As a long-time collector and reseller, I am constantly on the lookout for “sleeping items” – ordinary household goods that bring unusual prices on the resale market.
While other pickers are busy finding that one big score, I like to focus on the humble items that have a quiet but fanatical fan base.
Take a look around your own home. Does every drawer turn into a scrap drawer? Does your guest room look like an ad for Storage Wars? Why not clean up and make a few extra bucks along the way?
While eBay is my one-stop shop for selling online, Etsy works just as well. It is no longer exclusively for handcrafted goods. For larger pieces that would be difficult to ship, consider Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
Below are some surprising household items that you can sell for quick buck.
1. Lamp end pieces
End pieces are the often ignored threaded pieces that attach the lampshade to the lamp harp.
Plain metal caps are a dozen, but decorative brass, glass, crystal, and porcelain end pieces are consistently hot sellers at my online resale store. In fact, I often buy old lamps for a dollar or two for the end pieces only.
When you have a few disused lights in your basement or garage, take a look at the hardware.
Antique end pieces usually fetch higher prices. Frosted glass tails from the 1930s cost $ 30 to $ 50 each. But contemporary design is also in demand. In 2019, I sold a pair of modern brass pineapple tails on eBay for $ 32.
2. Swing-A-Way can opener
Swing-A-Way has been producing the classic manual can opener for decades. Although the style hasn’t changed much, manufacturing has shifted overseas.
Older models from the 1960s and 1970s are made of all-steel construction, have rubberized handles in different colors and are clearly marked “Made in USA”.
Shoppers love older Swing-A-Ways because they’re built like tanks and will last a lifetime. If you need to clean up a little clutter in the kitchen, this symbol of practical and effective design should not be overlooked.
Rubberized handles in bright colors such as red, blue and green sell best. I saw a vintage swing-a-way with royal blue rubber handles fetch $ 24.99 on eBay.
3. Ice scoops
An ice cream scoop is similar to an ice cream scoop, but shallower – imagine a scoop-spatula hybrid.
The best spades were made by a company called Vernco and made from solid stainless steel with rosewood or walnut handles.
Again, the simple design and amazing craftsmanship of these paraphernalia continue to attract buyers willing to pay $ 15-20 for a spade in great condition. With prices so sweet, who needs ice cream?
4. Vintage box cutter
There’s a collectors’ market for everything – even vintage box cutters. And as with most other collectibles, make, model, and rarity are everything.
Find Stanley Tools utility knives in your workshop or garage. The 199 and 299 models are particularly popular.
I saw a Model 299 with additional blades sell for $ 35.99 on eBay. Who would have thought that such modest items could bring such handsome prices?
5. Glass thermometer
The glass oral thermometers that older generations relied on have largely been replaced by digital versions. But there is still a strong – dare I say “feverish” – market for old-fashioned mercury-in-jar models.
With their simple, battery-free operation, all brands sell well. But check your medicine cabinet for thermometers from the three most popular brands:
- BD (Becton, Dickinson and Co.)
I saw a single vintage BD thermometer with a protective cover fetch $ 29.99 on eBay.
6. Antique mason jars
A few generations ago, preserving vegetables, fruits and meat was part of everyday life. Glass mason jars from Kerr, Ball, Mason, and Putnam were handy items that helped families keep food safe.
Today, these household items are in great demand because of their rarity and simple beauty.
Buyers prefer glasses with original zinc or glass lids and pay an extra charge for unusual colors such as lime green, amber, purple and blue.
I saw a # 4 blue half pint ball glass sell for $ 134.99 on eBay, and a Putnam Model # 333 amber glass fetched $ 160. The lesson? Sometimes the simplest things are worth the most.
7. Vintage Polaroid Cameras and Films
Almost everyone has a box full of outdated technology. And if you’re old enough, yours might have a Polaroid camera or two.
Although most models resell for a meager $ 5 to 10, there are a few exceptions:
- The Polaroid SX-70 is a collectible and can fetch $ 100 to $ 300 – or more if you have the original leather travel bag.
- The Polaroid SLR 680 – which has a sonar range finder and an autofocus lens – typically resells for $ 250 to $ 300.
Do you have a couple of unused 668 and 669 film packs? Don’t Throw Them! A single pack of color film can cost anywhere from $ 20 to $ 30 on eBay.
8. Kirby vacuum cleaner
I always joke that there is more metal in a Kirby vacuum than in most new cars. But this durable construction is one of the reasons The Kirby Co. has existed for more than 100 years.
When compared to other popular vacuum cleaners, Kirby models are a bit unwieldy and their numerous attachments can be daunting. Nevertheless, vintage models retain their value. The Kirby G3, G4, and G5 – produced in the 1990s – can fetch $ 150 to $ 250 online.
If you’ve stashed an old Kirby in the hallway closet, it may be time to pull it out and cash it in.
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