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The art of buying and selling

Posted 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024

UWL student Hayley Moore scours TJMaxx for name-brand items that can be resold for a profit. This side hustle has allowed her to devote more time to her studies and volunteering.

Student side hustles: Hayley Moore turns shopping habit into a money-maker

As a college student trying to manage her money, Hayley Moore would often sell clothes she no longer wore. 

One day while shopping, she stumbled upon a brand-name item priced at $3.99. A light bulb flickered on somewhere above her head. 

“I realized there was a large profit margin if I was to sell the item around retail price,” says Moore, a sophomore majoring in business analytics and management at UW-La Crosse. “I listed it along with my personal items and I got many likes and received offers quickly.” 

She recognized that if she bought an item at a low enough price, she could sell it for less than retail and still make a significant profit. 

“After this, I transitioned to a different mindset while shopping,” she says. “I would be on the hunt for the name brand items I thought would sell.” 

Moore has turned her penchant for shopping into a lucrative side hustle. 

Shopping predominantly at T.J. Maxx and selling predominantly on Facebook Marketplace, Moore averages about 70% in profit per item. She keeps a spreadsheet showing how much she needs to price an item, including shipping and fees, to come out ahead. 

If an item is struggling to sell, she’ll tweak her listing or offer a discount, still leaving plenty of room for profit. If all else fails, she’ll return it within T.J. Maxx’s 30-day window and get credit back for the item. 

Moore has thought of everything in fine-tuning her business. And the best part: She is doing what she loves.

Ralph Heath, the CBA's executive in residence, has been mentoring Moore and other students with business concepts.

“The most enjoyable aspect of this side hustle is that it is in combination with one of my hobbies,” Moore says. “I have always loved to shop, and this way, I can make some money on the side. I spend a lot of my time volunteering and managing my 18-credit courseload. A job is not super ideal for my schedule, so I kill two birds with one stone by shopping personally and for resale.” 

Ralph Heath, the College of Business Administration’s inaugural executive in residence, says he has been impressed by Moore’s ingenuity. Heath, ’73, was the founder and president of Ovation Marketing in La Crosse from 1978 to 2009. 

Hayley Moore is off the charts on the entrepreneurial scale ... and making money on her own flexible terms,” Heath says. “She is gaining valuable business learning experience even though she is engaging customers at a low end of the monetary scale.  The same basic business lessons she learns will apply if she chooses to move her experience up to more profitable, bigger-ticket subjects.” 

Moore says there are many ups and downs to buying and selling. Sometimes, she’ll go a month without making a sale. But then things will flip, and she’ll suddenly have a bunch of orders. 

Moore has learned to take it all in stride, and to use data to make informed decisions that will strengthen her business. 

In her courses and through her side hustle, Moore is learning every day about the various elements of running a business, and what it takes to be successful. 

“At this point in my education, I am not quite sure what I want to pursue,” she says. “I am learning about my interests as I navigate through different business courses here at UWL. I have realized I have a strong interest in finding data driven solutions for business problems.” 

“The most enjoyable aspect of this side hustle is that it is in combination with one of my hobbies,” Moore says. “I have always loved to shop, and this way, I can make some money on the side."


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