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Make money selling charity shop items for a profit

Marc Crosby 1st Aug 2020 9 Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes

In a recent survey, one in ten Britons admitted to selling-on charity shop items for a profit. The average profit made per sale was £10.50.

If you’re interested in making a profit selling on charity shop items but are not sure where to start, we’ve put together this handy guide for you to read so you can learn everything you need to know about making money selling charity shop items for a profit.


What items should I be looking for?

Make money selling charity shop items for a profit

Not everything has a good resale value. Here are tips for finding the right stuff to make a profit on.

  • Whilst it may be tempting to look for valuable collectors items or vintage clothing, the best way to make a profit from items is to buy things that you have some knowledge of. That way you’ll know whether you’re getting the item at a good price and whether there’s demand for the item.
  • Clothing is relatively difficult when you want to make money selling charity shop items for a profit. Particularly on eBay, you should only be looking at clothes that are designer or vintage (be very careful not to buy a fake!) For more information, read our full article on making money from vintage clothing.
  • Children’s toys are often a good buy to sell on at a higher price, particularly if they are collectors’ items.
  • Video games and video game consoles also sell pretty well on eBay. The ones that do well are retro consoles and classic titles like a rare Nintendo N64, Nintendo DS, NES,and Atari 2600. Avoid the old gaming consoles and instead go for the latest like PS4, Xbox One and SNES Classic Edition.
  • Books sell best as sets, and even then, not just any books but the ones by popular authors. Well known books like Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie and Hunger Games will sell fast and make you a tidy profit Likewise, college text books that are universal will sell fast and at a good price.
  • Picture frames are valuable and always marketable worldwide regardless of their size. It’s best to go for the big ones in good condition though the small ones can still make you a profit.
  • If you’re thinking about buying collectibles, then do your research thoroughly. Make sure you know the average price for each particular item and how much you would expect to make. Remember collectibles that are damaged lose an awful lot of their value. We have a lot of articles about collectibles on our site that you can read through, everything from Ladybird books to Chinese snuff bottles to Barbie dolls and much more!
  • You could, of course, be a jack-of-all-trades, and buy whatever you think looks valuable at the time. However, this is unlikely to produce great results. Chances are you’ll buy something that you think is worth a fortune only to find out it’s worthless tat…it’s always best to do your homework.

If this isn’t a one-off thing and you’re serious about making money selling charity shop items, then you’re going to need to put the effort in. To get the best items you’re probably going to need to travel, so bear that cost in mind when considering what items you are going to specialise in. Collectibles, in particular, are going to be difficult to find without hard work.


Where should I sell the items?

Make money selling charity shop items for a profit

The obvious place to make money selling charity shop items is eBay. You can sell pretty much anything you want and you can get a good sense of what price you should be looking to put your item up as. You will, however, have to set yourself up a business account if you’re planning on selling items you bought with the express intention to resell (you will also have to notify HMRC, more on this later.) Read our full article on making money on eBay here.

eBay is slightly overpopulated, however, and you may have better luck with less common means of selling. Facebook, for example, has a lot of local selling pages. If you can find one for your area then you can post up a picture, ask for a price and see who is interested. You’ll be sorting everything out yourself, so you’ll be responsible for making sure everything is fair and above board, but the good thing is no-one will be taking a cut of your profit.

If you want to go old school, you could always set up a pitch at a car boot sale. You’ll be able to put your selling skills into practice directly, and if a buyer sees a nice display directly in front of them, they may be more tempted to make a purchase. However, people who go to car boot sales tend to want to pay pennies for everything so make sure you set a price and stick to it. For more information, read our full article on car boot sales.

For collectibles and vintage clothes you’re likely to get the best rates on specialist sites. Take a look at our articles on selling vintage clothes and collectibles (links above) to find the special sites.


How much can I make?

How much money you can make depends entirely on what item you buy, how much you bought it for and how much you can get for it.

The average profit made per sale when selling charity shop items is around £10.50, but if you’ve got a good eye for a bargain there’s no reason you couldn’t make considerably more.

Of course if you do make a fortune on one item, it might be worth considering donating a bit back to the charity shop…just saying.

It’s getting harder to make a good profit on charity shop items now, not least because charity shops are becoming savvier and raising prices.

In fact some charity shops even have eBay departments which try to sale their most valuable goods on eBay before they even reach the shop shelves. There’s still profit to be made, but it takes more effort and a little more luck these days.

Equally, don’t forget to take into account the potential costs you will incur. If you sell on eBay, they will take a cut of what you make and if you sell at a car boot sale you will have to pay for your slot. Also, think of the travel costs if you plan on going far to find the right items to sell. Oh, and there’s one more thing to bear in mind…tax.


Will I have to pay tax?

Unfortunately, if you aim to make money by selling charity shop items on a regular basis then you are going to have to declare it. If you frequently sell on sites like eBay, HMRC will realise and could fine you if you’re not paying the correct amount of tax.

For 2019/20, everyone has a personal allowance of £12,500 which means you’re allowed to earn up to that amount without paying tax.

This allowance is already taken into account if you’re working full or part time and paying tax using the PAYE scheme, so unless you’re earning less than £12,500 then your allowance is already used up.

For this reason you should keep all receipts of expenses, such as travel or the cost of the car boot sale pitch, so you can put it against your profits for tax purposes.

For more information read our article ‘making extra money – Do I have to pay more tax?’


Is it wrong to make money selling charity shop items?

Make money selling charity shop items for a profit

Before we deal with the practicalities of making money selling charity shop items, you have to decide whether it’s something you feel comfortable doing.

Some people, quite understandably, think it is wrong to make money selling charity shop items. Charity shops, they say, are there to help the poor and disadvantaged, so looking to make a profit from items you bought there is distasteful. Some people may also feel unhappy donating their items to charity if people are going to be making a profit from them.

You must decide how you feel about this, and only do what you feel comfortable doing. However, there are reasons why making a profit from charity items might be helpful all round.

  • Firstly, as long as you are paying the price given by the charity shop then you are not in any-way hindering the shop’s giving potential, in fact, you’re actually contributing by making the purchase. Obviously, if an item has been massively undervalued, then it may well be the right thing to inform the shop but, on the whole, charity shops these days are pretty price savvy.
  • Equally, once a fair purchase has been made the item is rightfully yours to do with as you please which may include selling it on.
  • For those who are uncomfortable with the idea of making money from selling charity shop items, it’s important to remember it’s still a business. A big percentage of any sale will go to managers’ salaries and overheads. This is not to say charity shops aren’t great things, they are, but if you’re really concerned about giving money to charity only then you would be best to do so directly. In reality, the reason most of us don’t is because a charity shop allows us to gain something from our giving, meaning we are all profiteering, in some way, by using a charity shop.
  • Many items that are given to charity shops are sent abroad to sell on, mostly to African countries. The more we can buy here, the more space they create in the shops and the more of the donated goods they can keep in this country. Although the second-hand clothes sales in Africa is helping a few local business people, it is also harming the local clothes manufacturers, so it’s not necessarily the best thing to do with these clothes.


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4 years ago

I love finding a gem in charity shops.

5 years ago

At first, this did make me feel uncomfortable and full of mixed feelings, but after reading the article and the comments below I do think well yes, why not.

6 years ago

And pay for CEO’s new Mercedes

7 years ago

Really? If anything it’s helping the charity shop to make more sales as if the person selling is successful then they will keep going back to the charity shop therefore the charity shop is earning more money than it would have done, had this person not been selling the clothes on. If someone sells an item on for £100 and they only paid £1 for it then yes obviously they should donate some of the profit back to the charity shop. At the end of the day the charities could help a lot more people if their CEO’s weren’t taking… Read more »

Jasmine Birtles
7 years ago
Reply to  Elle

Really good points there

8 years ago

well said vicky, charity shops are filling their boots also. See what their CEO get paid six figures. Company cars flash HQ’s.

9 years ago

Bollocks you sanctimonious gits

9 years ago

I agree with lola, selling clothes bought from a charity shop with the intention of profiting is a deeply sinister act. How materialistic and greedy must someone be to stoop to such low levels!?!
What has happened to the world?

9 years ago

despicable that you sell charity goods, when they help a good cause. You should give the charity the rest back.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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