It is possible to make money from almost nothing by shopping at dollar stores and reselling those items for a profit on eBay. That doesn’t mean sweeping the shelves at your local Dollar Tree, Dollar General or Family Dollar. Not everything will be snapped up by bidders and you could end up losing money or being stuck with piles of stuff you don’t actually need, or want. It’s also important to take into account extra costs, from the material for packaging to eBay’s selling and listing fees. And, even if someone will pay $10 for something you spent $1 on, they’ll also need to cover your reasonable post and packaging fees to ensure you don’t end up out of pocket. But with some clever tricks and repackaging, savvy shoppers should be able to turn a decent profit by reselling dollar store items.
Research the Market
Think about what’s popular right now. What is everyone buying? What are the current trends in, say, children’s toys or homeware? Read through blogs by successful eBay sellers, look on Twitter and think about what films and TV shows are popular now. For example, if you spy a reduced-price cookbook in a dollar store and know the chef has a new series out, it could be worth snapping it up.
Find Discontinued Items
Dollar stores often have shelves heaving with items that usually sell for more, which can mean they have been discontinued. This can be a goldmine for eBay sellers, as you can reach a wide audience of potential customers who might be mourning the loss of their favorite shade of hair dye or preferred brand of morning coffee. Snap them up while you can.
Buy Now, Sell Later
If you find an item you’re sure will be popular with bidders, buy in bulk now to avoid the risk of it selling out. Equally, if you have success selling a particular dollar store item on eBay, go back to the shop to restock as soon as possible.
Check Previous Listings
Scour eBay to find out what the same or similar items have sold for. This should give you a good idea of how much profit you can expect to make – if any. Take into account selling and listing fees when pricing your items, plus packaging and postage costs. Sometimes starting at the lowest price is the best strategy, as it encourages people to bid. But use your judgment based on what other sellers have done.
Do the Write Thing
A well written, cleverly-worded article together with beautiful images will make the items look much more desirable – and expensive. Learn from other successful sellers. Take some time to think about the best way to photograph your item or items. Nice lighting and a little thoughtful styling can make all the difference and help your listing to really stand out. The presentation will also give dollar store items a more luxurious look. No one need ever know how much they really cost.
Do it Up
Add value to items with a little craftiness, or make something completely new. If you pick up a bag of colorful beads, for example, string it into pretty necklaces or bracelets that could sell for twice the price or even more. Or buy some cups and make them into vintage-look candles by filling with melted wax and adding a wick. If you have creative skills, put them to good use. You could build yourself a profitable little business.
Pull it Together
Many dollar stores stock loss leaders that generate publicity and get people into the store, such as fashion items inspired by celebrity outfits. These are worth grabbing while you can, as the value is likely to increase if they sell out. To add more value to your purchases, think about creating a package with a few other items. For example, if the store is selling a bikini similar to one worn by Taylor Swift, seek out complementary pieces such as a straw hat, sunglasses, flip-flops and an ankle bracelet. Many dollar stores have fashion items, so you should be able to get a nice package together. And, with some clever photography and wording, you can list the outfit as a celebrity “get the look” – and sell it for a decent profit. You could do something similar with a makeup kit, or a range of plastic crockery beautifully presented as a picnic set in a hamper.
- Take seasonality into account. Buy sunscreen in January while you have a several months to sell it. Don't worry if it doesn't sell by summer's end as eBay shoppers buy year round.
- Can't afford to buy upfront? Then bring a pen and notepad and write down the details of your potential eBay items and do research at home before you buy.
- If you buy an item with an expiration date, make sure it is for well into the future.
- Always buy the items before listing them on Ebay. What if the store sells out before your listing ends?
- Never tell employees or other customers why you are really buying six dozen bottles of shampoo. Just say you like to be clean. Why tell others your secret source of income?
Ella Buchan is a UK-based writer with a B.A. Hons in English Literature and an M.A. in Journalism. She regularly writes on business topics for company blogs and websites.