Goodwill Smackdown: How to Sell Clothes on Ebay

charlie_imageRecently, after visiting a local Goodwill store, I saw a really nice Abercrombie and Fitch hooded sweatshirt. It was selling for $3.59, and I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could sell this online.” I left the store without purchasing the sweatshirt but checked online, and more than a hundred of the same sweatshirts were selling for more than $15. That is almost a 5x markup.

So that got me thinking…I wondering if we should start a smackdown. A Goodwill Smackdown to be specific! Where three of us (Laurie, Aaron, and I) would have a competition. A competition where we have to buy a piece of clothing from Goodwill and resell it on eBay. The person that makes the highest percentage of profit wins. 

Each of us will explain what item we bought, how much we paid, how much we'd expect to make, tips we recommend for making money, iguana2and other things we learned.

My Experience

When I visited my local Goodwill, it was extremely clean, well organized, and offering discounts on all “yellow tagged” clothing for only 99 cents. I first looked in the jewelry section to see if there was anything worth selling in that section and moved onto men's clothes. I figured I knew which men's clothes would be good resellers. To my amazement, I found a number of shirts (like Abercombie, American Eagle, Ralph Lauren, Nike, and Mizuno). Before checking out I had about 6 shirts that would have iguanabeen very viable options to resell.

What I bought

After finishing up with men's section I went over to the women's sections and found a brand new (with tags) Iguana Med Flex III Scrubs Pants – Medium. I couldn't believe it. Score!

How much I paid

The pants were $5.49, which I knew would be significantly less than what most stores would charge. This was on the high side of what I was wanting to buy, but I figured that with the item having tags on it, then it should be easier to sell.

How much I'd expect to make

I'd expect to make about $10 off the item since it is brand new. I've seen a number of the tops or bottoms selling for $15/each and the top & bottom combos selling for $32+.

Tips and Tricks to Help You Make Money at Goodwill

So before I went into Goodwill I made sure I had my iPhone and had downloaded the eBay app. If you are going to make money iguana3.JPGareselling items from Goodwill, then I highly recommend bringing a smartphone! The phone alone will probably save ya a lot of money and help you figure out if certain items are resell-able and how much you could expect to make. Here are a few of the tips I leveraged in the eBay app.

  1. the First search for your item. The search can be general, which might include “American Eagle t-shirt”.
  2. Once you've completed your first search then click the options for “Completed Listings” and/or “Sold Listings”
  3. Another great feature of the eBay app is the scanning option. In looking around Goodwill I found a number of items that had tags on them that allowed me to scan it, and quickly search how much I could get for the item. Great feature!!!

As you can see, if you are going to make reselling Goodwill items into a viable business, then I highly recommend having a smartphone. In addition, really look at what days your Goodwill offers sales and if it's based on tag color, and what items are on sale (clothes, accessories, furniture, etc). By taking advantage of these sale days, then you should be able to make a good profit.

So this is a brief overview of my attempt to make money by selling Goodwill items on eBay. All throughout the week, we'll run other articles on tips and tricks that others have used to make money too.

Throughout this week we'll have Aaron and Laurie post their items, and write a similar article based on each of their experiences. At the end of the week, you'll have a chance to vote on whose item will sell for the most. Good luck, and let us know tips or tricks you use for buying and selling Goodwill items!

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  1. Great post! I do this all the time. I don’t see what the fuss is about. You are supporting goodwill and also supporting your resale business. It’s a win-win in my book. Clothing is always in goodwill and being prepared with a smartphone and the eBay app is the best way to do it.

    I’ll make sure to come back and see what the other guys get and see if they are able to make a profit.

  2. Those look pretty comfortable; I think I would have been tempted to keep them for myself :P. I didn’t realize the eBay app had a scanner. Good to know! Definitely makes reselling easier!

    Good luck!

  3. Shopping at Goodwill is for everyone! The money you spend helps support their mission of creating jobs for people with disabilities or other barriers to employment. So please, shop away, no matter what your income bracket may be!

  4. You ARE supporting Goodwill when you buy items there. The items are then yours to do anything you want with them, whether resale or wear.

  5. Goodwill is not designed simply for low-income individuals to purchase items for themselves at a cheap price. The money Goodwill brings in also goes toward helping low to no income people. If someone is willing to purchase an item, Goodwill make turned clothing into usable cash to help their cause! It shouldn’t matter what the person who buys it does with the item.

    I love this idea! I currently find curbside freebies (treasures!) and resell them on Craigslist. I do the same with garage sales, but after reading your post, I may wander down to the local thrift shops and throw some business their way as well!

    I love the idea of the competition also – my money club had a competition last month to see who could resell the most on Craigslist… I won!

    Thanks for the inspiring post!

  6. The game was done in fun to show how there is real value in the things that Goodwill has for sale. Also I understand that Goodwill is there for those who are less fortunate too. However, I’ve never seen a sign on the front door that says only poor people are welcome. Or people who earn less than $50,000 or who don’t own a business are welcome here. No matter whether I earn $10,000/year or $1,000,000 I’ll still shop at Goodwill, and that is purely because of how I was raised.

    In addition, I know this game was done in fun, but the reality is that disadvantaged (those less fortunate) people could resell stuff from Goodwill as well. It would be another means for them to get out of poverty.

  7. We bought all of our daughter’s college wardrobe at a local GW. Buy donating your unwanted items to GW it not only provides jobs to people who need one but also allows those who shop there to save money. And that’s a win- win situation for everyone.

  8. A big AMEN to Jo! I have shopped Thrift shops for years, and even though I’m not as poor as I once was, I am still thrilled to be able to buy something with lots of life left in it for pennies rather than overspend on something that my son will outgrow in 6 months. Goodwill stores in particular are more than thrift shops – they provide employment training. And I also donate items that I no longer need, thereby providing stock. If thrift shops should only be for poor people to shop in, who decides what the threshold is? And if a poor person doesn’t purchase a particular item, then should someone with more money be “allowed” to? Puh-lease!
    Also, I imagine that motivated “less fortunate” people could also buy those name brand thrift shop items and resell them on ebay, making a little extra cash themselves.

    I want in on one of these contests!

  9. When is it that the Goodwill stores are only for the less fortunate? If only the less fortunate people bought there-the stores wouldn’t be in business, for the most part the less fortunate don’t have the money to even spend in them, to what the stores overages cost them to run. So Andy you should stop bugging your Dad and encourage him more. I have been on both ends of the stick, and more and more of these stores are disappearing from our area and I think it’s because of the cost to run them.

  10. Similar comment to Steph. I have a personal experience in this, too. My dad grew up fairly poor, but has been very successful in his career. Certain habits die hard. At least 25% of his clothes come from Goodwill, which is great because it saves him money, but I keep reminding him that Goodwill is for the less fortunate and those clothes should be left for those that ARE less fortunate, because with his hard work and success he is no longer “less fortunate.”

    The conversation always falls on deaf ears.

    But if you REALLY want to save a bunch of money on another item, check out your local Habitat For Humanity “REstore”. You can get very expensive furniture there for usually 90% off and always gently used. We picked up an antique style lamp there recently for $40 that probably was $400 brand new. Another thing we found (but didn’t buy) was a Kitchen Table from Ethan Allen (sized for 8 people) for something like $200. I looked up the item and it retailed for well over $2000.

  11. I give stuff to Goodwill to help those less fortunate. I guess if you really need the money then this seems fine. Otherwise you are taking advantage of other’s charity (unless you giving your profit to Goodwill as a donation).

    • Not really. If you buy the item for what goodwill is selling it for then goodwill gets the benefit of the donation, the reseller has a way to make honest income and the buyer is able to own something they may not otherwise be able to afford, all while “recycling” the clothing.

  12. I do eBay consigment work for friends for a small comission. From my experience shipping cost can really ad up to your profit, but it’s best to buy shipping labels from eBay because of the discount that eBay pre-negotiated with USPS and FedEx. Good luck!

  13. OUCH! You’ve got one up on me with the Smartphone app! No matter, though. Us girls know our fashion, so, I’ve got this one in the bag. :-)

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