The Mini-Jackpot

If you regularly shop rummage sales and thrift stores, you've likely experienced the rush of hitting a Mini-Jackpot.

It’s finding that 50 cent book, game or toy that you can turn around and sell for a ridiculously high price online.

It’ll make you want to break out in your happy dance (admit it, you have a happy dance.)   Sadly, happy dancing will have to wait as you’ll need to do everything in your power to contain your excitement.  

Perhaps you get a sense of paranoia that those around you somehow know what you found; you're convinced they will snatch it from you if they get the chance.

You play it cool, wiping the sweat from your brow as you go to pay.

As you leave, you hear the faint sounds of angels singing.  

Here's The Secret!
Wouldn't it be great if you could consistently find these Mini-Jackpots?  You could make hundreds, even thousands every month.

I bet you'd like me to tell you the secret to consistently finding these items.  Well I'm not going to, because there isn't one. 

You can't rely on these Mini-Jackpot finds as a consistent income stream. 

Or can you?

A few weeks ago I was shopping at a thrift store and purchased a computer accessory.  It was one of those Mini-Jackpot moments.  

It cost me $12 and I sold it on Amazon a week later for $250.  After shipping costs and fees, how much profit did I make?  A little over $1000 and counting.  

No, the extra zero is not a typo.  I made one thousand dollars.  Before you begin questioning my math skills, let me explain how you can do this too.

When you find a profitable item at a rummage sale or thrift store you’re likely overlooking a huge, and I mean HUGE, (did I say huge?) opportunity.

For example, you purchase a Barbie on clearance for $5 at Target.   You look it up online and see it’s selling for $40.  What would you do next?  Would you go home and do your happy dance?  No, you’d try and find more at other Target stores in your area.  Leo at Gmargin has a great article here on how he did this on a large scale.

Are you doing the same thing with your rummage/thrift finds?  If not, it’s time to start.

Where The Heck Am I Going To Find More? 

Unlike target, you can guess there’s a pretty slim chance that multiple rummage sales or thrift stores will have the same items.   

However it can still be done; here are a few places to look (some of these may seem obvious, but I felt it necessary to include them):


This is an often under-utilized method of finding items to resell.  If you actively participate in online forums, you'll notice there is often a buy and sell section for members.  This is an excellent way of sourcing more of an item.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of forums out there on any given topic. You can use a forum search website such as Boardreader to search for forums related to your product.

-Mom and Pop stores

If the product is no longer made, you might have some luck hitting up a local Mom and Pop store.  Unlike big box retailers, these small local stores aren't as quick to mark down or clear out old inventory.

For example, I use to work at a small retail store that repaired printers and type-writers.  We had dozens of brand new type-writer ribbons that were probably 20 years old.  There wasn't much demand for these, but the owner wasn't going to get rid of them.  Occasionally someone would purchase one because they weren't available anywhere else.  If he's able to sell one here and there, why not hold onto them. Looking back, I wish I would have snatched all of them up with my employee discount.  I could have made quite a bit on those ribbons.


Right off the bat I was able to score 4 more of my item on eBay.  I wasn't able to get them for $12, but I was able to purchase them for between 60 and 100 each.  That still leaves me with a good chunk of change selling them at $250.  I also set up eBay alerts to get notified when there are new listings for the item.


Over the past 2 weeks I was able to buy 2 more on craigslist for less than 40 dollars each.  I also placed an ad in the “wanted” section offering to pay $50 for the item.

-Price Comparison Sites

Use a price comparison site like PriceGrabber to search thousands of online retailers for your item.  Sometimes you might get lucky and find a smaller online retailer with the product in stock.  As a side note, always make sure you research any retailers you haven't heard of before handing over your credit card information.

Consistent Cash Flow

Next time you run into one of those Mini-Jackpot items, or any profitable item, take a little extra time to see if you can find it anywhere else.  Before you know it you'll have a list of items you'll always be on the lookout for.  Set up those eBay alerts and take time once or twice a week to search for these.  You will have turned your list of one-off Mini-Jackpots into a fairly consistent cash flow.

Care to share how much you made on any of your Mini-Jackpots?



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