Where To Sell Whatever You've Got

Got a "white elephant" to dispose of? Use our Where to Sell guide to find a suitable "zoo" for it.

| January/February 1983

  • where to sell - Big Sale cartoon
    Find out where to sell your junk so you won't get ticketed for creating a public nuisance.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

  • where to sell - Big Sale cartoon

Almost all of us at one time or another will find ourselves in possession of items for which we have no real use. Now one of the most popular ways of disposing of such "white elephants" is to hold a garage sale. But before following that plan of action, you should know that some of the items regularly disposed of at these events could be turned over for a much larger profit if their owners knew where to sell and who to sell them to.

The fact is, you can name just about any class of objects — rocks, matchbook covers, empty bottles, paperback books — and odds are (especially if it's reasonably old) that somebody would be interested in adding it to a collection. The spectrum of items sought by collectors is far broader than most people realize!

For example, a recent issue of the Antique Trader contained ads from individuals who wanted to buy — among other things — old fishing reels, pre-1942 BB guns, feed sacks, Maltese Cross butter molds, thimble holders, Navaho rugs, insurance company signs, antique clothing, Boy Scout patches, bus tokens, books about tropical fish, corkscrews, children's pedal tractors, bread end labels, paper dolls, wooden duck decoys, doorknobs, and pre-1955 Hawaiian shirts. As you can see, many of these items are exactly the sort of "junk" one expects to pick up (or sell) dirt cheap at a rummage sale or flea market. That's because to most folks, such goods are all but worthless.

Therefore, in order to get the best price for your white elephants, you'll have to reach the individuals who'll value them most. For instance, a lot of folks would likely throw away an empty "Soul Mellow Yellow" beer can if they found one when, say, cleaning the basement. But according to Thomas Toepfer, author of the American Beer Can Encyclopedia, that container could be worth $200 to a collector. And the child next door might offer you a quarter for an old Marlo Thomas doll, but find the right buyer, and the toy may bring as much as $125. Even something as seemingly ordinary as a souvenir blanket that's been passed down in your family could turn out to be more valuable than you'd imagine. For example, I once saw a pre-1900 Navaho blanket sell for $12,000 at an auction.

Collector’s Notes

Of course you'll have to do a little research in order to locate folks who might have a special interest in your potential collectibles. And a good way to begin is to look through a publication that serves their particular interests. Some of these magazines cover a wide range of items, while others limit their content to a specific category. Here's a sampling of such periodicals. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Most of the information that follows is a historical artifact — evidence that such publications did exist at one time. Although a couple can now be found online, the vast majority did not survive the transition to the digital age.]

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