Now, before I go on any further I’d like to address what exactly Goodwill is all about. Some people seriously look down on re-sellers who go into a Goodwill looking to make a profit because they think that flippers swoop in and take advantage of discounted item before someone who really needs the item is able to purchase it. But I seriously doubt someone struggling to put food on the table really needs to buy six of those BOSE Redline Home Entertainment speakers at Goodwill for $15.99 or desperately needs a signed Ozma picture vinyl. Here is the cold hard truth: when it comes to reselling, Goodwill is just another competitor that is looking to capitalize onto the market; yes, even the retail market. In my opinion if people want their donated items to go to a family in need, then for the love of God they shouldn't be handing it off to Goodwill. Take your donated items to a Church that has an Outreach facility or another organization that literally charge nothing so that the homeless and underprivileged are able to have clothes on their backs. However, if you want to donate so that people are able to have jobs like: managing, being a cashier, processing items, then by all means please keep donating there!
Historically people have believed their donated goods were going to people in need, and not to a middle man looking to maximize profits. But here’s the thing, Goodwill has never advertised themselves to be an organization that helps families in need by providing a store that has discounted household/textile goods. You can go straight to their website and find nothing regarding their corporation providing items/products at a discounted price specifically for the poor or homeless. Their prices happen to be somewhat discounted because the items are indeed donated; it’s just common sense that a used item isn't expected to be resold at retail prices.
Goodwill is not and was never meant to be understood as a discount store specifically for lower class families, but rather as a second chance career center and resource. While shopping in the Goodwill that I regularly go to, you can hear their commercials playing on Goodwill Radio constantly advertising their career center/facilities in between Katy Perry’s Firework, Jake Owen’s Anywhere With You, and Hunter Hayes’ I Want Crazy; seriously, Goodwill Radio plays some good jams. The first thing you find on their website is a number of people they have been able to employ because of the donated items coming in. Their slogan is “Donate stuff. Create Jobs.” According to their website, all the items donated to Goodwill this year have employed 55,898 people, which is pretty impressive. Directly under their slogan you find different pages for career building, job searching, etc. Goodwill is alive and running because of the people that donate. But Goodwill’s mission is Changing Lives by the Power of Work, and functions solely to create jobs for people who need second chances. So, please donate if you want to keep creating jobs for people that need second chances.
The most common denominator when it comes to everything that I buy is that, for whatever reason, someone has made the decision that they are going to get rid of said item. If you’re donating items, you are technically saying “I could do without this”, but your reasoning for donating that item does not follow the item into a Goodwill or Thrift store. Donated items fall under one of these categories:
1) simply just wanted the item(s) gone.
2) wanted it to go to someone else in need.
3) wanted the tax write off.
I’m sure there are more reasons but these are the ones I came up with.
Regardless of the reason an item is donated, Goodwill/Thrift stores look to maximize profits. Any business that wants to stay alive understands this. The employee’s I see at Goodwill aren't stupid. They know what I’m doing there especially when they seem me regularly coming in and buying the most random things. They know I’m there trying to capitalize on profits because they CONSTANTLY deal with this. Literally all day collectors, hoarders, and flippers are filing in and out trying to find treasure. They also know what I’m doing because some of them have asked why I come frequently and buy random stuff, and I’m very honest with them with what I do.
Goodwill employees don’t frown on collectors, hoarders, or re-sellers when we come in, but rather without us they wouldn't have a business, period, nor would they have jobs to give. They have come around and gotten smarter about pricing some items a tad bit higher. Sometimes they get it totally wrong though. I see them trying to sell beat up GameCube’s for $60, which is absolutely outrageous. They've also gotten smarter about TI-83 Calculators. They used to price those suckers at $5 all day which could net you about $50 depending on the buyer, competition, and condition. Now you’ll see some priced around $30-40 range which hardly leaves any room for profit considering EBay and PayPal 13% fees + shipping.
Another way I get items is from Goodwill’s auctions. I've bought some pretty sweet stuff from their auctions such as: a Behringer 24 channel mixer, (2) Casio Vintage MIDI guitars, Nintendo Wii, and so on. If you couldn't tell, I think I do well with music gear, but if you want to have a good and successful EBay store, you've got to diversify your purchases, which means obtaining knowledge about anything and everything. Goodwill has even gotten to the point where they are withholding items from the store floor because they send items to their online auction website. I'll let you do the math here...
Ultimately, while Goodwill does great at creating jobs, they actively are trying to maximize profits, capitalize on inventory, and clear inventory quickly so that new inventory can be sold. They only have so much shelf space, so the quicker something moves the quicker they make money and the more jobs they can offer.
Estate sales are probably my favorite places to go to source items. I've heard that Garage Sales are what people want to give away and Estate Sales are what people wanted to keep. Typically you find a lot of junk at a garage sale, goodwills, and thrift stores, but generally a majority of estate sales are bomb-diggity awesome and packed with great finds; at least that’s how mine are in this area.
In my amateur experience estate sales occur because:
1) The residents have passed away and the rest of the family is done collecting what they want.
2) The residents are moving and can’t take everything so they sell what they can’t take.
3) The residents are moving out of the country and want to sell EVERYTHING.
Just like Goodwill’s trying to maximize profits, so also do Estate Sale Companies. Estate Sale companies are essentially flippers like myself. Instead of coming into the estate and snatching a couple items to resell like I do, they go out and bid on entire estates so that they can resell everything for profit; or sometimes they’ll be contacted straight up by the residents to come in to their estate, price everything, and conduct the sale so the owners of the house don’t have to. Some companies take weeks to go in a price everything, and they do it with intense research; sometimes leaving flippers like me with no profit to make. If you’re looking to find an estate sale just for funzies, then hit up www.estatesales.net and enter in your zip code.
Ultimately, Estate Sale Companies try to maximize profits. Just like Goodwill. Just like me. As the same for Goodwill, Estate Sales Companies are well aware that 95% of their buyers are re-sellers/flippers.
Garage sales are mostly a lot of junk. But very rarely you’ll get someone selling quality stuff. A garage sale is probably the platform where people can and are taken advantage the most my Re-sellers/Flippers who have no soul; OK that was a little extreme, but I’ll try to get my point across. Let’s say I find a gold necklace that appears to be costume jewelry and is marked at $5. Let’s also say that I recognize that this is an authentic GOLD necklace. Here’s the golden question… hehe… you see what I did there?... OK. Do you alert the owner conducting the garage sale or do you keep your mouth shut and pay up as fast as you can and roll in the Benjamin’s?
What I would do in this situation and the honest thing to do here would be to notify the seller of what they have. Once they’re fully aware of what’s being sold, then a price can be negotiated. Of course now this begs the question of how much they should charge and how much a flipper would pay. But regardless of what I, a buyer, does with an item after its purchased doesn't really matter. In the end, after discussing what the seller actually has (a gold necklace) the buyer and seller came to a conclusion and agreed on a price. BUT just because you agree on a price doesn't make every scenario OK. Another example of abusing the seller would be lying and saying "I wan't to buy this for my niece" which you're leading them on to to believe it's going somewhere good, thus allowing you an extreme discount but flipping it instead. This is major deceit and is a grave matter in regards to your soul.
This scenario I've described is how I would handle a situation like this. Here’s another example that is much different. Again, I’m pulling The Office back into this and referring to Andy and Dwight’s transaction. If you’re a nerd like me who loves The Office then you know exactly what I’m talking about. In short, Andy is selling his Xterra for a certain price and Dwight learns of this and gets Andy to shave $1,500 off his asking price. Not too long after the transaction, Dwight puts the Xterra back up for sale but at an even greater price that Andy initially had. Like anyone else would, Andy gets rightfully upset! He’s upset because he gave his friend a deal upon which Dwight was just using to make a profit from. I mean… Andy also stole Dwight’s girlfriend so that might have factored into him doing that.
I've only been able to come up with this scenario, a scenario where flipping can actually be harmful and damaging only when you use someone who you have a relationship with for your own profits. A friend hopefully isn't trying to maximize profits on you, which would be a terrible relationship; therefore one shouldn't do the same to them. Imagine I buy you a brand new leather jacket and then you received it, acknowledged it’s worth, and then turned it around for profit; I would be pissed at you! Because I bought it FOR YOU!
To try and articulate my point more…
I used to play Poker, a lot. I started at the young age of 12 and I got good, real good. Eventually when I got old enough to play at Winstar Casino in Oklahoma, I went as often as I could and made $b$a$n$k$. Please keep in mind that this was a different time in my life, before NET, before even thinking I’d ever be a youth minister. I still like to play but I haven’t in almost a year, and the last time I went I made $700. But there’s a reason why I stopped playing as often as I used to. To keep it short, other things simply were more important to me, such as: God, Emily, family, etc. But when I do play I make sure my opponent knows exactly what he’s doing. I do my best to make sure that he’s not being irresponsible with his money.
I remember one time I was 18, sitting at a $1/$2 game at Winstar with about $250 in front of me. I had only been sitting for an hour and within that time one guy had lost and re-bought in about 3-4 times at $200 each re-buy. This is an indication that: 1) He’s just a rich dude that sucks at poker. 2) He has a gambling problem. I remember this night very well and this man did not appear to fall under the first category.
First off, poker is not gambling, but people can be very stupid/ignorant about the game and have a gambling mentality with it. In the game of poker you are on-guard of your money. The whole point of the game is to get your opponent’s money. However, there’s something morally wrong with continuing to sit at the other end of the table with a man in the second category that might be losing his rent money, or money that is to be used to support his family.
I remember at 18 that I couldn't keep sitting at that table, even if I folded each hand that I saw that he was in. For, my very presence at the table is somewhat endorsing what he’s doing. I got up and found the Pit boss to request a different table. Shortly after that I regularly started playing higher stakes. Typically the higher the stakes are, the less fishes you’ll find at the tables. The higher the stakes, the better the player, the fairer the game.
I kind of like to think that Estate sales, Thrift Stores, and Goodwill is a tad bit similar to me making sure my opponent knows full well what he’s doing at the other end of the card table. All of those stores are re-sellers looking to maximize profits. However, I kind of… KIND OF… associate the garage sale crowd with that one guy at the table that doesn't have a clue what he’s doing!
If you've ever seen the poker movie Rounders with Edward Norton and Matt Damon, you might remember Damon’s character quoting Amarillo Slim, a poker pro, saying, “It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money” meaning that it's your fault for not taking the time to get better at the game or figure out what your item is actually worth.
Garage Sales, in my opinion, kind of hit on a similar level. People holding garage sales are mostly just trying to get rid of junk, and maximizing profits obviously isn't really important to them. Just a tip, if you want to sell something and get as much value out of it, then steer clear from using a garage sale as a means to sell it. Holding a garage sale is just asking for it to be purchased at most 30% retail value.
Hopefully I've been able to present my side of flipping clearly. It's super fun and I've met a lot of super nice people doing it. We actually see each other a lot from sale to sale. I would definitely consider myself an amateur but if something has interested you about this post, feel free to ask me questions about flipping. I promise I'll get back to you!
I’d be interested to see what others think about this post. It became a lot longer that I intended but I hope it brings some light to the way I think and operate when flipping.