How We’ve Turned A Free Chair Into $103,000

Hello! Today, I have a great article from Melissa. You may remember her from How Melissa Made $40,000 In One Year Flipping Items. I recently heard about her fun challenge and asked her to share her story with you all. Enjoy! Have you ever taken something that was old and worn out and turned it…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 3, 2024

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Hello! Today, I have a great article from Melissa. You may remember her from How Melissa Made $40,000 In One Year Flipping Items. I recently heard about her fun challenge and asked her to share her story with you all. Enjoy!

How We've Turned A Free Chair Into $103,000 #makeextramoney #flipper #fleamarketflip
(This is not the chair that was flipped. You can see the image of it below.)

Have you ever taken something that was old and worn out and turned it into something desirable again?

Do you love finding things that other people no longer value (and have maybe even thrown away!) and finding a new home where that piece will be wanted again?

I do! And my husband and I get to do this every day.

Hello! My name is Melissa Stephenson and my husband Rob and I flip items full-time.

Rob has been flipping items for 22 years now (I married into it 12 years ago). It’s always been our part-time gig, but three years ago we made the jump to full-time with our three young kids.

So what exactly is flipping?

Flipping items (also known as reselling) is finding undervalued items in one market and bringing them to a new market where they are desired and valued for more.

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For example…

Every Saturday we head to our local flea market to browse the many booths full of items. We are looking for items that are being sold for less than what they are worth.

If we find something that catches our eye, we check the comps on eBay and decide if it’s worth it or not.

If so, we buy it, list it on eBay and sell it for a profit.

And most of these vendors are doing the exact same thing as we are! They bought their items at an auction or thrift store (or picked it from the trash) and are selling it for more than they paid for it.

It’s the life cycle of the flipper.

We’ve bought and sold items of all shapes and sizes over the years and now we also help other’s do the same over on our blog Flea Market Flipper. Please check out our FREE workshop to see if flipping items is a good fit for you.

Free Training: How To Make Money Flipping and Reselling Items

This free workshop will teach you how to get into the flipping business. It will teach you how to resell furniture, electronics, appliances, and anything else you can find.

I’m sure you have heard the phrase:

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

We have taken that phrase and run with it this year!

In January we started a flipping challenge for our audience, and we have taken a chair we found in the trash and turned it into $103,000 of inventory! 

I’ll dive into that in just a second.

The guidelines for the challenge are:

  1. Find an item for $25 or less (from a thrift store, yard sale, flea market or even curbside in the trash).
  2. Resell that item. (using eBay, OfferUp, Letgo, Facebook Marketplace or other platform)
  3. Take the money and reinvest it in other items to resell.
  4. Keep reinvesting the money until the end of the year and see how much you can save.

We started in January with a chair that we found in the trash.

It was a nice little accent chair from Target – retail was around $200.

One evening we were walking with our three young kids (we try to do a walk almost every evening), and we spotted this chair sitting on the side of the road.

It looked to be in great condition so once we got home, my husband brought the car back and picked it up.

When we got it back to the house we realized there was one broken piece of wood underneath it, so he cut a small piece of wood and attached it where it was broken.

A $2 fix that took 5 minutes and we had a new chair!

We listed the chair on Facebook Marketplace and sold it for $50 in a few days.

Next we took that $50 and bought two exercise bikes. One was $15 and the other was $25.

We sold both of those bikes for $500 each on eBay!

They both had to be shipped freight on a pallet and we included shipping in our price, so the end profit for both together came to  $473.

All from a chair we found in the trash.

But we didn’t stop there.

We have kept reinvesting the money in items to resell and have now made over $11,000 in cash, and have over $100,000 in inventory and in less than 5 months!

Our goal is to be at $150,000 cash by the end of the year and buy a rental property with the money.

We are currently home owners and have one rental property, but have always wanted to expand our rental portfolio.

Our goal is to be at 10 rental properties in the next 10 years.

We are on our way to number two this year – and all from a chair from the trash!

People throw things out all the time.

Just in our few blocks of walking each day, we have found numerous items that we have picked up and resold.

Why do people throw perfectly good items in the trash?

Sometimes we wonder the same thing, but don’t complain because it makes us extra cash. Ha

There could be several reasons why people throw things away.

They could be redoing an area in the house and no longer want/need the furniture that used to be there.

Maybe they’re Marie Kondoing their house and the item no longer brings them joy…

Sometimes a piece may be broken and they don’t want to take the time or the money to fix it.

But why throw it in the trash and not donate it?

Sometimes people just don’t want to mess with the time it takes to donate items. (Not a great excuse to not recycle).

And also they know if the item is in good condition most likely someone will come take it out of the trash. (That’s where we come in.)

Just the other day we were walking and saw a bed that was thrown away.

We picked it up, dusted it off and sold it on Facebook Marketplace for $100 in just a few days!

It’s crazy the amount of nice things that people throw away.

And the amount of money that ends up sitting on the curb.

We like to think of ourselves as not only resellers, but recyclers too. Our society can be very wasteful at times.

When something breaks on an item, instead of trying to fix it, many people just get a new one and put the old one in the trash.  (YouTube can teach you to fix almost anything!)

Or sometimes people upgrade to new colors or design in their house and have no need for the old décor – so curbside it goes.

On the flip side of that, there are people who would love to have that old décor – and for a fraction of the cost.

And we get to connect the two.

And get paid for our time.

We are so excited to see where this challenge will take us at the end of the year!

And the best part is – anyone can jump in at any time! It doesn’t have to be January to start.

What if you started today and were able to save up an extra $2,000, $5,000, $10,000 or more!

All from a $25 investment.

What would you do with that extra money?

Take a cool family vacation?

Slash a credit card debt?

Buy a car?

Whatever it is, know that it is possible to make it happen with a little work.

People ask us all the time if anyone can do this – and our answer is ABSOLUTELY!

You don’t need a special degree, you don’t need any special tools. If you have a smart phone and transportation you can start this side-hustle today!

So where do you start?

We have boiled it down to 10 steps to get started with a flipping side-hustle, and here is our top 3:

1. Clear out your closet

First start by selling your own unwanted items from home. Get your feet wet on the reselling apps by going through your own items and see what you haven’t used in a while.

A good general rule is if you haven’t used it or worn it in over a year you most likely can live without it.

Wouldn’t you prefer a stack of cash sitting on your night stand instead of something you aren’t using anyway?

2. Take good pictures

There is no need to be a professional photographer, but having a clean, well-lit area for pictures is very helpful when selling items online.

People can get fancy with their photo set ups, but that can evolve as you make more money reselling.

A phone camera and a solid wall or sheet work great when starting out.

Some things to remember when taking pictures:

  • Keep out the clutter in the background
  • Take pictures of all angles of items and especially any imperfections
  • No pets in pictures (I know, shouldn’t have to be said, but we see it happen)

Recommended reading: 15 Best Places To Sell Used Furniture For Cash

3. Cross-post items

There are many platforms to sell items on, and it can get a bit overwhelming.

  • Local selling apps – Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, LetGo, Craigslist
  • Global selling apps – eBay, Amazon, Mercari, Poshmark

Now Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp are starting to offer shipping, but until they really break into it, we will keep them in the local selling category.

We sell 80% of our items on eBay, about 15% on Facebook Marketplace, and the other 5% a mix of OfferUp & Craigslist.

We recommend cross-posting on local selling apps and on global ones because you never know where the item will sell!

You don’t have to list on every app, but once you find the ones you enjoy the most, you stick more with those.

If you love reselling clothing and fashion (and now home décor) Poshmark may be your best app.

If you love selling unique items and reach a large audience like us, then eBay may be your best app.

Each app is a little different, and has a little learning curve, but the best way to get started is to just jump in!

For those who are ready to make a great side income or full-time income from flipping, and who want to dive into the rest of our 10 steps, check out our FREE workshop to see if flipping items is a good fit for you.

And don’t forget to jump into the flipping challenge with us and see how much you could save up by the end of the year!

Can’t wait to hear about your flipping success!

Thank you so much Michelle for having me!

Are you interested in learning how to buy and sell items?

Free Training: How To Make Money Flipping and Reselling Items

This free workshop will teach you how to get into the flipping business. It will teach you how to resell furniture, electronics, appliances, and anything else you can find.

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. I love this post so much! You and your family are rocking it! I have been reselling for a while and while I don’t make nearly as much, I have brought in a pretty penny doing this. I started on FB marketplace, and Offerup but currently concentrate on eBay. I’m a full time stay-at-home-mom AND blogger and by reselling items online I help contribute to our family’s finances.

    1. Thank you Jess! And you are rocking it too! I completely rate to working on reselling, blogging and being a stay at home mom. It’s a lot! But so rewarding and worth it. 🙂 Keep us posted on your eBay progress!

      1. Aww, thanks, Melissa! It’s kind of a lot, but definitely rewarding! It helps that my kiddos are older (20, 19, and 9), which means they are gone all day to school/college AND they are also able to help with picture taking, decluttering, and preparing orders to be mailed when I’m swamped haha. I’ll keep you posted for sure!

  2. Candice

    Hi Melissa
    Thanks for your post. Would you mind telling us, are the items collected from you or do you post them, or both? I have thought about doing this before but this is the part I worry about. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Candice! I’m not sure I completely understand your question. Are you asking if someone picks them up in person or we ship them? If we sell something on Facebook Marketplace then we do meet in person in a public location. But most of our items are sold on eBay and we ship them.

  3. Lou

    You mention that you sold two exercise bikes on ebay that you shipped “freight on a pallet” for a cost of $27.00. Would you provide details on what carrier you are using and other relevant tips for shipping large items affordably?

    I have some large items and furniture that I want to sell, but the carriers I have checked into (UPS freight, are too expensive for the relatively low-cost items I am selling.


    1. Hi Lou!

      Great question. Our freight shipping cost was more than $27. $473 was our total profit on both bikes (after shipping and eBay and PayPal fees). We ship a lot of items freight, but the profit has to be worth it. (We paid so little for these bikes that it was worth the shipping price and we still made a good profit). One bike was $125 to ship and the other was $218.

      We have shipped some furniture too. Most of our freight shipments are in the $120-$300 range. You can also charge the buyer for the shipping. Many will still pay it for a unique item.

      Here is a post we wrote on getting started with freight shipping:

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  4. Taking a recliner chair you found off of the street and slipping it into a decent profit is nothing more in my personal opinion than ironclad proof that not only does the side hustle work, but a person can also become a side hustle millionaire off of the strength of selling things online for a turnaround profit. I had a talk with someone recently about buying things out of the thrift store and reselling it on line for a profit. In fact, one gentleman who quit his day job was featured on a news work for buying things from the clearance-rollback section out of Walmart and reselling online on Amazon for a nice upsell profit. I believe he’s a millionaire today and he has his own company off of the strength of buying things on the clearance rack out of Walmart and other wholesale stores. This can be an everyday person’s quiet GoldMine if they’re willing to change their way of thinking and use the power of the Internet to make money online 24 hours a day through side hustles like “affiliate marketing and blogging,” and “buying and selling online.” Many people overlook the idea of buying things out of the thrift store and reselling online as a side hustle career. Little do they know they’re losing out big time because the Internet is quietly making some people side hustle millionaire’s today off of [affiliate marketing and blogging], and [buying out of thrift stores and reselling online for a profit as an online millionaire in the making].

  5. When you list things on Facebook Marketplace, Craiglist, etc., do you give them your address and have them pick it up at your home or do you always meet them some place neutral?

    Thanks! Great post!

    1. Rose

      You can meet somewhere neutral. A common park or cafe is common if you feel unsafe. Larger items can make this a bit tricky, but smaller items easily can be done at a neutral place.

    2. We usually meet at a public place like a popular shopping mall parking lot. 🙂

  6. WBH

    Based off of the title, I initially thought the free chair was some national treasure that someone tossed thinking it was junk but was found to be really worth $103K. After reading the article it made way more sense. I should have known better, LOL.

    1. hahaha your comment actually made me laugh out loud.

    2. Haha, a national treasure would have been amazing!! But it’s still pretty cool that a chair from the trash could lead to a lot more income!