June 10, 2016

Thrift Store Hacks – How To Spot Treasures (Real Life Case Study: $308 in 60 Minutes)

By AJ Hakimi (The Flipping Ninja)

Yo! Put your walking shoes on, we’re gonna make some money!

I love hitting up Thrift Stores. Whenever I do, I usually try and hit multiples because you increase your chances of finding profit opportunities. You also start to learn about how each Thrift Store is different, depending on the neighborhood. But all Thrift Stores have one thing in common – hidden treasures.

Today, let’s hit up two Thrift Stores and see what we find.

Come along! I love company.

Alright, I have all I need: my smartphone and a tape measure (you don’t want to buy something that won’t fit in your truck or home) and we’re going into Thrift Store Stop #1.

I spotted this lonely guy as soon as I walked in:


Dumped in amongst the battered games and sad basket, this Casio keyboard is going for a measly $12! Now this little gem will bring at LEAST $50 if I was completely desperate to sell, but with a bit of patience, I can shoot for $100.

The second thing I see is this awesome guitar. What do you think I paid for it? $50? $100?


This cost all of $4.99! And I can expect to sell this for $40-$85.

The third thing I came across were these awesome Heelys shoes!!!’


Do you remember them? Oh man, when I was a kid… begging my mom to buy me these until she finally did (#persistence). If you don’t know what Heelys shoes are, they’re shoes with WHEELS in them so you can skate and cruise, instead of walking. Here’s some history on these bad boys:

“In 1999, Roger Adams came up with the idea of putting a wheel in the sole of a shoe. Watching kids zoom around on their skateboards and rollerblades, he realized there must be something new. He cut open a pair of sneakers, inserted a skateboard wheel, and Heelys were born! He created an entire category from scratch with its unique and innovative products. There is a removable wheel in the heel, transforming the shoes into stealth skates and giving its users the freedom to seamlessly transition from walking or running to skating by shifting their weight to their heels. Heelys let you take life at your own pace. With the wheels out, the stylish designs perform and look just like any other shoe. When you easily put the wheels in, you roll at a different speed. Heelys are about exploring your freedom, unleashing the fun and empowering you to be fearless.”

I paid just $16.50 for these, and expect them to sell for at least $50.

The fourth thing I saw was this Panasonic DVD Player + Remote for $8.50. I hesitated and was actually in line and checking out without buying it, but I ran back and grabbed it after hearing that today happened to be…

Thrifty Thursday! Where everything is 25% off! LOL.

Even better, since I expected to make $$$ on it.


This was awesome news.

Because initially here’s what my purchases would have been:

1. Casio Keyboard: $12

2. Acoustic Guitar: $5

3. Heelys Size 10 Skateboard Shoes: $16.50

4. Panasonic DVD Player + Remote: $8.50

Total investment: $42

Total investment after 25% Thrifty Thursday Discount: $31.50

(Check out what we can make further down.)

Come on! Back in the car, we’re off to Thrift Store Stop #2, a Goodwill store, 10 minutes away. You check your smartphone for pricing and I’ll drive.

Here’s what we find:

Two EZ Curl Barbells ($15 each) + two 11-lb Olympic Plates ($5 each)


Now the EZ Curl Barbells typically sell for more than $15. I’m expecting to sell them each for at least $50, give or take a couple of weight plates with them. It’s not uncommon to sell them with a few weight plates for $75+.

So, I spent a total of $40 bucks for 2 EZ Curl Barbells + 2 11-lb weight plates.

But the really cool thing with these, is that I can either flip them on their own for a nice little profit, OR — I can add them to my other home gym set that I put together and am selling, with a higher asking price.

For example, say I was gonna sell one barbell individually for $50 bucks. I’d be making a $35 profit ($50-$15=$35). But let’s say I’m selling my home gym set for $550 — I can throw the EZ curl barbell in with the 2 weight plates, and increase my asking price to even as high as $650, adding another giant profit because it just creates that perceived value.

Obviously you have to be smart about it… Don’t think you can just start adding in random things and asking for $100 bucks more. But with certain things (like in this home gym set example), it can make sense and a package deal is usually more attractive than single items.

It’s kinda like going to the movies… you pay for your ticket, head in, then pay ridiculous prices for popcorn/drinks/candy. $5 bucks for a bottle of water!? Pshhh… but hey, it flies. It’s part of the package and experience.

My plan is to actually take one EZ curl bar and package it in with one of my home gym sets, and take the other EZ curl bar and package it in with ANOTHER one of my home gym sets to increase the overall asking price to both, and add more value to the deal. So, for $40 I can make another $200 profit with just a little creativity.

The second thing I got was this awesome, cool Egyptology book that I HAD to have! Look at it!


Honestly, I really got this for myself more than anything. Just looked awesome. I bought it for $3 bucks. Who knows, maybe down the road I’ll sell this bad boy for $10 bucks, but this treasure is all for me!


The cool part about becoming a Flipping Ninja is that you gain experience, you gain options. As the deals progress, you’ll have many items passing through your hands and you’ll get more ideas about how to shape your business and what to do with the things you buy.

You can keep things, flip things, it’s completely up to you. You could open up your own store. There’s always options and you can really live an awesome life just making deals and enjoying the thousands of different cool things whether they’re cars, random awesome items (Michael Jackson autographed guitar, full size body costumes, Japanese swords, etc.), or whatever niche turns you on. Because you can always SELL.

Once you become a master at flipping things, your creativity will start to serve you in sweet ways. For example, as you build better deals, put together more attractive packages, etc., it’s possible to pay for your apartment, furnish it and still make MORE money when your lease is up and you walk away from it. Back when I lived in apartments, that was always the case. Because what you do is you buy low and you sell high. And the best way to learn what this means is to keep you pipeline of items moving.

Let’s get back to the Thrift Store treasures so we can feed the profit machine.

Here we are at Goodwill and I’ve just noticed that there’s 50% off all toys and kids’ stuff. Look over there! It’s a cool little toy jet for $1.50. Let’s get it. IDK, just thought it was pretty cool (and I like buying random shit ALL the time, lol). High quality, heavy duty, and again — if I get tired of playing with it, I can even sell it for $5 bucks or something.


The point is, whether it’s a small profit margin or a large one, for things I buy just for shits and giggles that I will be selling later — YOU’RE still getting paid either way. To enjoy it. To keep it. To use it. Just to randomly have sitting on your counter collecting dust. It doesn’t really matter. You’ve got nothing to lose. Only gains.

Let’s Go Home and Talk Profits

Okay, pull up a chair and let’s see what we’re working with from our Thrift Store treasure hunt. We’ll combine all items from these two stores:

Casio Keyboard

Bought: $9
Will Sell For: $50-$90
Profit: $41-$81

Acoustic Guitar

Bought: $3.75
Will Sell For: $50-$85
Profit: $46.25-$81.25

Heelys Shoes (Size 10)

Bought: $12.40
Will Sell For: $50-$65
Profit: $37.60-$52.60

Panasonic DVD Player w/ Remote

Bought: $6.40
Will Sell For: $20-$30
Profit: $13.60-$23.60

2 EZ Curl Barbells & Two 11-lb Olympic Plates

Bought: $40
Will Sell for: $85-$100
Profit: $45-$60

Cool Egyptology Book

Bought: $3
Will Sell For: $10
Profit: $7

All Metal Toy Jet

Bought: $1.50
Will Sell for: $5
Profit: $3.50

Total outlay from these two Thrift Store trips: $76.05

Total Profits from these two Thrift Store trips: $193.95-$308.95

Not bad for an hour or so, eh? Wanna go again? Let me know what you find.

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featured image by: Jeffrey Zwartjes


AJ Hakimi (The Flipping Ninja)

Hey there, I'm AJ, also known as 'The Flipping Ninja'. My flipping journey has been transformative, allowing me to buy sleek cars, indulge in exotic vacations, and even purchase my first house at 24, which I turned into a passive income source. With over 3,000+ items flipped and sales surpassing $300k, it's not just about the numbers. It's about the freedom and empowerment flipping brings.

After years of experience, my mission is to share this life-changing skill. I believe flipping is a powerful side hustle for anyone, from college students to working professionals. Ready to transform your life with flipping? Let's embark on this journey together.

Interested in my full journey? Read More about how I became 'The Flipping Ninja'.

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