The Top 3 Things I’ve Sold Online

Simplifying / Friday, December 9th, 2011

Lots of people like the idea of selling on eBay or Craigslist, but many wonder what items to sell online. It’s not always what you think. Read on for the scoop on the top three things I’ve sold online.

In my real, offline life no one ever brings up dividend investing, getting out of debt, or even paying for college.

I get asked all the time, however, about selling stuff online. Here’s what people want to know:

  • Is it hard to do? (Not at all.)
  • Do you make decent money? (Sometimes.)
  • Will you help me sell my stuff? (Sure, just call me.)

They never call.

Actually, I take that back. The kids call:

  • A neighbor and family friend  –  she was probably about 12 at the time – asked me to help her sell an MP3 player on eBay. It wasn’t an iPod and I told her it probably wouldn’t bring anything. I was wrong. She pocketed $25 or $30 I think.
  • And my nephew – also probably about 12 at the time – asked me to help him sell some video games. He did alright too as I recall.

Industrious kids!

Usually the biggest question, however, is what the heck would I sell? It’s a logical question, especially if you read posts like this one at Man vs. Debt:  How I paid off $15,000 in 9 months by selling my ‘Stuff’ on Ebay.

But the truth is that — while it might not be $15k worth of “stuff” — we all have things in our basements and attics that would probably bring some decent cash.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what you would sell, here’s a list of the top three things I’ve sold online to get your imagination going:

Office Chairs

This is probably my favorite selling experience.

My husband was moving offices and bought some new furniture for the new place. He had four reception chairs that were no longer needed. They were being stored at our house and we needed a way to get rid of them.

Me: I think I’ll put these on Craigslist.

Him (as he was headed out to mow the grass): Do you really think they’ll bring anything? Wouldn’t it be better just to drop them off at Goodwill?

Now, I can see why he thought that. The chairs were dated. They were 90’s burgundy and made of not-really-leather-but-made-to-look-like-leather material.

But they were in excellent shape. So I snapped a pic, put them up on CL, and within minutes had an email from an interested buyer.

He was a new lawyer opening a practice (perfect!) and he was not far from my house. He showed up within a few minutes to load them up and – better yet — he was wearing a KU shirt (Rock Chalk!).

The best part is that my husband was mowing in the back yard by now and did not see this exchange take place. I was able to walk out back and show him the $200 cash I had in hand.

Now, those are the kind of moments you live for in a marriage, am I right?

Vintage Cook Book

Another favorite sale involved a vintage cook book I found at an estate sale.

It was from Brennan’s — a famous restaurant in New Orleans – and it cost me $1, maybe $1.50 tops.  I thought it looked interesting so I decided to take a flyer on it and put it up on eBay.

Imagine my surprise when it brought $167.

Now I did a really good job with that listing. I took a ton of pictures and wrote a very detailed description.

In fact, the cook book came with some old magazine articles about the restaurant that the owner had torn out and folded up in the cover and I even took pictures of those.

Still, those kinds of results are few and far between. At least in my experience.

It brings up a good point, however. If you have a lot of books lying around, you may think it’s the best sellers that would bring you the most money online.

Actually, it’s just the opposite.

There are tons of copies of bestsellers in circulation so they bring almost nothing. It’s the obscure books that can be valuable. And – in most cases – non-fiction does much better than fiction.

Christmas Village

At one time I thought it would be cool to collect pieces of a Christmas Village. I chose the Christmas in the City village from Department 56. I bought some pieces myself and got others as gifts.

But one year I just could not find the motivation to put them out. Same with the following year.

It turns out that I liked the idea of collecting a village a lot more than the actual purchasing, displaying, packing up, and storing of it.

Having decided that I really wasn’t a collector type after all, I put the pieces up on eBay one year at Christmastime. My son – who was probably 6 or 7 at the time – helped me photograph them and send them out after they sold.

It was the greatest feeling letting them go, especially since I knew they were being sold to collectors, who would enjoy them much more than I did.

Eventually I was able to sell all of the pieces. I don’t remember how much they brought, but I do know that they paid for a big part of our Christmas that year.

Collections tend to do really well on eBay, especially if the pieces are retired.

And obviously seasonal items bring more at the right time of year, when buyers are motivated. You may be dying to get rid of those Halloween costumes in June, but give it a few months and you’ll be rewarded for your patience.

So I’d love to know: what’s the best sale you’ve ever made online?

Interested in what others have had success selling? Check out the following:

Note: This post contains my referral links. See my disclosure policy for more details.

31 Replies to “The Top 3 Things I’ve Sold Online”

  1. I made a few really great sales online! I have been doing ebay and since 1999 (even way back when they did not have the ability to let people post pictures!!!!!). I have had a lot of luck in the past finding out of print books and movies and even vintage bedsheets! I remember selling a Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol vhs tape that was out of print. I got it for 75 cents and sold it for $87 ! I also sold a Smurfette twin sized flat sheet that was vintage 1980’s for just under $100 (i paid $1.50 for it). I don’t do ebay full time or anything just when I have stuff that I want to sell of my own or when friends ask me to help or if I just find something neat and cheap that I think can sell for a good price. It’s always fun to turn $1 into $20 or more!

    1. Tanya, what fun sales! Mr. Magoo? Smurfettes? Sounds like you have a real knack for what will sell. Your approach to eBay is exactly like mine. I sold on back in the day too. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. I’ll sell things on Kijiji here (like Craigslist) but can’t be bothered with EBay. More work than I care to put into it right now… I can’t remember the best things I’ve sold, but I have made some good money here & there! :)

  3. We have sold some completely random stuff on Craigslist. Right now my husband is selling firewood he cut and split from limbs left next to the road for garbage pickup, etc. $40 for a 4×4 rack of oak firewood. He’s made 3 sales this week and we have another one scheduled tomorrow morning.

    We had a brand new section of Wilsonart laminate countertop that was measured incorrectly by the installer – he was going to return it to the shop for disposal, but I told him to leave it for me. I listed that on Craigslist and it was gone within 48 hours for about $50.

    I bought my son an oak bookcase headboard at a garage sale – the seller had made it for his son but didn’t need it anymore after the son went away to college. We used it for several years, then I listed it for sale for the same price I paid – $25. Crickets. Relisted it a couple of times with new improved photos. Nothing. Finally I RAISED the price and got it sold. Sometimes it seems that people are leery of buying stuff too cheap.

    It’s worth it to me to list almost anything for sale for at least a short time before I donate it. There’s no telling what people are seeking.

    1. Susan, how fantastic that you sold that wood and countertop on CL. Not only did you pocket some cash, but you kept some things out of the landfill too. And thanks for the great tip about raising the price of something to get it sold. I’m filing that away for future reference.

  4. I have one particular auction that comes to mind. It was for a pair of black suede Chanel boots that I found at a thrift store. I think I paid about $7 for them. I wanted them for myself but they were a bit too snug to wear comfortably so I decided to try selling them on ebay. They were in excellent used condition and I took lots of pics of all different angles. I was hoping for around $50 but the auction closed at $165 dollars! I know those boots probably cost several times that amount when purchased new and for a $7 investment on my part I quickly got over the disappointment of not being able to wear them myself!

  5. I sold my car through Craigslist, but I haven’t taken the plunge into selling other stuff yet. I sure have enought junk that I could sell it…just lacking the motivation at this point. Soon, I think I can bring in a few hundred dollars if I put my mind to it.

  6. My sixteen year old son Max is always buying and selling things on Craisglist and Kijiji. He has had over a hundred listings this year. Inspired by him, I sold a five year old pool cover; an old bicycle; an old satellite receiver; an iPhone 4 last week for $400 !; a cash counting machine; and winter tires and rims two months ago for $700. I love it!

  7. I buy and sell stuff on Ebay all the time. I go to garage sales and buy whatever I know I can make money on. Some of the biggest profits I have made in the last 9 months is a 4 point wool blanket that I bought new for $5.00 at a garage sale. Sold it for $250.00 and a antique firemans lantern w/ a blue and white two toned glass globe (rare) that I bought for $12.00 and sold 3 days later on Ebay for $865.00. I started out just selling my own stuff, I don’t use anymore, then graduated to the garage sales. It’s super fun, and in the last year, my average sales for a 60 day period has been $2000.00 I have completely relied on doing this vs. working part time for pennies while I go to school. Give it a try folks. Just buy whatever you KNOW you can make a profit at at garage sales. But don’t forget to consider shipping and ebay fee’s into the equation. I have even found things in free boxes, like a brand new Windows XP Professional software kit, I went home and sold for $100.00. So don’t shun the free boxes, you never know what you will find! Good Luck

    1. Wow, Stacy, you’re quite the master. Those are some serious numbers. Thanks for sharing your experiences and your expertise. – Julie

  8. Yeah, I haven’t taken the plunge on ebay yet, but keep planning to.

    I just wanted to comment that I laughed out loud at how happy you were to show up your husband on how you were right about the chairs!

  9. I posted a Jaws lunchbox on Ebay that I purchased a few years earlier for $10. I was out of town when the auction ended. When I went to see how much it sold for I thought it was an error since it was for $130. Apparently, Jaws memorabilia goes for a lot of money. I did not know that. I had to hurry online to see how much the lunchbox was really worth. I never found a price to compare it to, so I’m happy with my profit.

    I also was given a free box of antique books someone deemed “trash” and I have sold several of them for 40+ range and I still have many more to sell. It can be addictive to search for items cheap at Garage sales and then make a good profit.

  10. I have had some good luck selling many different things online but the problem I run into is having the constant inventory and being able to duplicate the earnings again and again. I picked up an old overhead projector at a local Goodwill for about $8. I originally got it for a friend but i decided to give Craigslist a shot and post it. I sold that item for $60 that same day. Amazing!

  11. Cleaning out grandma’s attic I found a box with about 20 old fashioned bib style aprons.I washed,ironed then hung them up on my clothes line and took pictures of them.I listed them on Ebay.I was hoping they would sell as a lot for at least $20.00.I was shocked when I saw the final bid of $186.51.The lady who won the auction later sent me an email saying how much she loved the aprons.So if you ever come across old fashioned bib aprons,buy them and put them up on Ebay!

  12. One of the things that used to be really popular a couple of years ago was Sony PSP games. One common malady with them is cracked screens. If you can find someone who is trying to get rid of one with a cracked screen and you can learn how to change out a screen, sometimes you can pick a broken PSP up cheap and buy a backlit screen on E-Bay. I got my first PSP in trade for an Atari 2600 that I found in my basement, replaced the screen and sold it for 100 bucks on E-Bay. Then I bought another one with a cracked screen for 40 bucks, replaced the screen and sold it for 100 bucks.

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