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Selling One-Off Products

I’ve read many articles about selling one-off products.  E.g., going to flea markets or thrift stores and buying a box of something, then reselling the items individually online.

I can see where someone could make money doing this.  The margins can be quite high, so selling them for any reasonable amount of money will have a good return on the money you’ve invested in this.

But as I’ve mentioned before, there are generally two things that limit your business growth: money, and time.  Selling one-off products can limit the amount of money you need, but in terms of your time it’s very expensive.

It takes a lot of time to go through flea markets and thrift stores, and to create a listing for a product.  If all you’ll ever have to sell is one box of whatever it is you found, the amount of time you have to invest in each product you sell is very large.  But you need a lot of volume to really make money on retail, and spending a lot of time on each product – finding it, preparing it for sale, creating a listing – makes getting good volume very hard.

If you’re just starting out, and really desperate to make some money quickly with very little to invest in inventory, selling one-off products may be a good way to go.  But to really ramp up volume and sales, you’ll want to transition to finding products you can re-stock as needed and sell for a long time.


Reminder: Congress is working on bills to require online retailers to collect sales tax in all states, rather than just states where they have a physical presence. There are literally thousands of tax districts in the United States, the time and cost of collecting and remitting the correct sales tax could easily be prohibitive for a small retailer. Ask your Representative and Senators to ensure any online sales tax bill requires a simplified method for collecting and remitting the tax, such as a flat sales tax paid to the Federal government, which would distribute the funds to states proportional to their populations.


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