Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What to Sell Wednesday: The Magic Buying Formula for Buying to Resell on Ebay

I been getting a few emails lately with people asking me how to know what to buy at yard sales.  I've shared this once before, but I'm not sure what happened to the post, so here it is again in case you missed it.

When it comes to figuring out what to buy at yard sales and thrift stores to resell, there is a magic formula.  Something worth buying usually falls within one of these three categories:
  1. Very expensive to buy retail;  you can buy it very cheap.  People head to auction sites like ebay searching for a good deal.  Retail prices are scary in our current economy, and I have literally seen people buy something used off of eBay in order to save $3 (I'm not kidding!) off of the Target or Toys R' Us price.  Think:  Playmobil, Disney Princess Dresses, American Girl items, Boutique toys like Calico Critters.
  2. Hard to find, or no longer sold in stores, but are still very popular.  This is probably where you will make the most money on ebay, especially with toys.  If you have a Barbie Dancing Princess fan, and they no longer make those dolls, where are you going to find them?  On ebay.  If your preschooler loves Blues Clues, but you can no longer find Blues Clues toys in Target or Toys R Us, where will you find them?  Ebay.  If you child wants a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Little Einsteins Rocket Ship?  Ebay.  Toys are discontinued all the time, or "retired."  These retired and discontinued toys will often sell for more used then they did in the stores when they were sold.  (Also think vintage Fisher Price toys and other toys from past childhoods.)
  3. You can get a large lot or group of the same thing for a low price.  If I am at a yard sale and the seller has a ton of one particular thing (for example, build a bear clothes, littlest pet shop pets, Berenstain Bears books, Disney Polly Pockets) I will make a fair (but lower) offer and buy all of it.  On eBay, I may sell it off in small groups or bunch it all together, it will depend, but the key is to get a huge amount for very very cheap. (Please note:  books are tricky.  I buy books for my kids to read, but I don't often buy books to sell unless I can get a big group of the same kind of book for less than 25 cents per book.  There are many book resellers out there, and they all use their smartphone to scan the book's barcode to see closing Amazon prices.)

I'll leave you today with something to buy that fits into at least a couple of these categories:  Blues Clues Toys.  Blues Clues TV show has been around for a long time, but the character toys are hard to come by in the stores.  I just don't think they make them anymore (see #2 of magic formula).  I bought these 4 toys for 50 cents each (2 dollars total) from the same yard sale (see #2 of formula).  I sold them for $49 dollars (for more of that week's top seller, read my post here).  Would I have bought the any of these by themselves?  Probably not.  But since I could get all 4 for very cheap, I knew there was good opportunity to make money.  Now that these have sold so well, I will probably buy these little Blues Clues toys whenever I see them and hold on to them until I have a nice little group to list together.

Other Blues Clues items that sell well:  red thinking chair, little blues clues houses with figures, and the figurines by themselves.  To see other Blues Clues closed auction prices, check it out here.

If you are an ebay seller, what else can you add to the "magic formula"?


  1. I think your biggest trick is having your smart phone with you. I'm so jealous and it seems invaluable to be able to just look up on the spot what you are considering buying. It takes the risk away almost completely for you. The more research I do, the more my brain feels like it is going to explode with all the "tips" of items that sell well on eBay. We can't possibly remember it all and usually the best money making items are the things that seem like they would not be worth money, so again, the smart phone to look up an item in question is such an amazing tool and I really am trying to convince my husband of this! :)

  2. Is there a specific smart phone app that helps you to do this way fast so that it's practical while yard sale-ing?

  3. Yes! Ebay has an app that is fast and easy to use. Sometimes I use the Amazon app as well.

  4. This is such an informative post--thank you for sharing. I have such admiration for women who seem to have a 6th sense when it comes to making money!

    Stephanie from Make Home Make Sense

  5. Thanks for sharing this info. Very good tips on how to get some great deals to make a profit.

    Stumbled this.

    Tracy Screaming Sardine

  6. If you don't have a smartphone you might be able to get a general idea of prices if you text google (spell out google with your numbers) with the product. It might give you an idea of what it is selling for on Amazon or somewhere else. Try looking up the instructions as I don't remember if you have to type something before the product name in order to find prices.


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