When my husband and I moved across the country last year, he had a job lined up — but I didn’t.
Living in a new state without a full-time job, I tried to think of ways to bring in some income. My love for bargain hunting really got me thinking…
Thrift stores and garage sales are amazing places to find a needle in the haystack, a lost Picasso or a first edition Hemingway.
While we hear stories of those lucky few who hit it big on “Antiques Roadshow,” I decided to focus on more common items people tend to throw away.
Specifically: board games.
And not even complete games, but the tossed-aside, falling-apart, missing-pieces games which most people pass up.
Not me. I saw them as potential moneymakers!
In fact, I ended up making $250 from these board games in just six months.
How I Make Money With Board Games
Have you ever started to set up a board game and wondered where the heck a certain piece(s) went?!
It happens to everyone at some point — especially with those tiny little houses in Monopoly!
Sometimes it isn’t a big deal. You just use a bottle cap to replace a checker piece, or use a die from another game to replace a missing one.
But what about those pieces that are especially important to the game? Or, if you’re like me, the ones that just drive you crazy if they’re missing? Like cards from that special edition Uno or the dog (my fave!) from Monopoly?
After buying a missing card for a Snorta game from eBay, I decided to try reselling this type of game piece myself.
Since I knew there was a customer base, I saw an opportunity to make some extra money. Now I’m hooked!
What Board Games to Buy
It’s a relatively inexpensive venture — you can buy games for bargain prices at garage sales or thrift stores.
The concept is simple, but trying to determine which games are worth buying can get overwhelming.
Having a bunch of generic black and red plastic checker pieces doesn’t do you much good. But if you had vintage clay checker pieces, it might be a different story.
A great way to start feeling out the replacement game piece market is to type in “replacement game pieces” in eBay and sort through sold items.
You’ll see pieces for games new and old, and you can get an idea of what people are willing to pay for them.
Speaking of old… Keep in mind: Vintage doesn’t always mean valuable. Do your research! Sometimes it does, but never assume a game’s worth something just because it’s old.
Monopoly is a great example. Yes, a few vintage Monopoly games are worth a fortune, but many more are barely worth anything.
On the flip side, almost every component of certain special edition Monopoly games can be considered valuable.
For example, I recently bought the “Lord of the Rings” Monopoly game at a thrift store for $1.99. I took a quick glance inside and saw pieces and money scattered everywhere.
But all the tokens and the “ring” were in the box — and that was all I needed to know to make the purchase.
A lot of the play money and most of the houses and hotels weren’t included, but what was left made for a nice little profit. Here’s what I earned selling these pieces:
Chess is another wonderful opportunity, especially if the game is a special edition or themed set.
I once found an incomplete Harry Potter chess set, but there were plenty of pieces left to make a nice profit. I made $4.50 per queen and $1.75 for a pawn.
The $3.99 investment definitely paid off.
Once you find the games, all it takes is a quick online search to see whether the pieces are selling, and for how much. I just check eBay’s app while I’m shopping.
How to Sell Board Games
Keen to try it for yourself?
An easy way to start out is to go “shopping” in your own game closet.
It’s a simple way to test the waters and get a true sense of the selling process, while committing nothing but a few minutes of your time.
There’s a wider customer base than you may think!
You’re targeting resellers who need a component of the game to sell theirs as complete, crafty folks who need pieces for art projects or jewelry, and people who need to replace a missing piece.
Where to Sell
Since I already had a highly rated eBay account, I started there.
Prepare Your Listings
It’s very important to take clear pictures of the items and write a detailed, honest description.
Even if the items aren’t in the best condition, be honest! They could still sell — I’ve sold Clue score pads with missing pages.
While some sellers include shipping into their purchase prices, I prefer to charge shipping separately.
You never know where someone will be buying from and what the true shipping cost will be.
Also, when someone sees an item listed for $1, they’re more likely to click on it than if it’s listed for $4.99.
When the shipping charge is rolled into the total, it can deter those who wouldn’t have to pay much for shipping, anyway.
Try to determine whether it’s more beneficial to sell pieces individually or in a bundle.
If you’ve posted a bundle but it isn’t selling, break it up and try to sell pieces individually. If your individual pieces aren’t moving, bundle them. Play with it and see what works.
Selling game pieces is relatively low risk, since prices are so low. It’s an easy and fun way to make some extra cash!
Your Turn: Will you go through your old games and see if the pieces are worth selling?
Laura Niebauer Palmer is a coupon-aholic who works in Human Resources. Her goal is to find fun and creative ways to make and save money. Some of her faves include mystery shopping, teaching writing and being a contestant on Wheel of Fortune!