Finding Secondhand Merchandise and Freebies to Sell on eBay - dummies

Finding Secondhand Merchandise and Freebies to Sell on eBay

By Marsha Collier

At resale stores, such as those run by Goodwill and the Salvation Army, you’ll sometimes uncover treasures to sell in your eBay auctions; other times you’ll find only junk. And freebies exist if you know where to look.

Thrift stores

You can try befriending the manager of the local thrift store, who sees the merchandise as it comes in; he or she will know just what you’re looking for (because you said so in a friendly conversation), and will call you before the items hit the floor. This type of relationship can save you from making fruitless trips.

Some stores receive merchandise from a central warehouse, where donations are first sent for minor rehabilitation and cleaning. Other, smaller operations process items in-house, with the store manager supervising. The resale store is a business that runs on a schedule. Ask the manager when the truck regularly comes in. Being there when the truck arrives enables you to view items before the general public sets eyes on them.

Goodwill Industries is definitely gearing up for the twenty-first century. You can shop at its online auctions and get super values on the best of its merchandise. Don’t forget to check the going prices on eBay before you buy.


Freebies come in all shapes and sizes and — best of all — they’re free. Freebies are usually samples or promotion pieces that companies give away to introduce a new product, service, or media event. Even carefully trimmed ads from magazines can fetch high prices from collectors.

When you go to the cosmetic counter and buy a way-too-expensive item, be sure to ask for tester-sized samples. Name-brand cosmetic and perfume samples of high-priced items sell very well on eBay. Also, look for gift with purchase deals. If it’s a specialty item, you can usually sell it on its own to someone who’d like to try a sample rather than plunge headlong into a large purchase. Less-special items can be grouped together as lots.

Be sure to put the brand names in the item titles.

Remember the talking Taco Bell Chihuahua giveaway? Those cute little stuffed dogs were all the rage and sold for big money on eBay. It almost seems foolish to remind you of the McDonald’s Teenie Beanie Baby giveaways; moms, dads, and dealers were driving in circles through the drive-thru, purchasing as many of the Happy Meals as each store would allow.

When Return of the Jedi was re-released in 1997, the first 100 people to enter each theater got a Special Edition Luke Skywalker figure. These figures are still highly prized by collectors.

In 1995, Paramount premiered the show Star Trek Voyager. In selected markets, Paramount sent a promotional microwave popcorn packet as a Sunday newspaper insert. These packets are still selling well (when you can find them), although the value rises and falls according to the current level of interest in Star Trek.

Before you pass by a freebie, reconsider its possible future resale value.