Have you inherited a bunch of boxes from a loved one’s estate, still have stuff from your childhood, or things collecting dust in your attic and crawl space? Want to clear out for the new year but have no idea what to do with it all? I am here to help. Before you get out the trash bags you may be surprised how much cash your clutter could be worth.
One of my favorite things to do is help friends and family go thru their junk. I get a little excited every time someone pulls a seemingly worthless piece of from the back of their closet and declares, “Why would anyone want this?!” When I tell them the capital potential of something in their “trash pile”, it is suddenly seen in a different light. You would be so surprised at the strange things people collect and it doesn’t have to be old or popular to be collectible. Before you decide what is trash and what is treasure a quick search on eBay or Google will help you in your quest to and hopefully make a little extra spending money in the process.
Vintage zines are making a comeback. Whether it’s Vogue, Better Homes and Gardens, or an adult mag like Playboy, they are in demand. Even your old TV Guides are collectible. Look for issues from a specific moment in history, article from a famous writer, vintage fashion and sewing patterns, home design, controversial celebrities, or just an interesting cover. The March 1980 original copy of Playboy featuring Bo Derek on the cover in mint condition sold at auction for a record $12,000. Condition is important if you want to get the highest possible price, but it’s not everything. There are collectors out there who would love to get their hands on a rare edition even if it means buying one less than perfect. If the magazine is in terrible shape, there are collectors who buy single pages too! Interesting ads from the time period, recognizable brands, pin-ups, centerfolds, and frame-able art are just a few collectors search for. Have a bunch of magazines that are too damaged to sell? Salvage anything interesting you can in the entire pile and sell it as a themed paper lot. Scrapbookers and mixed media artists are always searching for vintage ephemera to use in their craft. Most of us don’t have the holy grail of Playboy Magazines squirreled away under our beds, but don’t despair, you could have a few teen mags from the 90’s hidden between the baby tees and old bottles of Luv’s Babysoft. Two 16 Magazines from 1992 featuring Luke Perry and Jason Priestly of the popular show Beverly Hills 90210 just sold this week online for $32.00.
OK it may sound a little dangerous but there is a market for vintage toasters. Anytime I have a toaster listed in my shop it sells within a week.Look for interesting features, colors, or materials. Mid-Century Modern, Atomic, or art deco. Toasters with bakelite handles sell fast as do pastel colors. Condition is important. Make sure the wires aren’t frayed, the electric plug fits in the outlet, and there are no exposed components. If it doesn’t work…consider selling it for parts to a hobbyist or repair shop. With out of production vintage goods, often one little part can be worth more than the entire piece.
OK here is where it gets pretty weird. First, let’s talk Disney. In 2016 several blogs claimed the Disney Black Diamond VHS tapes were worth thousands of dollars. The writers claim what apparently makes them rare and valuable is the black diamond on the spine of the clam shell case. When I heard this I nearly fell over. I have a collection of these tapes that I cannot seem to part with for nostalgia reasons, so I got a little excited. It seemed too good to be true and it is. Let me break this down and we can all come back to reality. First, the word rare is sooooo overused and is a psychological sales tactic. If something truly is rare, it won’t pop up on your browser a few hundred times in a search. Disney put that diamond on their animated movies from 1988-1993. When Disney re-releases their films, they edit and slightly alter the previous version. The black diamond VHS tapes are the original theatrical versions of the film, however they are not rare. There have purportedly been a few sales over $100, but I couldn’t find any records in my research. That won’t stop sellers from listing a “RARE” black diamond movie for $10,000, but unless someone has been living in a cave and has millions of dollars to waste, it will be difficult to cash in. The most you could potentially get for a 1992 Beauty and the Beast #1325 black diamond edition tape is about $25. That seems to be the highest bidders are willing to go and that’s if the tape is still in shrink. The used tapes in good condition are selling for under $10. It is still a good return if you can pick one up at the thrift store for under $1. With shill bidding and unethical selling practices, it is very easy to get sucked in to believing you have something worth more than it is. Even I have briefly fallen for it, but this is a whole different topic and blog post entirely. There are some Disney movies that do relatively well on eBay. An unused copy of Song of the South recently sold for $49 and the original live action Snow White for $125. The VHS tapes that are most sought after and most valuable are those cheesy direct to video slasher films from the 80’s, the campier the better. Single tapes can go for a few hundred dollars if it’s rare enough, but even popular horror films are in demand. My suggestion, unless you have an ultra hard to find direct to video VHS, sell what you have as “lots” to get the best possible prices. Recently, a collection of well-known horror flicks sold at auction for $360.
As strange as it sounds, those mini hotel soaps you take home in your suitcase that you manage to NEVER use but still keep in your bathroom drawer, are collectible. Look for colorful vintage graphics or unusual brands. Popular destinations, such as Las Vegas, Paris, or NY. Also look at the cross collectible value like advertising, aviation, or railroad. This vintage bar of soap from the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas sold for around $20.
Believe it or not there are some sought after rare colors of nail polish that were released in very limited quantity that collectors pay A LOT of money to own. Chanel seems to be the most prized as they produced special editions in very small numbers. The most valuable colors for this brand of nail polish are Jade, Camomomi, and Peridot Natural and sell for $200+. Expensive luxury brands aren’t the only bottles that are bringing in crazy money. This vintage bottle of Yardley Cellophanes nail polish sold this week for $76!
Yes the one with the green screen that your grade school had in their newly constructed “computer lab” (if you are an 80’s kid) is going for hundreds and on some occasions thousands of dollars. Are you kicking yourself too right now?! One of the original working Apple 1 computers believed to be 1 of 50 constructed by co-founder Steve Wozniak was sold in 2014 at auction to the The Henry Ford Museum. The winning bid, a whopping $905,000. If you have an old Apple system or even parts of one collecting dust and want to sell, a great place to start would be here.
Every parent’s nightmare. If you have kids, you have probably cursed these little plastic blocks of death stumbling to the bathroom at 2am, but LEGO collecting is serious business. LEGO sets can go for thousands of dollars. The complete unopened Taj Mahal set is the most sought after, selling for almost $10,000. If you don’t have full sets, selling individual bricks and pieces can still make you some money. Some things to dig for, unusual colors, LEGO people and body parts like heads, legs, or hats, architectural elements, and characters such as Star Wars. A gold chrome C-3PO is currently valued at $350-$450. If you have some vintage LEGO pieces you want to part with, you can search for your sets or specific individual pieces here.
Who knew when my mother slipped those little single servings of sweetness into her purse there was a method to her madness? Sugar packet collecting known as sucrology, has been around for a while and is most popular in places like the UK, Italy, and Portugal. There is so much variation with unique themes and package designs. Some collect full packets while others prefer empty. Those favored among sucrologists include series editions, aviation, hotel, fast food, cartoons, musicians, and movie stars. One quick search on ebay will give you a general idea of their value. Single packets sell for pennies to a few dollars, while mixed lots go for a bit more. One Elvis sugar packet sold today for $1.
All of those annoying direct mail marketing CD’s during the dawn of the interwebs are collectible. In the 90’s they cluttered mailboxes, were inserted into magazines, and piled at store checkout counters. I even recall seeing these obnoxious pieces of plastic littered about in the streets. Most ended up in the landfill, which is a bit of a shame. They are visually stunning. They came in almost any color, have thousands of unique designs, and clever packaging. The sheer volume of variation is what makes them a desirable collectible. They won’t make you rich, most sell for just a few dollars, but they will help you pay the bills.
There is a large market for those yearbooks collecting dust in your attic. The most collectible are the issues with celebrities or well know figures, bonus if that person added their signature. One Kurt Cobain yearbook sold at auction for over $600. Don’t have one with anyone famous? There are buyers searching for specific years or schools attended. Yearbooks also sell among vintage paper or photo collectors as well as artists and crafters. If it is in bad shape, include some pages in a vintage ephemeral mixed lot to add visual interest.
It is so easy to just get out a big bag and start tossing, but why do that when there are people out there who would treasure your trash?