Have You Heard Of The Amazon “Returns” Hustle?

I’ve written several times about “reverse supply chain” problems, i.e., companies having to deal with the waste and environmental impact of the billions of things we buy only to return.

A friend told me she knew people who were buying Amazon pallets of returned items for $300 in the hopes of reselling them through eBay for up to $5,000. As it turns out, they’re most likely not buying directly from Amazon. The pallet might be filled with things in Amazon boxes but it’s coming from a liquidator.

I had never heard of these liquidation pallet schemes so I did some research only to find that there’s an entire sub-genre of YouTubers who specialize in unboxing videos of their liquidation goodies:

  • Tucker Upper got 375K views unboxing his first-ever liquidation pallet.
  • FranchiseKicks paid $286 for $2,212 of MYSTERY Electronics + Amazon Customer Returns Pallet. He has great advice about picking stuff up in person to save on shipping costs. He also shares the downside – lots of busted returns in his reseller’s box.
  • Randomfrankp got 7.6 million views for unpacking an Amazon returns box of “Mystery Tech” for which he paid $250.

And it’s not just from Amazon. There are videos showing “mystery” merchandise from Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s and Walmart.

Per the Atlantic, YouTube videos appear to have driven a noticeable spike of interest in anything related to “liquidation.”

Scroll down for more pros and cons.

The whole thing reminds me of a onetime favorite TV show, Storage Wars. I used to love watching it on A&E. Seeing them uncover treasures was so satisfying. Not so much fun when everything in their “bought sight unseen” locker turned out to be crapola.

The same thing is undoubtedly true in the pallet hustle. As one level-headed liquidation reseller told the Atlantic:

“I don’t want to let anyone believe the fallacy that pallets are a guaranteed way to make money. They’re absolutely not. You’re going to see a bunch of videos of people making a bunch of money on pallets. But just keep in mind that, just like everything else in social media, you’re probably only seeing the top 10 percent of what they do.”

Walter Blake Knoblock, Liquidation Reseller, Michigan
Bottom Line.

As with all get-rich-quick schemes, the hype is generally greater than the reality.

In other words, Buyer Beware! But in the meantime, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reality show about pallet resellers popping up any day now.

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