01/08/2020 at 3:01 pm #72662sam_punterParticipant
- Location: west coast
I’d posted a link to a video by an ebay and Amazon seller who reported on the reduced opportunities to source from Goodwill and other second hand stores. My experience has mirrored his – particularly in suburban areas near Los Angeles CA. However I have had better luck finding good merch at Goodwills in Northern California and Oregon. I think the pattern I’m seeing is that if the Goodwill store is close to upper-middle class residential areas, where people have more disposable income and therefore replace items and buy new items regularly, the donation center in that area will receive more and better merch. It ma also be that items donated to a donation center in a more densely populated area is sent to a larger distribution center where more thorough pricing procedures are followed. Whereas a store in a less densely populated area may evaluate donations themselves where the store may be more or less effective in discovering more valuable items.
In less prosperous areas 30 -50 miles from major Southern California cities like Los Angeles, Santa Ana, San Bernardino, the stores are heavily shopped by less affluent clientel who often shop for just about everything at the second hand stores.
So the rule I’m coming to is to look for thrift stores far enough from the densely populated areas that the shoppers are mostly locals. Also, having an upper or upper-middle class residential area with a donation center that serves that store helps a lot when sourcing for resealable merch.1+
01/08/2020 at 5:11 pm #72674So Cal JoeParticipant
When I lived in that area, I generally did my best at the various Church Sales and also by going to the neighborhood yard sales sponsored by Real Estate Agents. You can check Craigslist under garage sales to find these.
The thrift stores are generally hit or miss.. mostly miss.
Tadlock auctions used to operate out of Norwalk, but have since closed. You could literally fill up a box truck there for a couple of hundred dollars. I’m still selling the items I got from them.
01/08/2020 at 8:42 pm #72684
In my neck of the woods it’s hard to figure out the good stores from the bad ones without potentially missing out on a store that suddenly gets a drop of good stuff. Some are filled with trash for MONTHS on end, then suddenly start getting incredibly good merch. The only way to win is to visit them all as frequently as possible, so I aim to hit 10-12 on sourcing days.
As for why this happens, it’s a combination of factors: Goodwill realizing they’re leaving money on the table, more people reselling, and regular shoppers looking to save money.
At least in my experience, each of these things comes in waves: GW realizes they can’t price everything up without piling up excess inventory, so they drop prices and rely on volume again. New people jump into reselling until they get burnt out and quit. Regular shoppers do come and go, but they might be the only true constant.
Regardless, GW realizes they can’t handle all the stuff coming in and can’t build the infrastructure to support a true reselling operation like individuals can. Even the regions that operate eBay stores do it poorly, and the auction site they have where I am has transitioned to just an online store with Buy It Now-style listings in addition to the auctions.
I think the best way to make money from GW are the Outlets. I’m tempted to spend an entire day in there sometime.1+
01/13/2020 at 2:01 pm #72893sam_punterParticipant
- Location: west coast
I don’t know where you get the idea Goodwill Industries is dropping their ebay and Amazon selling effort. If you see an ebay store of theirs suddenly disappear, it could well be part of their efforts to keep potential donators from knowing they sell the creme of donations online instead of the store, where donators’ intended buyers – economically disadvantaged people – can buy them. Goodwill has been selling online and is undoubtedly getting more sophisticated at evaluating and listing items. Being a huge, nationwide company, they standardize practices for all (with exceptions I’m sure) stores. The have central warehouses where donations go first where I’m sure, there are experienced pricing experts that sift through items before distributing them to stores. This is particularly true of large metropolitan areas like the Los Angeles area.
Second hand stores in general, do not want you to know they pull items out of what you think is “junk” that they sell online for hundreds or thousands of dollars. If the donating public knew this, they would begin researching the items online before donating them. Some donators might still donate valuable items if they know they are going to profit the store (some are charities, some are entirely profit driven). But I’m sure most of the prime items Goodwill has donated to them is donated by unsuspecting people, some of which could use the money from selling them online themselves – something Goodwill does not want them to know.
I’ve had my best luck as Salvation Army and St Vincent De Paul stores in rural areas or smaller towns like in the Midwest.
As one posting has noted, the outlets are often dominated by territorial trolls who shove other buyers aside and scoop out anything of resale value before letting the beta members of the herd to the trough.
- This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by sam_punter.
01/13/2020 at 3:26 pm #72899
I never implied they were backing off of selling online and it’s clear that isn’t in their future either. See my post later in the thread.
My local GWs openly advertises their auction site/online shopping platform in all their stores at the checkout, side of the building, at the drop-off, etc. It’s not a secret. I’ve never heard of their eBay/Amazon stores disappearing either, but would appreciate more info/a source on that. If you mean disappearing in the sense that they moved it to their online website, then yeah.
The way you describe the outlet is exactly why I love it. I embrace the physicality. Most of reselling comes down to simply being in the right place at the right time with the right amount of money, but the outlet is a pure, unfiltered reselling deathmatch.0
01/08/2020 at 9:24 pm #72686
“GW realizes they can’t … build the infrastructure to support a true reselling operation like individuals can.”
They haven’t so far, but what’s to prevent them from getting their act together and doing so in the future? That is the worry in the back of my head, since I’m not diversified like J&R are with other types of income streams. If they’re willing to make the investment and wait a little while for the return, they could hire away a high-level manager/executive from ThredUp, say, to grow shopgoodwill.com into a major player. No?0
01/09/2020 at 7:56 am #72694almastyParticipant
Uhhh, Goodwills have the stock, infrastructure, space and employees to do what most resellers only dream they could do:0
01/09/2020 at 9:26 am #72696buytikiselltikiParticipant
Major upgrades in my area, many Goodwills have been remodeled and are bright, fresh, reasonably organized and FULL of merchandise.
Lots of messaging about their charitable place in the community, many workers are benefitting.
Prices seem to have gone up in general, discounts not quite automatic ( one day for seniors, one day for military ) though the Sunday sales on one color really moves stuff out based on the number of scrubby people pushing multiple full shopping carts!
So they are investing in the business , and community.
There are MANY more customers Then a few years ago, perhaps the stigma of being seen in the stores has been fixed by the nice retail focus.
And there are tons of resellers, from the obvious flea market folks to the equally obvious people who spend their entire time scanning stuff with their phones.
Yet still many many bargains to be found, many overlooked items throughout, and lots of opportunities.
Recently stopped by an outlet, again where does all the stuff come from. Have to admit that I am actually frightened by the people shopping there who seem to have devoted their lives to getting filthy. But walking through after the mad rush again, so many things overlooked so many opportunities.
Times change competition shifts anyone can still sell trash and be free.0
01/09/2020 at 9:50 am #72697MyCottageParticipant
Like J & R, I have always felt there is enough stuff to go around for us resellers. But as I read more articles about how popular second hand has become, I do wonder whether sourcing will become more and more challenging for the little guy. almasty’s story about the Frederick GW’s online operation is a little scary….
ebay has badly neglected the used side of their business for years, in favor of pushing new to the forefront, and now they are at risk of losing —if they haven’t already lost—their position as the primary place to look for old, used and oddball stuff online. It’s no wonder cross listing is becoming popular….it may eventually not only be popular, but may become the only way to survive…and all while watching sourcing opportunities drying up.
The 2020s will be interesting….1+
01/09/2020 at 10:09 am #72698
I have never heard of ThredUp. It seems to only be clothing, no? Regardless, I don’t sell clothing for this very reason – it’s a problem you can seemingly solve by just adding more people to the equation.
I shop Goodwill’s online stores all the time and see the equivalent of a below-average ebay store. If this is someone’s dream, then that’s fine, I just don’t see the appeal or rampant success a traditional reseller would be able to pull off if they had the same inventory. GW doesn’t seem to be interested in doing any of the work needed to leverage what they have. E.g., all electronics are untested and 90% of them use copy-paste descriptions that will have stuff like: “Item is in excellent condition. Screen is broken. Several scratches and writing in marker on outside,” which is just a series of contradictions. If this is the best they can do, then I’m not worried. Photos are also blurry, too far away, or don’t show key bits of information, like model or serial number. Why would I bid on a lot of PS2s if they don’t show the model? What if they’re all the model that scratches the disks? No returns, BTW.
They leave money on the table constantly, which is why I frequently buy stuff off there and flip it for 3x/4x. Even auctions for good items end with me being the only bid. It makes my job a lot easier – now I don’t have to drive around to a bunch of GWs thanks to it all being online. By the time you factor in driving, the $2 handling fee is cheaper than IRL sourcing. Also: When they price stuff equal to eBay prices, it often sits for a week and gets relisted at $9.99, $7.99, or lower.
It seems their bread and butter is clothing, so not my area of concern. I keep watch on their auctions under consumer electronics and just saw tons of 0 bids on the store mentioned in the article. If I lived there I’d be sniping that stuff so fast their site would melt.
Here’s what a reseller will give you: Free returns, quality/condition guarantee, great photos, and detailed description.
ShopGoodwill asks the same prices, $2 handling fee, no returns, no guarantee, weird shipping, bad photos, and limited/no description.
If they can somehow manage to take away my job while managing to do about 10% of the work, good for them.1+
01/13/2020 at 11:25 pm #72918
If they can somehow manage to take away my job while managing to do about 10% of the work, good for them.
My point is that it wouldn’t be too hard for them to change their approach and do 100% of the work, thereby eliminating many independent reseller jobs and turning them into listing jobs. Almasty has posted a link higher up in this thread to an article that describes one Goodwill franchise doing exactly that.0
01/14/2020 at 9:09 am #72922
Yes, I read the article, and referenced it in my post. My point still stands.
I fundamentally, 100%, without a doubt, disagree with you that it would be trivial for them to do this properly. Take an expert in any category that requires some level of higher education or niche knowledge – these people must be willing to sift through junk all day, pull out the valuable stuff, then do what’s needed to get it into resale-ready condition, for some hourly rate that is probably 25% of what they’d make reselling the stuff on their own or using the same skillset at a place them would pay them properly.
We’ll just need to agree to disagree at this point.0
01/14/2020 at 6:34 pm #72957
“Take an expert in any category that requires some level of higher education or niche knowledge “
I think that’s the crux of your point that I missed before. Since I’m most familiar with the example of Steven Schultz and vintage stereo equipment (and not as familiar with what you do), I can wholeheartedly agree that Goodwill would find it very hard to compete with him in that category. But as a whole, my observation is that type of item is a very small percentage of the donations that they get, and that for at least 90% of their stuff, they could fairly easily replace today’s self-employed resellers with their own army of cleaners, photographers, listers, and packers. Luckily, there is still plenty of stuff that one can get for cheap at yard sales and auctions.0
01/14/2020 at 11:55 pm #72961
I sometimes browse the jobs websites, looking at the retail jobs in the “thrift industry”. The paid positions are shop managers and deputy managers; one charity has a few paid assistant jobs, and the rest are unpaid volunteer positions. Pay for a manager is around 28,000 USD (converted from sterling). I’ve only seen one paid eBay position, at £9 ($11) an hour. And a few adverts for experts in books to come and work for free.
The shop I volunteer at raised in the financial year April 2018- April 2019 20,000 USD after costs and salaries. This is a large shop in a city centre location, with plenty of footfall (I hate that word!). This pays two-thirds of the salary of a person employed in their national advertising department (staff of six, I think).
To me, this suggests that it would be difficult for the thrift sector in the UK to compete with self-employed resellers without a massive investment in hiring at market rates. If they did that, I think this would have a negative effect on donations, as donors would think their gifts were supporting a commercial operation.0
01/13/2020 at 4:38 pm #72905
01/15/2020 at 3:18 pm #72975
As previously mentioned I’ve been shopping on GW’s online store. Today I finally got around to listing an item from there and realized they’d completely misrepresented it. They swapped around model numbers to a more desirable model that demanded roughly 4x more than the one I got. I effectively dumped $20~ into an item I expected to sell for $100, but will actually lose money on it now.
Since this is on their own platform, they make the rules. There aren’t any repercussions for falsely representing items, and everything is sold “as-is”.
Me? I don’t care – will just sell it at a loss and move on with my life. But what happens when someone orders one of these nutty $12.99 shirts from them and finds hole in the sleeve? Stains? Wrong measurements? “Sorry, no returns.”
This isn’t even remotely comparable to a genuine reselling operation – this is just thievery.0
01/17/2020 at 11:45 am #73010
Don’t know if Goodwill or other national thrift shop chains do this, but (apparently) these geezers charge a flat £3.90 p&p on each order. Not each item. So if you order ten items in one order, the p&p is £3.90 despite the fact that the items will come from up to ten different shops in ten separate packages.
I queried this, and was told that each shop gets re-imbursed from a central fund, and the vast majority of customers only order one item at a time.0
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