We have all heard the adage when it comes to trading stocks, buy low and sell high. You can also use this tactic to make money on items that you can buy on a store shelf as well. This practice is known as retail arbitrage and it can make you a small fortune.

By finding bargains online and in-person, you can resell them for a higher price and pocket the profit. You can get started by checking these locations to find the best deals.

Retail Arbitrage Apps

Before you begin buying and selling, you need to know how much the same item is selling for online. The elephant in the room is Amazon. If you cannot sell it for less than the Amazon price and profit, you might need to consider finding another item to flip. These apps can help you quickly research the current online selling price and your potential profit margin.

Profit Bandit costs $9.99 per month and it gives you the ability to scan UPCs and access information in seconds. If you are serious about retail arbitrage, this is a great investment. Beginners can also succeed with the free retail apps as well.

If you plan to ship on Amazon, you can also consider the Amazon FBA program to save on time and shipping costs.  All you need to do is buy the product, send it to their warehouse, and they will ship it to the buyer when you make a sale!

Where to Get Items to Flip

There are actually several places you can find products where you can buy low and sell high. Here are the most common to get started with retail arbitrage.

1. Your Own Closet

Instead of having a garage sale and selling everything for pennies, sell your valuable items on sites like Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon. People might not have any interest in your 20-year-old t-shirt collection, but it can be a good way to sell fine jewelry, designer clothing, and other collectibles.

2. Craigslist

In addition to being a great place to sell locally, an excellent option to buy is Craigslist. By browsing the free section, you can find items that can sell for money.

As you will often see, the person getting rid of the item simply doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of negotiating with buyers. In other instances, something might only need a few small repairs that only take a few minutes if you have the right tools and skills.

3. Local Yard Sales

Your neighbors might not be aware of the benefits of retail arbitrage. You can find good deals by visiting local yard sales and estate sales.

Using a yard sale app can help you locate sales with featured items and also plan your route. Visiting sales know what the selling prices are for similar items online will make it easier to find a needle in a haystack.

With yard sales, you truly can find anything so it pays to keep an eye open for overlooked treasures.

With a smartphone, you can quickly research an item’s market value as well. This tactic can also give you a better idea of how to negotiate with the seller if the price needs to be lowered to increase your earning potential.

4. Thrift Stores

You will find the best deals at thrift stores when you can buy the daily specials. Each store does it differently as they might only put one department might be on sale and other times anything with a green or purple dot will be deeply discounted. These are the days to buy designer clothing and other goodies that can be turned for a few dollars in profit.

If you live in a large city, you should also see if your local thrift store network has a clearance warehouse. These warehouses are usually full of all the unsorted merchandise that couldn’t be sorted at the actual store because they didn’t have enough room.

Instead of hauling everything to the landfill, the store will let customers sift through the bins of clothing and other home goods for less-than-thrift store prices.

Visiting a clearance warehouse can take a little more time as clothing might not be neatly organized by size or gender, but, the deals can make it worth your time. Most items are still untouched and you will be able to find name-brand items.

5. Department Store Clearance Racks

At the end of each season, your local brick-and-mortar retail stores will clearance all the seasonal merchandise. At the end of summer, you can expect any remaining summer clothing, outdoor patio furniture, etc. to be marked down in order to make space for the fall and winter items.

You can also take advantage of clearance opportunities by shopping at retailer’s online stores as well. Some of the deals might be online-only. If you can meet the free shipping requirements, online shopping can be advantageous.

To increase your profit margin, begin your shopping session with Ebates to get some additional cash back on the purchase price as well.

6. Tuesday Morning

Tuesday Morning gets its own section because it is a favorite place to find designer and name-brand products at very low prices. There are over 800 locations across the nation. Step inside one if you live nearby and see what savings you can discover.

7. Video Game Stores

If a video game store has a game on clearance or maybe even a package deal, you might be able to find some opportunities. Selling video games can be lucrative as a sizable portion of the population enjoys this hobby.

One area to think about is retro video games that are no longer made but make a comeback with parents introducing their favorite childhood games to the newest generation of gamers, their children.

8. Bookstores

Books are another great arbitrage item since you can ship them at the discounted media mail rate. You can look for discounts and bargain bin specials at your local bookstores, thrift stores, and garage sales. As with any item you plan to flip, your profit potential increases if you can buy large quantities.

Some merchants will give you a larger discount when you buy more items. It’s a larger initial investment that needs to be recouped with sales volume, but, it can increase your profit margin.

If you plan on selling textbooks online, you might give a few of these places a try.

9. Libraries

In addition to check used bookstores, visit your local library book sale. At least once each year, libraries hold an annual sale to sell books donated by fellow neighbors and to also clean their shelves of books that haven’t been checked out recently. Prices are also very reasonable for most books.

You might have to join the Friends of the Library group to get early access to the sale. Even though you might think it is ironic to buy a book from the library, many people choose to buy books for the convenience or to add to their own personal library.

10. Grocery Stores

Another exciting opportunity is grocery stores. If you can find a store that is clearing out packaged food and non-perishable items or maybe even finding a grocery store going out of business, you can rack up the deals.

Since these items have a shelf life and don’t require special shipping like dry ice packaging, you can oftentimes afford to sit on these items for a little bit if they do not sell immediately.

Each grocery store has a clearance section. Your best opportunities might be in the middle of the week when stores restock their shelves after the weekend. It also pays to visit several stores across towns as certain neighborhoods tend to discount more products than others.

11. Store Closing Sales

Another option is store closing sales where you can find many items from 75% to 90% off the normal retail price. Retail stores of every category go out of business for a variety of reasons and it can be a good opportunity to score some deals.

If a store is relocating to a larger building, it’s also common to hold a “moving sale” as it can be cheaper to sell the products than load them up on a truck and unload them a second time.

12. Drop Shipping

If you want to earn residual income, drop shipping has also become a very popular method of “hands off” retail arbitrage. To get started, you can create an online storefront with Shopify to handle customer payments and automatically initiate the shipping process.

You will also need to partner with a third-party supplier. Salehoo has a directory of over 8,000 vendors that sell over 2.5 million products.

After finding a partner, each order will ship directly from their warehouse to the customer. And you, as the middleman, earn a profit from each sale.

13. Costco and Sam’s Club

Buying from a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club can also be a good place to look for arbitrage opportunities. Deals can be even better if you can acquire discount coupons or one-day sales.

You might want to avoid buying certain products that say “Not labeled for individual sale” unless you plan on selling the case intact.

You might even consider shopping at Sam’s or Costco if you operate a concession stand at various public events. Chances are the people who stock vending machines at corporate offices also get their supplies from a warehouse club.

14. eBay

You might even consider looking at eBay for deals. Your best chances might be finding items available for local pickup that you can resell as is for a higher amount on a different selling platform or need some slight refurbishing. Bidding in low-price auctions can also be advantageous.

Once you are ready to resell the item, you can list it on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, or another online or physical store that will give you top dollar.

15. Used Cars

You might think that a used car as an investment as they are constantly depreciating in value, but, a mechanically-minded person can make money by buying a “fixer-upper” and selling it for a small profit.

You do need the tools and time to make any necessary repairs. A good interior detailing can also add curb appeal as well.

Two starting places include Craigslist and vehicle auctions. These two options allow you to avoid dealership fees that add to the buying costs. You should also become familiar with your state’s vehicle resale laws as there are limits to how many vehicles a private person can each year before they are considered an auto dealer.

16. Ikea

Many people rave about Ikea products, but, if you don’t live near a store, you have to pay for shipping.

If you can buy an item from Ikea and offer free Amazon Prime 2-day shipping for less than Ikea’s shipping costs, you can also make some money. You can even offer Ikea products on eBay with free shipping for additional product exposure.

17. Toy Stores

If you visit a toy store like Toys ‘R Us, you need to visit the clearance section and choose timeless toys like Lincoln Logs, Barbie, etc. that are always in demand.

Maybe you even played with some of these toys as a child, even if it had different packaging and colors. Seasonal toys based on the latest movie or video game might also be profitable, but, these toys can be a riskier business plan.

18. Flea Markets

Some vendors at flea markets will give you a deal if you can buy in bulk. If so, you can raise the price and sell each item individually online to individual buyers.

It’s even possible to find treasures from other vendors that might be selling items they purchased from storage lockers or yard sales and have underpriced for quick sale or because they do not know the actual market value.

Avoid year-round flea markets as those are more like consignment sales. Instead, choose flea markets that are only open for a day and where vendors are looking to clear their inventory so they can replenish and move onto the next market.

19. Dollar Stores

You might also have success at online dollar stores. Receive a discount by buying in bulk and charge retail prices online or at your own local sale. Some wholesalers that sell to brick-and-mortar dollar stores also sell to individuals.

It’s even possible to be successful in this form of retail arbitrage by visiting your local dollar store too. Sometimes, they sell products for $1 that are still selling for the normal retail price on Amazon. Buy as much as you can sell it online to pocket the difference as profit.


Many people only shop when they need to buy something for themselves. They do not realize there are times they can buy a product and sell it for a profit.

Retail arbitrage does have a learning curve and also requires a time investment, but, it can be a great way to make some extra money or even start a business as a teen.

Have you mad money using retail arbitrage? If so tell me about it in the comments below!

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