5 Things You Can Resell on eBay That Make the Most Money
Sometimes, it's easy to feel like eBay's moment in the sun has passed — at least as a seller. The heady days of flipping almost any item for a stratospheric profit may be over, but the market is still rife with opportunity for sellers willing to do a little research and find veins of hot "sleeper" items that are underserved by other listers. As an active eBay seller for the past 12 years, and at the risk of bolstering my own competition, let me share five fairly random categories of items that have served me well recently. (See also: Should I Sell This on Craigslist or eBay?)
1. Vintage Three-Piece Suits
I hate to sound like I'm generalizing, but hipsters in New York and Los Angeles are wild for three-piece suits. Vintage fitted styles, subtle patterns, and flat-front trousers are a few of the essential features that moves every single suit I list within a week. In my neck of the woods, I can usually score a vintage suit for $6.00 and flip it for $45.00 to $65.00, depending on quality, condition, style, etc. For quick sales and highest profits, avoid suits that have been dramatically tailored to fit a very specific body type, have noticeable wear, are missing buttons, or have non-functional zippers. (See also: No-Sew Ways to Fix Clothing)
2. Vintage Wingtips
Those fly suits need seriously stylish shoes from the same era. Men's vintage leather wingtips are a consistently hot seller, as buyers realize that new shoes of the same quality would set them back a few hundred bucks.
Go-to brands in this category are vintage Florsheim, Hanover, and O'Sullivan shoes. Look for leather uppers and leather soles, five-nail construction (which attaches the heel to the body of the shoe), and other markers of quality. In my area, it's possible to score a great pair of vintage kicks for $4.00 or $5.00 and resell them easily for $35.00 to $40.00.
3. Mid-Century Modern… Anything
The mid-century modern aesthetic has definitely caught on, and I won't win any recognition for being the first to market with Sputnik light fixtures or Eames chairs. But the continued opportunity in this category lies in the fact that many traditional antique dealers are still ignoring this era. It's completely possible in some parts of the country to pick up gems from the 1950s and 1960s for next to nothing, as the old guard scouts around for earlier twentieth century stock. (See also: How to Tell if You Should Refinish Wooden Furniture)
To illustrate, just a few months ago while on vacation in Oregon, a friend of mine and I found a rare Eames wire and dowel desk chair for $14.99 at a thrift store. We promptly listed and sold it for $450.00. Sure, those big-ticket flips don't happen every day, but there's a range of smaller mid-century items like vases, lamps, dinnerware, and artwork that can still fetch healthy profits.
4. Emo Clothing
Short for emotional, Emo is a style of rock music, but there's a strong associated fashion sense. Vintage souvenir t-shirts, ironic clothing of all sorts, and work jackets that advertise almost anything are just a few items that capture this youthful style. A quick eBay keyword search that includes the term, "emo," results in a nondescript vintage cardigan that someone paid $50.00 for and (dare I say it?) dozens of cheesy vintage track suits selling like hotcakes. Besides Emo, see what other vintage fashion items are hot sellers by searching with keywords like "rockabilly," "punk," and "bobber."
5.Vintage Ralph Lauren Clothing
Yes, this is your dad's Ralph Lauren clothing. Think 1980s and '90s preppie as you scout around for vintage Polo brand clothing. If you can find it cheap enough, there's a tidy profit to be made. Remember the Ralph Lauren teddy bear insignia? Well, a men's sweater with that iconic bear woven into it recently sold for $202.00 on eBay. Just last week, I sold a vintage Ralph Lauren oxford with a teddy bear insignia embroidered on the chest pocket for $42.00. (I paid $3.59 for it.) Don't tell me there aren't scores of similar classic shirts and sweaters floating around in thrift stores just waiting to be discovered. (See also: Criteria for Thrift Store Clothing)
Is your thrifting muscle twitching yet? If not, do some scouting around on eBay and randomly search for items you run across consistently in local auctions, flea markets, or yard sales. See what's selling and what's not. The wonderful thing about selling online is the wonderful thing about fashion — it's dynamic, and what's a dud today may be white-hot next month. EBay makes it easy to review what items have sold for in the recent past and sort by highest-to-lowest sale price. This type of legwork really pays off and can sometimes make you the only local buyer for entire categories of items — and as a seller, that's exactly where you want to be.
Are you a current or wannabe online seller? What niche products sell well for you and what advice would you give to sellers just starting out?