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In the past year, thousands and thousands of people have discovered that selling on eBay is not only one of the easiest ways to make a quick buck, but it can also be a full-time business that pays the bills when things get tough.
With the influx of sellers has come a huge increase in competition. It used to be that we could go to a thrift store or yard sale and simply cherry-pick the best things to sell on eBay and leave the drivel behind. Now, however, many sellers are left trying to sell the drivel.
So instead of buying worse and worse inventory to sell, why not branch out and learn about some new top sellers?
We have had several periods in the past two years where our sales have declined month over month until we were able to figure things out. Almost every time it was because our sourcing game had gotten state. The best things to sell on eBay are almost never the same two months running. Once we learned how to constantly change and adapt our business flourished.
In the past 30 days, however, our sales are up almost 30%, we never leave a thrift store empty-handed, and we’re focused on doing $15-20k/month in sales for the rest of the year.
But can you do it too? Sure, it’s simple. By always expanding your knowledge and looking up every single thing you find to sell if it’s good to sell on eBay. Knowing what to sell on eBay is the entire key to success on the platform.
In the interest of saving you some time and tears, we’ve put together this guide to help you out. So if you’re here looking for the best items to sell on eBay, you’re in luck. The answer is actually rather simple. Ready for it? Here it is:
The most profitable items to sell on eBay are the ones that you can find cheaply and easily.
While that might not be the answer that you hoped for, it’s true. In some places of the country, the best things to resell can simply be from thrift stores and people make $10k a month flipping them, in other areas you have to source at Ross, hit up yard sales, or become a regular on Craigslist to find the best items for eBay. But, no matter where you are, if you’re wondering what to sell on eBay, think of what is the easiest thing to source in your area!
In my hometown, for example, there are plentiful thrift stores and tons of rich people. Because of this, I find all the inventory I can handle at Goodwill, Savers, and mom-and-pop thrift stores. Since thrift stores are the most common sourcing location for resellers, this puts me in the perfect position to write about the best things you can find to resell at thrift stores.
While every location will be a bit different, you should be able to get enough information from the items here to build a successful eBay business just about anywhere.
I know that clothing sales are the “bread and butter” of many eBayers’ stores. Because of this, the internet is rife with lists that tell you the kind of clothing to buy for maximum profit. So if you’re looking for one of those articles, you can find great ones here and here.
However, there are some of us who would rather forgo eBay altogether than dig through rack after rack of used clothing. Others, perhaps, do sell clothes – but simply want to branch out and find other things to sell.
To that end, this list is totally full of non-clothing items that we’ve sold on eBay! We haven’t written this to be ultra-specific, but rather to give you different types of items to look for with specific examples that we’ve sold.
As you scroll through some of the examples that we have recently flipped, don’t think we’re claiming that they have all come from thrift stores. The problem is, that everyone sources at thrift stores. If you want to find interesting hard goods, you need to branch out from your comfort zone and find some new sources. Yes, there are dozens of thrift store finds, but there are also items from flea markets, public auctions, antique malls, estate/yard sales, Craigslist, and more! In the end, where they come from doesn’t matter. Frequent as many places as possible and when you see them, you’ll know!
Which is easier to sell on eBay, Clothes or Hardgoods?
The answer to this question is actually just a spin-off of our above answer. The easiest things to sell on eBay are the ones that you can find regularly. So if you’re just starting out and want some easy flips to get going, read through our guide and then head straight to a thrift store to see what you can find!
As far as the question of hardgoods vs. clothing, have discussed this several times before on this site, but we’ll say it again here for emphasis: do not get sucked into the Hardgoods vs. Clothing debate. One is not better. Profiting is better. Anything that we can profit on, we sell. It just happens to be that the majority of our high-dollar sales are non-clothing items. In fact, check out some of the following statistics from our eBay store:
- Our average sale price for clothing is $24. Our hardgoods ASP hovers right around $38. This is a bit skewed by the fact that we are willing to buy cheaper clothing items than hardgoods (clothing, in general, is easier to store and ship), but it still shows that there is lots of money to be made!
- Hardgoods make up about 20% of our store but account for over 40% of our profits. Hardgoods typically sell faster and for more money.
So instead of asking what clothing brands you should be selling, start thinking instead, “What are the best items to sell on eBay?”
You’ve probably heard that the market is saturated, everyone’s sales are down, and eBay is dead. Not true. What is true, is that things are more competitive now and the things that worked a couple of years ago, no longer work. However, this is no different than any other business.
Times and markets change and those who adapt, survive.
Even with the level of saturation the market has, I can walk into a thrift store right now and find 100 things that are profitable within the space of an hour or two.
The problem is that “profitable” means very different things to different people. Some people are content buying clothing items for $4 and selling them for $10. Personally, I would not even consider something with such a poor profit margin. Big sales require the same amount of time to source and list as small sales. So the real trick to figuring out the best items to sell on eBay is to find that special balance between:
- How much something costs
- How much profit it will bring
- How fast it will sell
We typically put 20-30 things to flip on eBay in our cart when we thrift, but only end up buying 10 or so. The first thing we had to do was identify our “Minimum Profit Margin.” During a day’s work on eBay, I need to ship items that have sold, source products, list items and then place them into our inventory. All things considered, we can manage to list about 75 items a week consistently. Because we also have a goal of $200 profit a day, we figure we must profit around $35 on each item.
If something doesn’t meet this standard, back on the shelf it goes. Usually.
If we know something will sell particularly fast or is especially cheap, we’ll make an exception. In the past though, our house has been clogged up with moderately profitable things that we don’t have time to list. We would always skip ahead and list the more exciting and profitable things that we had just found. So lesson learned, our time is too limited to waste on low-profit shenanigans. The low-hanging fruit has proved to be the sweetest. Maximum profit in minimum time!
Why Do So Many People Sell Clothing On eBay?
Unfortunately, for many people, fear of the unknown is one of the main reasons that they avoid selling non-clothing items on eBay. If you are content and comfortable selling clothing, that is fine and dandy. But if you are a solo seller determined to stop leaving thrift stores with only a couple of items, let’s address a couple of the issues we’ve heard when it comes to avoiding some of the best thrift store items to flip:
There are too many brands or items to know and keep straight.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the thousands of non-clothing items lining the shelves at second-hand stores. The reason this is overwhelming is that sellers who have previously specialized in clothing are used to memorizing brands and, often, find the exact same piece of clothing again and again. If you bring this same mentality to sourcing non-clothing items, you might think that you need to memorize a thousand different brands that are profitable – but this isn’t the case. Rather, a focus on the types of items that are profitable is much more efficient.
For example, I don’t know any brands of grain mills, but since I know that they are expensive and resell well if I see anything that resembles a grain mill I will look it up. Because of this tactic I have sold two-grain mills in the past month, both found at thrift stores. The first sold for $85 and the second sold for $350. That is the focus of this BOLO List: types of items (not brands) to look for.
Things are harder and more expensive to ship.
While the particulars might be slightly more gritty, when it comes right down to it, everything ships the exact same way. You find a box that it fits in, put it in the box with some packing material, and ship it.
Learning how to ship large items on eBay will open you up to an entire world of possibilities when it comes to sourcing.
One of the biggest differences between selling clothing and hard goods is that clothing buyers oftentimes expect, or even demand, free shipping. So many large clothing retailers who sell thousands of items of the day offer both free shipping and free returns, things which put the pinch on small eBay sellers.
Hardgoods buyers, on the other hand, generally understand that the item may be large or heavy, and are typically more than willing to pay for shipping. As an example, I currently have a commercial-grade juicer listed on eBay for $1119.95 + shipping. I received a message from a man who was more than willing to pay the extravagant shipping costs to Israel if I was willing to ship it there. He couldn’t get it new and so there was no other option for him to get it, and he was willing to pay whatever it cost! (I didn’t end up shipping to Israel, however, and I’m sure it will sell soon in the U.S. and save me the trouble of building a box crate for it).
Hardgoods are harder to source as many thrift stores have mainly clothing.
This is generally true. However, it is only a problem if you are stuck on sourcing only at thrift stores. Hardgoods are actually much more profitable than clothing if you source on Craigslist, Yardsales, Antique Malls, etc. In fact, check out our list of Sourcing Alternatives to Thrift Stores if you want to really get going. One of the best things about selling hardgoods is that you can source them pretty much anywhere if you’re clever. If you want to sell t-shirts on eBay, they better find darn good t-shirts and you can rest assured that you’re not sourcing them at Walmart. If you’re sourcing non-clothing, though, it doesn’t make any difference to someone if the printer ink you’re selling was on clearance at Walmart, on a table at a yard sale, or straight from Best Buy. The item becomes much more important than the brand and, if you become adept at recognizing good deals, you will have a limitless supply of non-clothing inventory to sell!
So let’s talk about some of the most profitable types of items that we pick up when we source:
The Best Things to Sell on eBay for Profit
1. Printer Toner/Ink
We find sealed ink and toner cartridges with amazing regularity at thrift stores. Selling printer ink on eBay can be an extremely profitable venture if you just make sure to do a few things right! In fact, we also routinely buy ink that is on 75% off clearance at Walmart, Target, etc. as we can easily double our money on it. If that doesn’t sound like an easy thing to resell on eBay, I don’t know what does!
Things To Be Aware Of: Never buy opened ink. You can never be sure of its status. Sometimes, however, even if the box is opened the ink itself can be sealed in a package inside. Be sure to look up the specific ink you find, values can range from hundreds of dollars to nearly worthless. The most valuable inks are usually drum cartridges for copy machines or ink for photo printers.
Selling expired ink on eBay: The majority of ink we find is printed with a date on the back or bottom and is expired. Ink is usually good for years after its expiration date and we have never had a problem selling it. We always put *EXPIRED* in the title and include the expiration date in the listing, as well as a disclaimer that we do not guarantee the ink to be fresh.
2. Sunglasses & Prescription Frames
I wore my last pair of glasses for 4 years (and super-glued them back together 3 times) before finally admitting to myself that I needed new ones. Buying glasses can be painful enough if you only buy them for yourself (my bill was around $250 for a new pair of glasses and a basic backup pair, not to mention the exam), but can become almost impossible if you have multiple children that need glasses as well.
For many people in this situation, eBay is the answer!
While selling anything that needs a prescription is not allowed on eBay, there is a roaring trade in the *frames* of eyeglasses as they can be sold/purchased without any prescription.
Nearly all eyeglass frames worth selling will have both the brand name as well as a style name/number somewhere on the frame (typically on the inside of one eyepiece). Researching the specific style on eBay almost always yields results and you can see how much they are currently selling for. Anything over $30 seems like a worthwhile thing to flip on eBay!
Removing the Lenses: Removing the lenses before listing a pair of glasses is absolutely necessary (there are YouTube videos that will help you if you’re lost on how to do it). Some sellers take pictures with the lenses in but explicitly state in the description that the listing is for the non-prescription frames only. Do yourself a favor – play it safe and just remove the lenses.
3. Remote Controls
Remotes are dirt cheap to buy from thrift stores and rank among the easiest things to sell on eBay! We typically find remotes for $1 or less and have sold them for up to $80 apiece!
- The most valuable remotes are often remotes for sound systems, programmable remotes for TVs, and game system remotes.
- VCR Remotes are rarely worth selling on their own but we still pick them up regularly. Why? Well, if you ever sell VCRs (or any media electronics) you can get a much better price by including the original remote. So we have a stockpile of remotes and, when we find a VCR, we go through our inventory and can usually find a matching one!
- The only remotes we don’t go near are Cable/Dish remotes. They are everywhere and virtually worthless.
- This may be a bit vague – but be sure to look up any vintage remotes you find with Asian-sounding names: Nakamichi, Sansui, Onkyo, etc.
Remotes can be tested with a smartphone and listed in less than 5 minutes. Watch this video to find out how!
4. Vintage Music Players
Vintage music players are often heavily discounted at thrift stores because…seriously…who wants them? Well, apparently, lots of people! Many collectors turn to eBay as it is one of the best places to find the corresponding players for out-of-date media. This has made flipping electronics on eBay a hot topic but, if you know what you’re doing, there is still space on the market!
One of my recent flips was an Ampex Reel to Reel Player. At the time I found it, there were none available on eBay and I was able to sell it for over $400 in less than a week! Don’t be scared off here because of high shipping costs. Buyers understand that these are heavy items and will pay handsomely for them to be packaged well.
Also, be sure to watch for handheld tape payers, especially ones still sealed in the package.
For example, a new in package Sony tape player cost me a whole $2.00 and I accepted the best offer of $105+shipping less than an hour after listing.
When we are out thrifting, we are always sure to have some tapes and VHSs with us so we can test anything we run across. If you don’t have any media with you (or can’t find one at the thrift store to use), at least plug the unit in and run through all the buttons. If there are any foibles, then we give the machine a pass. There are so many other things out there to sell that it’s very rarely worth repairing or selling electronics for parts.
5. Computer Parts
The competition is often fierce when it comes to electronics at thrift stores. At most of our local thrift stores, there is a hardcore group of grubbers who seriously sit around all day waiting for new carts of electronics to be wheeled out (we call these people vultures…). Don’t be discouraged, however, just because someone is dedicated doesn’t mean that they’re actually good at what they do. The vultures in our locale seem to have a very specific appetite because we routinely follow behind them and find amazing vintage electronics to flip that they’ve completely passed over.
In my years of selling, I’ve also found that the best things to sell on eBay for profit are things that you are interested in or knowledgable about. If you’re not interested in computer parts, give them a pass!
Things to look for:
- Computers (obviously) – If I see a computer with a sticker on it that shows is/was running Windows 7 or newer and has at least 4GB of RAM, I’ll typically plug it in and see if I can get it to boot up. This is the way I found both my work computer and home desktop (as well as the monitors for $5 apiece…).
- Keyboards – Keep a special eye out for apple keyboards, vintage mechanical keyboards, or any sort of specialty keyboards (ones with touchpads, rollerballs, extra media controls, etc.)
- Speakers – Although we always hope to find Bose speakers, we typically settle for any other type of media speakers that we can find in pairs. Speakers from computer brands (Microsoft, Dell, etc.) do well if you can find the complete set.
- Wifi Routers – Routers, especially those new in the box, are easy to find at almost every store we frequent. We typically don’t do any testing beyond plugging them in and pushing the factory reset button and we haven’t run into any problems.
6. Backpacks & Bags
Backpacks, especially vintage ones, fall into our “bread and butter” category. While everyone else rushes for (and scrabbles over) fake and worn-out purses, we are calmly digging through the racks for backpacks and pulling out huge profits!
As with everything else on eBay, unique sells. It’s fairly easy to spot bags that seem out of place among the myriad of worn-out school backpacks in thrift stores.
Valuable Packs we look for:
- Hiking backpacks do very well for us. Avoid packs with an exterior metal frame as they are older, not valuable, and a huge pain to ship.
- Event backpacks. Definitely avoid packs from the “2013 Nexium Conference in Salt Lake City” or other similar things which no one wants to identify with. However, we grab packs from concerts, some charities, the Olympics, leadership training, etc. If someone wishes they were there, maybe having the backpack is the next best thing!
- Vintage Jansport backpacks are of particular note here. We find vintage leather/suede bottom packs consistently for $1-2 and sell them for up to $50!
7. Blank Media
Blank media is probably one of the most profitable things to sell on eBay that nobody seems to know about.
We’ve only included pictures of two examples that have sold recently, but any type of blank media sells. Blank DVDs, mini CDs, tapes, and even film can bring a good return on your investment.
When we thrift, we typically have price points that are an automatic buy for any blank media. For example, if we see a Disney VHS for $1 or less we buy it. Same for blank tapes under $.50. We then save them up until we have enough to make a decent lot and then sell them together. $1 items that sell for $5 are not worth our time, but a $7 dollar item that sells for $35? All day, every day. Although it’s the same return on investment, the time required is much less as only one set of pictures, one listing, and one shipment is required.
VHS tape prices are typically pretty consistent no matter the age (a tape is a tape, I suppose), but blank cassette tape prices vary wildly. Keep a special eye open for special edition tapes, tapes for a specific type of music, from a specific era, etc. The stranger or more specific, the better.
8. Old Music On Out-Of-Date Media
I’ve never had a classic car with an 8-track player, but if I did, you can bet your butt I’d look on eBay for music to stick in it. Many people think of selling books on eBay when they think of media but there are lots of other options. It shouldn’t be surprising that many people turn to eBay – for the sake of collecting, and for simple nostalgia. In fact, you’ve probably been told by your Aunt Sally that the Elvis records she has from her younger days are “worth hundreds of dollars on eBay”…well, they’re not… but there are lots of vintage media and records that can bring very good money.
What to avoid:
95% of the tapes and records at thrift stores are country, gospel, or hippie relaxation music. If you’re wondering what to sell on eBay, those aren’t it. While there are possibly a few good pieces mixed in, unless you want to spend all your time digging through music for a couple of few-and-far-between finds, take our advice and give everything from these genres a pass.
Look for these instead:
- Hard Rock & Metal – These are some of the most difficult genres to find in vintage media. But let’s face it, the guy in the ’72 mustang trying to relive his high school days would much rather pay the $300 for an Iron Maiden 8-track than the $4 for an Abba one (and yes, those are realistic prices).
- Player Piano Rolls – 3 times we have come across large boxes of rolls for vintage Player Pianos. While there are rarely worth selling individually, we have gotten excellent money from selling them in lots.
- Signed/Autographed Copies – Much more common than you think, almost anything that is signed by the band/artist is worth picking up.
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