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Looking to Make Money on eBay? Some Things That Sell Well

By on Sep 19, 2013 in Make Money | 24 comments

I think we all wish we could make a little side income selling junk that others consider treasure. I know I sure do, and I actually started to dabble into supplementing my income by selling on eBay.

Stacks of money in front of eBay logo

After a big learning curve, I found a few niche markets that really sell well on eBay. In case you are wondering why I would tell my secrets, it’s because if you have the determination and drive needed to be successful, the eBay marketplace has plenty of room for all of us. Here are a few items to keep an eye out for on your next thrift store or garage sale “pick”.

1. Coffee Mugs

I never really realized it but coffee mugs are very collectible and highly sought after items. The cool thing is you can typically pick them up for a buck at the thrift store and turn around and sell them for $5 to $25 depending on the brand and condition. Mugs that sell really well include anything Starbucks related, as well as brands like Sandra Boynton, Disney, and Fiesta Ware.

2. Name Brand Clothing

Name brand clothing sells really well on eBay because buyers know what they are getting in terms of quality and sizing. When shopping at the thrift store always check the garment for holes, stains, and cigarette smoke. In my experience, clothing brands that sell really well include Levi, American Eagle, Eddie Bauer, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren. You can typically find several of these brands on any given shopping trip, just make sure to give yourself enough time to go through all the clothing as it takes awhile.

3. Books (Especially Textbooks)

Books are often quite plentiful at the thrift store and always worth your time to look through. Be sure to look for textbooks and old books as they have the most potential for profit. Textbooks become a pain in the butt to store and move around, thus they often get dumped at your local thrift store. Many still have quite a bit of value. I recently picked up an accounting textbook for $4.99 and sold it for $44 on eBay.

Also, old books have the potential to be quite collectible and valuable as well. This is especially true if they are first or second editions or are out-of print and hard to find. I always start my thrift store pick by looking for older books and looking for big books as those are often textbooks.

4. Anything Pig Related

Totally random I know, but whenever I see anything pig related at a thrift store or garage sale, I snatch it up quickly because I know I can turn a quick profit. Not sure what it is with swine, but they are highly collectible home decor items. Whether it be wall art, salt and pepper shakers, or a ceramic pig cookie jar, they sell like hotcakes on eBay. Be sure to train your eyes to always look for pig stuff.

5. Bonus Tip

If you have a smartphone be sure to bring it with you when you go on a “picking” trip. Use it to look up items you are not sure about to see if it might sell. There is nothing worst than buying a bunch of stuff only to find out later it is actually worth less than what you paid. The most accurate way to look up items on eBay is to search through the ‘Completed Listings’ section to see what the item has sold for recently. A minute of research with your smartphone can really help you maximize your profits.

They key to finding the best stuff at thrift stores is to arrive early in the morning when they first open, or an hour before they close. These are the two times where they typically put out their new merchandise. Be doing this, you’ll get the first look at hopefully some really good treasures.

About the Author: Kyle James runs a site titled which categorizes thousands online coupons as well as frugal living tips to make your money go further.


  1. The coffee mugs are a shocker. I would never of thought that old coffee mugs were collectible. I’ll have to keep my eye out for these. 😉

    Little House

    September 19, 2013

    • Yeah, I know, kind of strange. But I’m here to tell ya that I have turned a quick profit on dozens of mugs the past few months!

      Kyle |

      September 19, 2013

  2. Haha the pig related thing is pretty funny :)


    September 19, 2013

    • The funny thing is that my Mom use to collect pigs in her kitchen when I was a kid so I should have put 2 and 2 together sooner. Some women go crazy for pigs, especially if they have a “country” kitchen.

      Kyle |

      September 19, 2013

    • What do you mean? Who doesn’t love pigs :)


      September 20, 2013

  3. eBay is very useful at determining the approximate value of an item, as you pointed out in the bonus tip. I had a shelf full of old collectibles and I asked my uncle if he could help me figure out if they were worth anything, and he was basically like “Yeah, I can help. Go to eBay and type in the name of each item and that’ll tell you right there.”

    Money Beagle

    September 19, 2013

  4. Loved this! I too would have never guessed that coffee mugs or pig items would be so hot. Good to know and love the original post. Now I’m trying to decide if I have time to work in some Ebay selling along with the 101 other things I do. :)

    Lydia (The Thrifty Frugal Mom)

    September 19, 2013

  5. I was thinking about this some more and realized that most of the reason I hate selling stuff on Ebay is because of the shipping factor. I never know how much to charge and for things like coffee cups that are fragile I’m never sure how to package them. Do you have any tips or suggestions about those things?

    Lydia (The Thrifty Frugal Mom)

    September 20, 2013

    • I typically check other “Completed Listings” for the same keywords I am using to sell my product. For instance, if someone is selling the same coffee mug I am selling is charging $5 for shipping, then that is a good indication of what I should charge. However, I do have a scale on my desk and I box and weigh things before I sell so that I don’t get stuck paying more for the shipping.


      September 20, 2013

      • Hi,

        Do you buy “proper” boxes, etc. for shipping or do you use whatever you have handy? I guess that all factors into the price, etc….


        September 13, 2014

        • It really depends. I reuse shipping boxes all the time. We have an amazon prime account so we get a lot of boxes for free that way and use those to ship stuff that we sell on eBay. However, sometimes we sell items that we don’t have big enough boxes for so we buy those new when needed.

          Deacon Hayes

          September 14, 2014

    • Great question. I bought a good scale ($45) and it helps me determine upfront shipping costs. As for fragile items, I re-use packing peanuts and bubble wrap. I’ve only had to buy some as I had a bunch in my garage.

      Kyle |

      September 20, 2013

      • Thanks Kyle! I actually frequently get bubble wrap and sometimes packing peanuts too…never thought of using them to ship this kind of thing. Duh! :)

        Lydia (The Thrifty Frugal Mom)

        September 20, 2013

  6. PIGSS??? Haha… that is too funny. Also had no idea Sandra Boynton has branded mugs too – that woman is on fire! My baby absolutely loves her books, she’s a savior.

    J. Money

    October 9, 2013

    • I know…random, right? I actually know a few people personally who are obsessed with pigs. Who would have thought?


      October 10, 2013

  7. Great tips Deacon. One of my buddies made a decent living for a while hitting up thrift stores and reselling on ebay. He especially did well with women’s clothes. It’s amazing what people will pay on Ebay sometimes. One man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure.

    Joel @ SaveOutsideTheBox

    October 10, 2013

    • It amazing what people will buy. I actually just sold a postal scale on Craigslist for $20 that I paid $3 for. The margins are good but I would have to sell a lot of postage scales to make a living doing that :)


      October 10, 2013

    • The one’s from 2008 might still have some value, get them up for sale quick to get the most out of them!


      October 14, 2013

  8. I love collecting coffee mugs and I didn’t know a lot of people are into this as well. I might I guess some of them when I need some extra money.

    Felix Lee

    October 16, 2013

  9. I’ll definitely have to try some of these out. I have a lot of old video games and they continue to sell well. Also cell phones are a gold mine. I can sell my old iPhone for more than it costs to buy a new one. eBay is a perpetual free phone machine!


    March 28, 2014

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