NE Ohioans are reselling goods for a profitable side hustle
Julie Brown sifts through the dress aisle at Village Discount Outlet on Waterloo Road in Akron. She’s looking for floral print clothing to resell at flea markets that feature tiki-themed wares.
“This is a good deal,” she said. “Six dollar Lilly Pulitzer. Super cute.”
She said that it would cost around $80 new.
“So, like that I would probably vend because a lot of the tiki ladies like that,” she said.
Brown sells second-hand items, such as floral print clothing, cassette tapes and nostalgic movie posters. She also buys tiki mugs for wholesale prices and resells those through flea markets or for her shop on Ebay, Downtown Julie Brown’s. She’s been reselling for 26 years.
“We just needed enough to help pay for the car payments,” she said. “So, I used to go to Marc’s, Discount Drug Mart and buy things in their closeout section.”
It’s hard to pick out a reseller from other shoppers, said Maureen Ater, the vice president of marketing and development at Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio.
Some shoppers stand in front of an item while looking it up on their phone to see if there’s value in it, which is an indicator the person might be buying to resell, she said.
Ater said the definition of a reseller has changed.
“It can be that person that’s doing it for a living but can also be that college kid that’s just here finding some really cool jerseys that he might wear and then he may resell either through Instagram, an Ebay store or Etsy,” she said.
Brown, who went full-time about 12 years ago, has sold over 37,000 items, according to her dashboard on Ebay. She currently has more than 7,000 items listed.
Second-hand stores such as GoodWill are the fastest growing market in the U.S. thanks to resale, according to thredUP, an online resale platform. Resale is expected to be a $57 billion market in the next 10 years.
Dave and Laurie Bilyeu are a husband-and-wife duo in Colorado that saw the need to help streamline the shipping process for resellers by starting eBliss Fulfillment Center in the fall of 2020. At that time, they went from full-time resellers to selling part-time at high volume, like many of their clients. Some live in Ohio.
“More people are dropping from the goal of making reselling full-time to making it, the term we use, a significant side hustle, generating $2,000 in gross sales a month or more in addition to either working a full-time job or another side hustle,” Dave Bilyeu said.
One in three people have a side hustle, which is a supplemental job that provides income in addition to full-time work, and 25% of those people say they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills without it, according to a study that was done in March 2023 by LendingTree and PYMNTS.
Annette Rosteter resells to supplement her income. She resold part-time during her working years as a contractor at NASA. Now, the extra money adds to her retirement income.
Rosteter has 1,000 items for sale through her Ebay store, Elmwood Cottage Collectables. She has an additional 500 waiting to be tagged. She said buying a used item has to be worth her time to resell it. It comes down to the profit.
She said she needs to make “$20 to $25 minimum," and a lot of that also depends on how much effort needs to go into it.
"If it’s an item that I’ve already bought because I thought it was fantastic, and I get it home and realize, ‘No.’" she said.
She added that she sells 15 to 20 items per week. She decorates her house with listed items until they are sold and shipped to a new home. She uses her basement as a workstation.
Brown’s listed inventory is sitting in a few hundred labeled plastic containers in her home in Tallmadge ready to be shipped to future customers. Her unlisted items lay on tables and are hung in portable closets at her warehouse in Alliance, the place where she spends some of her workday taking pictures of her stock and then creating online listings.
Reselling is growing, but it’s compressing, meaning some resellers will be pushed out of the market, Dave Bilyeu said. He predicts there will be a lot more resellers flipping items for a significant side hustle as opposed to a broad base of different types of resellers doing it full-time with niche inventory.