When I started selling vintage things over 10 years, I had a general idea of what my online store would offer, the biggest category being vintage jewelry (one of my loves). But I threw in some old books, vintage clothing and purses, old photos and bits of sterling silver. Over time my repertoire widened. I’ve experimented with different categories. Some things I tried and they were mildly successful, like men’s ties, but they just didn’t interest me, so I stopped. Others I’ve expanded, like studio pottery.
Here are some of my BOLOs that I see other vintage resellers pass by…
A lot of thrift store and estate sale shoppers ignore items made of stone and crystal not giving them a second glance, but I have found the nice pieces sell.
I’ve sold several pairs of petrified wood bookends like these.
The pretty wine cooler (I was loath to part with this!) and the obelisk didn’t take long to sell.
And don’t pass up natural geodes. A few weeks back I snagged this bit of amethyst geode for myself. I was charged $6 and change. The sales clerk thought it was likely a $100 piece retail. I didn’t think so, but certainly in the $50 to $60 range.
I avoid dyed stone, like these dyed agate geode bookends. Typically they look garish and the dye can, and frequently does, rub off on books.
Vintage Tooled Leather
There is a market for well-made tooled leather products. Typically I look for purses and boxes, but wouldn’t pass up a belt or gun holster. I avoid faux leather products and those with inferior workmanship.
This recent tooled leather box estate sale purchase just sold and I’m thrilled. It was made by famed H. Heiser in Denver, Colorado, and is returning there. How wonderful is that! Obviously the buyer is familiar with the company.
Vintage Scientific Lab Glass
A surprising number of folks like to decorate with lab glass beakers and flasks. They make excellent vases, can work on a bar cart for libations (if thoroughly cleaned!) or used for plant propagation.
The trick is to get them very cheaply (isn’t that always the case?!). I was fortunate to get boxes and boxes of them (still have a lot!) for $100. I typically create small lots that sell in the $30 to $48 range rather than sell individual pieces and they’ve done very well for me.
Fabric and Trims
I’ll admit I’m not doing as much in this area as I used to, but it has done well for me in the past, and I still look out for great fabric and trims. (Vintage barkcloth is still hot right now, but everyone knows that and I’ve never found a great deal on it. One estate sale was selling individual barkcloth curtain panels for $200 each. Yikes!)
I typically look for natural fabrics (cotton, linen, silk, wool), interesting patterns (toile and chinoiserie do well) and those marked with a brand name. I’m still learning the high-end brands, but here’s a few good brands I’ve sold over the years: Manuel Canovas, Waverly and P. Kaufman.
Trims and passementeries are a small category for me but can be surprisingly worth the effort. This huge wodge of pretty sari trim with embroidery and sequins was a no-brainer for $5 at the flea market. Sold for $60.
For fabric and trims I avoid any that smell musty. Years ago I bought a small pretty remnant of brocade that smelled musty and had a heck of a time trying to get the smell out. I vaguely remember soaking it in cheap vodka (repeatedly) and airing it outside. After all that effort I only sold it for $10! I lost money, but learned a valuable lesson.
Like you, I’m always learning and exploring new areas that may be profitable on the vintage resale front. If you have BOLOs you’re willing to share, please do! I would love to learn from you.
Happy BOLO hunting,
I had no idea amethysts like that were worth so much! I have quite a few from when my oldest son collected rocks. Geodes too. They’re just sitting around gathering dust, or outside gathering mud.
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Hi Lisa. Yes, they can be worth some money!! 😁