In new Spike TV show, Las Vegas duo sells castoffs for cash

He’s sold a tiki mug for $400, a CD for $500 and, in the premiere of “Thrift Hunters” (9:30 p.m. Saturday, Spike TV), Jason T. Smith purchases a promotional jacket from the 1986 movie “Rad” for $10 and unloads it for $700.

There’s seemingly nothing the Las Vegan can’t buy low and sell high.

Including bras.

Used bras.

“I’m not looking for a 36B,” Smith says. “I’m looking for a 44FFF.” He’s not being a pig. He’s just being practical.

Common sizes can be found in any store, he explains, and there’s not much money in reselling them. But some of the more extreme varieties can be difficult to locate, which drives up the demand and their value.

“I look for those gigantic ones,” he says. “Some are pretty and lacy, some are just to hold them in. But they all sell.”

Tips like that are at the heart of “Thrift Hunters,” in which Smith and fellow Las Vegan Bryan Goodman scour thrift stores, garage sales and pretty much anywhere people are trying to get rid of items without necessarily knowing their worth.

“We’re kind of a conduit between buying the product that’s being basically trashed by somebody or discarded by somebody,” Goodman says, and getting it to someone who values it, whether through eBay or their booth in Sin City Pickers Antiques &Collectibles Mall, 10 W. Wyoming Ave.

In Saturday’s premiere, the duo visits a community garage sale in Summerlin, Castaways in Henderson, and the now-shuttered GoatFeathers in Boulder City. And while they’ll buy almost anything that’s seriously undervalued — in the episode, they pick up everything from “Mamma Mia” flip-flops to an opened puzzle with no telling how many pieces missing — they have their specialties.

For Smith, 43, it’s CDs, tiki items and Hawaiian shirts.

He was introduced to bargain-hunting as a child in Cleveland by his mother and grandmother.

“I would talk to my friends on the playground and go, ‘You don’t go antiquing?’ ”

After being fired from a chain of music stores in 1999, Smith bought some CDs for a dollar apiece. Within a week, he was selling them online for $8 or $10 each. “I was, like, ‘Hey, that’s pretty easy. I don’t have to get showered. I don’t have to put on a tie.’ ”

He moved to Las Vegas 10 years ago and has been thrifting — which, apparently, is now a word — full time for the past six years.

Goodman, who admits only to being “slightly older” than Smith, focuses on T-shirts and ties.

A decade ago, while he was managing a luxury car dealership in Boston, Goodman visited a nearby shoe outlet. The store was selling a shipment of very large footwear for $10 a pair, and, having big feet himself, Goodman knew how hard it could be to find those sizes. He grabbed everything he could get his hands on, started selling them online, and to this day, his eBay ID is Mr.Bigfoot.

Smith and Goodman met five or six years ago at an event for eBay sellers and kept in touch. A couple of years later, they decided to try thrifting as a team.

“We had so much fun that first time we did this together,” Goodman recalls, “we both sort of looked at each other and said, ‘You know? This would make a good TV show.’ And, mind you, this was before a number of other shows of this genre were popular.”

Goodman soon moved to Las Vegas to make it easier for the two of them to pursue a series. “Fortunately, about a week after I moved here,” he says, “before I even unpacked … we were approached.”

The “Thrift Hunters” opening shows the pair racing around the Neon Museum Boneyard with shopping carts while an announcer talks about the “cutthroat world of thrifting.” Smith says that’s not an exaggeration. He recently found a game at a thrift store and, when he reached for it, he says a woman “grabbed it so viciously, I just let her have it.”

But despite encounters like that, the “Thrift Hunters” stars make it their mission to help others. Even when it puts them at a disadvantage, as it often does when they point out store owners’ mistakes.

“Sometimes it’s a detriment to me, because maybe now it will cost more,” Smith says. “But it doesn’t bother me, because there’s always more stuff to buy.”

They save most of their advice, though, for the thousands of thrifters they mentor through their Facebook group or their website, thriftingwiththeboys.com.

“The trick is trying to find niche items that are really good,” Goodman says. “For example, a lot of people want to sell Coach bags, or things that are really high-profile like that. Well, those things get counterfeited a lot. So Jason and I tend to stay away from things that are excessively popular.”

And while most people focus on the huge scores, such as the rare $500 copy of the soundtrack to the 1970s British sci-fi series “Space: 1999” Smith found tucked into a batch of random CDs he bought online, there’s plenty of money to be made with less sexy items.

“It’s not unusual to go in and find T-shirts for a buck or two and turn around and sell them for 20 bucks apiece. Or sometimes more,” Goodman says. “Those are kind of the mundane things, but it helps give a steady stream of income.”

Unlike similar shows, your “Storage Wars” or “American Pickers” and other trash-to-treasure ventures, Goodman says anyone can buy something cheap and, with a little research, sell it for a profit on eBay.

“There are people who’ve lost jobs or had health issues or whatever, and all of a sudden by following the things that we do, they’ve been able to make major changes in their lives. And we do that all for free, and it gives us great satisfaction.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567.

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