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

Real People Share Stories About Everyday Items That Made Them Rich

TristaApril 6, 2021
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