Japan Side Hustle: Buying and Selling Pre-loved Designer Items

Especially in the current economic climate, it is a great idea to have alternative sources of income. Besides, Japan is not a cheap country so a few extra yens is always appreciated. Of course, this is not easy particularly if you’re a foreigner who is not yet very proficient in Japanese. So today, I will be talking about one of my side hustles in Japan – one that I was able to start even back when navigating the language was still very difficult.

This side hustle is buying and selling pre-loved designer items.

How It Works

I browse ‘furima’/flea market apps such as Mercari and Rakuma or thrift stores like BookOff for items which I think I would be able to sell for a higher price. I make sure to scrutinize the pictures posted and even when the Japanese product description is too difficult for me to completely understand – I make it a point to translate them and watch out for any notes about possible defects or problems. Then, once I’m convinced that doing so would be profitable, I purchase said items.

Now, once I have the goods, it is not just a matter of simply posting them again for sale. This is where I do the work to ensure that I will be able to sell them right away and for a profit. It’s different for every product. Sometimes, it’s a matter of just taking better pictures for your posting. Other times I would have to clean the inside of the bag or maybe shine the leather. There are even cases when I would have to seek professional help for minor repairs. In any case, this is when I make sure that I would sell an item more appealing than the one I bought. Another step that I do to increase my chances of getting a buyer is writing a good description of what I’m selling. There should be notes about what exactly it is – brand, kind or model, color, size (the more accurate the dimensions, the better), if possible when and where (for example, if you bought it from a reputable shop that performs a thorough inspection, authenticity is almost always guaranteed) it was bought, damages if there are any. I would then post them for sale at a higher (but, of course, reasonable) price.

It’s a waiting game from that point on. Sometimes, you would get a buyer in just a matter of minutes. In some instances, it would take days or, if the item is not as good as you thought it would be, you would not get any interest at all. Also, be prepared to answer inquiries. Don’t worry about answering in perfect Japanese. You can even Google translate if necessary. Another thing you should be prepared for is haggling – some people will specify an amount they are willing to pay while others will simply ask for you to lower the price.

When somebody finally buys what you posted, congratulations! But you have only accomplished half of the work so far. After, you will need to safely pack your item and prepare it for shipment. Shipping options are wide and varied – and depending on which you would choose, you might need to write the receiver’s name and address in Japanese – be careful with those Kanjis. There are other options which would allow you to ship from convenience stores and the receiver’s name and address is automatically machine-generated.

You receive the payment when the buyer confirms that they got the product safe and without any problems.


If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing, let me share some tips:

  1. Stick with products that you know.

This goes without saying but just because I do, does not mean that you also need to sell designer bags and other items. The very reason why I got into this is because I have a thing for – okay, I’m obsessed with – designer bags. I would be that girl walking down the street gawking at other people’s bags and mentally reciting its brand, color, the kind of leather it’s made of – all the works. And even when I had no plans of actually buying a bag or I didn’t have the budget for it, I would still find myself browsing flea market applications and eyeing objects I would like to buy. So, I figured, if I don’t earn from it then it’s going to end up being just a waste of time. It was so easy for me to do even if I had a full-time job. I would do it while in the train, during my lunch hour – any time I’m available. I know bags – I could tell which listings I would most likely profit from.

Now, I know gadgets or collector action figures are also a great market to tap into but I know zilch about them! So, it would be stupid of me try them out (unless I thoroughly educate myself first). Think about what your thing is and see if you can make a profit from selling them.

Most of these other things are just in connection with the points I’ve mentioned above about how this side hustle works.

2. Thoroughly inspect the merchandise before buying it. This could be difficult when you are buying online so be sure to read (even translate) the description. If you have any reservations about the product or if there are any points that are unclear – don’t hesitate to ask questions.

3. If there is anything, at all, that you could do to improve the quality of the item – do it.

4. Take great pictures – well-lit, colors as close to the actual item, showing the product’s best angles (but not hiding any damages, of course).

5. Write detailed descriptions – as many specifications as possible.

6. Be prepared to answer inquiries.

7. You want to post the product at an amount which is reasonable and attractive to the buyer. However, as there might be people who would haggle, be sure that there is some legroom and it is a price you are willing to lower at least a bit.

8. You don’t need a lot of money to start.

I know I said I buy and sell designer bags and that sounds like such an expensive side hustle but believe me, it’s not. I am such a cheapo and especially when I was still starting out (but even now), my limit is usually at 10,000 yen. Honestly, stumbling upon extreme bargains is part of the thrill and the fun for me so I would always be looking for the cheapest of the cheap.

9. Only buy things that you yourself would love to have or use. Unfortunately, there will be times when other people will just not be interested in what you’re selling. In these cases, you would be forced to sell them at a lower price. But, what I prefer to do is to just use the items I can not sell for the price I think they deserve. So, I only buy things I personally would love to use. To be honest, most of the time I would even be excited for not selling something because hey! I got a new bag – and got it for a very cheap price too.

10. When deciding the price, be sure to take into account not only the shopping price but also the ‘commission’ that these sites take. When posting, you will automatically see the price and all.


Let me show one example of a bag I bought and sold online.

This is a Fendi bag that I saw posted for a little over 3,000 yen. The pictures posted by the seller here were actually not bad. But she only posted a few and that’s something I was able to improve on. I uploaded more pictures, making sure that I highlight the different parts of the bag that are appealing. This was posted for a pretty low price but I knew that this particular print – this Zucca style is popular so I made sure to snatch it pretty quickly. I was able to sell it for almost 3 times the price I paid for it.

Here is another example.

A Balenciaga which I bought for 12000 yen. I’m a big fan of Balenciaga and I could see that the leather on this bag was really dry but from my experience with this type of bag, I also know that I can shine it and make it look better. That’s exactly what I did and when I posted it, I made sure to highlight its positive points – the metal tag that ensures authenticity, mentioned in the description that it’s a rare color. I sold it for 18000 yen.

So, that is how I earn from this side hustle. If you are also interested in doing it, I hope it goes well for you and that you were able to get some useful tips from this video. Also, let us know in the comments about your side hustle in Japan!

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