12. OUTDOOR GEAR
Outdoor Gear is one of the niches that your success in will be heavily dictated by your location. In Utah, we are in an extremely rich outdoor sports scene and can find all sorts of gear at thrift stores, yard sales, Craigslist, etc.
Some of our favorite outdoor items to flip:
- Knives. I love buying knives, because let’s face it, knives don’t need to be tested. They may not be sharp, but there’s really not much that can go wrong and we’ve never had one returned for being “defective.”
- Big & Bulky Items. There is a ton of money sitting around in thrift stores that other sellers are too scared to sell. Don’t be one of those people. You ship a big item the exact same way you ship a small item. You use calculated shipping, find a box that fits it, and stick it in the box. Once you’ve mastered the art of putting big things in big boxes, stay keen looking for snowshoes, skis, golf bags, fishing poles, bikes, etc.
- Bike parts and clothing. Vintage bikes found in thrift stores typically aren’t worth a whole lot, but if you are savvy, you can part them out into profitable and easy to ship pieces (levers, brakes, seat, handlebars, etc.)
13. KITCHEN GADGETS (AND THEIR PIECES)
Kitchen gadgets are some of the most boring items we make money on. While the money is exciting (and too good to pass up), I’m not really the type to get excited over a blender… Some of the best items to pick up are high quality vintage “Made In the USA”-type items. The second picture on the left (the wooden grain mill) is a good example of this. As with every other niche, avoid anything that someone could could go grab right now at their local Walmart.
Parting Kitchen Items Out
During my first year in college, I bought a blender for making smoothies and protein shakes. It’s wasn’t a particularly nice blender ($50ish from Walmart), but I somehow lost the lid for it within a week. I wasn’t yet aware that I could find a replacement lid for it on eBay so I spent the next THREE YEARS holding a bowl over the top of my blender every time I used it. If you are in an area with a dry thrifting supply, parting out kitchen gadgets is one of the best ways I’ve seen people make extra money. Pretty much any small piece you can think of can be sold as a replacement when someone brakes/loses the corresponding piece on theirs. Think of specific items like bowls for a food processor, lids, blades, specific attachments, power adapter for electric frying pans, microwave plates, etc. You are only limited by your creativity! If you are really into it, there are also people who make great money selling control boards out of things like washers/dryers, fridges, dishwashers, etc. This is a bit beyond me and I don’t see myself going that direction anytime soon, but if the shoe fits…
14. COSMETICS (SEALED, DISCONTINUED, ETC)
Imagine this: you’re old, wrinkly, cranky, and have a full set of dentures. After years of chomping on steak and grinding up brocolli, you notice that your gums are starting to react poorly to denture adhesive. So you try dozens of brands, finally finding one that works for you. Then, 5 years later, when you’re even older and wrinklier, you discover out of the blue that your one and only denture cream is discontinued! Since you can’t go back to the old options, how much would you pay for a tube of your special denture adhesive? What if the example was the only type of shampoo that didn’t make your hair feel greasy? Or the only foot powder that worked for your wretched food odor? Such things happen daily and people become desperate for the discontinued goods, to the point that they’ll pay insane amounts for them on eBay. For the denture adhesive, the product is “Cushion Grip” and it is currently selling on eBay for around $100 for a 1 ounce tube.
Keep your eyes open for any type of cosmetic or hygiene item. We’ll typically only look them up (or scan them if they have a barcode) if they’re sealed, but for certain items (such as the powder in picture #1) we look up opened but unusual items. By the way, that container was found by Kirstie in the random, loose toys section at a Goodwill. Money is everywhere!
Don’t limit yourself by what you think is valuable or what you would spend money on, either! We’ve sold make-up, sunscreen, lotion (discontinued scents), hair dye, etc. for more than 10x their original MSRP!
15. DISHES & KITCHENWARE
When we look for dishes and kitchenware in thrift stores and antique malls, we’re thinking of things that would be valuable for one (or more of the following reasons):
- Replacement Value. If you have less than a complete set of dishes, you may be best off to market and sell them as single pieces. People are always looking for replacements for pieces of their sets that get broken/misplaced. Just remember that shipping on a single stoneware plate can get expensive very quickly.
- Rarity. Vintage or high-end pieces are worth excellent money whether you have a complete set or not. Keep an eye open for Royal Albert, Tiffany, Noritake, Iron Mountain Stoneware, etc.
- Materials Value. The silverware in the example picture sold for $130 because it is sterling silver. I felt safe paying up for the set because the asking price was still well under spot (the market value of scrap silver).
- Set Value. Depending on the set, some items are worth much more as a set than breaking them up. For example, anyone can find a fine china tea cup. Or even 2 or 3 of the same. If you’re having an especially good day, they might come with saucers. But if you happen to find a full set of 4 cups with their saucers and a tea-pot, I hope to the heavens you sell them as a complete and rare set!
16. HOME ELECTRONICS
If you want to be successful selling electronics on eBay, there is a certain mindset that you need to cultivate. First, let’s talk about the wrong mindset:
At one of my local thrift stores there are two dudes (60ish years old, crabby, bathe infrequently…) that hang out on a couch near the electronics section for 10 hours a day. They attack each new cart that comes out like rabid vultures, grabbing anything they think is valuable for resale. Unfortunately for them, they are looking for things that are current and have what we could call “retail value.” That is, they are still available and expensive at a retail store. They snatch at blue-ray players, new-looking stereo receivers, etc. They have yet to figure out that the bulk of the money on eBay goes to buying electronics of a different sort. Well, actually, 3 different sorts:
- Replacement Pieces. These are bought as a replacements when part of someone’s system gives out and they only want to replace that single part. This might include something like a single speaker in a sound system, the VHS system in part of larger system, etc.
- Old High-End or Unusual Pieces. Some of the most valuable electronics we’ve sold have been items that were built in the “golden age of audio.” Pieces from the 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s hold amazing value, especially if they are from a reputable company or a place such as Japan that was a tech leader at the time. We’ve also sold unusual items such as “high-end” reel to reel players, 8-track decks, etc.
- Nostalgic Pieces. If you want to see people trying to buy their way into being cool, check out the prices of vintage Walkman’s on eBay. People spend big money trying to relive their childhood or simply because “they were born in the wrong generation….”
There are sellers on eBay that make their entire living just reselling legos! Although complete sets are the most profitable (some sell for tens of thousands of dollars), almost any lego lot can be sold for a profit on eBay.
We find that if we can buy a lot of legos for less than $2-3 a pound, we can make a tidy profit. This number can increase a good bit if the lot contains mini figs (lego people), as these can sell for $50-$100 a pound! While you should do your best to never mix brands (having something like Mighty Blox mixed in with your Legos can make for really cranky nerds). However, nearly any name brand building set (think K’nex, Erector Set Pieces, etc) sell well as long as you’re clear about what you have.
- If you don’t have a full set, sorting pieces by color can increase their desirability and the price you can ask.
- Larger quantities actually tend to sell better than small ones. There are dozens of sellers selling Legos by the pound on eBay which has driven “by the lb” prices super low. So if you have a large set, pander to the people who would rather add a single item to their cart and get all the Legos they want!
18 . MUGS
If there is anything that’s available in every thrift store for a pittance, mugs would be that thing. Mugs can be had for as little as $0.25, but even at that price, don’t run out and stock up. Mugs can be very slow to sell, sometimes taking years for the right buyer to come along. The mugs that I’ve had the greatest profits on have been purchased as replacements for a mug to which the buyer had a sentimental attachment…before it broke. In fact, Kirstie had a pair of vintage unicorn mugs that her mom bought her at a yard sale just before heading to college. She probably only paid a dollar or two for them, but when I came into her life I promptly smashed one to pieces (accidentally…haha). I was more than happy to pay $30 on eBay for a replacement, even though I knew someone was flipping it!
If you are prepared to wait for a buyer, mugs can be a great buy, personally, I have had dozens of mugs build up in my inventory with no sales. These days, I only acquire mugs that I’m sure will sell quickly and for more than $20. I have seen sellers get away with wrapping mugs in bubble wrap and sending them in a poly mailer, but one too many postal service accidents means we always (and you should always) ship in a box.
Be on the the lookout for vintage mugs, especially those with good subject material – Disney, cartoons, etc. Avoid mugs with funny sayings or recent mugs. Sets sell well, Fireking mugs sell well, and of course, the mugs that everyone looks for, Starbucks Mugs! Check them out here!
19. CAMERAS & CAMERA GEAR
While it’s pretty obvious that finding a brand new DSLR camera at a thrift store would be worth picking up, that has never happened for us. Rather, we split selling cameras and camera gear into two parts:
Thrift Store Finds: At thrift stores we are on the lookout for vintage film cameras, model-specific camera bags, camera straps, and accessories. We try to stick to things that are worth our time to test, or don’t need to be tested in the first place. There are so many scams that are run on sellers of camera equipment (especially lenses), that we never sell anything that we’re not sure is 100% perfect.
Intentional Finds: Because eBay has such a huge marketplace (and we’re from a small town), it is possibly for us to routinely double our money on high end camera equipment that there simply isn’t much of a local market for. If you have a bit of capital and the know how to not get scammed, you can make excellent money getting to know the market and searching out specific cameras. Selling prices for models remain fairly consistent for longer periods of time, making flipping them fairly safe.
20. PHONES & ACCESSORIES
While we’ll never be one of the people who jump on the “make $1,000 a day flipping phones from craigslist!!” wagon, we do get pretty excited about finding phones to flip. The thing is, when you see people chasing something new and flashy, you should probably head the other direction. In this case, while people are fighting for their razor thin iPhone margins, we buy up the most mundane thing we could find: business and industrial phones. If you’re not the following type, look for new, up-to-date business phones (often donated in lots by businesses), vintage phones, and new phones still in the package.
If you want to source more methodically and intentionally, keep an eye on your local ads, craigslist, or public surplus auctions where you can get great deals on phones from businesses/schools/etc that are upgrading or have gone under. We have seen entire pallets of phones and phone system equipment go for 100 bucks just because no one wanted to dig through it!
We don’t actually test the majority of phones we sell (no landline…) but we would advise you to do so if you can, to avoid potential issues with selling defective products.
21. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
While it is fairly unusual to find musical instruments to flip at a thrift store, it does happen. If you want to get really musical, then your time will be best spent at flea markets, antique malls, etc.
Despite the number of instruments I’ve sold, I don’t have a ton in the way of advice to give here. There are so many makes, models, and eras that it’s almost impossible to get a feel for what is worth money. So if you see something interesting, look it up. You will soon learn to recognize student models and less valuable items.
Any sort of musical instrument or related paraphernalia can be valuable here, so don’t limit yourself. In addition to instruments we’ve sold mouthpieces, guitar picks, instrument cases, sheet music, etc. If you see an instrument that looks like it’s been run over by a tank, be sure to look it up – with the idea that people love to hang beat up old instruments on their walls as “decorations” or mood-art.