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From the Magazine

5 Ways to Make Money Selling Junk You Have Lying Around Your House

Cleaning out your basement or garage? You’d be surprised how much you can resell! Here, how to pinpoint hidden valuables and boost profits.


Treasure is in the eye of the beholder, promises eBay expert Ann Eckhart, author of Beginner’s Guide to Selling on eBay, who says that a few surprisingly sought-after items you likely have around the house include VHS tapes of TV shows that never got released on DVD and old concert T-shirts — even if they’re stained. On eBay, VHS tapes of Northern Exposure, for example, can bring in $25 per volume, and ‘70s and ‘80s Blue Oyster Cult concert tees go for over $100. “Items that capture the not-so-distant past are always valuable to someone.”

Don’t Toss These

Holding on to scraps of wrapping paper or old greeting cards? Just bundle them in themed lots—say, botanical prints or bright colors—to sell on Etsy or eBay. “‘Junk journaling,’ where people create their own diaries, is very popular right now,” Eckhart notes. Crafters reuse all sorts of paper products from maps to magazines to cereal boxes. Even coffee-stained papers are coveted for their “vintage” patina. A grab bag of such junk-journal musts sells for $20 and up.

Total Up Toys and Tools

There’s a thriving market for old toys, especially LEGO figurines and Little People sets, reveals Eckhart. And classics, like your adult kids’ 1980s G.I. Joe and Transformers, appeal to folks who “collect to fix,” adds antiques expert Terry Kovel, author of more than 100 books including Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide. A 1985 Megatron Transformers toy, for example, recently sold for over $18,000! And don’t forget to take a look in your kitchen cabinets for cooking “tools”: “Pyrex, particularly the ‘Lucky in Love’ design with hearts and clovers, goes for hundreds of dollars,” says Kovel. And cast-iron pans by Griswold are collectors’ gold, so be sure to look around.

Pinpoint Your Price

Just look up “completed listings” on eBay to learn what your item might sell for, says Eckhart. “There are also yardsale experts on YouTube who share their pricing advice — if I hadn’t checked these out, I never would have known that old Bibles, for example, can go for hundreds of dollars. Simply type in ‘garage sale haul to sell on eBay’ for helpful videos.”

Stage Enticingly

Grouping items often makes them sell faster, notes Eckhart. Consider bundling, say, several pieces of costume jewelry, because you’ll likely earn more than if you sold them individually. Or if you’re selling a vase, include a few faux flowers and write, They looked so great, I just had to sell them in a bunch! When folks feel like they’re getting more, you profit more.

Get Creative with “Upsell”

“Write descriptions that sell benefits, not just features,” urges finance advisor Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to be Rich. For instance, those heels you wore only once aren’t just “comfortable,” they’ll make you feel like dancing! And that digital photo frame doesn’t simply show pictures, it displays 1,000 treasured memories in vivid detail! “Expressing your excitement gets buyers excited.”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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