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How An Amateur Collector Flipped a $6 Thrift Store into a $35,000 Jackpot

Source: hodinkee

Zach Norris, an amateur watch collector and Arizona resident, once bought a rare Swiss timepiece from a bargain bin inside of a thrift store. He bought the watch from the Goodwill store for $5.99. However, with a little research and impressive networking online, he was able to sell that same watch for $35,000.

Understanding the Value of Swiss Timepieces

Norris admits that he did not know that he would be able to get such a huge return on his investment when he first purchased the $6 watch from the Goodwill store. However, he did recognize that it was much more valuable than the other watches simply because of brand recognition.

Source: Pexels/Mat Brown – Swiss Timepieces

Once he noticed that it was a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch, he likely knew that it was worth much more than the $6 price tag attached to it. One of the most expensive Swiss timepieces is the Brequet Marie-Antoinette Grande Complication Pocket Watch, which is valued at $30 million.

What Type of Thrift Store Watch Sold for $35,000?

The brand Jaeger-LeCoultre may have sparked his curiosity. It was not until he did more research online, though, that Zach started to appreciate the value of his thrift store purchase. Reports show that Zach purchased a 1959 Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm timepiece. his curiosity.

Source: hodinkee

This Swiss luxury clock and watch manufacturer was founded in 1833 by Antoine LeCoultre. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Mechanica Grande Sonnerie is one of the most valuable watches from this luxury timepiece brand with an estimated value of $2.5 million.

The Watch Was Buried Like a Needle in a Haystack

One would think that this type of luxury watch would have been on display in a separate case perhaps with a spotlight to feature its intricate details and prestigious brand name. Interestingly, though, it did not have a separate display at all.

Source: hodinkee

Norris states that he found the watch buried within a basket of cheap watches with dead batteries. Fortunately, the name and style of the watch face made it clear to Zach that it needed to be in his shopping cart instead of that bargain basket.

Look for Golf Equipment, Find a Wearable Jackpot

Perhaps one of the most surprising parts of Zach’s experience is that he was not initially searching for a watch. Multiple reports state that his original intent was to purchase a golf pushcart. However, he decided to take a quick break and search the used watch collection first.

Source: Pexels/Kawe Rodrigues

Most consumers can relate to the common experience of walking into a store with an expectation but leaving the store later with something completely different. There are surely not very many consumers, though, that unknowingly walk out of stores with this good of a deal.

Thrift Store Purchase Turned into Wedding Day Investment

When asked what he was going to do with the money earned from the sale, Norris reportedly stated that he would put the money towards his wedding day budget.

Source: Hodinkee

Since the average wedding in the United States in 2015 cost nearly $27,000, using the profits from the watch sale greatly lightened the financial toll on Zach and his bride. It does make you wonder, though, what would have happened if he stuck to his initial plan of only searching for a golf pushcart that day.

Is Thrift Store Flipping an Underestimated Goldmine?

Garage sale, secondhand store, and thrift store flipping has increased in popularity in recent years due to its overall profitability. Buying something for a fraction of its worth and then selling it online can easily pave the way for making a huge profit or even creating a regular income stream. For example, a thrift store may sell a designer shirt to you for $5.

Source: Flickr/Jeffrey Zwartjes

However, you may be able to take that same shirt and sell it online for 5-6 times the amount you paid for it. Chances are that Zach Norris never would have expected that his $6 purchase would turn into a five-figure payday.

The Value of Conducting Online Research

This experience truly does speak to the value and power of conducting quality online research – especially if you are interested in flipping merchandise. Zach Norris did not have any idea just how much he would be able to get for his Goodwill store purchase.

Source: Hodinkee

However, with his limited knowledge of luxury watches, he knew that he could use the Internet to fill in the gaps and find answers for any other unanswered questions. Online research is also what connected him with other interested collectors – including the one to which he eventually sold the $6 watch.

Search for Competitive Prices In-Store and At-Home

Another helpful tip that Zach followed from a close friend was to conduct online research in-store before making the purchase. As mentioned, he had limited knowledge on luxury watches and current market value of Swiss timepieces.

Source: Hodinkee

A friend advised him to use Google to conduct quick research and price checks in-store. Doing so raised his awareness of the great deal that he had and some of the financial doors that it may have unlocked.

The Beauty of Paying It Forward with Donations

Psychological studies have proven that the act of giving can be stimulated by the positive emotions that it creates – such as gratitude and happiness. Conversely, those same studies show that negative emotions could play a role as well. For instance, a person may give away money to an organization that supports homeless people since they feel guilty about their upper-class lifestyle.

Source: Pixabay

That could be the reason why someone decided to donate a luxury Swiss watch to Goodwill or it could have just been that they did not have any interest or knowledge of its monetary value. Either way, Zach Norris appreciated it and even donated some of the money that he received from the sale to pay it forward.

Popular Items to Hunt for at Thrift Shops

You likely may not find a luxury Swiss watch at your local Goodwill store or secondhand shop. However, there are other popular items that you should target if you are interested in flipping high-value.

Source: Pixabay/Pasita Wanseng

For instance, retro video games, designer clothes, vintage picture frames, and popular books or textbooks can easily return a substantial profit when compared to the relatively low prices that you will pay for them.

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Charlotte Clad

Written by Charlotte Clad

Charlotte Clad is a brilliant writer who possesses the remarkable ability to craft content that goes viral and leaves an indelible mark on readers. With an innate passion for storytelling and an unwavering commitment to her craft, Charlotte has consistently pushed the boundaries of creativity to captivate audiences worldwide.

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