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Did you know that you can make money by flipping flea market items on eBay, Facebook, or Craigslist?
I didn’t know either until I had a chat with Robert.
Today, I have an exciting interview with Robert Stephenson of Flea Market Flipper. Robert and his wife, Melissa Tonini started their flipping business as a side hustle, but later turned it into a full-time business. They made $133,000 just by flipping thrift store items in 2016 alone.
They’ve also created an awesome course, Flipper University, where they teach the exact steps and techniques they’ve used to achieve that high level of success in their business. They will transfer that same knowledge to you and show you how you can earn a full-time income from this venture.
Flipping thrift store items is a lucrative business if you know what you are doing.
Let’s go straight to the interview and find out more about how to start a flea market flip business.
Robert, please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started the Flea Market Flipping business
I grew up in a large family — I have 6 older sisters (I am the only boy). So since there were a lot of us, my mom shopped at garage sales and second-hand stores often.
My mom would buy things for us secondhand, and would also sell some items to make a little money on the side.
I started buying and reselling items when I was about 16. I pretty much started with eBay when it first came out.
What is flipping? Can you explain this in more detail so that those who don’t know may understand it better?
Flipping is basically buying an item in one market for a low price, and selling it in a different market for a higher price.
I buy many of my items from vendors at flea markets who get their items from buying storage units and auction lots. I also buy from auctions myself.
People are looking for these flea market items for sale online, and I connect the buyer to the item they are looking for. They buy it for a lower price than retail, and I make money for my hunt to find the item.
I understand that flea market flipping is a business that requires initial investment. How much money would you advise beginners to invest in buying products for sale?
Honestly the investment can be very little. We usually recommend our students to start with about $50 – $100 to purchase a few items to resell. With that investment someone should be able to make $150-$500, depending on the items purchased.
are there any maintenance costs that a new flipper should be aware of?
Our biggest maintenance cost right now is our storage units. We currently have three (too many), but we didn’t’ start out that way. I previously used the extra room in my apartment to store my items.
Someone starting out definitely doesn’t need a storage unit, they can make a closet, extra room, or garage work. Other than that all you really need is a smartphone and you can do everything else.
How much money do you make from this flipping business? How much should a new flipper expect to make a month or 6 months from now, on average?
I have been doing this for over 20 years now and honestly didn’t keep very good track of income over the years. It was always our extra income – money we used for vacations, savings, gifts, and anything extra.
When we started our blog in 2015 we started keeping better track. That year we made $42,000 flipping items, and the following year made $133,000 in sales!
Both years were with experience, and this business is like any other- you get out what you put in. If a new flipper is willing to put in the work to learn the trade and find good items, I would expect they could make an extra $500-$2,000 per month. That could always go up or down, but I think it’s a good range to expect with the effort put into it.
Is this a full-time or part-time side hustle? In any case, how many hours per week do you dedicate to it?
Right now this is a full-time hustle, but when I say full-time it mostly means it’s our main income. I don’t put in full-time hours flipping items. I probably average about 20-30 hours per week right now.
When I was doing it part-time it was more like 5-15 hours per week. (when we made $42,000).
How long did it take you before you started earning a full-time income?
Like I mentioned before, we didn’t keep good records until 2015. That year we made $42,000 part-time. Some people would consider that a full-time income, but we were definitely not working full-time hours.
I had gone full-time years before, but Melissa was still working her personal training job at the same time. Now we have 3 little kiddos to take care of, and flipping is our main gig as of a year and a half ago.
For the past few years I made more money at flipping than at my ‘real job’, but I kept the other job for insurance. Once that was taken away because of cuts, I decided to ‘officially’ jump into flipping full-time.
Is flipping the same as buying commodities at thrift stores or yard sales? If not, help us understand the difference.
Yes its pretty much the same thing, you look for items that are priced below market value then buy and sell them for market value.
Where and how do you find moving items for sale? How do you determine if an item is going to sell well or not?
Most of my items are sourced from the flea market or auctions, and I visit them consistently.
Experience has helped me figure out what items sell, but another big helper has been Google. (shhhhhh….. it’s a big secret!) But really, Google is a huge help to determine what an item is worth.
Do you sell on eBay? If so, tell us more about the eBay selling process.
We definitely sell on eBay. It makes up about 85% of our total sales.
It isn’t tough to sell on eBay. Modern technology has made it so much easier than it used to be. Once you buy an item you take a picture of it then list it for sale on eBay. Once it sells you ship the item to buyer. eBay has really become so user friendly, I have witnessed these changes first hand through the years.
What challenges have you faced or a new flipper would expect to face while running this business?
There will always be challenges when starting a new business venture – even if it’s a side hustle. Most challenges can be overcome with a little persistence.
One challenge people may face is finding items to resell. That can usually be taken care of by finding a favorite place to source items. That could be a thrift store, flea market, auction, or selling app.
You have a course (Flea Market Flipper University) that teaches beginners how to successfully create flipping businesses. Tell us more about your course.
This course was designed to take a person interested in flipping items to make an income to actually doing it.
We help people get their eBay and PayPal accounts set up, we help them find items of value, and we help them sell them on eBay and other online sites.
Do you have testimonials that you can share with us from students who have completed the course?
We do have several testimonials. You can check out a recent one here from Anthony and how he increased his profits from $3 per item to closer to $100 per item!
You can also check out how Bobi makes $600- $2,000 per month flipping items.
As we come to a close, what advice or tips would you give to someone who is interested in the flea market flipping business?
My biggest advice is to stay consistent. Too many times I see people want to start this business and give it a week of going to the flea market and thrift stores before they give up.
It can be an awesome way to make a part-time or full-time income, it just takes some time and effort to get started.
Thank you, Robert, for taking the time to show us how a person can start a flipping business from home and work part-time or full-time.
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Virginia Nakitari is a full-time blogger and a work from home expert. Join Virginia and 200,000 monthly readers on EarnSmartOnlineClass to learn how to make money online, even as a beginner. Before starting this blog, Virginia worked as a freelancer, specializing in general transcription and virtual assistance. Her wide clientele comprised of business coaches, podcasters, bloggers, and other online entrepreneurs. It’s through these interactions that Virginia developed a knack for writing and showing people how to work from home, make money online and attain financial freedom.