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For some reason, when we tell people that we sell on eBay (especially if we include the word “vintage”) they always respond, “Oh, like vinyl records and stuff? I have an Elvis record that I’m sure is worth a bunch of money….”
Well….we do sell “records and stuff” but I hate to tell you that your Elvis record is probably worth very little.
In fact, media is one of my favorite things to flip from thrift stores. While everyone knows that you can sell records on eBay, not many people are aware that there are dozen other types of media that are profitable (not to mention easier to test and store…)
So buckle up and let’s talk about some of the best types of media that you can sell for money on eBay! Oh, and we’ll talk about some of the most valuable vinyl records to be on the lookout for…
My 5 Favorites Types Of Media To Sell On eBay
1. Vinyl Records
Despite the popular tales which abound both from the internet and your Great Aunt Tessy, most vinyl records are nearly worthless on eBay.
Maybe people were able to make a living selling vinyl records on eBay 10 years ago but, today, people hoard their records thinking they’re sitting on a goldmine when they’re actually just sitting on a bunch of vinyl.
Now that isn’t to say there isn’t still money to be made….but you have to be careful!
What To Look For
- Condition, Condition, Condition. Most vintage records that are sold for a good price are purchased by collectors. Every little scuff and scratch detracts.
- Unusual recordings from well-known names. If you haven’t heard of a band/singer, chances are the record is worthless.
- Old rock, metal, and blues music. Early records from people who later hit it big as main-stream musical tastes changed are almost always worth looking up.
- 50’s and 60’s records in excellent condition. Most of these records are purchased by people looking for a listening copy so be sure that you test whatever you find.
- Signed Records. Signed records are found surprisingly often at thrift stores so be sure to look at the inner jacket as well if it seems likely.
Records To Avoid
- Easy listening, classical, or religious records.
- Most 70’s and 80’s records. Examples of these would be Billy Joel, Elton John, Journey, Abba, etc. Their records were sold by the millions. If you find a special edition record or one in impeccable shape it can still be worth picking up.
- Soundtracks. Unless it’s incredibly rare, no one is trying to get their hands on a soundtrack.
- Kids records. Any version of sing-alongs, silly songs, etc. are rarely worth picking up. The market is saturated and only ever existed due to nostalgia for vinyl which is now waning.
CDs are plentiful in any thrift store. Unfortunately, I absolutely detest looking through CDs (as they’re quite low profit) and spend about 5 minutes on the section. We scan each row, pull out CDs that are either still sealed or fat (meaning special editions or boxed sets).
From our experience, there may be other valuable CDs but unless you’re extremely knowledgeable on the subject (or ungated to sell them on Amazon), it’s not worth your time.
CDs To Look For
- Free boxes! You can often find CDs, DVDs, and games for free in boxes at yard sales. It’s hard to beat that return on investment…
- CDs still in their original shrink-wrap.
- Indie or non-mainstream CDs. They are often produced in small numbers and only available at gigs, especially if the band was pre-internet.
- Cases with CDs in them…this sounds obvious but it’s amazing how many people at thrift stores steal the CDs and leave the cases behind.
- Box Sets. These can be very valuable, particularly if they are from a classic period, concert, etc. Just be sure they’re not the Walmart version.
CDs To Avoid
- Any CDs from a popular band, singer, or group. CDs are recent enough that anyone popular sold millions of copies and there are almost no rare versions.
- Any CDs with scratches or defects. CDs sell for so little that it’s not worth getting negative feedback for a CD that won’t play.
- Building up a large inventory of CDs. CD sales are on the decline and there is not enough nostalgia to bring them back.
With a few notable exceptions, 8-track tapes are not worth picking up. Since 8-tracks were only around for a little while, artists during the era also released their albums on either cassette tapes or CDs. There are therefore very few rare 8-tracks. This, coupled with the fact that very few people still have 8-track players results in very low demand for 8-track versions of albums.
8-Tracks To Look For
- Rock or metal! Rock and metal are the only genres of 8-track that consistently sells for us. They are also the most difficult genre to find and we often dig through an entire stack without finding a single one.
- New In Box 8-tracks. Most 8-tracks that are new-in-box are worth looking up.
8-Tracks To Avoid
- Any easy listening genre. Whether it’s country, classical, blues, or soundtracks, if it’s something that you’re grandparents would be okay with, it probably won’t sell for much on eBay.
- 8-Tracks with destroyed or missing labels. This reduces their already low value even further. Not to mention that you’ll probably have to listen to them to figure out what artist/band it is.
Tapes are among the funniest pieces of media for me to sell as, growing up in the 90s, tapes were nostalgic and “cool”.
My parents had a suitcase-style cassette-tape holder that I wasn’t allowed to touch so maybe that’s part of the reason I enjoy digging through stacks of tapes so much.
However, having said that, the used cassette tape market isn’t large. It’s mostly fueled by nostalgia, collectors, and people with vintage cars so keep that in mind when figuring out what types of tapes to source.
Tapes To Look For
- Sealed Tapes. Most things that are NOS are a good starting place as people don’t want to deal with scratchy worn-out tapes.
- Rock & Heavy Metal. As with records and 8-tracks, any guy that restores a vintage Mustang wants to raise the highway listening to AC/DC, not Enya.
- Tapes with writing on them. Odds are the tape is just someone’s grandma telling stories but I’ve seen people find demo tapes at thrift stores that sold for big money on eBay!
Tapes To Avoid
- Classical music, country, blues, romantic music, etc.
- Tapes that sell for less than $10. Tapes in that bracket sell very slowly as the market is absolutely full of mass-market tapes. Even if you are getting these tapes for free it’ll be hard to turn a profit as you’ll have to spend time listing, storing, and then shipping them.
Quick Tip: Tapes By The Pound
If you have a Goodwill Outlet near you (or another thrift store that sells by the pound), be sure to always grab tapes out of the bin. We separate the tapes by either genre or artist and sell them in large lots. This is an easy way to turn $100 into $1,000 or more if you’re patient!
5. VHS Tapes
If you’ve been to a thrift store or garage sale in the past few years, you’ve probably seen old VHS tapes for sale. You might have even wondered if those tapes are worth anything. Well, the answer is yes and no. Some old VHS tapes are worth a lot of money, while others aren’t worth much at all.
So, what makes the difference?
Age and rarity are two of the biggest factors that affect the value of an old VHS tape. Generally speaking, the older the tape is, the more valuable it will be.
Of course, age and rarity aren’t the only factors that affect value; the condition is also important. A tape that’s in good condition will be worth more than a tape that’s in poor condition and tapes that are unopened are the most valuable of all!
VHS Tapes To Look For
- Vintage tapes with a cult following. Think of things like Star Wars which has a rabid fanbase that will buy just about anything old or unusual.
- TV-aired specials. Items that were produced in limited numbers are often considered rare and are desired by collectors.
- Sealed VHS tapes. If a tape is sealed it is automatically more valuable no matter what type of movie it is.
- Banned or discontinued movies. Early movies from Disney are a good example of movies that have fallen out of favor and can not be found in stores.
VHS Tapes To Avoid
- Mass-market movies. Anything in a plastic clamshell case is likely to be a mass-produced VHS from the 90s or early 2000s that can already be had on eBay for a couple of bucks.
- Compilations. Many VHS tapes look old but are actually compilations of vintage movies that were sold by Walmart or on late-night TV. Give these a pass as they weren’t valuable when they were new and their value has only decreased since.
Black Diamond Disney VHS Tapes
I’ve addressed this before but I have to say it again: no, your Disney VHS tapes are not worth thousands of dollars. Figuring out where are how to sell Disney VHS can usually ensure that you get some money for them but they are not as valuable as recent hysteria has made them out to be.
If you want to run a profitable eBay store selling media then it really comes down to persistence and patience. You’ll want to spend your time looking up as many items while sourcing as possible so you can get an idea of what sells and for how much.
While some of it is just dumb luck, it is possible to get better over time and consistently find media that will make you a profit on eBay. Good luck!