Gen Z is fueling the growth of a new breed of secondhand selling apps

Teens are making money flipping clothes online.

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Teens are making money flipping clothes online.
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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The days of washing dishes and waiting tables during summer vacation might be all but over for some US teens, who are increasingly making money by flipping clothing and sneakers online.

Experts say that the rise of a new breed of secondhand selling apps is due to a combination of the youngest generation being more entrepreneurially minded than its predecessors and new technology being available.

“This idea of working hard and building your own success has been ingrained in US teens from such an early age,” Marcie Merriman, the executive director for growth strategy and retail innovation at Ernst & Young and an expert on this generation, told Business Insider.

But, “because of technology, Generation Z is the first generation to really have the tools and ability to go after their dreams at a young age,” she said.

Read more: THE STATE OF GEN Z: America’s teenagers reveal what they think about everything

A whole host of apps designed to enable users to shop and sell directly from their smartphones have cropped up in the past few years.

Gen Z-focused app Depop is a good example. Some 90% of its users are under the age of 26, and since launching in 2011 it has grown to have more than 13 million customers in 147 countries. It recently raised $62 million to expand its presence in the US, where it currently has five million users.

Teens are using Depop to sell anything from used clothing to sneakers to concert tickets, utilizing the platform to start their own brands.

For some people, this has worked out to be a highly profitable business venture. Rachel Swidenbank, vice president of marketplace at Depop, told Business Insider that some sellers can pull in as much as $300,000 a year on the app and have been able to buy houses and cars before they’ve even reached college age.

Depop's shopping app.

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Depop’s shopping app.
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Courtesy of Depop

Poshmark offers a similar experience. Sellers can create stores to sell their own creations or secondhand items via their smartphone. And as there is no overhead cost aside from acquiring the inventory, it’s easy for cash-strapped teens to participate.

Poshmark has also grown at a quick pace, amassing over five million sellers since launching in 2011. Last May, it announced that it had paid out $1 billion to its community of sellers, some of whom reported pulling in as much as $1 million in sales on the app.

Other teens are using apps such as StockX, a self-described stock market of things, and Goat, the world’s largest marketplace for high-end sneakers, to sell brand-new – but sold-out and therefore exclusive – clothing and sneakers.

The streetwear “drop” culture has given rise to this trend as brands such as Supreme and Kanye West’s Yeezy roll out new products in small batches. These sell out almost instantly, creating massive demand and thus the chance to be resold online at a high price.