2nd Annual Goodwill Smackdown – The Results + $50 Gift Card Giveaway

goodwill-14After two weeks of scouring our local Goodwill stores to find that perfect item that we could flip for profit, the time has come to reveal the results of our Smackdown Challenge.

Who will have bragging rights for the next year of “supreme thrift store flipper” (last years winner was Laurie from our sister-site, TheFrugalFarmer.net)?

If you'll remember, each participant was tasked with finding 3 items (one in household, one clothing and another miscellaneous item) and needed to resell those items on ebay or Craigslist. The highest percentage of profit (on any of the items) would be the winner.

Let's find out what each contestant purchased and if they were able to sell their items for profit. Don't forget to comment below for your chance at winning a $50 Goodwill gift card OR another card of  your choosing if you aren't in a Goodwill area.


charlie_imageThis  year, I felt like the selection of good quality (resellable) items at the two Goodwills I visited wasn't as good as last year. I had a real hard time finding a non-clothing item that I could make money on. At the end of the day, I ended up with a women's jacket, a mini skirt, and a 3 iron golf club. Here are the specifics:

Marvin Richards Faux Jacket (L) – bought after researching a lot of these jackets are selling for $50-$65 on ebay. I paid $5.49 for this wicket cool jacket, and the lady at the checkout counter said that item should have been listed for $9.99, so right off the bat I saved $4.50!

Ambercrombie & Fitch Women's Mini Skirt (size 10) – found this gem on the green tag sale, which only cost me $0.99. A lot of the skirts I found were selling for $10-$15 online. Plus it was a good size that I thought would be a fairly common size for women who wear Ambercrombie & Fitch.

Ben Hogan Apex 3 Iron – growing up one of the guys that taught me how to play golf played with a set of these irons. The entire golf section had the 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 iron, which I was hoping to make a complete set out of. I paid $3.99 for just the 3 iron, and complete sets were going for $100-$150. Again, when I purchased this item I remembered Aaron's warning of trying to resell golf clubs online last year.


laurieGiven my stellar performance during last year's Goodwill Smackdown, I fully expected to take the cake this year again, however my enthusiasm was short-lived.  Like Charlie, I didn't feel that there was as good of a selection this year as there was last year.  I wonder though, if that's because I shopped at a store that was in a different area of town than the one I shopped at last year, which was in a more upscale suburb.  In the end, I picked out a cute pair of Bianca Nygard Jeans, a Royal Seasons Stoneware Christmas-themed Sugar and Creamer Set, and a Santa and the chimney salt and pepper shaker set.  The prices I got were great: $3 for the sugar and creamer set, $1 for the salt and pepper shaker set, and $3 for the jeans.

Last year one of my biggest mistakes, I felt, was that I ended my auction at an inconvenient time of day: 6am.  So this year I ended at 8pm, figuring more people would be browsing around for good deals and watching during that time of day.  One thing I didn't do that I would do next time was to do more research on what people are buying.  I think this is crucial to successful resale of thrift store items.


matthewAs a newcomer to the Smackdown, I found out that I have a lot to learn. First, in shopping at my local Goodwill, it would have been very beneficial to have an eBay app of some sort to give me an idea of what things were selling for.

Unfortunately, my Samsung 400 (not Galaxy 400, just 400 – aka a flip phone) wasn’t much use so I was left guessing. I purchased a Liz Claiborne women’s leather jacket for $5.75 and an artsy “dream big” wall hanging for $8.00. My last purchase was an indoor s'mores maker ($8.00), which I secretly bought in the hopes that it wouldn’t sell! Testing it to make sure it worked was the favorite part of the challenge for me.


blankI'm with Charlie and Laurie in that it became a real challenge to find items that seemed to be worthy of resale. I'm not sure if others are getting into the “flipping” game or these items get quickly swallowed up by staff at the stores (or, I'm just not that good at finding the “gems”). I ended up visiting a total of three stores before I was able to find my items below. And, I decided to take a gamble and threw just two items into the ring for resale due to my inability to find a suitable household item I thought could bring in big money.

Lands End Men's Dress Shirt – I actually think the best way to play the Smackdown Challenge is to find items that interest you. Although that didn't work for me before, I stuck with the game plan and found this newer blue/beige stripped dress shirt that caught my eye. I bought it for $6.99, which is kinda high – but figured I could sell it for at least double that online at ebay.

Apples to Apples Board Game – My mother actually picked up this game at a thrift store and we played it on a recent family vacation. Everyone loved it. So, when I discovered a newer version of it at Goodwill, I picked it right up. Selling for only $3.99, I thought I might be able to get 3-4x that on ebay, since I had seen a few of the board games being listed there for over $20.

The results

  • Charlie – Items sold: 0
  • Laurie – Items sold: 0 (though she did have a few watchers on her items)
  • Matthew – Items sold: 1 (the S'more maker for $30 + $7 shipping credit on ebay). Minus expenses of $13 for shipping, $6 ebay commission and $8 pricetag, he took home a $9 profit (11% gross margin).
  • Aaron – Items sold: 1 (Apples to Apples board game sold for $16 +$7.70 shipping credit on ebay). Minus expenses of $4 to purchase, $2.37 ebay commission and $7.33 shipping, he took home $10 in profit (60% gross margin).

The victor: Aaron!
Aaron will be donating his winnings to Oaks Counseling – a ministry which provides free counseling services to cross-cultural workers.

Comment and win!

Please leave a comment below to be entered to win a $50 gift card from Goodwill. Surprised at the results? Have you tried reselling any thrift store items for profit – and if so – what were your results? Please comment by midnight (CST) Friday, September 26 to be eligible. A winner will be picked using Random.org and notified on the 29th.

Thanks for following along!

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  1. Hearing loss forced my retirement and high medicine costs devour our savings. Thank God for Good Will stores. I will try to learn resale on eBay to help expenses. My iPad is USO g Wifi and I am looking up Republuc wireless. Thanks for helping

  2. Unfortunately, in my town, the thrift stores are not resale material. They have a lot of damaged crap at inflated prices. I have lived in other places where I would def make some profit.

  3. I enjoy shopping at thrift stores like Goodwill…but the pickings are slim.

  4. Matthew for the win! You cannot go wrong with what he is selling

  5. My church had a rummage sale last Saturday and on Sunday after church all the left over items were on sale for $1.00 each. I went straight to the coat section and selected several leather coats and winter coats of all sizes. I also found some new mens winter sweat tops. I found a new pair of men’s Coogi overalls. There was also a large suitcase in excellent condition. I kept a couple of the leather costs for myself and donated the rest to a thrift store that funds a local homeless shelter. I will get a nice tax write off for a very small investment and the community benefits. Once at a yard sale all baby clothes were 25 cents and I bought several bagfuls to donate.

  6. I never even thought of buying stuff at Goodwill to resell!

  7. I have tinkered a bit with selling some of my finds. Mostly some good books. It’s worked out okay — doesn’t always work so well, but it generally pays off. :)

  8. I am surprised that the board game sold for so much! Well, I am surprised over the S’More maker, too, but I am not exactly sure what that consists of.

  9. Enjoyed following the challenge. Love the Thrift Stores and garage sales! Kudos to Aaron!

  10. I have gone to Goodwill and found treasures and other times I have found absolutely nothing. I thought Charlie would win because he paid so little for his items.

  11. I think Aaron has the most chances of winning because he is selling board games and those are a popular item.

  12. I did this for a living for a while and it totally worked.. buy brand names for cheap and sell them on eBay/Craigslist for 10x the value.. then I got a full time job so I had to stop.

  13. A wonderful competition! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I have never sold on ebay, but I have stocked a college dorm room with most things from Goodwill.

  14. I have tried selling kids clothes, and I can usually make a few dollars on the nicer brands like Gymboree.

  15. I love this challenge! I hope I can buy Apples to Apples Board Game here in our place, I think it would be so much fun!

  16. I made a hefty profit selling books that I found at Goodwill. It was well worth the hunt for me.

  17. No, I have never tried. I would love to know how this works in detail. I think it is very cool.

  18. I’ve never tried to sell thrift store items for profit but I’m sure it would be interesting to find out the value of certain things. I thought Matthew would win :)


  19. Apples to Apples is a great game. I’m not surprised it was the winner. :)

  20. We haven’t sold thrift store items we’ve puchased, but things we would have found at a thrift store! We inherited a lot of stuff from a grandmother and have sold much of it online. I was particularly surprised by the ceramic owls from the ’70s (that are now popular again) that sold! We also had an Aunt Jemima towel that I thought should be used for a rag, but no, there’s a market for that type of Americana, surprisingly. But all of these things would have been donated to a thrift store had we not looked into selling them first. One never knows…. :)

  21. Not surprising that Apples to Apples took the win! My friends and I always enjoy playing that game. I took a quick look around in Goodwill a few weeks ago and was similarly disappointed with their selection. I couldn’t find *any* board games.

  22. Great challenge! I am curious to see how everything unfolds, and who the winner is.

  23. I loved this challenge!! I thought matthew would win. I sell on Ebay and love it!! Its easy, and if you buy right, you can make some bucks! I wont ship big items, way to much hastle, but the small things are perfect, and people buy the craziest stuff.

  24. Interesting observation about Goodwill, as I have had the same thoughts recently. I’m wondering if people are just not buying as much stuff… or maybe more people are shopping to flip items.

    I can understand how there is money to be made this way, but it just seems like waaaay too much work. AND you have to store the stuff in your house.

    But I do love reading about the challenge! And congrats, Aaron!

    • Thanks Christina – it was a lot more work than anticipated.

  25. I don’t like selling on eBay as much as I once did. I’ve sometimes had good luck with Craigslist, and also with a good, old-fashioned garage sale. A lot of work, but can be worth it!

  26. I found it interesting when the participants talked about the location of the Goodwill store in their areas and its economic status. I’m not a Goodwill connoisseur, can you give some tips on that?

  27. I think Charlie really wanted the golf iron – and sent out bad ju ju so it wouldn’t sell :) It is always interesting to see what sells on ebay or what doesn’t. It has been several months since I last tried to sell anything. I have bought things with the intent to list on ebay – but thought I would wait until Thanksgiving to list and hope for some holiday buyers.

  28. I love shopping our local Goodwill, there are some hidden gems in there from time to time. You might try selling some of the items on Amazon instead of Ebay, I’ve found that the fees are less, and they don’t charge if it doesn’t sell and needs to be relisted.

    • Good thoughts Karen. Ebay does have higher fees – but I found they do give discounts if you get postage from them – so that may offset the fees a little.

  29. I thought Aaron had the best chance of winning and he did. Ebay’s commission has really gone up since they started and it’s no longer as profitable to sell things on ebay as it was before.

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