Let me begin this article by saying he did nothing illegal, immoral or unfair to Home Depot or its customers. My friend Rich worked at Home Depot for over three years as a cashier. Over time he was able learn quite a great deal about sales, inventories, seasonal items and most importantly clearance items. I cannot remember exactly how long he worked at the store when he developed this amazing insider knowledge. Unfortunately, the term “insider” has a negative connotation when referring to companies. Rich’s insider knowledge was actually pretty innocuous actually. He merely developed a finely-tuned skill at knowing when items were going to go on the clearance shelf for discounts up to 80%. Sometimes it was the seasonal electric stoves getting unloaded in the spring and other times it was the lawn items getting heavily discounted before winter. Other times he could tell when the store manager was going to move an item from its original shelf to the clearance shelf. Now, you have to realize that even a store of this magnitude with hundreds of thousands of square feet still has a limit to its shelf space. Why waste a whole row of shelfing with winter heaters when lawn supplies will sell much more profitably from April to October? Now, what to do with all those heaters that did not sell? Some can fit in the top-shelf storage, but the rest must go! Here is how Rich made an excellent (and very legal) profit on these clearance items.
- He’d have a feeling or “sixth sense” as to when an item would be moved to the clearance shelf.
- He would not necessarily act right when it moved to clearance, for it may go lower in price.
- Once the price was low enough he’d check eBay to see how much identical items were fetching.
- Once he knew it was almost a “sure thing” he’d buy some of the items and sell them on eBay for a 100% to 200% profit (these were heavily discounted when he bought them)
- If the items sold well on eBay he’d investigate to see if other area Home Depot stores had many of them in stock and buy those. For the most part, all Home Depot stores have the same items in clearance (assuming the stores are in the same climate).
- He’d call me to get in on the action if the profits were really good. I remember once driving to three different stores to find those lucrative electric heaters to re-sell. I bought and sold two for 100% profit each.
- If for some reason the item did not sell on eBay he would take advantage of Home Depot’s (and Lowe’s) little-known secret that you can pretty much return anything without a receipt even years later for a store credit. Or with a receipt within 30 days for a full refund.
The reason his system was completely legal was because all of the items were for sale to the general public at all times. There weren’t any before-store-opening secret sales or hidden paper lists of what would make it to the clearance shelf. My friend Rich was merely a keen observer of patterns, policies and profits that passed through that store day in and day out. I can’t thank him enough for sending a little of that knowledge (and profit) my way.