Buy. Sell. Make a Profit. Thanks Office Depot.

by Paul Michael on 23 April 2010 14 comments
Photo: dayofthundr46

I've finally found a store that, regular as clockwork, puts great items on sale. And when I say sale, I don't mean 20% off, or even 50% off. I'm talking about 75%–90% off. The store is Office Depot, and it's a terrific source of resalable items.

Now some people may snub their noses at the idea of buying items on sale and then selling them for a profit. To those people I say, why? That's the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this country great, and the foundation for millions of businesses. So, with that small hurdle out of the way, let me just say that if you're looking for cheap gifts, bargain office supplies, or simply a steal that you can resell and make some extra cash, Office Depot is an oasis even more reliable than Target, Ross or TJ Maxx.

I pop down to my local Office Depot once a week for office supplies, and I never fail to find incredible bargains when I'm there. Recent purchases have included two Olympus Voice Recorders for less than $4 each (they retail at $35), several hole punches for $1.84 (retail price $19.99), combination padlocks for 94 cents ($10 retail) and most recently, a few handheld 3.5" TVs for $19.99 (Amazon has them for over $100 right now).

As these are all brand new, flawless, and still in their boxes, it's no hassle to sell them for a sizable profit. The voice recorders sold for a very nice profit. The TVs will sell for $50 easily, which is $30 profit on each. I'll get $10 for the hole punches, and $5 for the locks. With eBay and Craigslist at my disposal, I don't have to do much to make my sales. I just post the ads, sit back, and wait for a buyer.

I've done this before in the past, but Office Depot continues to surprise me with these huge discounts every single week. And it's not on poor quality goods, these are products that are still retailing for full price, and selling well, in other stores. But, as long as Office Depot continues to do this heavy-handed discounting, I'll be there every week to pick up some bargains and sell them for a little extra cash. And trust me, it can easily add up to a few hundred dollars profit every month.

So, pop down to your local Office Depot when you get the chance, and try your hand at some "buy low, sell high" wheeling and dealing.

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Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

You mean you "wait for a buyer", not a seller, right?

Paul Michael's picture

Yes I do Xin. Sorry about that, fixed it.

Guest's picture
Marcus

Oddly inspiring post. I've often wondered if simply buying items on sale and then reselling at retail cost could actually be worth more than the hassle. I suppose it's just a matter of finding the best sales.

Guest's picture
Juggler314

I always wonder if people plan on claiming this as income and paying the taxes on it...as you are legally required to (not for the whole price, but for the profit - so buy at $10, sell at $20 = $10 in taxable income).

 

 

Guest's picture
Keith

Target often will clearance items that are still current, but that they no longer wish to carry in their inventory.  I picked up several Garmin GPS units at 75% off and was able to sell them easily for large profit.

Guest's picture
Guest

Hmm. Sounds a lot like the justification people make when they buy concert or theater tickets and then resell them. It's called scalping and basically, it's what you are doing too.

FYI: Any money you make above what you paid is profit and is taxable income, though I doubt people who are doing what you are doing are reporting it as such.

Here's what really bothers me about this: Regular customers frequently can't take advantage of any sale items because these resellers swoop in and buy up a lot of stuff. (Cashiers could care less how much you buy. ONly an alert manager should be smart enough to set limits on amount you can buy of these sale items to prevent resellers from swooping in.) Customers who spend plenty at a store like Office Depot end up losing out to people who probably ONLY shop there for such sales.

You have a right to resell, but frankly if you're not buying something wholesale, it's just plain old profitering and buying up merchandise that others could buy at those prices. I don't have to like it, and I don't.

 

FYI: I have no problem with people reselling what they pick up at yard and garage sales and estate sales. Those are not retail stores and it's clearly first come, first served.

Guest's picture
Guest

REPLY TO THE ABOVE COMMENT,

THIS IS AMERICA. BUYING AND RESALING ITEMS IS THE WAY OUR ECONOMY WORKS. PLEASE STOP HATING ON THE PEOPLE THAT ARE FRUGAL AND CAN TURN A LEGITIMATE PROFIT. IF YOU WANT THE SAME DEALS THEN I SUGGEST YOU GET UP EARLY AND SHOP THERE YOURSELF. IF THE DEALS ARE ALL BOUGHT UP, OH WELL MAYBE NEXT TIME. THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM.

GOOD DAY.

Guest's picture
jim

Technically you should claim such profits on your taxes as income, that is a valid point.

But there is nothing unethical about buying low and selling high.  Thats just simple capitalism.    Depriving another cusotmer of a cheap deal on a voice recorder or ream of copy paper is hardly anything that should be considered bad or unethical.  The inconveneicne of missing an opportunity to buy a sale item at a cheap price is not an injustice of any measure.

Guest's picture
Joshin

I find it odd that some find this offensive. The manager likely doesn't care if a reseller buys it, they want to get the stuff off their shelves.

FYI: Scalping is making a profit on a scarce item, such as concert tickets since they are available in limited numbers. A Garmin or voice recorder isn't scarce. A Wii or 'toy of the year' at Christmas time is scarce, so it could be considered scalping.

Profiteering is making a profit unethically. How is purchasing goods LEGALLY, then reselling them at the price the market bears, unethical? Because a few people may have missed out on a deal? Sounds like sour grapes to me. How is this really any different than if someone swoops in and buys the last four $5 TVs and gives them away as Christmas gifts?No one else gets a chance to buy them then, either.

I always figured these deals at office depot were specifically to attract resellers. O.D. goes to great lengths to attract the home business owner, and a large amount of these business owners sell goods online.

Guest's picture
Guest

This is so true! I worked at Office Depot and I had a chance to buy a computer worth around $500 for only $79 plus tax.  It was a discontinued model that was used as a display and they wanted to get rid of the inventory.  That was a bargain of a lifetime! Come early since they put it out before opening.

Guest's picture
Guest

I had to wait until closing because customer had first choice but no one picked it up.  There were four computers and the first three were snatched up.  All were different models, and I got the "worst" one but still it was a great deal and I still have it after four years.

Guest's picture
Lauren

I bought a new shower curtain at Target thinking I could pick up the matching towels later, but they discontinued the line almost immediately thereafter.  By the time I looked for the towels, they were all gone.  I was thrilled to find one on e-Bay.  When it arrived, it still had the Target clearance tag on it ($1.99 - I could have filled the bathroom with them if I had known in time!).  I'm glad *somebody* was buying low & reselling ... 

Guest's picture
Patrick

The problem with scalping is not that the scalper makes a profit, nor that he's profiting from scarcity. The problem is that not everything in life should be priced at what the market will bear. We want fans of a band to have a chance to see them in concert. We want sports fans to be able to see a live game. If all tickets are priced to what the market will bear, only rich people get to see popular bands and sports, and in the long run, that's not good for anyone.

This concern just doesn't apply to office supplies.

Guest's picture
jordan

thats clearence trust me i work there when it ends on a word cent number like .84 and .93 its clearence