Goodwill Smackdown: Results + $50 Gift Card Winner

After a couple weeks of shopping around for that perfect thrift store item and then attempting to sell it for more online, Charlie, Laurie and Aaron reveal their final sales figures and add up their profits. Who will come out ahead? 

Would a pair of washed out jeans save the day?


laurieWhen I posted my item on Ebay, I chose, based on EBay's recommendation, a starting bid of 99 cents.  This was a little scary, knowing that I could possibly lose $2.50 on the jeans, but based on what I'd seen other men's jeans go for, I figured I'd at least break even.  I did a 5-day bidding time, figuring that this would give the jeans an ample amount of time on the market.  Bids came in right away, pretty much, but the real action didn't happen until the last day.  The final accepted bid was for $9.00 : a 260% profit!

However, that's not the end of the story.  You see, based on the item, eBay partners with the U.S. Postal Service to determine a shipping rate, which is all fine and good, at least it would be if it were accurate.  eBay determined that I could ship the jeans in a small Priority flat rate box for $5.60.  When I got to the post office, I grabbed both a small flat rate box and a small flat rate envelope.  Try as I may, there was NO way those jeans were going into a small flat rate shipping container.  So, I went up to the cashier, and we decided that the cheapest way to go would be Priority Mail by weight.  Total cost?  $6.80.  OUCH!  Immediate $1.20 loss on the profit.  So, with the $9.00 price for the item, plus the $5.60 the customer paid for shipping, we're at $14.60 total income.  When we take away the $3.49 price tag on the jeans, and the $6.80 on the shipping, we technically sold the jeans for $7.80, or a 212% profit.  I didn't include gas prices for running up to the post office in my calculations, because we had to run into town that day anyway.  I made sure to have the auction end in a time period where we could combine with other errands and not spend extra money on gas.  In the future when selling on eBay, I would probably do two things different: Number one, plan on shipping being at least a buck higher than the eBay estimate, and second, I would probably list multiple items to start and finish at once to maximize the money made for the time and gas spent running to the post office, etc.

Would a vintage putter put Aaron on top?


aaron_image1For the putter I purchased at Goodwill, I decided to list at eBay (at auction) with a starting price of $3.99 (I wanted to ensure I'd at least made a dollar profit!). I figured this would be my best option for selling the item in 3 days.

After 3 days the putter sold BUT at a price of only $4.25! I haven't used eBay in years – and so I was expecting some notifications it was being bid on and where the bidding was it. Plus, I wasn't really checking in on the putter to see where bids might be. Next thing I know – the item was sold. Shoot!

With shipping costs ($8.75) and the sale of the putter ($4.25), total sale was $13. But then came the tricky part: shipping the thing. Putters aren't heavy – but they are awkward and large to send through the mail. eBay was telling me that I could ship the package via USPS for about $7.25 – but I decided to head over to the nearby UPS store. I handed my shipping invoice to the store clerk and he took one look at it and said, “my packaging costs alone will not cover what you've sold this for.” Wow. I told him what I was up to – and he proceeded to tell me about his experience selling on eBay and thrifting. He said that he made about $3,000 last year buying/selling items from thrift stores – mostly from books! I was amazed. “Don't use eBay if you are going to sell books. Use Amazon. Get their price-checker app for your phone, scan the books at the thrift stores to see what they are going for at Amazon.”

I ended up leaving UPS having been schooled and made my way to a nearby golf store where I got a free golf club box I could ship my club in. And, since the guy was so helpful at UPS, I decided to head back over there and had 'em ship my box for a total of $11.60. Given that I bought the putter for $2.99 and shipping costs were $11.60, AND had sold it for $13, I had a total loss of $1.59 which included a few lessons on what not to do when selling on Ebay and what to do next time.

Would the workout outfit run away with it?


charlie_imageMine never sold on Ebay. :(


Laurie wins!

Our Goodwill/Thrift Store Gift Card Winner

Many of you commented over the past week and offered your two cents + voted for who you thought might come out ahead. Those who did were automatically entered into a drawing for a $50 Goodwill gift card (courtesy of Goodwill Easter Seals in Minnesota) OR a $50 gift card to a thrift store nearest your home (if you do not reside in MN).

Using – a winner has been drawn. Congrats to: Claire!

We will contact you via email. Thanks to everyone who participated and chimed in last week!

You might also be interested in:

Recommended Posts


  1. Well done, guys. This was a cool contest to follow (and I’m happy I picked Laurie). The fact that only one item netted a profit illustrates the old lesson: you can’t try for a return if you’re not also ready to deal with some risk.

  2. That was fun!!! I have been thinking of doing something similar and this has given me the incentive to try at least on thrift item! If I do, I’ll let y’all know :)

    Take care and thanks again for a fun post(s).


  3. Thanks, Alicia! I’m considering it, honestly. I just may head over to the local Goodwill store today. It’s 99 cent day!

    • Thanks everyone for your comments :)

  4. Congratulations Claire!! I learned tons from this..I too haven’t used eBay in a long I always lost money on anything I listed!! Awesome results!!

  5. Congrats Claire! I usually weight the items and then check around to see what’s the least expensive way to ship. Usually it’s through eBay, but not always. With larger item FedEx usually is the way to go, if you ship a lot consider opening an account with them. Also, Greyhound too.

    Textbooks that are current often can provide an exceptional profit margin. However, it’s a pain to keep up to date what professors are requiring each semester.

  6. This was an interesting little contest to follow. I too thought the putter would win.

    As a side note, a few years ago I did a little experimenting with selling on E-bay. Shipping was one of the issues I ran into. I know E-bay supposedly is A) trying to make it easier for the seller and B) trying to protect the buyer from sellers that charge ridiculous shipping rates. The problem is sometimes what they allow for shipping is simply not enough.

    I love books. I was looking at trying to sell bulk book lots. The problem with individual books is unless they are very rare books, you only make a few cents on each sale so it isn’t really worth the effort. I was thinking though if I could sell books in lots then I could make a better profit on the lots. At the time though E-Bay had severe restrictions on shipping amounts for media related items. It appeared the book maximums were based on sending 1 or 2 books. But I was trying to ship 25-50 books and the weight on those items put the postage way over what E-bay would allow. I never could find a way around that so I gave up on it. That’s been 3 or 4 years ago. It may be different now. But I definitely am not surprised that shipping ended up being a gotcha.

  7. Wow Laurie you did quite well on that! Imagine if you did that regularly, that’s quite the flip, even with the increased shipping cost. I try to do this a little bit, but on local buy and sell sites (we have kijiji up here in Canada, like Craigslist).

  8. Congrats, Claire, both on your win, and on the wisdom you hold in having chose me. :-) Seriously, though, it was a super fun and often nerve-wracking contest! I’d be up for a second try at it some time, guys. :-)

  9. Congrats Claire! I actually thought Aaron might when with the putter! I saw this on FrugalFarmer and really figured the putter would at least go for 20$. Just goes to show you never know where the money is on Ebay.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *