Who Are All Those Relatives In The Resale Family?

Find the resale difference


The Resale Family of businesses is one of the largest in the world, generating untold billions of dollars annually.  The family motto and definition of Resale is “the act of selling again”.  Relatives include people who sit in their garage, to multi-national corporations, real estate brokers, and car dealers.

It would take too long to diagram the family tree, but below are relatives you’re likely to meet in person.  It behooves you to tell them apart because some get very testy if you call them by the wrong name.

Resale and Thrift Stores 

Too many people use these words interchangeably, but there is a difference.  All thrift stores are resale stores, but not all resale stores are thrift stores.

Confusing?  Technically, thrift stores are not-for-profit and in business to support a charity or other not-for-profit organization. For-profit resale businesses are not thrifts.

Resale and Retail

These are two different families. Retail is the link between manufacturers and consumers, and resale is the link between original and subsequent sales.

Antique Stores

U.S. Customs and the PBS series Antiques Roadshow define antiques as collectible goods over 100 years old. Granted, some items may not have been sold originally, like great-grandmother’s DIY quilt, but most items were sold before, and are being sold again. Definitely a family member.

Consignment Stores

The dictionary defines consignment as an arrangement resulting from a contract in which one person, the consignor, either ships or entrusts goods to another, the consignee, for sale. In other words, the store acts as your broker.

Most consignment stores, (brick and mortar and online), have guidelines for what they will accept.  If they accept your items, and they sell, you will receive the profit minus the consignment fee.  You may choose to have unsold items returned to you, or have the store recycle them. Some stores, though called consignments, buy items from you outright.

Probably the most well-known consignments stores in the U.S., from the Minneapolis-based parent company Winmark Corporation, are Plato’s Closet®, Once Upon A Child®, Play It Again Sports®, Style Encore®, and Music Go Round.

Pawn Shops

The dictionary definition of “pawn” is “something given as a security or loan; a pledge of guarantee”. A pawnbroker makes collateral loans based upon a percentage of the estimated value of the collateral item(s).  Customers pay back the loans plus interest, or the pawnbroker owns the item and resells it to the public.

You’ll find more information at the  National Pawn Brokers’ website.

Rummage sales

Presumably so-called because you must “rummage” through all the items.  Resellers on the other side of the pond call them “jumble sales”. Assorted secondhand things are donated, usually by members of a group such as a church, club, or PTA, and profits go to a non-profit organization.  Sales run from one day to several and are held inside or out.

Online Resale

The latest generation of the family. For every type of resale brick and mortar store, there are now online stores.  The oldest and most well-known are eBay and Amazon, both which began as resale sites, then expanded to include thrift and retail sales as well.

In 1999, Craig Newmark started the highly successful Craigslist as an online site for free classified ads, including resales, in the San Fransisco Bay area, and now has localized sites around the world.


Flea Markets

Flea markets are outdoors or in large buildings such as warehouses. Organizers usually charge rental space, though occasionally space is free. Sellers traditionally have curios, used household items, and antiques.

Merchandise is bartered, or sold outright, from furniture to trinkets, hot dogs to collectibles, and both used and new items. Weekends are the usual time for flea markets, and when large, it can take you all that time just to stop at every vendor.


This is a tricky one, because the name implies different things around the world, from China to the Middle East, and even in different parts of the U.S.  It’s definitely a resale relative when the term applies to the sale of miscellaneous donated items for charitable purposes, much like a rummage sale. However, bazaars are typically in a “fair-style” atmosphere outdoors.

White Elephant Sales

This is the family member with the wacky sense of humor, usually, put on by non-profit groups.  People and buy things that are outrageous, ugly, cumbersome, have no useful characteristics, or are just plain ridiculous.

Garage Sale, Yard Sale, Attic Sale, Carport Sale, Lawn Sale 

These siblings are basically the same; when either a person or persons sell their unwanted belongings from their home.

Besides an attic sale, the names tell where the sales are taking place. An “attic sale”  means vintage or antique pieces are hauled down from the attic.

Many states claim to have the “world’s biggest garage sale” when whole neighborhoods take part. While occasionally lasting only a day, most people hold their sales for 3 or 4 days.  Thursday thru Sunday are traditional times. Sales are called block sales, neighborhood sales, community sales, town sales etc., depending upon the participants.

Estate Sales

This branch of the family started life as a sale or auction of a recently deceased person’s property. Today, when someone is down-sizing, moving out-of-state or country, moving into a retirement home, divorcing, or in need of liquidating their assets, they may also have an estate sale.

Sales are run by either professional brokers, family members, or the owner, usually in the home.  They’re held any time of the year, and for one or more days, usually Thursday through Sunday. Prices are typically lowered near the end of the sale.

Car Trunk Sale/Boot Sale

Car trunk sales began in North America, but hopped over to Great Britain where they’ve become an institution, and renamed boot sales, as that is their term for a car trunk.  People gather in public places and from their car trunks sell anything and everything from used appliances to secondhand clothes.

Highway or Street Sale

These are the patriarchs of the garage sale branch of the family.  Stretching along a street or highway, resale vendors sell items on the roadside.  They can stretch for blocks, miles, or even through states like the Historic U.S. Hwy 80 sale, held twice a year, that passes through 5 states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.  Highway sales are considered the ultimate resale road trip.

Tag Sale

In some parts of the U.S., the term refers to estate sales; in some parts when prices are lowered. Some people assume any sale that has merchandise with tags is the correct definition.



Though not all auctions consist of resale items, many do.  Participants place bids, and the highest bid wins.  Auctions are typically held at an auction house, a home, or online.  Bidders may or may not be present, depending upon the stipulated conditions. You’ll find listings for all types of auctions on websites like AuctionZip.

Dutch Auctions

Fraternal twins of other auctions, though the price starts high and drops until someone places a bid.

Storage Unit Auctions

Owners of storage units auction contents of a unit when a renter either renters abandons their property or doesn’t pay the rental fees. With some exceptions, bidders can’t fully inspect the contents, or look at each item. There are websites specifically listing these types of auctions, like storagestuff.bid.

Government Auctions

Even government agencies are part of the resale clan, selling and auctioning seized and surplus items.  Whether run by local police departments or the U.S. Treasury, you can find anything from Tinker Toys to yachts. Go to USA.gov for more information.

Tent Sales

Big surprise…tent sales are held in a tent.  While tent sales may be for a myriad of new items, from cars to clothes, they can also consist of second-hand items most often to benefit non-profit organizations and are popular with fraternal organizations and schools.

Liquidation sales

When a business closes or relocates, they may liquidate the equipment, furniture, fixtures, and any other items they previously purchased.  They may use professional liquidation services or do it themselves, and prices may range from current market value to insanely low prices depending upon their financial needs and time constraints.

Resale by any other name….is still resale as long as it involves any items that had previously been sold.  This is a pretty comprehensive list, but be sure and add to it if you know any relatives I’ve missed!