Whether you’re searching the offerings at a garage sale or carefully combing the aisles of a thrift store, our society is obsessed with finding that “hidden treasure.” And if you’ve got the prior knowledge and willing to do the work, you may come in contact with some profitable thrift store finds.
The business of thrift store flipping, which is the practice of purchasing items from a thrift store with the intention of reselling them, can grow from a simple hobby to become a serious income stream if you have the right approach. Not every trip will lead you to a long-lost Picasso painting, but learning some of the tricks might give you more incentive to look a little closer for money-making thrift store finds.
Just remember, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and if you’re looking for a little treasure for yourself, I have a list of 17 everyday thrift store finds you can easily flip for a profit.
If you live close to college it’s always smart to look for any textbooks collecting dusts in a thrift shop. Students are always looking for them, and they’ll usually pay full price if it’s a really important text. Science and math books are practically easy gold for you when they’re put online. So, be on the lookout for anything like that.
2. Vintage Video Games
If you find discounted and/or vintage sports video games, it’s probably a good idea to grab it. Vintage video games can be rare and worth anything from $30, which is a decent mark-up considering you paid maybe $1.50 for the game. And this goes for any vintage video games.
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3. Vintage Pyrex
If you’ve ever been on Etsy or eBay, then you probably know how people go nuts over these, and they’re usually overlooked by people at thrift stores and most garage sales. Just remember not to put them in the dishwasher because the heat will destroy the finish, and your chances of making a profit. Expect a LOT more money if you manage to find a complete set.
4. Old Mugs
I know from personal experience how much I’m willing to pay for an antique mug (it’s a
These paintings can be found in most thrift stores and garage sales, and the completed ones are usually really nice to look at. People love vintage anything, especially if it’s something done by hand. It shows that someone put in the work. It’s hard to see if there’s a price different between completed painting and kits, but if you find paint-by-numbers in pairs or sets, you can expect over $50 on Etsy and eBay.
6. Vintage Board Games
Always depending on the year and condition of the game, vintage board games can be sold at high prices on eBay. Just ensure that all the pieces are intact before purchasing. If you’re not sure if the game you found is valuable, check out BoardgameGeek.com for a more thorough description on the game and its value.
7. Pay Attention To Frames
I think it’s pretty common knowledge that art is a pretty good sell online, but when you’re hunting, pay special attention to the frames around them. Frames can be worth more than the art most of the time, which is not common knowledge to your usual thrift store re-seller. Especially if the frames are quite ornate or antique-looking. Just keep that in mind for next time.
8. Look For Tarnished Silver
If you see anything silver-ish that looks tarnished, you may be in luck. You could’be just stumbled upon sterling silver, which is usually never that shiny. Most people aren’t aware of that, so they pass it by like it’s fake silver, but real silver tarnishes with age. If you want to be completely sure, bring a Neodymium magnet with you to test the metals you find. Sterling silver dinnerware or silverware can be resold for a LOT online. I’m talking a lot more than most anything else on this list.
9. Look For The Stamps
I’m not talking about postage stamps, although an extremely old and rare collection can bring in quite a lot of money. No, I’m talking about the stamps embossed underneath pottery, vases, or dinnerware. These stamps could be a sign that an item is a collectible. Do a quick search online to see if this stamp might be worth something.
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10. North Face Jackets
If you’re selling during the right season, a North Face jacket can go for over $100 on eBay, so be sure to look out for one. You’d be surprised what kind of gold mines people send to thrift stores instead of taking the time to research what they can get for them.
11. Name Brands
Like the North Face jackets, you can usually get a decent amount of cash from name brand workout clothing. Maybe not a fortune, but you’ll turn a profit, and that’s all that matters, right? Brands like Under Armour, Nike, FILA and Adidas can all be sold on eBay for anywhere around $15-50 a piece. 80s and 90s vintage clothes can give you even more bang for your buck.
12. Colored Glass
If you see any glassware that’s patterned and translucent colored, you may have luckily stumbled upon some Depression-era glassware, which means cha-ching. Someone is always looking for this kind of glassware for it’s unique look. Whether it’s original Fenton aqua or vintage cobalt, you should have no real trouble finding a buyer.
13. Vintage Globes
Now, these can be a little more difficult to ship, but if you find one, get ready for a profit of $200+. They’re difficult to ship because you have to be sure there’s no damage to any part (but that can apply to everything you’re shipping). Also keep a keen eye on the condition and design of the base holding the globe, as this can determine how much you can charge.
14. Vintage Blankets
Vintage blankets and quilts are almost always overlooked by people at thrift stores. I guess no one wants to own something that was once wrapped around someone else, but they’re forgetting about the decoration aspect. If you find any Pendleton or Hudson Bay blanket, you can definitely mark those up. Vintage plaid blankets or 70s looking afghans can also bring in a good amount of money.
15. Read The Labels
Check the tags on the clothing you’re looking at. Anything that’s union-made or made in the U.S.A. denotes an older item that can be worth a good chunk of cash. Offshore clothing production didn’t start dominating the industry until the 80s, so anything American-made is probably pre-1980 and able to bring in some more money.
16. Know Your Crystal
If you find crystal etched with the Fostoria or Waterford mark, pick it up. They usually sell for cheap at thrift stores and garage sales. Older pieces are worth more (obviously), and make sure to look on eBay to see what variations or collections are the most collectible to buyers.
17. Gooseneck Lamps
You know those gooseneck lamps that look like they should be sitting on a desk in a movie from the 60s or 70s? Even if you’ve just began your hunt for profitable thrift store finds, I’m betting you’ve seen these everywhere. If you take special care cleaning it, you can probably turn a nice little profit on them. The average amount is around $30-40 per lamp.