We’ve all been there. A job loss, unplanned family change, or just the need for extra income can have you looking for ways to earn more money. Before you commit to a second job, you can try to sell items that you own but no longer use. Clothes, old game systems and other everyday items could be your ticket to a little extra cash.
You also can try treasure hunting at your local thrift score to buy items to resell on popular sites like Etsy, Ebay and Poshmark. However, scoping out items to resell is a learned art form. Not every ‘vintage’ item can be resold for a profit, but you can learn to train your eye to spot the diamonds in the thrift rough.
If you’re a thrift novice, though, be prepared for your journey. Snack before you go, as shopping hungry may make you irritable. Pack some hand sanitizer (you’ll thank us later) and allow yourself a few hours to browse. Before heading to the thrift stores, though, check out your own collections first (you likely have your own hidden resale gems!).
But first, a few pointers…
- Beware of Lead. Before the 1970s, many paints contained lead. This affects many vintage dishes. While buyers love vintage pieces, older cookware should come with the understanding that lead may be in paint. Check out Smithsonian Mag for more info.
- Selling Used Toys. While vintage toys are cute and quirky, avoid purchasing any stuffed animals from a thrift store. You don’t know who sneezed, coughed (or worse!) on these cuddly friends. Plus, they also may harbor bed bugs. However, you can try and resell your own stuffies–if they are clean!. Other hot toys like old action figures, playsets, and collectibles (old My Little Pony, vintage Barbies, etc.) are fair game. New In Box toys sell for the most money, as do complete playsets and dolls with all their original outfits.
- Tough-to-Clean Appliances. Food appliances also may harbor more yuck for your buck. Used mixers or coffee makers may be really tough to clean. Don’t resell unless the item is New In Box (aka NIB)–this also could be a great way to get rid of those never used (or opened) wedding gifts!
So what items should you buy or recycle from your own closet? Here are the 10 best items you can resell for more money.
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One of the easiest items to resell is clothes. But not all items are destined to be resold on the online market. Items should be…
- without damage
- Or if there is damage, vintage with minimal flaws.
When you’re considering reselling from your own closet, sort through all the clothes you don’t wear and then put those items aside. Inspect your clothes for flaws. You only want to resell name brand items that are in good shape–no damage or stains!
Clothes with the tags still on (the sales tags, that is!) are easier to sell. But stay away from fast fashion brands—e.g. Old Navy, Zara, H&M and Forever21. These brands are good for a few wears, but are not made to be evergreen. They are ‘fast fashion’ for a reason! Any clothes in your closet that still have sales tags should be resold, as well!
Hot brands include designer names and clothes from higher end boutiques. If you’re looking to purchase clothes to resell, understand that not every name-brand buy is a good buy–high price tags may decrease your bottom line. One way to score the best deals on high-end brands is to be aware of half-off days at your local thrift destinations.
2. Pyrex & Other Vintage Dishes
Yes, you can resell your family’s dishware. Vintage Pyrex almost always sells! Patterns are quirky, fun and oh so retro, and if you spot these dishes at a thrift store, grab it and inspect the dish for flaws. While Pyrex is a great resell item, you must find pieces that are free of chips or other defects. Also, items will sell for a higher price if the dish has its matching lid. There are many vintage Pyrex patterns worth investigating. Check out EstateSales.org to learn more about these dishes, the patterns and the history of the Pyrex brand.
Corning also made dishes that are collectible, and you might spot them in a thrift store. One of the most popular patterns is called Cornflower Blue, which features a white dish with blue flowers. Again, make sure the piece is in good condition and has a matching lid! Also, be sure to include any flaws that may be found in the piece within your item description!
Pro Tip: Pyrex and other dishes should be marked on the bottom of the dish! Always look for the maker’s mark.
Unique pottery can be highly collectible like vintage cookware, although you have to know what pieces are hot on the resell market. One of the most popular vintage pottery makers was McCoy. The company made cookie jars, mugs, banks and more. One of the quirkiest patterns was the Have a Happy Day line. This line featured a bold yellow smiley face design and is very reminiscent of the 70s. But this pattern also was copied by others, so you must look for the McCoy stamp to ensure authenticity. Want to learn more about this vintage line? Check out McCoyPottery.com.
McCoy pottery varies in sale prices. More unique pieces–like the fun cookie jars–can command up to $100 (or more). Mugs in the Have a Happy Day line may sell individually for around $15. You should research the pricing of other sellers to ensure that you are competitive and don’t overprice a piece. Chips and other defects can lower the price, and you need to list any and all flaws in an item’s description.
While McCoy is a big name for collectible pottery, handmade items that are not branded also may sell well. Look for hand painted vases, unique cookie jars or fun mugs. The more unique, the better! The best way to determine how much you can make is to research similar items on auction or resale sites. If the item is in your own collection, reselling may earn you more than the original sale price…or it may be much lower. But if you’re thrifting and want to buy pottery to resell, the best advice is to bring your phone along and look up similar items before you make the purchase. Otherwise, you may buy a worthless dud!
4. Designer Handbags
Before you even consider the resale market for handbags, know this hard and fast rule: IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL COUNTERFEIT ITEMS! Designer handbags are one of the most heavily counterfeited items on the market.
In general, designer handbags sell quickly, especially well-known brands, but you absolutely need to know how to identify authentic bags from counterfeit items. This requires learning the markings and labels of the bags. Before you put anything up on the resell market, the onus is on you to ensure that the bag is authentic. Counterfeit bags can look nearly identical to the real thing, so research the brand and be sure to have an expert authenticate the piece before you resell it.
5. Video Game Systems
That vintage Atari is hot to collectors. So are older systems from top makers. Bundle games and the system to create a package for buyers and make the purchase more attractive. Of course, you also should make sure controllers are included and before you even think about reselling the system, plug it in and make sure it works! The older or rarer the better. Obviously, a vintage Atari from the 80s will be nostalgic for a certain generation of buyers. Old Gameboys also may be collectable. But newer systems might sit for a while.
6. Books & Old Magazines
Vintage books are popular with collectors. Flip open the cover and look for signatures from the author. You’d be surprised how many signed copies float around in thrift stores. You also can buy vintage books that feature unique cover hues to bundle and sell as decorative book stacks. Sometimes buyers want shabby chic books as a décor item for bookshelves.
If you want to sell books as a decorative bundle, you need to look for books that are hard-bound, the same (or similar) height, and with covers in coordinating or contrasting color schemes. Think about stacks of silver/gold, indigo/yellow, all black, brown/green, etc. Stacks or bundles should include at least three books, and older bindings offer the shabby chic style that look best as decor items.
If you have all the books for a series, sell them together as a complete collection.
You also can sell old magazines, which may be desirable for collector’s nostalgia–even 80’s fashion magazines!
7. Unique Collectibles
Yes, unique collectibles is a bit of a broad generalization. However, crazy and unique items sell well. So those odd salt and pepper shakers that you bought on your tropical honeymoon may score you a few dollars. Also consider other collectible souvenirs from years past. Old theme park items, collectible postcards or old t-shirts you collected on vacation could be a quirky must have for a buyer. We all have old Hard Rock Cafe shirts lurking…find yours!
The thrift stores are one of the best places to find unique accessories like vintage belts, scarves and even crazy 80s earrings. Silk scarves often can be purchased at a low price, so be sure to look for those pieces with designer signatures (the signature will usually be near the end of each scarf). You want names like Vera, Echo, Hermes (if you can score one!) or other designers. As the 80s have made a comeback, look for funky belts or colorful earrings from that rad decade! You also need to sort through your own old collections to find any items that you might be able to resell from your teen years!
So how do you price items? Accessories vary in what they can snag online. Silk scarves should be priced higher than polyester, obviously. The best way to figure out the best (and fairest!) price is to research similar items for sale on Etsy and Ebay. You always should know what your competition is doing anyway!
Hand-tooled leather belts or handbags are unique and intricate. They also may sell well on the resale market. Look for items that are made in countries renowned for the leather art, including Chile. Already have these items in your closet? Get ready to list them, because they are quite popular on the resell market!
Vintage leather jackets also are a must-find item. Motorcycle jackets are always en vogue, so if you find one, buy it! Just make sure the price is right–half-off days are your friend for leather! And always feel the leather to be sure that it is good quality; look for leather that feels supple, not dry. You don’t want to have to endure a serious rehab!
10. Fine Jewelry
If you really want to make money fast, your fine jewelry might be your ticket. Make sure you have diamonds and other pieces authenticated before you list them. You also should have items appraised, because you don’t want to get lowballed on the price. Best bets for resale include gold, platinum and even sterling silver. Diamonds, of course, can command high dollar if they are quality. The same applies to precious gems like sapphires, rubies and emeralds.
Now that you know the best items to flip for extra cash, sort through your own collections or plot out your treasure hunt and locate the best thrift stores and estate sales in your area. Remember to allow plenty of time to browse and hunt. Don’t succumb to the impulse buy, and go into every situation knowing your dollar limit for each item! Happy reselling!