Sourcing Inventory from Grocery Stores

By: Suzanne Wells

Grocery stores can be a gold mine for sourcing both eBay and Amazon inventory. You can look for regular priced items that may not be available nationwide, look in the clearance areas, and take advantage of recurring sales once you learn the system. Grocery stores are a great way to find products that you can sell consistently with very little (or no) competition.  It just takes some searching to find products that work. A few strategies:

1)      Look for shelf tags that advertise new products, new flavors, etc. This is the opposite of looking for discontinued products. You want to be the first person to figure something out and offer it on eBay or Amazon FBA. Most online sellers (yourself probably included) are not looking for regular-priced items to sell – they are looking at clearance, discontinued, or deeply discounted products. You can find products that may be available only in your area (regional food products) that may sell well nationally. Remember the mantra, “What do I have access to that others may not?” You can often buy products at regular retail and sell them for a nice markup online. This gives you an easy stream of income and inventory you can source any time you want to. You aren’t limited to buying items at Big Lots, closeout centers, or only on clearance. You don’t feel the pressure to buy too much of an item because it might not be available later. Sourcing at regular retail gives you an easy stream of income.


2)      Find the clearance kiosk or aisle in your grocery stores. Each store does this differently. For example, Kroger stores usually have a stand or kiosk near the pharmacy and items have orange stickers on clearance products that look like this:

3) Kroger also flags items on the regular shelves with white CLOSEOUT tags before moving them to the clearance area. These products are offered at a reduced price because they may not be moving well at that particular store or at Kroger stores in your area in general. The store may be resetting the shelves for a new season. The manufacturer may be doing a packaging change. Here is a Kroger closeout item in the cosmetics section – notice the huge discount!

1)      We have a grocery store in Atlanta that puts up clearance tables near the registers only on Friday – Sunday.  I’ve learned to hit several locations of this chain on Fridays to find multiples of the same items and get the good stuff early in the day.


2)      When you discover a product that is a “hit,” visit several locations of the store to find more. I have mapped out different loops where I can hit 6-8 stores in 2-3 hours. I am not actively scouting, I am just checking for a hot product in the clearance section before it runs out. For example – I found these Filtrete vacuum filters at a Kroger a few months ago. They were on clearance for $1 and I sold them on Amazon FBA for $14. (Amazon did not have them at the time.) I hit about 8 Krogers in one day buying these and a few other hot items at each store. You don’t have to spend time to scouting; you are on a mission to obtain a supply of product you already know will sell. By using this method, I can find enough hot items to profit $600-$800 in about 3 hours. As for the vacuum filters – I found 12 of them that day resulting in $106 profit. They all sold within 2 weeks.


3)      Watch your weekly grocery store sales flyer and investigate products you can buy on sale on a regular basis. (Make your money when you buy, not when you sell.)  Kroger is a great example. About once a month, they run a 10 for $10 sale on items like toothpaste, cake mixes, cold medicines, coffee, hot cocoa mixes, shampoo, candy, higher priced canned goods, and all kinds of products. You can often buy these items on sale and sell in bundles. These products may not be profitable to sell if you bought them at regular price, and they won’t be on clearance. (Take this even further and use coupons when you buy your inventory! When you identify products that work on the 10 / $10 deal, buy a stockpile of coupons on eBay to reduce your cost even further.)  Kroger also operates under these names:

Here is an example. Close-Up toothpaste 8 oz is one of the items frequently on the 10/$10 deal. Amazon sells an 8-pack for $24.74, and is the only FBA offer. SR is 22K in health and personal care:











You could price your listing just under Amazon’s to get the sale and make a profit of $8.88 per sale:














If you identified several products to use for this strategy, you can see how lucrative shopping grocery store sales can be for sourcing online inventory.

The bottom line is to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Learn what the tags on the shelves mean. Learn when the sales occur and watch for patterns. Remember that even though you see something every time you walk in a grocery store, other people may not. Other sellers may not have put all the pieces of the puzzle together yet, such as recurring sales and discounts. Other sellers may not want to jump through all the hoops to get the deep discounts and that leaves opportunities available for you.


4 Responses to Sourcing Inventory from Grocery Stores

  1. Jonathan Rumbley says:

    Great piece Suzanne thanks! You must have saw one of my post talking about this same thing last week :)

  2. Serena Lee says:

    Great post! I will definitely look at my local supermarkets differently from now on. Since I live in the Bay Area, I know there are products that can only be found here and difficult to find elsewhere in the country. Will definitely start researching!

  3. Tommy says:

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could
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    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  4. Sarah says:

    Hi! Is there anything special I need to do to make sure stuff that could be considered “hazmat” is fully accepted by Amazon. I have sent some make-up in in the past with no problem, but I looked at Amazon’s Hazmat list today and they have stuff like sunscreen and mascara on as possible hazmat items because they may contain alcohol. I don’t want to get all excted and buy 22 Armor-All gift packs thinking I’ve hit the big time to find out I can’t sell them on Amazon (not saying I did that, just asking for “a friend”. : )

    Also, what about shampoos and things like that. Have you ever had an issue with those being accepted at the fullfillment centers? Thanks!

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