Home Business Real People Share Stories About Everyday Items That Made Them Rich

Real People Share Stories About Everyday Items That Made Them Rich

Trista April 6, 2021

For those who enjoy making a quick buck flipping items from Facebook Marketplace, yard sales, thrift stores, and more can be a great side hustle. On Reddit, the subreddit /r/flipping is dedicated to learning how to resell second-hand items for a profit. Most sales are only for small gains. However, now and again, someone finds a very rare or unique thing that can pull in the big bucks. Whether it’s an antique model of a microphone or an incredibly rare production defect Disney plushy, some of these finds bring thousands.

Keep in mind that items from the 1970s are dated more than 50 years now. Also, the early 2000s was over 20 years ago. That means your everyday items are more vintage than you imagine. As always, the rarer, the better. Read on for 20 unusual items that netted Redditors’ small fortunes.

Quality pieces of cast iron can fetch high prices. Credit: Pixabay

20. Cast Iron

Cast iron is a trend that comes and goes with the years. Home chefs and foodies often adopt the seasoned metal cookware for fine dining experiences. However, cast iron was once used for far more than just cookware. Many vintage cast iron pieces can be worth a tidy sum, as many Redditors shared on /r/flipping. One Redditor made some money off cast iron Christmas ornaments. Of all things, the user said their best score was, “Pair of cast iron Christmas ornaments. Got ’em both for $3, sold BIN the next day for $125.”

Other Redditors chimed in with their cast iron finds, with /u/pzer0. The user said, “My cast iron steal is a Le Creuset cast iron skillet with grill lines that I picked up for $1 at a yard sale. I could flip it for probably like $40-50 easily, but man, that skillet makes a mean burger.” Another Redditor responded with, “I got a seven qt (I think) Le Creuset from Salvation Army once. It was marked $7. However, when I checked out, the cashier said, ‘”All brick-a-brack is half-off today!”‘ It seems the most challenging part of making a profit off of cast iron can get yourself to part with it!

Even scrapping old cars can net a good profit. Credit: Pixabay

19. Junk Cars

If you’re a motorhead and knowledgeable about car parts, there is much money to be made in dealing with old junker cars. Even if they don’t work, some parts can be salvaged for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Many Redditors specialize in flipping cars and car parts, and some shared their profitable flips. /u/Krizzen shared a massive score, “I’m a car dealer by trade, so I guess it’s fair to mention I bought a Jeep for ~$1500. I ended up selling it for over $14k. “However, they also said they’d taken some losses too since the used car business can be fickle.

One very enterprising Redditor managed to make money and fix up their car. /u/HxCMurph shared, “In 2008, I purchased a 1993 Acura Integra that wasn’t running for $350. I wound up keeping a few parts for my 1990 Integra and parting the rest out – made about $2500 total.” Scooters made the list in addition to full-sized cars, with one Redditor saying, “Bought a 2005 Honda ruckus scooter for 300. I cleaned the carb, charged the battery, then rode it around for a month. Sold in 4 hours on CL for 1400.” If you’re knowledgeable about vehicles, flipping can be highly lucrative.

Antique furniture can sell for thousands. Credit: Pixabay

18. Furniture Items

Vintage furniture can be a real hassle to trade since the pieces are large and tend to be extremely heavy when they used real, quality wood instead of fiberboard. However, if you’re willing to put your back into it, vintage furniture can net you huge profits. One Redditor shared their first flip, “I’m just starting out, but my best one was last year. I found a girl’s desk and chair set that was in really good condition for $15. Then, I polished it up and sold the set for $75. I thought a $60 profit for barely any effort was pretty sweet.”

Others netted far more from their furniture flipping. One Redditor said, “One of my favorites was years ago: picked up ten really ornate very old oak chairs from a good quality auction. I did a lot of research on the symbols and names carved in the back. It traced back to a wealthy British family. Put them on eBay, and a guy in Georgia bought them. We had to ship them freight, of course. I think it was about a $6,500 sale plus shipping, and I may have paid $1200 for the set of 10. They were one of my favorites because of all the history hidden in them.”

Believe it or not, hair curlers can sell for hundreds! Credit: Pixabay

17. Hair Curlers

More beachy waves, curl creams, sprays are on the market than you can shake a stick at. However, it’s surprising to learn that some people still pay the absolute top dollar for vintage hair curling items. Some vintage curling items look like old torture devices. They have rigid metal handles and rods that look more like cattle prongs than something you’d want near your head. Others were plastic rollers meant to be slept in and removed in the morning.

One Redditor made big bucks off of vintage curling parts, saying their biggest score was, “Hair curlers – bought a bunch for about $13 each, being discontinued, I think, sold for around $100 each (slightly more and less).” If you have a vintage hair item that has worked wonders for you or a beauty favorite is about to be discontinued, it can be well worth spending a bit of saving to stock up and hold onto the item for the future. Sometimes, discontinued items can see massive price increases when people find out nobody makes their beloved things anymore.

Unopened vintage fragrances and cosmetics can be very valuable. Credit: Pixabay

16. Vintage Fragrances

Perfumes can be costly, especially if they’re small-batch, artisanal perfumes or expensive fragrances from designer companies. Vintage fragrances can be even more costly since people used to make them with rarer and more expensive ingredients. Sometimes, its perfumes would include real whale ambergris. Now, the law protects this ingredient because of the endangerment of sperm whales. At least one Redditor made a quick turnaround profit selling a vintage fragrance. Redditor /u/sassi-squatch shared their biggest score, “Found box of a rare unopened ladies fragrance body powder, discontinued years ago, paid 50 cents, sold for $125.” That’s quite the turnaround!

With any old fragrance or cosmetic, the critical factor in reselling it is something /u/sassi-squatch emphasized in their story: unopened. An open scent or cosmetic item will undoubtedly decay within only a few years. It will become rancid, moldy, or otherwise spoiled. However, a sealed product can remain in good shape for decades, allowing use. Famed makeup artist Lisa Eldridge is known for her extensive collection of vintage makeup and perfumes. Many of them she intentionally buys sealed to safely use them on herself or models.

That old Atari collection may be worth thousands. Credit: Pixabay

15. Vintage Video Games and Consoles

A very popular flipping target for people who grew up on video games is vintage consoles and collectible or limited-release video games. For those in the know, every console has at least a few games that were either massive hits or produced only in small quantities making them hard to find and far more expensive than your typical pawn shop copy of FIFA ’12. Many Redditors shared their flipping adventures with video games, with quite a few scoring big profits, like /u/PanicBlitz, who said their biggest score was “$2 for Halloween for Atari 2600. Sold for $250 on eBay.”

Another user shared about the summer they spent flipping video games, “A guy posted on Craigslist that he was selling a lot of vintage games and consoles for his brother that owned a store and passed away. He was selling it all for $1,000. He delivered it all to me in a flatbed. It ended up being 60+ consoles, 100+ controllers, and 500+ games, everything from Atari to N64 to Xbox. I had a blast selling it during the summer. I ended up splitting a lot of it into lots for faster money. In retrospect, I should have taken my time to sell it all. I ended up profiting over $4,000.”

At least one rare stuffed animal sold for over $1,000! Credit: Pixabay

14. Stuffed Animals

It takes quite a bit of knowledge to know which stuffed toys are worth big money and which ones are only good for dog toys. However, the rewards can be huge for those in the know. One Redditor shared their story of making over $1,000 on a Disney stuffed toy. /u/maskdmirag shared, “Only noticed him because I loved that show as a kid, looked him up and said wow. Mine’s in a little worse condition than the listed ones, but some precursory research found a couple of sites talking about him and his rarity (only 6-12 are confirmed to exist in the world.) But the market is fairly small.”

They shared their thought process behind finding the toy saying, My thought process was:

  1. Hey’s that’s the kid from TaleSpin
  2. As I look up “kid from TaleSpin,” I go Kit Cloudkicker
  3. My wife will be mad if I buy him for my son, maybe he’s worth money?
  4. Multiple eBay searches with different words
  5. $1100?
  6. That color is green
  7. Runs to ATM
  8. Keep a straight face while checking out at the register, making small talk about the purchase.

Despite finding the incredibly rare toy at a local second-hand shop for only $3, it sold for a whopping $1,200 to a Disney collector in an online sale.

Selling electronics parts to collectors and repair shops can be big business. Credit: Pixabay

13. Electronics Parts

If you know how to repair your own electronics, you can save a considerable amount of money over your lifetime. For those who profit off of repairing electronics, the parts necessary to do so are extremely valuable. One Redditor shared their experience of profiting off of spare electronics parts, saying, “Found a guy on craigslist who had a warehouse full of surplus electronic parts. Purchased a Gaylord box (think big pallet) full of surplus AT&T parts, equipment, and more for $300. There were dozens of pallets, but I live in a small apartment, so I could only get one, but I think I picked one of the better ones.”

They continued their success story, “First thing I sold was some sort of precision control card for an old piece of factory equipment. It was about the size of a credit card and sold for $330. In that lot was a gallon-sized bag of about 1000 of these little circuit chips. I’ve been selling ever since—sold about half of them so far for $4-5 each in lots. All told, I’ve probably cleared $3k profit from that purchase, and I have thousands in specialty inventory that sells now and then. Like an ATM that keeps printing money for free.”

Autographed merchandise can fetch hefty sums. Credit: Pixabay

12. Signed Merch

Acquiring signed merchandise can be one of the most fun ways to get an item to flip. Why? Because it often means going to conventions or special events and getting items signed by authors, actors, or other celebrities. While it may be hard to part with such things for collectors, it can be well worth doing so. One Redditor shared their experience of lucking into a valuable item at a gaming convention. /u/A_Filthy_Mind said, “I went to a fan convention for a role-playing company. It was attended by maybe 3000 people. It was the 20th anniversary of their flagship game.”

“They made a new version, updating for the times, combining a bunch of books, etc. And brought hardbound leather-covered books to sell at the convention, limited edition type of thing. $125 each, most of the authors were on hand to sign them. I bought a copy the next day for $150 that had all the signatures already. Then, I went home and saw the unsigned copies were going for $500 on eBay. I got $625 for my copy.” So, not only did they get to have fun at a gaming convention, but they were able to make $500 off the experience. That likely paid for most of their convention expenses.

Everyone wishes for Picasso, but all original art can have some value. Credit: Pixabay

11. Artwork

Every junker and antiquer has had that dream of finding an original Matisse or some other famed artist’s painting and selling it for enough to retire to a luxurious country villa and live a life of ease. While it has happened a few times to random collectors, it’s far more likely that you’ll find an exciting print or sculpture from a noteworthy local artist that may fetch a fortune small enough to buy a used car, at best. One Redditor struck gold with a print saying, “$3 for a 1920’s woodblock print sold for $700. It would have been 2-3 grand or a museum piece if it had been in better condition.”

Another Redditor shared their authentic art experience, “Literally spent a year trying to find out the worth, but all I could find about the author was a passing reference in an article and his obituary, so it just sat on a shelf in my kitchen. Out of the blue, I was contacted through a post I made in the eBay forums about it. Turned out to be the daughter-in-law of the artist. She told me that she tracks down pieces by the artist to give to her husband (the son of the deceased artist) and would like to purchase them. Offered me $300, and I jumped at it.”

Printer supplies that are discontinued can be worth a lot of cash. Credit: Pixabay

10. Printer Supplies/Items

We’ve all probably experienced just how frustratingly expensive printer supplies can be. That is especially true with new ink cartridges; they seem to need replacing frequently. Several Redditors have found that vintage and out-of-production printer supplies can fetch an absolute mint from people who rely on printer models. /U/junkbutton said, “I bought a bunch of ink ribbons and photo paper for a no longer manufactured photo printer. I spent a little under $150 at a county surplus auction. It’s slow-selling, but I’ve made between $7-800 so far and estimate a total profit around $4k when all is said and done.”

Another Redditor found profit with an unusual type of printer, “My best flip so far has been finding two boxes of kitchen printers for free on CL and flipping them for $600 on eBay.” Other Redditors chimed in that vintage pieces for typewriters are also quite valuable since some writers are incredibly dedicated to their favorite model and will spare no expense to keep using them. Everyone confirmed that they tend to be slow to sell, but once they do, it tends to be at a high-profit margin, so keep your eyes open for weird and vintage printer and typewriter supplies.

Students pay big bucks for graphing calculators. Credit: Pixabay

9. Calculators

Did you take algebra or calculus in high school or college? You had to buy an expensive Texas Instruments calculator, so check your basement for it. Those calculators retain their value. TI calculators, especially more advanced graphing and programmable models, sell for hundreds. They are a great find at yard sales and second-hand shops. Redditors explained that thanks to a new crop of students who need those calculators every year, they retain their total value. Calculators are always in high demand. Many clever families turn to secondary market sales for the calculators to try to score at least a few dollars off the hefty retail price tags.

Redditor /u/plyngntrffc said their best purchase based on return on investment (ROI) was a Texas instruments calculator. The user said, “In terms of ROI…TI-84+ Silver Edition. I picked up at GW for $2.99 and sold for $74.99 shipped on eBay.” Goodwill, especially the outlet stores where you buy unsorted items by weight, are meccas for flippers who can make huge profits by taking a keen eye to bulk goods. Many of the Reddit stories of flipping profits involve GW (Goodwill) either at the retail stores or the bulk outlets. If there’s a Goodwill in your area, check it out.

Vintage microphones are major collector’s items. Credit: Pixabay

8. Microphones

Microphones have been around for a surprisingly long time, with old models being made of cast iron. One Redditor’s dad lucked into a free vintage microphone that ended up being worth a small fortune. /u/abugguy shared, “My dad stopped at a yard sale about 30 years ago. There wasn’t much there, and it started to rain, so he helped the lady pick up her stuff so it wouldn’t get ruined. She tried to offer him money. However, he refused, so she made him take something for his effort. He ended up taking this funky old price of cast iron with a chrome metal piece in the middle.”

“It sat above our fireplace on the mantel for years until money got a little tight and dad decided to list it on eBay. This was about 1998, and dad thought maybe he could get $30 for it. He guessed (correctly) that it was an old microphone. […] Next morning, it was at $150, where it stayed for a few days till it hit $300 with a few days to go in the auction. There was no activity until the closing seconds where it jumped to $980. My parents cried with joy.” They said it ended up in the hands of a New York radio company.

Commemorative coins can be valuable, especially misprints. Credit: Pixabay

7. Commemorative Coins

How many of us picked seemingly worthless items out of cereal boxes or sending in some proof of purchase as a kid? Well, it turns out some of those old promotional items can be worth a considerable amount of money. That is especially true if they’re pretty old or feature a collectible theme or person. Anyone who collects baseball cards knows few things are as collectible as golden-age baseball stars of the ’50s and ’60s, so combine those stars with a rare promotional item, and you’re looking at big bucks, which one Redditor discovered at a Goodwill outlet and shared on an /r/flipping thread.

Redditor /u/theengima31680 shared their massive score of Salada promotional baseball coins that came with ice tea back in the ’50s and ’60s. “My Salada baseball coins. Found at the outlet at the bottom of a bin. Seventy-five of them from the sixties. Cost by weight was about $0.59. One was a rare error coin and sold for $250. The rest were sold on various sports forums and eBay and brought a total of $750 for all of them. Not a bad profit margin.” Not a bad profit margin might be the understatement of the century for making $750 off of old pieces of plastic.

Musicians pay top dollar for quality vintage instruments. Credit: Pixabay

6. Musical Instruments

Musical instruments tend to retain or even gain value as they age and mature. Many people don’t appreciate the value of their children’s old grade school musical instruments, so they can sometimes be found for a steal at yard sales or thrift stores. One Redditor’s love of flipping started with an instrument purchase, “A used saxophone that my brother purchased from a local music store for $800. I sold it on Yahoo auctions (13 years ago) for $1600. That is what bloomed my life-long love of flipping stuff.” Other Redditors confirmed that musical instruments and sometimes even accessories, like amps, can net big bucks.

One Redditor’s biggest score was an unusual musical accessory. The user said, “I bought a broken vintage Australian-made guitar tube amp off CL for $40 with plans to fix for myself. I had posted to an amp forum about how to go about fixing it, and a guy contacted me wanting to buy it. “Not for sale,” he kept upping the price until $1250, and I went OK, take it. He said it was the model his father used to play, and he was shipping it back home to Australia.” They made over $1,000 without even having to fix it! At least one other Redditor shared amp success saying, “Sears Silvertone Tube Amp – paid $10, fetched $380, I think.”

Even used college textbooks fetch a pretty penny. Credit: Pixabay

5. Textbooks

Anyone who’s been to college in the last couple of decades knows that books are an enormous expense that can add thousands to your tuition costs each semester. Many now turn to sites like eBay and Amazon to save money buying used textbooks, which has created a burgeoning trade in second-hand books. Redditor /u/googliali shared their score, “I bought an outdated textbook about taxes (2013 version) for $2 at Goodwill. Sold it through FBA for $165.” Amazing that even outdated textbooks still cost hundreds. We can only imagine what the 2020 edition costs new, despite probably being the same book.

Several Redditors confirmed that textbooks are the most valuable used books you can deal in. One said, “Textbooks are the best (but then only ones printed within the past few years). Sometimes you find a textbook that is 10-15 years old which is good, but it is rare.” Another shared their college experience of raiding book sales. The user said, “These were the days before iPhones and scanners, so I would get there super early with my laptop and go to town, looking up every book on half.com. Remember that these were college textbooks and a lot of them were new editions. I made a profit of over $3000 for one hour’s work.”

Vintage designer sunglasses can sell for hundreds. Credit: Pixabay

4. Sunglasses

It’s hard to beat a good pair of sunglasses that frames your face nicely and provides just the right UV protection. Many Redditors shared stories of striking it rich thanks to finding vintage and designer sunglasses for pennies on the dollar at yard sales. One Redditor, /u/agelessnvegas, described their haul, “A pair of Jean Paul Gaultier sunglasses picked up for $3 and sold for $600. They were the ones that Gaga wears. Very steampunkish.” It must have been hard to part with that cool of a pair of designer glasses! Other Redditors shared similar stories of valuable sun shades.

One Redditor even said their favorite collectible is eyewear, “I love vintage eyewear but have a hard time letting it loose. At the same flea market but different tables, I found 62mm Ray-Ban aviators, Persol Wayfarer copies, and a set of American Optical aviator, motorcycle, & mountaineer sunglasses from the 1930s, new inbox. Sold the AOs, kept the others.” In another thread, someone shared their international sunglasses success, “$1 at a yard sale got me B&L RayBan Wayfarer sunglasses from the fifties or sixties. Sold to a chap from Germany for $115. It pleases me.” It looks like cool sunglasses have universal appeal.

The right Funko Pop can sell on the collector’s market for hundreds. Credit: Pixabay

3. Funko Pop Items

Funko Pops are those cutesy pop-culture collectibles. They will be filling landfills for centuries. However, for now, they are notoriously collectible. Some limited editions and older models sell for hundreds and even thousands. Many Redditors shared experiences of finding cheap Funko Pops at yard sales and thrift stores and cashing in big. One Redditor shared that a Funko Pop was their biggest flip purchase, “A funko pop vinyl figure, paid 9.99 sold for 199.99.” An immediate $190 profit is pretty incredible for a piece of vinyl! Flipping Funko Pops is such a popular side hustle that the /r/flipping subreddit has entire threads dedicated to it.

Dedicated Funko Pop flippers have even created online price guides to help newbie Pop flippers learn the ropes. Some people even speculate on new release Funko Pops from popular television shows or video games. They buy large quantities and hold onto them to believe that their value will increase over time due to scarcity. However, Redditors also warn that Funko Pop flipping is a heavily saturated market. Many antique dealers and flippers know to grab Funko Pops at low prices. However, others said they’d made enormous profits from speculating and hunting for rarer Pops at thrift stores and flea markets.

Certain Starbucks mugs are in incredible demand and sell for hundreds! Credit: Pixabay

2. Starbucks Mugs

We’ve all probably had or at least used a Starbucks mug at some point in our lives since the mermaid logo coffee brand is practically ubiquitous throughout the world. It turns out. Those mugs can have a massive value if you know what to look for. Redditor /u/Tim_MH shared their huge Starbucks haul, “A Starbucks mug, paid $1.29 and just today received an offer of $260 for it.” When people responded with surprise, they explained. The user said, “Starbucks collector series city mugs, some of them are worth ridiculous amounts. The 2010 series, not the newer ones.” Who knew they were collectible!

The cups are so collectible Redditors began discussing the fact that there are fake Starbucks mugs. /u/d5000 shared their experience, “Oh man, I was in Amsterdam over the new year and bought one of those for Amsterdam. It’s one of my favorite mugs and just sits on my shelf as a token of that trip. As an aside, I’ve been looking to get a Raleigh 2006 mug one for SO long. However, they are like $30 and all from China, so I suspect fraud.” Others confirmed that, at that price, they are likely counterfeit mugs. That’s shady coffee business.

Yes, a Redditor made over $1,000 on an asphalt roller from Craigslist. Credit: Pixabay

1. An Asphalt Roller (?)

Easily the strangest rags to riches flip come from Redditor /u/thegogetter222. They shared their story of selling an asphalt roller. The user said, “Bought an asphalt roller off craigslist for $1000, paid $400 to transport it to the scrapyard, scrapyard paid me $2650 = $1250 profit. Took me 4 hours the day of the pickup/dropoff and two quick trips out for inspections prior.” As one reply pointed out, /u/thegogetter222 got a pretty hefty hourly wage for their work, “$312/hour… Nice.” While it probably takes some knowledge to know approximate scrap value, that’s a pretty great return on investment.

The poster shared how they calculated the value in another comment. The user said, “I was just browsing Craigslist one day and noticed this huge asphalt roller for sale. I thought, “that must be heavy,” so I researched the model and got a rough gross weight and called the scrap yard. Not sure of the numbers, but my best case was an approx. $2900 in revenue and the absolute worst case was approx $750. I called ahead and spoke with someone and told them I was bringing it in and when to expect it. Believe it or not, when we arrived the guy said, ‘”Oh, that’s it?! I thought it was going to be much bigger!'” If you want some more reading check out more stories about the first thing Redditors saved up to buy.