Sweaters in the Summer? Seasonal Selling Is Key to Success


One of the things I find most surprising about thrift shopping in Hawaii is how much winter wear these people have. The Goodwill I go to is littered with sweaters, hoodies, and jackets that I just can’t possibly imagine people at this latitude wearing. But alas, I buy and sell a ton of cold weather gear.

I started taking flipping seriously during the spring months and began to hone my craft during the summer. While my strategy has always been to get items in and out as quickly as possible, even if they don’t sell for the most money possible, I quickly found myself developing an impressive hoodie collection that a New England native like myself would envy.

I had forgotten about seasonality.

Selling seasons are incredibly important for re-sellers of any item to be aware of. While there are definitely items that sell with the same frequency all year — dress shoes, jeans, women’s designer wear, and bags to name a few — most items have some degree of seasonality.

Case in point: except for people in the coldest of climates, pretty much no one is buying my NWOT Chicago Bears hoodie in June during the NFL offseason.

Who wants to buy a heavy-duty Chicago Bears hoodie in July?

Who wants to buy a heavy-duty Chicago Bears hoodie in June?

While that Bears hoodie would soon become a coveted item that I’d have no problem turning for a profit, I couldn’t realistically expect that profit to come for a few more months. I mean, the summer just isn’t the right time to be selling a hoodie, especially an NFL hoodie!

I eventually sold the hoodie on August 17. While a little warm, August is less summery than June with the cooler temperatures of fall around the corner, and that day happened to mark the day before the Bears second preseason game of the 2016 NFL season. It was Chicago Bears hoodie selling season!

When you’re out sourcing inventory, keep some of the following seasonality-related notes in mind.

Is it bad to buy inventory out of season?

No! In fact, you can find some very discounted items when sourcing out of season. Consider post-holiday clearance items. Grocery and department stores will give massive discounts for Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day items (just to name a few holidays) in the days after those holidays have passed. For them, liquidating inventory and freeing up shelf space makes it worthwhile to sell low on excess inventory. From your perspective, long term storage may not be as much of an issue. If you see Christmas decorations at 90% off and have somewhere to store them, consider making that purchase.

If summer rolls around and you find a bunch of nice The North Face hoodies, stock up. You can list them right away and hope they sell, but even if it takes a few months to move them that’s not the worst outcome. Just be sure that you’re not tying up all of the money you have to invest in items that won’t sell for awhile.

What seasonal items should I be aware of?

Below are some of the types of season items you should know about.

Winter/summer items

As mentioned previously, it’s important to know seasons specifically relating to weather. I sold a ton of shorts this past summer, but I’d expect those sales to slow down now that it’s fall and winter is coming. Conversely, now’s the time for me to move some of the Under Armour coldgear and ski/snowboarding items I’ve purchased.

Post-holiday clearance items

Also mentioned above, if you can handle waiting almost a full year to turn these items, you can find some incredible discounts offered by stores looking to liquidate inventory.

Beginning of sports seasons

I’m a big sports fan, and before every MLB and NFL season I start shopping for memorabilia and jerseys of my favorite players and teams. Guess what…I’m not the only one who does this.

I’ve made a nice chunk of change so far this fall buying NWT clearance items from my local discount retail store (Ross) featuring NFL team logos. I’ve also bought up every NFL jersey I can find that’s in decent enough condition because the NFL season has just gotten underway. I’ll do the same thing in the coming weeks for NBA and NHL (though to a lesser degree) and before April for next year’s MLB season.

Beginning of college

Also note that kids go back to college every August-September, and that can be a great time to sell college-specific apparel. But beware with college stuff: small colleges without nation-wide draw have a much smaller audience that you’re selling to. I stick with schools that have major athletic reputations. If you want to know what schools these are, just check out the top 25 college football rankings.

The start of school is a great time to be selling used textbooks as well. Where do you get these books? Try checking local Craigslist ads or online marketplaces after semesters have just concluded!

Toys & games during holiday season

While used or second-hand clothing doesn’t exhibit much holiday-related seasonality, toys and games definitely do. In fact, some full-time, professional flippers report they do 70%-100% of their sales during the last 3 months of the calendar year alone!

I started flipping by selling Monopoly games, and I too noticed a spike in sales (and sales prices) during the holiday season.

If you’re into board games, toys, or other items that sell on Amazon, check out CamelCamelCamel.com. It’s a site that aggregates sales data so you can see how much items have been selling for and how frequently they’ve been selling.

The following image is a snapshot of price information for a Simpson’s Monopoly game that I sold about a year ago, courtesy of CamelCamelCamel.com:

board game price activity

Every holiday season, the price of this Simpson’s Monopoly game spikes.

I’ve called out the spikes in sales price for every holiday season since 2008. While some years this game is in higher demand than others, the jump in sales price from the valleys each year to the holiday peaks is about $40. For this particular item, that means it sells for about 50% more during the 4th quarter of the year (~$120) than it does in the months after the holidays (~$80).

To maximize your profits when buying and selling, seasonality is an important factor to consider as it will go a long way in dictating how much you items sell for and how quickly they sell.

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Thanks for reading! In my full-time job as a Business Analyst for a health system, I apply analytical rigor to everyday business questions. My goal at Debt Free Dawn is to bring some of that rigor to the business of online resale but to do so in a fun and understandable way. Please ask me anything as I love to chat with fellow flippers!


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1 Comment

  1. Tarana

    I appreciate this information. Have a wonderful day!

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