How To Sell Mugs On eBay For Profit (6 Types To Look For)

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Selling mugs is an awesome way for anyone to get started selling on eBay.

While the profits aren’t usually high, neither is the startup cost!  The wall of mugs available at almost any thrift store is enough to make most resellers jump for joy.  Because they’re cheap (we’ve rarely paid more than $2-3 for one), plentiful, and easy to photograph and list, many sellers end up with dozens of mugs sitting around.

Although most mugs are sold for $20 or less with free shipping, turning $1 into $10 is a great venture any day of the week!

So, if you’re interested in making some money on eBay, let’s talk about some of the best-selling mugs and what you should be on the lookout for next time your out sourcing!

7 Profitable Mugs To Resell On eBay

If you’re serious about making money on eBay, there are really only three ways to learn what sells:

  • Looking up every item individually and checking completed listings
  • Watching other people’s sales and keeping track of BOLOs
  • Trial and error

However, none of them are fool-proof. Even though this list included the best mugs to sell on eBay, some of them will still be duds if you’re not sure to look them up before buying.

So just keep in mind that this is simply a starting point to speed up your learning process!

1. Starbucks Mugs

Starbucks mugs are one of the most well-known BOLOs.  Although mugs from specific cities are the most valuable, we have never passed up on any type of Starbucks Mug (or water bottle, travel tumblers, etc.)

If you live in a touristy area, it may even be profitable to buy mugs from your local Starbucks and flip them on eBay.  Just look them up first, as there are probably several people already doing this.

2. Vintage Destination Mugs

Whether it is a national park or a restaurant, this type of mug is nearly irreplaceable.

Many times these mugs are bought as nostalgic gifts for friends or as a replacement for a treasured mug that was broken. Both of those instances mean that you can charge pretty much whatever you want if you have the only one on the market!

The best mugs come from places that are out of business or have changed in recent years. For example, finding a mug with an old logo that is no longer made can be in high demand.

So price your mugs high and wait for the perfect nostalgic buyer to come along!

3. Vintage/Antique Mugs (especially sets)

Vintage mugs are always great sellers for us.  The best sellers feature unusual subject matter or are made of uncommon material.

If you can stack any of the other things on this list you’ll be in good shape. For example, look for vintage Disney mugs, vintage tiki mugs, etc. The fact that the buyer can’t simply get it elsewhere means you can ask pretty much whatever you want.

A few brands that you’ll want to keep an eye out for include

  • Pyrex
  • Fire King
  • Anchor-Hocking

4. Fine China

Although more difficult to find, fine china mugs always bring a good profit.  If you find one, there are probably more around, so see if you can find the whole set as well as any saucers).

Depending on the age you’ll want to check very thoroughly for chips or crazing otherwise you’ll end up with a very disappointed buyer.

Some brands to watch for:

  • Lenox
  • Villeroy & Boch
  • Portmeirion
  • Tiffany & Co.
  • Wedgwood
  • Adams
  • Royal Albert

5. Disney Mugs

Disney Mugs are a type of destination mug that deserves special mention. Character mugs, vintage mugs, or particularly elaborate mugs are the best sellers in this category.

It’s incredible how often you can find mugs that are rare or from unusual locations. Just this past week we found a rare mug from Disneyland Paris at a small thrift store in Utah.

Just be sure to do some research before buying, though, as this category can be very saturated – Disney is popular and well-loved!

6. Tiki Mugs

Intricate tiki mugs in the shape of skulls, monkeys, heads, etc. are in high demand on eBay.

There are mugs that have literally sold for more than $3,000 and people who collect and flip Tiki mugs full-time.

While we’ve never found anything of that level, be sure to look up any ceramic tiki item you find. The older and uglier, the better!

Types Of Mugs That Don’t Sell On eBay

Be aware, however, that mugs can be very (very!) slow sellers.  Your main markets for high-priced mugs are collectors and husbands buying replacements for their distraught wives.  So price things, come up with a suitable method of storage, and let your mug sit until it sells!

However, that’s not to say that everyone will sell eventually. We used to subscribe to the idea that you can “list it and forget it” and someone will buy it eventually. Unfortunately, there are too many things listed on eBay now and it’s entirely possible that, if you are selling the wrong things, they will literally never sell.

So, in the interest of saving you some money, here are a few types of mugs that we never pick up to sell on eBay.

Mugs With Funny Sayings

Unless they’re very old or from a high-end brand, we’ve never had success with “comic mugs.”  They’re a dime a dozen for a reason.

This also extends to generic golf mugs, as-seen-on-tv mugs, etc.

Plain Mugs (Even From Good Brands)

Any sort of plain mug (without a pattern or design).  Whether it’s stoneware, ceramic, or coiled clay, anything plain gets a pass from us.  Luckily, this accounts for 95% of the mugs in any store.

Even though you might be missing out on excellent brands such as Tiffany that makes plain mugs you’ll more than make up for it in the time you’ll save by not looking through every single one.

Anything Worth Less Than $20

These days, we avoid any mug that won’t sell for at least $20.  They’re more of a pain to store than other inventory, and there are more profitable areas where we can spend our time. Since mugs can be difficult to ship, I’d rather buy and flip t-shirts or jeans that can just be dropped in a poly mailer.

There are mugs that, at first glance, seem to fit into one of the above categories but turn out to be worthless. For example, Disney mugs from Walmart or Target are next to worthless while those from Disney Parks can be great finds.

Long story short, be sure to look up anything you find to make sure that the specific mug is worth reselling.

How to Ship Mugs

Be careful, and use padding!

It sounds like a no-brainer, but there aren’t many worse feelings than getting a message that says “the mug I ordered arrived broken!”

Not only are you out of a sale, but you have to deal with a refund/return plus shipping costs so you stand to lose $10 on a $2 investment.

Wrap each mug you’re shipping individually (we like bubble wrap), and add extra packing material to the box (our material of choice is crumpled newspaper) so that your mug does not rest against the sides of the box and potentially get squashed in transit!

How To Remove Stickers From Mugs

If we only have a couple of mugs, we use non-acetone fingernail polish remover from the dollar store.  Pull off as many stickers as you can, and then rub off the rest with the polish remover.

If we have several mugs, we simply soak them in a sink full of soapy water.  The stickers will float to the top, (almost always) leaving no residue behind!

How To Photograph Mugs

As you scrolled through the sales pics in this section, you doubtless noticed a huge number of different backgrounds.  We’ve experimented extensively with our product pictures and have finally found what works and what doesn’t!

Long story short, use background colors that contrast well with the mug.  White mug?  A white background will wash it out and make it look unappealing.  We are a huge fan of faux wood backdrops as they make the color of almost any mug pop nicely.

If you can quite get it quite right, you can always take a picture of a messy background and use eBay’s background remover to clean it up.

Conclusion

While there are tons of thrift store items to sell on eBay, it’s pretty hard to go wrong if you start off with mugs.

Selling mugs on eBay is both enjoyable and profitable. Unless you’re like me and end up with a huge cupboard of vintage mugs that you can’t bear to part with. So buyer beware!

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