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What to Sell on eBay?

Tips on where you can find inventory when you're ready to get your sales going
what to sell on ebay

“What should I sell on eBay?” You may have asked yourself this question several times.

The auction giant has numerous categories and millions of listings, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under-informed when trying to decide just what you should sell.

For many, it’s enough to keep them from really getting started. No need to worry, though. Below, we have a few suggestions to help get the ideas—and the inventory—flowing.

Go shopping around your house

Everyone has something to sell. “Maybe it is the never-opened gift from Christmas, the clothes that the kids have outgrown, excess books, etc.”

Perhaps the most common way people get their feet wet selling on eBay is by rounding up a few items from around the house. As eBay seller fleurdeposh says, everyone has something to sell.

“Maybe it is the never-opened gift from Christmas, the clothes that the kids have outgrown, excess books, vintage jewelry, baby items, etc.,” she says.

Starting with things you find around the house is a good way to start selling without having to make an initial financial investment, the seller continues.

That’s how Janilyn Rose began her successful eBay business, Designer Rose Boutique.

“My mom and I wanted to see what the excitement was all about [regarding eBay], so we started buying and then selling just about anything we could find around the house,” she says.

As they sold more, her mother found her niche in collectibles, while Rose preferred selling fashionable vintage clothing. Collectibles and vintage are popular items on eBay. Many sellers regularly scour yard sales, estate sales and thrift stores to populate their auctions.

Although it appears large-name thrift stores, like Goodwill, have become wise to the potential of their donated items, you can still find vintage and everyday items that eBay’s audience will be interested in at those locations. This could be green or yellow glassware, Polaroid cameras, tools, sports equipment or even quality clothing.

Rose suggests new sellers test the waters with different items until they find a niche they enjoy and are successful at.

“I think doing a trial-and-error in the beginning to see what works best for you is key,” the seller continues.

Check with friends, family and discount stores

Another way to add inventory to your auctions is to ask your friends and family for their unwanted items, or perhaps they’d like you to consign for them instead.

Taking consignments is a great way to fill your eBay listings, gain a larger audience and expand your business.

Sources for new, unused products are not always hard to find at grocery and discount stores, especially after major holidays

Sources for new, unused products are not always hard to find at grocery and discount stores, especially after major holidays. Rebecca Miller, an eBay seller for more than 12 years, has had some luck sourcing at discount stores.

Miller once found a brand-name lotion for $8 at Grocery Outlet and sold it on eBay for as much as $25, she says. You can also find collectible Hallmark ornaments at discount stores for less than what Hallmark stores sell them.

Finding holiday supplies at their lowest price takes place right after the holidays. If you’re willing to store the items, you can sell them for full retail price when the season comes back around.

Another angle about sourcing at discount stores is considering the fact that some people aren’t located near them, or perhaps they’re laid up at home for some reason.

When you provide discount store items at reasonable prices through eBay, you’re providing a valuable resource to those who can’t drive down the street to Walmart or another retail store. Try to stock up on those items you think potential customers will need and want.

“Tailor [your purchases] to what people want, and you’ll have a better chance of selling your items [and] not ending up with a lot of leftover inventory,” adds Stephanie Inge, an eBay education specialist.

What are your items worth?

After you have gathered a few items for your first several weeks of selling on eBay, do a quick search on the marketplace to see how well similar items have sold recently.

It will help you determine a reasonable price, and you will also start to get a feel for what’s hot and what’s not.

After you have gathered a few items for your first several weeks of selling on eBay, do a quick search on the marketplace to see how well similar items have sold recently

For example, if you’re thinking about selling your son’s unused Star Trek model kit, start with a search on eBay using as many keywords as possible about the product.

Near the top of the listings, or somewhere listed to the left of them, click on the “Completed Listings” link and review the results to see how much—if at all—your Star Trek model kit is selling for.

Rose notes you should keep in mind that sellers who have a reputation and a following will usually have a higher sell price.

“If you are new and try to sell something as high, you may be disappointed with the outcome,” she adds. “It takes a while to get to this level.”

Think outside the eBay box

As you warm up to what you are successful at as an eBay seller, you will also discover some things are better off sold at your yard sale next summer.

For example, the eBay market is flooded with DVDs that sometimes barely sell for $1, but you know you can get at least $2 for them from your neighbors, plus you don’t have to pay all those eBay fees.

I once invested about $100 in women’s sleepwear that was on clearance at Kohl’s for just a few dollars each. I was sure I could get my money back—and then some—on eBay, but the few pieces I did sell took a long time to move. The rest eventually ended up in the yard sale box because my patience for storing things wore thin.

Finding what you can sell on eBay doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Just start at home and spread outward from there. You will be thrilled and addicted when you get your first sale, and the rest will be your own personal eBay history.

Please share with us what your first eBay sales were like and how it went from there.

About the author

Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Bob Smith

    Excellent! Lots of people have trouble finding items to sell or get stumped on what to sell it for.