Thrifting as a Gateway to Wholesale Sourcing for Amazon FBA

tfp-wholesale-sourcingI’ve been selling on Amazon as an FBA seller since April 2011 (did some Merchant Fulfilled selling for a while prior) and even sold on eBay way before that.  I started FBA by doing retail arbitrage.  I was focused a lot on clearance items.  Then I discovered thrift store sourcing and was hooked!  The returns on thrifted items will just blow your mind.  Once you start selling $0.50 books for $25, random “new” thrift store finds you paid $1 or $2 for can go for $12, $25, $50+…. you’ll be addicted to it just like I am :)  You can read about how I got into thrifting for Amazon FBA inventory in the free ebook “Smart Scouting for Cash Strapped Amazon Sellers“.

The thing with thrifting, though, is that I have to be out there finding new inventory often.  And then it is the same thing, bring it home, remove tags, clean it up, scan it, decide on a price, add description (if needed), label it, pack it up and ship it.   This is a work routine that I have gotten used to.  Then I heard of a different work routine that wholesale sourcers enjoy.

Wholesale sourcing has been something that peaked my interest in October of 2011 when Charlene Anderson was interviewed on FBA Radio (now That Kat Radio).  It sounded wonderful!  No sticker removal, stuff gets shipped right to you, just label and ship it back out to Amazon! Sell the same stuff over and over again.

And one huge take away from Charlene’s interview was that she was able to start with a minimal amount of money.  She found a wholesale company that would work with her and she started small.  Well, that was right up  my alley – I did NOT have a large chunk o’ change to invest in a large wholesale order.  So I looked into wholesale, I even got approved for an account at a few places and I did not place one order.  Why?  I got scared and I was not at all confident in my abilities to pick the right products.  I was afraid I was going to loose my shirt and my FBA business by making a bad choice. And, if I wanted to do wholesale properly I would have to put in a whole lot of up front effort with research that I honestly had no desire to do.

So, that was pretty much where wholesale sourcing ended for me at that point.  I felt much more comfortable sourcing thrift store items.  I could spread my money around to a variety of different items in various categories.  Never-mind the fact that the return on investment was (and is) fantastic! Plus – all I had to do was scan items, evaluate the data in front of me and decide if I should purchase the item or not.  Scan – decide – buy – sent it to Amazon. Simple!

So I happily continue with “Thrifting for Profit” :)  All the while I am noticing that certain items sell really well.  And I want to find MORE of those same items.  Well, if you are a thrifter too then you know that you most likely are NOT going to find those same items at a thrift store again.  And if you can find those items at regular retail prices then you are going to gasp at the prices because the ROI is just NOT there.

So I keep finding items that I wish I had more of and then it dawns on me – duh! I could look for those same items from a wholesale seller.

Fast forward over a year later and wholesale has again crossed my mind and I decided to move forward with it.  Now, what is different this time?

  • I have some money to put towards purchasing wholesale inventory.  Money that I was able to save up by selling thrifted items on Amazon FBA.
  • I have the patience to sit down and actually learn how to research items properly before even thinking of placing a wholesale order.
  • I realized that I don’t need to have a absolute knowledge of a particular niche.  I can still source items from various categories and find a niche in time.
  • While the profit margins on wholesale items are laughable when compared to the returns I get on thrifted items…. they can be reproduced easily by just placing an order for that same item.
  • I want to have a mix of inventory sources – thrift stores, wholesale and a tiny bit of retail arbitrage from time to time.

The steps I am making towards Wholesale Sourcing would never had happened if it were not for me “Thrifting for Profit”.  Thrifting allowed me to learn FBA without spending the farm on inventory.  It allowed me to make mistakes without going broke. And it continues to be, for me, the most FUN way to source inventory.  Not to mention, the ROIs on thrifted items can be insane!  Hence why I will NEVER stop thrifting.  In fact, I am looking at wholesale as a way to allow me to enjoy thrifting even more since my income will not rely 100% on my thrift store finds I can focus in on the absolutely positively best items at the thrifts.  Who knows – I might even find the time to – gasp – pick up a few things to list on eBay (don’t tell Debra;).

How has “Thrifting for Profit” helped you to grow your business?  Please share your experience in our free Facebook Group (if you are not a member yet, click the “join” button on that page and we’ll add you ASAP) or post a comment below :)




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  1. Jan says

    While looking through the Thrifting for Profits articles for information on Wholesaling, I found this one by Beth about TFP as a segway into Wholesale. Having done quite a bit of Retail Arbitrage and TFP since last November, I’ve found the Thrifting ROI to be the better option – at least for me.. All of this to say this article really spoke to me and gave me new direction in moving my business forward. Thanks Beth for writing this and for sharing your experiences. It was what I would call a good word at the right time!

    Thank You!

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