How to Make Money Buying Locally and Selling Globally

Photo (cc) by Ryan Fanshaw Photography

Every so often, you read about someone hitting it big on eBay. They’ve somehow stumbled upon the secret recipe to success, one that lets them shop garage sales for a living and spend most of their days in their pajamas.

While these stories seem almost as unlikely as people making millions off YouTube videos, they are real. Some people do, in fact, make enough money on eBay, Amazon and other online shops to live well.

Here are some ways to make it work for you.

Decide what to sell

Deciding where to sell and what to sell is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum. Different venues are better for certain items.

So do you decide where you want to sell and then pick an item that works well on that platform? Or do you decide what you want to sell and then find a website well-suited to that item?

For this article, we’ll start by discussing what to sell first. Essentially, you have two choices: collector arbitrage and retail arbitrage. Don’t let the word arbitrage throw you off. It simply means buying something in one place and then turning around and selling it right away somewhere else, hopefully for a profit.

  • Collector arbitrage: This category refers to buying and selling items from private sources. Those sources could be garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets and local auctions. While you could certainly sell collectibles for profit, collector arbitrage doesn’t refer exclusively to them. You could buy and sell clothes, movies, music, household goods or anything else you find that’s in demand.
  • Retail arbitrage: This is the same idea as collector arbitrage, except you’ll be buying from retail stores rather than third parties. If you live for clearance sales and going out of business liquidation events, this type of arbitrage is for you.

While you could buy and sell items of every kind, your life may be easier and your profits greater if you focus on a specific category. By specializing, you can gain expertise on what items are in demand and what prices they fetch. Then you can quickly zero in on products that will be money-makers and bypass those that will probably sell for a loss.

4 online marketplaces to sell your stuff

Once you have a good idea of what you want to sell, you need to pick the right venue. Here are four websites you may want to consider.

  1. eBay: Ebay offers a huge market with lots of potential customers, but that can also translate into more competition. Items can be sold as auctions or in fixed-price listings.
  2. Amazon: While originally known for books, virtually anything can be sold on Amazon nowadays. Third-party listings may not get the same visibility as they would on other sites though. On the plus side, Fulfillment by Amazon lets you ship most items to the company and have them pack and ship products for you when individual orders come through.
  3. Half.com: Owned by eBay, Half.com can be an easy way to sell books, music and movies. There’s no need to take photos or write long descriptions. However, the traffic on this site may not be as good as what you’d get at eBay or Amazon.
  4. Etsy: It used to be that only handmade items could be sold on Etsy, but they have since expanded to allow the sale of vintage items that are at least 20 years old. If you decide to buy and sell antiques or older collectibles, Etsy might be a good venue for your sales.

Finding items that sell best online

As you’re scouting out local finds, you want to be careful not to overpay. To make it worth your time, ideally you only want to pay 10-20 percent of what an item is selling for on eBay or whatever online venue you’ve chosen.

Hopefully you’ve done enough research that you know, off the top of your head, the going prices in your niche. But if you run across something new or get stumped, don’t hesitate to pull out your smart phone and do some on-the-spot research.

Also, test drive new items by only buying a couple to start. The pressure cookers at your discount store may be a steal, but you don’t want to clear the shelf until you know there’s a market for them online.

Finally, don’t overlook an item’s dimensions and weight. Excessive shipping charges can scare away potential customers. In addition, delicate items that are prone to break may be more trouble than they’re worth.

Special considerations for electronics

Lastly, don’t skip over electronics. With technology changing rapidly, you may assume last generation’s devices are worthless. That may be true sometimes, but there is a market for old, and even broken, electronics.

While you can sell more recent, working items on eBay for a decent price, send older tech to Gazelle and Nextworth for a little cash.

You can also check out this article on nine ways to profit from broken electronics.

What do you think about buying locally and selling globally? Or do you do it already? Tell us all about it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
The Annuity Everyone Needs — and Anybody Can Get
The Annuity Everyone Needs — and Anybody Can Get

This simple strategy can put more money in your pocket during retirement.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

8 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buying
8 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buying

You may think you’re looking at a must-have purchase. But do the numbers and think twice.

This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say
This Cellphone Carrier Has the Worst Network Quality, Customers Say

One major wireless provider stands out for the least reliable call, messaging and data services.

7 Common Online Shopping Mistakes That Will Cost You
7 Common Online Shopping Mistakes That Will Cost You

How many of these costly online shopping missteps are you making without realizing it?

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them
15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security
Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security

Growing numbers of seniors are paying taxes on their Social Security benefits, but you might be able to avoid this fate.

11 Disgusting Household Items You Should Toss Already
11 Disgusting Household Items You Should Toss Already

Never keep these items past their prime.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.