Pro Furniture Flippers’ 8 Favorite Sources for Secondhand Furniture
In recent years, furniture flipping as a side hustle has exploded in popularity, and it’s easy to understand why. Since so many people have spent so much time at home, it’s harder to make excuses for a hand-me-down dresser that’s always been an eyesore. Some might opt to just buy new — but intrepid DIYers have taken to making over those sad pieces, either to keep or to flip for a profit.
If you’re in the latter category, you’ve come to the right place. The first step to furniture flipping is, naturally, procurement. Don’t have any furniture lying around begging for a makeover? We asked professional flippers to tell us where they source their secondhand goods — and how to score in a competitive marketplace. These are the eight reliable sources they return to again and again.
Most of the experts named Facebook Marketplace as a go-to resource for special finds and bargain prices — with the caveat that you’ll have to move fast to grab something good. If you’re the first to message, you’re first in line for pickup. “It’s all about timing,” says Lauren Hull. “I search daily, throughout the day, and always keep my eyes open.” Shayna Alnwick always checks the Free Stuff section first “to see what items are broken and need a little love.” And in terms of optimal times to look, Saturday and Sunday are your best bets, with people taking advantage of the weekend to clear clutter and post new listings.
Craigslist and OfferUp
That old mainstay, Craigslist, and other online or app-based classifieds like Gumtree or OfferUp remain great places to go treasure hunting. A bit of wisdom from Grace Elletson: “Don’t overlook the listings with crappy pictures. Not everyone is a photographer, and sometimes they’re snapping a quick picture of a piece that’s been tucked in the corner of their poorly lit garage for 20 years.”
Online and Local Auctions
Auctions can be hit or miss, but let’s face it — part of the whole endeavor is the thrill of the chase. Because of other competitors, however, it can be easy to get carried away. “You have to know your budget and force yourself not to get too attached to a piece,” warns Claire Berard. “When bidding gets crazy those last few minutes of an auction, you have to be ready to walk away.”
It’s easy to browse from the comfort of your home, but nothing beats seeing a piece in person to know what you’re really in for in terms of quality and condition. And if you hit a couple stores in one day, you may be rewarded with a small stockpile of potential flips. “Anything can manifest in the wide-open thrift,” says Clinton Avery Tharp. “It’s magic. I have experienced it.”
It’s better to go on a weekday than a weekend to avoid crowds, though things can still feel picked-over on Mondays. (“Although I do live by this saying: What is meant for you, the thrift gods will bring to you,” says Elletson.) Alnwick recommends checking with the store manager to see if there are any damaged pieces that are headed for the landfill but still salvageable — a win for you and the earth.
Otherwise, your main M.O. is to be efficient to cover more ground. “I walk fast and head straight into the furniture area,” says Tharp. “If I see pieces I want, I will pull the tag, alert the clerk, or do whatever I gotta do to ensure I can purchase the piece. Make sure to inspect each piece and ask yourself why it ended up at the thrift store. Then I do a quick walk through the lighting and accessories to see if anything catches my eye, make my purchases, and head to the next store.”
Sometimes antique stores mean unfriendly prices, but that’s not always the case. Shops that are a bit harder to get to will also be more promising. “The smaller the town and further off the path to a big city, the better,” says Tharp.
Garage and Estate Sales
“Garage sales are the best,” says Berard. “I love finding pieces [there] because they are usually priced well, and you can negotiate in person.” The downside, however, is that they’re only prevalent in the spring and summer, and it can be a gas-guzzling endeavor.
Depending on your area, estate sales may be a competitive scene, but they’re another great way to find unique and vintage pieces that just need a little zhuzh. Keep an eye out for local ads announcing garage sales, and sign up for alerts on EstateSales.net to stay in the know on upcoming estate sales.
You’d be shocked to know what you can find on the street. “All of our pieces are found on the side of the road, curbside, and heading to the trash,” says Lindsey Dobson, who flips pieces with her husband, Tyler. “A lot of people overlook these pieces when they typically can be cleaned up and made to look brand-new again.”
Alnwick agrees: “There are tons of free furniture literally left outside to rot. Most of these pieces are in good condition and would make great upcycles!”
Plan your route according to your area’s trash day. Weekends are also a good time to look, since people have more time to clear out their homes.
Lastly, don’t overlook the goods you may get from your local no-buy Facebook group, neighbors, family, and friends — not to mention, your own home. The perfect project may be hiding right under your nose.