I'm so excited to share a very special interview with you today.
It's a behind the scenes look at a married couple who earns six figures by buying low and selling high online.
And, no, I'm not talking about me and Cliff!
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Melissa of Flea Market Flipper. She and her husband Rob run a really cool (and successful) arbitrage business.
I'll let Melissa share all the details, but they earn a full-time salary by buying items cheap at flea markets and selling them for big money on eBay.
So even though it's arbitrage, it's pretty different than what Cliff and I do here at The Selling Family.
They even sell big (and I mean HUGE) items like exercise bikes, furniture, and even a steamer for a commercial kitchen.
And while I don't think I'll be returning to the eBay lifestyle anytime soon, I am still fascinated by Rob and Melissa's awesome business.
I wrote down all of my burning questions about their history with flea market flips, working while raising three kids, and how new sellers can get started in the flea market flipping business.
If this kind of reselling business model appeals to you, you'll definitely want to learn all about it straight from Melissa and Rob.
I think you're going to enjoy this one!
How did you guys get started flipping?
Rob has been flipping items since he was 16 years old. He comes from a large family (he has 6 older sisters) and his parents would regularly shop at yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores for clothes and other items for the kids.
His mom started buying and reselling dolls and doll clothes in the classifieds and made a little money on the side.
Rob started buying and reselling NordicTracks with his sister. They would buy them from local thrift stores and yard sales and then resell them in the classifieds and then on eBay once it came out. They could buy a NordicTrack for $20-$30 and sell it for $200-$500!
I married into the flipping lifestyle almost 12 years ago. Through our whole marriage, it has been our ‘extra’ money. Money we used for vacations, Christmas gifts, and unexpected bills.
On more than one occasion Rob told me he wanted to go on a vacation and I told him as long as he could find something to sell and make the money we could go. We were able to do a 2-week cruise to Europe and also take a weeklong trip through Ireland with friends! All with money from flipping!
But it still never really occurred to us to actually put some time into flipping and do it full-time. That all changed 3 years ago when he lost his health benefits at his job.
He lost his health benefits the same month I was due with baby #3 and while it was a stressful transition, it was the push we needed to do this full-time.
What does a typical week look like for you?
We do have a few routines, but day to day can change depending on what we have to list or ship.
Typically we wake up and take our oldest to kindergarten, then come back to the house and walk kid #2 to VPK a mile away from the house. Then we go for a run usually three of those days (pushing kid #3 in the stroller).
Once we get back to the house, we see what needs to be done. Sometimes it’s time to package items up, or clean and take pictures of items, or list items, or head to go look for items at a local thrift store….
Or sometimes Rob will get a phone call from a friend who wants to get rid of something and he will go pick it up. This happens fairly regularly now that friends know what we do and we’ve made more connections with flea market vendors, thrift store owners, etc.
That can take up the rest of the day until it’s time to pick up kid #2 at 2pm and kid #1 at 3pm. Then we work a little more and around 5pm go for a walk to our nearby park or splash pad.
Then once the kids go to bed it’s time to work on our blog and create content, record videos, etc. We work on that usually from 8pm – 12am on the weekdays.
Saturday morning is almost always dedicated to the flea market. Sundays we do our best to take off completely.
We love having control of our schedule. When the kids have events at school we can be there. If we decide we want to take the day off and go to Disney we can. We just got annual passes so have been going once a week until we are blacked out for summer!
Shopping at flea markets sounds fun! What was one of your favorite flips?
That’s a tough one. There are a lot! 🙂
One odd one that we are kind of known for now is a prosthetic leg. It was actually a knee joint. Rob bought it from the flea market for $35, listed it on eBay, and sold it in a few hours for $1,000!
Now not all flips are that fast or that high profit, but when it happens it’s pretty fun!
Another interesting flip that is probably one of Rob’s favorites was a huge commercial Harley Davidson sign. He bought it for $250 from a flea market vendor and sold it for $7,500 plus shipping!
The shipping was the interesting part. We ship pretty big items often, but this was the largest crate he has ever built.
What are your favorite platforms for listing your flips?
We list on a few platforms, but eBay is by far our best place to sell. About 80% of our sales are on eBay and the rest is usually Facebook Marketplace with a few trickling in on OfferUp.
We’ve played around a little with Poshmark and Mercari, but haven’t had much success with them yet. We don’t sell a lot of clothes so we don’t have a lot to sell on Poshmark, and it seems like Mercari has more yard sale prices than eBay, at least for our items. But that could change at any time.
So right now we cross-post our items on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and sometimes OfferUp and/or Craigslist.
Sometimes I end up with items that are total duds. Please tell me that's happened to you guys, too!
Of course! I’m sure it happens with any business. But I do have to say that Rob usually makes sure he calculates any risk he is taking, and if we do hit a dud item, it might have only cost us a $5 – $20 investment.
We recently picked up a high-end car seat for $5, but didn’t realize that the dates were already expired. (New retails for $350!) We can’t sell it on eBay so now we will end up donating it to one of those car seat programs or having to throw it away.
Another one was a little inflatable boat Rob bought last year. He paid $200 for it (it retails for $2,000!). He thought for sure we would get $1,000 out of it, but it turned out to have ripped seams (it was new but had been sitting too long), and so he listed it as-is and sold it for $189. So we only lost $11 on the deal, but it definitely wasn’t the moneymaker we were hoping for.
What does someone need to know before getting started with flipping?
I would say they need to figure out if this is something they enjoy doing. This is a fantastic side-hustle or full-time gig, but if they are just in it for the money then it’s not worth it. You have to enjoy what you are doing. That way when you are doing the work, it doesn’t feel like work.
Rob was just saying the other day that even though we are putting in hours on both our flipping business and on our blog, he feels like we’re retired. He said even if we didn’t have to make money, this is what he would want to be doing!
You have a course that teaches people how to become a master flipper. Can you tell us about that?
Yes! We have a course called Flipper University that we created in 2016. We wanted to help people get started flipping as a side-hustle, or give them the tools to jump into it full-time if that was the next step.
It has been so fun getting to know people who go through our course. We have a very active Facebook group for our members and everyone shares their successes, their questions, and we all learn about different items to sell through others who sold them.
And we just launched a FREE workshop for people to see if flipping items is right for them!
So if anyone is curious about this crazy flea market thing that we do, they can sign up for the workshop right here.
Any last words of wisdom for The Selling Family community?
One thing I would add is that anyone who puts effort into this business can make it successful.
Once someone takes the time to learn the skills, they can pay off over and over again.
It's not a get-rich-quick-system (those don't work anyway). There is work involved, but the effort is so worth it!
First, I want to thank Melissa for taking the time to answer my questions.
I think that this flea market flipping business is so interesting!
Obviously this is pretty different than the type of flipping that Cliff and I do with our Retail Arbitrage business. But who can resist these big profits?!
If flea market flipping on eBay sounds exciting to you, I highly recommend attending Rob and Melissa's free workshop. It's a 75-minute session where they really do share all the best insider secrets.
What do you think about a business like this? Does it seem like a fun shopping adventure to you? Let me know in the comments!
Oh, and if you've ever sold something really interesting online, I'd love to hear about that too!