The new year is a great time to do away with any clutter that you may have lying around. But don't be so quick to toss old and unused items in the donation bin.
Several VHS tapes sold on eBay for more than $10,000, according to a study based on all transactions on eBay.com between 2017-2019. Many of the most valuable tapes were unopened copies of Disney movies like "Toy Story," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," and "Beauty and the Beast."
In the days of on-demand streaming services, it may come as a surprise that people are paying top dollar for old VHS tapes. But Lisa Sherwood, senior marketing consultant at Perficient Digital, suggests that the nostalgia factor that comes with these items is a key part of their earning potential.
"People are kind of flocking back to stuff from the '80s and '90s," says Sherwood. "People are kind of hoping for a simpler time, and that's where things like VHS tapes come in and do well."
If you've saved favorite items from your childhood, here's how they can help you make some extra cash.
Do an inventory of what's stashed away in your home or storage unit — or, if your parents kept some of your childhood favorites at their house, explore their attic or basement, where you may have piles of old records, toys, baseball cards, flip phones, movies, and other items.
If you stumble across something you think may be valuable, Sherwood says, do a little research online to determine if it has any resale value. "Be as specific as possible, and look at how much other people are selling that item for. That's a good guideline for what you might be able to get."
While most of the items you unearth probably aren't very valuable, being in possession of the "right, rare thing" could be great, says Sherwood. Items like the Atari E.T. video game are selling for over $1 million while a 1990 Jose Uribe baseball card is going for over $8 million.
On the lower end of the spectrum, some Barbie dolls from the start of the millennium can sell for $200 or more.
As you're rummaging through your belongings, keep an eye out for popular items that were unique to their time but are no longer on the market. "It's not like every item is going to be worth a ton, but if the item is in good condition and they might bring back a bit of nostalgia for people, those might have value," says Sherwood.
When you are selling items, you want be as specific as possible. If it's a big ticket item, include clear, well-lit photos and videos of it. Explore different online marketplaces like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist to see whether similar items seem to be selling.
And if you have a high quality item that's a bit worn, don't discard it. Sherwood recommends searching online for the best ways to repair the item in order to get the most for it when you resell.
Ask buyers to leave reviews once you've sold them an item that they're happy with. While most won't sell for thousands, even a piece of memorabilia that isn't rare can make you a quick and easy $25.
The feeling a particular items give the buyer is what makes it valuable, Sherwood says.
"There's this theme of people wanting to relive memories," she says. "People think, 'I want to watch this thing that I watched as a kid,' or 'I want to hold on to the way that video looked as a kid.' So it really doesn't have a lot to do with the actual value of the item but the way it makes you feel."
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