Just after Christmas 2019, Neil Barker was scrolling on his phone when he stumbled across videos of Americans buying and opening pallets of returned Amazon goods on YouTube.
Curious, he decided to find places where he could buy them himself and landed on a website called B-Stock, an online liquidation marketplace where you can buy crates full of returned goods. “Like with many things I do, I don’t do it with a great deal of research,” says Barker, who lives near Northampton. After a day, he began bidding on four kitchen and floor care pallets from Madrid. “I broke it to my wife that I’d just spent £3,500, and she thought I was nuts,” Barker says.
Inside were 50-odd robot vacuum cleaners, several coffee machines, floor mops, juicers, blenders and a whole lot more, coming to around 320 items in total. Altogether, the items were worth just under £20,000 if they were all in an unopened, pristine condition. Barker began listing them on eBay and documented his endeavours on YouTube.
Barker also joined one of the roughly 500,000 buyers on B-Stock across the UK, Europe and the US. Since the pandemic started, these liquidation websites – also called reverse logistics companies – have been processing more and more returns as consumers switched to buying online.