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 Many collectors turn to eBay as it is one of the best places to find the corresponding players for out of date media.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 ist still space on the market!
The second picture on the left, for example, shows a 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. The new in package Sony tape player cost me a whole $2.00 and I accepted a 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 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 touch pads, roller balls, 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.
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 want to identify with. However, we grab packs from concerts, some charities, the Olympics, leadership trainings, 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. DVDS CDS & GAMES
Vintage games are some of the most exciting finds you’ll have in this category. While we have not yet found a game worth $30,000+ (check that out here), we have sold games (such as the ones pictured) for hundreds of dollars!
When looking for games, make sure that they are complete and (if they are a computer game) have the “key.” A key is a code needed to install the game. But even without the key, people will pay for a collectible version of the game.
A handy tip if you’re looking for games, CDs, and DVD’s is to download the Amazon app which allows you to quickly scan bar-codes. If something is valuable on Amazon, then it’s a fairly safe bet that it’s priced similarly on eBay! If you are averse to downloading another app, eBay also has a scanning function which will search using a bar-code. Keep in mind: eBay’s scanner is slightly less refined, and there is a greater chance that you will come up with zero results as eBay’s catalog is much smaller than Amazon’s.
Games we avoid:
- Games for early but “not-yet-classic” systems. These include systems such as XBOX and PS2.
- Games designed for early versions of Windows (Vista, 95, etc.)
8. 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 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.
9. OLD MUSIC ON OUT-OF-DATE MEDIA
I’ve never had a classic car with 8-track player, but if I did, you can bet your butt I’d look on eBay for music to stick in it. 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 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.
10. SPORTING GEAR
Defining profitable “sporting gear” is a massive undertaking. There are so many ways to make money in this niche that we’ll just touch on 5 of them here:
- Baseball/Softball Mitts – If you didn’t play baseball or softball, it might blow your mind to know that people pay $200-300 for top-of-the-line mitts. Mitts almost almost have a model number printed on the inside that you can look up on eBay.
- Roller Blades – Look for adult sizes, as the kids ones are usually from Walmart and not worth touching.
- Antique Gear – Antique gear, particularly from football and baseball, have the potential to bring great money. Look for leather gear – the older, the better.
- Ski & Snowboard Gear – While we typically pass on the skis and snowboards at thrift stores (terrible to ship), we have had good luck with ski/snowboard boots.
- Extreme/Technical Sporting Gear – We’ve sold rock climbing shoes, canyoneering harnesses, snow recovery gear, etc. If something is in sporting goods and you have no idea how to use it, odds are someone will pay good money for it.
- Vintage Ski Boots – While antique boots can bring a pretty penny, avoid the myriad of ugly plastic boots from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.
- Infomercial Workout Gear – Products like The Perfect Pushup, Pull-up Bars, Shake weights, etc. have very little resell value.
11. SEWING MACHINES
Sewing machines provide some of the best ROI of the large thrift store items. Having bought Kirstie a new sewing machine for one of our other side ventures, I can understand why people are eager to save money when they’re in the market for one!
Keep at eye out for:
- Sewing machine boxes. Sewing machine owners are the strange type of people who seem to keep the original box around. A couple times a month we find a machine in its original box, which makes them super easy to research, adds to the resale value, and makes them faster to ship.
- Antique Machines. Old machines, particularly those made in other countries can be extremely valuable. Even if they are not functional (or you don’t have the time/know-how to test them) they can be sold for parts.
- Any machine with a screen or digital controls tells you that it is either a new or higher end machine…both mean money.
Testing Machines: If you can sew: kudos to you! Sew something. The machine will be worth much more in “fully tested and functional condition.” You can also include a picture of the scrap you sewed, preferably showing several different stitches. If you’re in a hurry, like me, I make sure everything is there and and not bent and just check to see if the motor runs strong. I then include a disclaimer along the lines of “Machine appears to be in excellent condition and motor runs strong. It may need a tune up or service prior to undertaking any projects.”
If you find a machine without a pedal, know that you can probably interchange to test it. If you find a pedal without a machine, sell it.