So you may be asking, “What if the clearance shelf at my local store is cleared out?” Well, fear not! There are a few other options for inexpensive inventory you may not have considered. Some of these types of inventory may not even come to mind with thinking “Amazon,” but when you broaden your horizons, you may find some great opportunities. In fact, if you are just starting out, these may be right up your alley. They require little investment and could be the inexpensive boost your business needs to get up and running at full speed.

Thrift Shop Finds

That’s right. You can find some decent inventory at thrift shops that will sell fine via Amazon FBA. It may sound far-fetched, but there are actually several possibilities within this realm. Head on over to the electronics section and check out what they have. No, there are no UPC codes anymore, but there are model numbers printed right on the product itself! Search your Amazon Seller app using the “Sell a Product” button instead of the “Scan” button. Pay attention to the listings in used condition. That will be your competition.

Now, let’s go check out the media section. Books can be a gold mine, but you may have already been aware of that. What you may not have been aware of is that there is quite a demand on Amazon for vintage vinyl records. Don’t forget to check out the CD’s, DVD’s, and even VHS! I’ve sold three sealed VHS tapes that I’ve found at thrift shops in the last couple months.

Once you find some used inventory, you’ll need to make sure you package it properly before you send it into Amazon. Poly bags, bubble wrap, and other concessions may need to be made to ensure safe delivery. Obviously, if you source any LP’s, they will need special attention. When listing any item, but especially thrift shop finds,  make sure you list them properly according to Amazon’s listing guidlines.

How do you find them? Google “thrift stores near me.”

Surplus/Liquidation Store

You never know what you’ll come across when you step into a liquidation store. One thing is almost always certain: you probably won’t be able to list it as new. That’s ok, though, because the deals you can find in these places are AMAZING! I’ve found $150 Cuisinart small appliances (blenders, coffee makers, and even ice cream makers) for somewhere in the range of $30.

What’s wrong with them? Usually nothing. Someone bought it, had buyers remorse, and returned it to the store. The box is damaged, but the product is fine. Throw it up on Amazon as “Used-Very Good” for $100 and you’re golden.

Of course, small appliances are not the only thing you can find in these places. Be on the look out for books, media, shoes, pretty much anything! Remember the Windows discs? They came from a place like this!

Boxes will be damaged. Items will be out of sorts. Some may not be functional. Always do a functional test. When listing, remember that even though it is a brand new item, it can’t be listed as new. Usually, it can’t even be listed as “Used-Like New.” Why is that? Amazon’s condition guidline for “Used-Like New” says, “Original protective wrapping may be missing, but the original packaging is intact and pristine.” So the shrink wrap may be gone, but the box is in perfect condition. That usually excludes most things that you find at these type of stores. It’s always better to list as the correct condition to protect your seller feedback.

How do you find them? Google “liquidation near me” or “surplus near me.”

Banana box Store

To take full advantage of this one, you’ll have to be ungated in grocery. That’s not all you’ll find there, but that is a lot of it.

What is a banana box store? It’s kind of like a liquidation store, only for groceries. You’ll find a lot of near-out-of-date food, damaged packaging, and leftover seasonal items. Unlike a liquidation store where most of the items are customer returns, most of the items in a banana box store are brand new and can be listed as such.

The types of things I usually find here that are profitable usually boil down to three categories. Seasonal items, niche items, and failed items.

Seasonal items are things like Christmas candy in January or Peeps in the fall. It may not be the “proper” time of year for these items, but people still want them. Can you think of that one seasonal food item that you love, but you can only get it certain times of the year? Well, other people have those items too, and their cravings can’t wait! They go online and buy them year round.

Niche items are strange, off the wall, or high-end items for which there’s not a lot of demand. Brick and mortar (or as us RVers might say, stix and brix) stores can’t sell enough of them in their local market, so they end up at the banana box store. The people who want these items find it easier to just go online and get them instead of trying to track them down locally.

Failed items are like that new flavor of Doritos that came out a few months ago. Maybe it didn’t do so well on store shelves and ended up here. Maybe it was a limited time deal and the manufacturer forced the store to take it off their shelves. In any case, there are people out there who love it and can’t get it anymore. Guess where they go…

Maybe you’ve noticed a trend in the types of inventory you’re looking for here. The items have one thing in common, regular stores can’t sell them anymore, so you get them at a discount. The customers can’t find them anymore, so they are willing to pay a premium!

There is another major type of inventory these stores carry. It’s merchandise that is close to its expiration date. I’m almost positive they only do this to make my life more difficult! Make sure you look at expiration dates. Amazon won’t sell anything that is within three months of expiration. That means you need plenty of time between now and three months before expiration for that item to sell.

Find these stores by Googling “grocery outlet“. Not everything you find will be a banana box store. These places can be hard to find.

You know, the sources that you can find Amazon inventory get even more diverse than this! Check out my article on sourcing Amazon inventory at yard sales to find out how crazy it can get!

Where are some odd places you’ve found good inventory? Let us know in the comments below!