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If you’re a reselling newbie that wants to turn your hobby into an official reselling business, this is a post you will want to read.  You’re going to garage sales and thrift stores. There are so many great deals there. You resell them and realize that this hobby could make at least a part-time income. 

The part that gets technical is how to turn this into an actual business that makes a profit.  And then how do you keep track of your records and all that.  

You think, “I’ve never run a business before.  I can’t do that.  I’m not smart enough or educated enough.”

YES YOU ARE!  It’s not that hard.

You can start your own business today. This post will explain how to be a successful reseller, and avoid a lot of the mistakes I made when I first started out.

10 Things You Need to Do to Start a Successful Reselling Business:

1- Open a business checking account.

From the beginning, set everything up right to save yourself from a huge headache in the future.  Any income you make from ebay or other selling platforms is taxable income. 

All reselling platforms will send you a 1099-K form when you make $20,000 in a year [this is changing to $5,000 in 2024].  Many people think that they do not have to pay taxes unless they get a 1099-K and this is simply not true. Tax evasion is a federal crime.  Please do not get yourself into trouble because of misinformation. The selling platforms will collect sales tax and submit it for you.

I’m not going to give you specific tax advice because I’m not an accountant. All of the advice I am giving here is just common sense stuff. You need to have your own accountant, a real CPA, not just a tax preparer.  

Open a business checking account. I always recommend using a local credit union because bigger banks usually monthly fees for business checking. Credit unions also tend to have better customer service. You can just open a DBA account. They can help you do this. It’s not too difficult.

Convert your personal ebay account to a business account if you play on selling there. Have everything set up as a business from the start. Ebay should be a part of your reselling strategy, at least in the beginning.

Use an accounting program like My Reseller Genie to keep up with your bookkeeping for tax time, but also to know the health of your business day to day. If you don’t know your numbers, you truly don’t know how you’re business is doing.

In most states, if not all, you can also avoid paying sales tax for sourcing by gaining a sales tax exemption form. Contact your local tax authority for instructions on how to do this.

2- Establish accounting and bookkeeping systems.

Keeping up with what is coming in and going out is super important. If you put this off, it will be almost impossible to catch up.  

So what do you need to keep track of?  On a basic level, two things- income and expenses.

Income =  what comes in [gross sales (sale price of an item plus any shipping income)]

Expenses= what goes out [shipping expenses, sales fees, supplies, mileage, cost of goods, etc.]

There are lots of ways you can track this. I use My Reseller Genie to track both inventory and sales. My best advice for you is to ask a CPA about how you should be tracking expenses & inventory, and how to pay taxes.

Remember, this is a business. Treat it like a business from the beginning, and you will avoid so much frustration and wasted time.

3-Make a list of places to source.

Where can you buy things to resell in your area?  Make a list of the types of stores. Add the actual name of the store to your list.  Evaluate that list to see what items are available there.

Good clothing (not something from Target) is hard to come by here.  I cannot find a lot of it because there aren’t that many stores that sell nicer clothing.  The same goes for college textbooks. We do have two colleges here but current textbooks are almost impossible to find.

I would not base my business model around books or clothing unless I were buying them somewhere else, like in wholesale lots.  That pretty much crushes the possibility of a booming Poshmark business :). I’m ok with that. I can sell textbooks and clothing when I find them.

I suggest that most people start out at yard sales and estates sales.

Related Post: 20 Best Places to Source Inventory for Ebay

Want to turn your thrifting hobby into a real reselling business? Here are 10 easy steps to get you started turning your thrift and garage sale finds into a profitable business.

4-Determine which selling platforms fit your sourcing opportunities.

If you can find a lot of clothing, try ebay or Poshmark.  Books do well on Amazon and BookScouter. Make a list of what you are going to sell and where you can sell it.

Pick the one that suits the majority of your needs and start with it.  Cross-posting to other platforms can increase your sales. Just remember to take it off the others when you sell it.

Don’t be afraid to use local selling apps like Offerup and Letgo.  Flip items here that are too large or difficult to ship.

Related Post: How to Increase Your Reselling Income with Ebay Alternatives

5-Learn one platform first well before adding another.

While it is true that you need to have multiple sources of income, you cannot learn everything at one time.  Decide which platform you can sell most of your stuff on and start there.

I would suggest starting with ebay first because it has the broadest range of items.  Mercari and Poshmark have simpler shipping so those may be options to start with too.  

Once you learn the platform, add more platforms to your reselling arsenal.  You can also cross-post any qualifying items. Just make sure to remove them before they sell two platforms at once.

Once you can, you might want to think about taking the business offline as well. There are many people who run a successful brick and mortar resell or consignment shop. This is not for everyone, but if you do decide it’s the right next step, consider getting a commercial building, having your business online as well as in a brick-and-mortar setting is a good decision.

Spruce the building up with great interior design and parking lot sealcoating, to keep your customers coming back to a welcoming environment.

Related Post:  The Ultimate Guide to Starting an Ebay Business for Beginners

6-Set up a dedicated inventory space and create a storage system.

This is one the most important parts of having a reselling business.  You have to be organization. It doesn’t matter if you have 5 items in your inventory or 5,000.  If you can’t put your hands on it in about 60 seconds, you are not organized enough.

Efficiency is so valuable. If you have to dig and search through a bunch of stuff to find what sold, you have just lost a lot of money.  As a mom, your listing and shipping time is limited. Taking 30 mins to look for something has wasted a big portion of your work time. Don’t ask me how I know this :).

No matter how you choose to do it, label boxes or bins with a number. Keep track of your inventory number either in the custom SKU (on ebay and Etsy) or in the listing on other platforms.

Start when your inventory is small so that it becomes a habit to put it up and assign it a location immediately after it has been listed.

7-Gather your essential tools.

Have the right equipment is crucial.  You must have a scale, a printer, and some packing tape.  Most of the other stuff you can add later. 

Related Post: My favorite eCommerce Tools & Equipment

8- Set up a shipping station.

Have a table or other flat surface that you can use to pack up boxes and mailers.  Stock up on the shipping supplies that make sense for your items. Decide on what printer and labels that you are going to use.

Having a decided shipping space with all the supplies and tools that you need will make it so much easier and faster to get your items out.  I know we are all limited to a certain amount of space. You may need to be a little creative with this. But just remember, if you want this to be a real business you have to treat it like one.

Set up both your inventory storage and your shipping station so that could be easily used by an employee.

I don’t know about you, but I want to hire someone to do all the packing and shipping one day.  I can’t do that with a disorganized heap. They have to be able to find and ship stuff too.

Related Post:  A Cheat Sheet for the Best eBay & Etsy Shipping Supplies

9-Provide excellent customer service.

Your customer service skills are what is going to separate you from everyone else out there.  

How you build a great reputation:

  • Answer questions from buyers as soon as possible.
  • Go the extra mile if they ask you to send additional photos.
  • Know the platform’s rules and follow them.
  • Be helpful and courteous by not a doormat.
  • Do not take complaints personally, and don’t get emotional about it.
  • Know the steps to take in common situations and carry them out with a smile.
  • Use the UPOD method every day- under promise and over deliver.
  • Package and send items how you would want to receive them.

10- Learn what to buy and sell online. 

The one thing that has made the biggest difference in my reselling business is education.  There is a huge online reselling community out there, and so many people are sharing their knowledge.

The YouTube reselling community is amazing! I have learned so much by just listening to videos in the background while I work. It also gives you a sense of community and coworkers that usually don’t exist when you work from home.

As with anything, you get what you pay for. Be careful with both free and paid advice. If it doesn’t make since, research it.

I personally have no problem with paying someone to teach me. Their time is valuable too.  They time they are taking to teach others could have been used to list more items. Plus, I can avoid lots of pitfalls by listening to the experiences of others.

At some point, you might want to start your own ecommerce store using a platform like Shopify.

Accelerate your business with these wonderful resources:

Best Free Reselling Business Resources:

Free Reselling Quick Start Course

Best Paid Reselling Business Resources:

Thrifter to Reselling Pro Course

Bags to Bucks Guide

Bikes to Bucks Guide

High Ticket Items to Bucks Guide

Shoes to Bucks Guide

Starting a reselling business can be a little daunting but so much fun! Start small and build. The opportunities are limitless!

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Want to turn your thrifting hobby into a real reselling business? Here are 10 easy steps to get you started turning your thrift and garage sale finds into a profitable business.

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  1. I will admit that I always just scan through blogs and always try to just catch the main points of the blog. If I could rate this blog based on my satisfaction. I would definitely rate this a 10 hands down. Thank you for providing such easy to follow, but very detail oriented writing.

  2. How much would an item have to be sold for compared to what you paid for it in order for it to be profitable after having to claim it on your taxes and all the other expenses involved?
    I sell my own items right now on marketplace, but if I were to sell thrifted items how much markup to make it worth it?

  3. Thank you for sharing. I have been selling on marketplace but have decided to start an actual business. I have done so much research but haven’t decided if I wanted to start a DBA or LLC. Which do you recommend for this type of business? I want to eventually open a commercial building once I’ve gained traction.

    1. Hi Marisa! I recommend a DBA until you are making $30,000 profit per year (my accountant's suggestion also) or until you have a commercial building with employees or the general public shopping there. But as always, contact a CPA and get their official advice.

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