My love of garage sales was born around the same time as my first daughter.
Since I was already awake bright and early, I managed to get out of the house on Saturday mornings and get first pick of my neighborhood garage sales, where I found many amazing and nearly new baby items for low prices.
Around the same time, I also started joining mom-to-mom groups on Facebook and perusing my local Craigslist. Those same items I was picking up for $1 at garage sales were selling for $10 to $20 in my Facebook groups! It didn’t take long to realize I could make a great profit this way.
If you’d like to do the same, here are my top 10 favourite children’s items to find at garage sales and resell.
1. Disney DVDs
Disney’s “vault” is a brilliant marketing scheme. Each year, only certain Disney films are available for purchase, while the rest are locked up in the proverbial “vault” for up to eight years.
If someone is dying to purchase a copy of The Lion King and it’s in the vault, they’ll need to start searching online.
This is where you come in. If you ever find an excellent condition Disney DVD, especially one with a recognizable title, it’s best to snatch it up for the lowest price possible.
I sold a copy of Alice and Wonderland for $25 after purchasing it at a garage sale for $2.
I would never purchase a Disney DVD for more than $5 at a garage sale, and my goal would be to resell it for more than $20.
2. Lamaze Toys
Many people receive Lamaze toys as baby shower gifts. These toys are very expensive and trendy. However, some people receive so many that they end up selling them brand new at a garage sale for $1.
Keep in mind, it’s always a good idea to look up any children’s items and toys for safety recalls. Take a quick look on your smartphone before purchasing.
Sell these toys to other moms online for $5 to $20, depending on the toy’s size, condition and popularity.
Do some research online, and only purchase a Lamaze toy if it’s in excellent condition with no wear, scents or stains.
3. Children’s Furniture
If you’re creative and willing to do a bit of extra work, you can buy children’s furniture, repaint or repurpose it, and then resell it.
I’ve bought and repainted wooden dressers, and I’ve also found unique items such as a puppet theatre stand.
Often, you can find deals as low as $5. Once you’ve repainted the item, you can usually sell it for more than $50. Make sure the wood is in good condition and good quality.
4. Vintage Fisher-Price Toys
Vintage toys are super popular online. If you can find a good condition vintage pull-toy, plastic or wooden Fisher-Price toy, or even better, a full play set, you’ve struck gold in the vintage toy world.
Sesame Street Fisher-Price is in particular demand, but always keep an eye out for anything that looks vintage and isn’t extremely worn.
The toy’s value depends on its condition, type and whether or not the set is complete. You can sell a vintage Fisher Price play house, “little people” included, for more than $250 on eBay.
I haven’t found many vintage toys, but I live in a trendy area where people know their value. The key is finding an older area where people won’t know the value of Fisher-Price toys.
5. Children’s Books
People nearly give away books at garage sales. Stand-alone books aren’t worth much to resell; however, if you have a bit of spare time and are slightly organized you can build up your book collection to resell later.
The best plan is to group similar books together and sell them in a bundle. It’s important to know the types of books that are in demand, but I’ve found comic books, Sandra Boynton board books, chapter books come in series, Little Golden Books and any classic books such as Goodnight Moon are in high demand.
This depends on the books and the collection you have. For example, a collection of five Sandra Boynton board books can resell for $20.
Keep in mind you need books in excellent condition. However, you can typically buy them for five to 10 cents apiece.
Everybody loves Lego! But if you have children, you know how expensive these toys are.
The beauty of Lego is the blocks haven’t changed much over the years, so you can put together sets without worrying too much about when they were manufactured.
Finding inexpensive Lego at a garage sale is a big deal, so make sure to look around for a bag of bricks. Consider starting a collection at home, building it up as you find small additions at different sales.
It’s hard to determine the value of Lego since it depends on many factors. For example, if you can find an entire set, box included, you can likely resell it for 60% of its original price.
You could also sell assorted Lego pieces by the pound, typically at $5 to $10 per pound. Star Wars Lego is in high demand, and has a greater resale value.
7. Lincoln Logs
Another miniature building toy, Lincoln Logs are very high-end and expensive toys. However, you can find them at garage sales in giant bags for a low price.
Look for entire sets and original packaging if possible. These toys typically sell for more the newer they are, so being “vintage” isn’t as important.
You can sell assorted pieces by weight, typically $10 per pound. Entire sets in original packages sell much better, and smaller sets usually go for about $25 to $50.
Depending on your area, dolls can be a lucrative business. Most people will sell dolls at garage sales for practically nothing, not realizing their value. Look for brands like Corolle, American Girl and Groovy Girls.
Some people sell vintage dolls, but you need to do your research and find out what is in high demand and valuable.
It’s best to pay less than $1 for these dolls, unless it’s an excellent condition American Girl — then I’d consider paying up to $10.
You can usually resell dolls for $10 to $75, depending on the brand. If you can collect dresses and accessories that go with that brand, you’ll have a better chance at selling for more.
9. Brand-Name Clothing and Shoes
It takes a special eye to make money selling secondhand children’s clothes, but if you’re knowledgeable in trends and fashion, you can resell clothes for a great profit.
The key to success is knowing which brands are in demand right now, and which clothes were manufactured recently. For example, Gap Kids and Gymboree can do well, but not if the outfit was made in 2007.
Try not to pay more than $1 for an outfit, but buying for much less is ideal. Having the original tags on an outfit will guarantee more profit, especially if the price is visible and high.
You can resell outfits for $10 to $15, unless the brand is a pricey one, when you can sell for higher.
10. Melissa & Doug Toys
These high-quality wooden toys are hot right now. I often find them at garage sales and they’re in high demand online.
Look for toys in good condition with all their pieces. Toys in poor condition with missing pieces won’t sell well.
Depending on the toy, you can typically resell them for $15 to $20. The bigger the toy, the better the price; try and avoid small Melissa & Doug toys, since they won’t resell for much.
By the end of my first summer of buying and reselling garage sale items, I had made approximately $300. I wasn’t chasing big money or going every weekend, and I know people who make $1,000 per month by being savvy and knowing what towns and toys to search for.
Either way, being paid to shop can be pretty fun and there’s nothing like the thrill of the next great find.
Your Turn: What are some garage sale items you’ve found and resold for a profit?
Brianna Bell is a wife, mother and freelance writer specializing in articles on personal finance and family. She has been featured in the Globe & Mail, and has been referred to as a “tiger mom of personal finance.” You can find her blog at mrsbriannarose.blogspot.com and on Twitter @briannarbell.