8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell Fast

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As a long-time collector and dealer, I am constantly on the lookout for “sleeper items” – common household items that fetch unusual prices on the resale market.

While other gatherers are busy trying to find that big score, I like to focus on lowly items that have a quiet but fanatical fanbase.

Take a tour of your own home. Does every drawer turn into a trash drawer? Does your guest room look like a publicity shot for “Storage Wars”? Why not declutter and make a few extra bucks in the process?

Although eBay is my personal online shopping site, Etsy works just as well. It is no longer exclusively for artisanal products. For larger pieces that would be difficult to ship, consider Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

Here are some surprising household items that you can sell quickly.

1. Kirby vacuum cleaners

Kirby vacuum cleaners
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I always joke that there’s more metal in a Kirby vacuum than in most new cars. But that durable construction is part of the reason The Kirby Co. has been around for over 100 years.

Compared to other popular vacuums, Kirby models are slightly bulky and their multiple attachments can be intimidating. Yet vintage models retain their value. The Kirby G3, G4 and G5 – produced in the 1990s – can fetch $150-250 online.

If you have an old Kirby hiding in the hall closet, it might be time to pull it out and cash it in.

2. Lamp tips

Lamp tips
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End caps are the often overlooked threaded pieces that attach the shade to the lamp’s harp.

Plain metal caps cost a dime a dozen, but decorative brass, glass, crystal, and porcelain finials are always popular sellers in my online resale business. In fact, I often buy old lamps for a buck or two just for finials.

If you have a few out of order lamps stored in your basement or garage, take a look at the hardware.

Antique finials usually fetch higher prices. 1930s milk glass mouthpieces can cost between $30 and $50 each. But there is also a demand for contemporary designs. In 2019, I sold a pair of Modern Brass Pineapple Mouthpieces on eBay for $32.

3. Swing-A-Way Can Openers

Swing-A-Way Can Opener
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Swing-A-Way has been producing the classic manual can opener for decades. Although the styling hasn’t changed much, the manufacturing has moved overseas.

Older models from the 1960s and 1970s are all steel, have different colored rubber-covered handles, and are clearly marked “Made in the USA.”

Buyers love old Swing-A-Ways because they’re built like tanks and will last a lifetime. If you need to declutter your kitchen, don’t overlook this practical and efficient design icon.

Rubber-covered grips in bright colors like red, blue, and green sell best. I saw a vintage Swing-A-Way with royal blue rubber grips fetch $24.99 on eBay.

4. Ice pick

ice shovel
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An ice cream scoop is similar to an ice cream scoop, but flatter – imagine a spoon-spatula hybrid.

The best shovels were produced by a company called Vernco and made from heavy gauge stainless steel with rosewood or walnut handles.

Again, the simple design and incredible craftsmanship of these utensils continue to attract buyers who are willing to pay $15-20 for a shovel in excellent condition. With prices as low as this, who needs ice cream?

5. Vintage box cutters

Vintage box cutter
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There’s a collector’s market for everything, even vintage box cutters. And like most other collectibles, make, model, and rarity are everything.

Check your workshop or garage for utility knives made in the USA by Stanley Tools. The 199 and 299 models are particularly popular.

I’ve seen a 299 model with extra blades selling on eBay for $35.99. Who knew such humble items could fetch such great prices?

6. Glass thermometers

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The glass mouth thermometers that older generations relied on have largely been replaced by digital versions. But there’s still a strong – dare I say “feverish” – market for old-school mercury models.

With their simple, battery-free operation, all brands sell well. But check your medicine cabinet for thermometers made by three of the most popular brands:

  • BD (Becton, Dickinson and Co.)
  • Pym
  • faichney

I’ve seen a single vintage BD thermometer with protective case fetch $29.99 on eBay.

7. Antique canning jars

Antique Ball Mason Jars
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A few generations ago, canning vegetables, fruits and meat was part of everyday life. Glass jars made by Kerr, Ball, Mason and Putnam were practical items that helped families store food safely.

Today, these staples are in high demand for their rarity and simple beauty.

Shoppers prefer jars that retain their original zinc or glass lids and will pay a premium for uncommon colors, such as lime green, amber, purple and blue.

I’ve seen a blue Ball #4 half-pint jar selling on eBay for $134.99 and a model #333 amber jar made by Putnam fetching $160. Lesson? Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are worth the most.

8. Vintage Polaroid cameras and film

Photographer using a Polaroid camera
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Almost everyone has a box full of outdated technology. And if you’re old enough, yours might include a Polaroid camera or two.

Although most models resell for a measly $5 to $10, there are a few exceptions:

  • The Polaroid SX-70 is an extravagant collectible and can fetch $100 to $300 or even more if you own the original leather travel case.
  • The Polaroid SLR 680 – which has a sonar rangefinder and an autofocus lens – typically retails for $250 to $300.

Have a few unused 668 and 669 film packs? Don’t throw them away! A single pack of color film can cost $20 to $30 on eBay.

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