- Etsy – vintage or hand-made goods
- Ruby Lane – antiques and collectibles
- Chairish – high-end furniture and décor
- Swappa – tech gadgets
- 5miles – sell within a 5-mile radius
The most important thing you can do to be successful is to treat reselling like a real business. Be active and consistent with your postings. Post often and follow through with all requests. You might find other resellers in your area and network with them. They might be willing to share their experiences and tips with you. If you want to get started right away, check out our two-part blog series Reselling Clothing: Best Practices. You can find part one here.
There is endless information about reselling that you can find on the internet. We are going to share several tips and tricks of the trade here on our blog. For example, do you know how the descriptions in your product listings become keywords for shoppers to find your items? Check back next month for marketing tips to enhance your listings.
Be sure to visit our website to see what great units await you to jumpstart your resale business.