How to best sell old collectables?
January 28, 2008 7:55 PM   Subscribe

What do I do with my old collectibles? Meaning: how do I easily turn Beanie Babies and Hess Trucks into some money?

I have two huge boxes sitting in my attic I'd like to be rid of - one containing collected Beanie Babies from many years past, the other containing collectible Christmas Hess trucks.

The beanie babies are in good condition, and probably would be acceptable to anyone who wanted them in pristine condition. As far as numbers, there's some 203 of them, some duplicates, and definitely some of them are "rare". My only idea is to put them one by one onto eBay, but I really don't want to spend the time taking pictures of them and typing it all up. That leaves what, a bulk sale on craigslist? (I'm in the South SF Bay Area - Santa Cruz, fyi)

Then comes the Hess trucks. Christmas presents from years past, these might actually be worth something more than the little plushies? Would it be worth my time to list these individually on eBay? Or again, one bulk sale? There's less of these - 10 - from 1989 to 2000. These are definitely used, and not in mint, collector's condition though..

Any thoughts on how to painlessly turn this into cash? eBay? Craigslist? All together? Separately ? Something else entirely?

Thanks for the advice!
posted by razorfrog to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
When I was in college I made my living working for a guy who sold stuff on eBay (seriously, it was like that store in 40 Year Old Virgin). We sold Beanie Babies in giant lots. There just wasn't any money in it any other way. For every valuable Beanie there are 20 that sell for less than the cost of shipping. Also Beanies without tags or in less than excellent condition are essentially worthless. Pile 'em all up, take good pictures, list every single one in the ad, put the more valuable ones in the title, and hope you get lucky.

Anyway, the great thing about eBay is that it's easy to look up past auctions and see how they did. Take notes on what keywords worked best, what categories worked best, what style of pictures worked best, and just in general emulate the listings that worked best.
posted by indyz at 8:20 PM on January 28, 2008

Ebay as a market does a very good job finding the fair market value for items like this. It's cheap, easy, and fast, and if you list your items accurately, items will sell for a reasonable market value. However, looking at the completed item listings (you have to sign up for ebay to see completed listings), the bottom has fallen clean out of the beanie baby and hess truck market; most aren't even selling at all. You might be interested in This post from 2002. It's safe to say that Beanie Babies haven't appreciated since then. It looks like there are a very few beanie babies that still have value, but that most, including dark blue peanut, the rarest beanie baby back in the day, are now failing to sell even for $2.99.

Only one completed listing for a Hess Christmas truck that originally sold for $34.95 and failed to sell on ebay for $19.99.

So, ebay is generally worth your time if you have things that can be sold for over $10 + shipping; but you may not have anything that falls into that category. Sorry!
posted by ulotrichous at 8:21 PM on January 28, 2008

To get an idea of how much your lot of beanies would go for on ebay look at this link. You have to look at the auctions people are actually bidding on. The lot of 400 has one bid for 300 dollars but the shipping is free.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:23 PM on January 28, 2008

eBay is by far the quickest and easiest way to do this, and the most widely used. If it was something of value dependent upon appraisal, like rare coins, or antiques, then I'd go elsewhere, but for toys like Hess trucks and Beanie Babies, eBay is great.

You really just need to bite the bullet and take a little extra time to make the auctions look decent. An auction with a clear picture and a decent description looks a lot better than a short sentence. It doesn't have to be fancy, I've sold many things with clear pictures and barely any text. If someone wants to buy the Idaho Republican Bear or the 1991 Hess Truck, they already know about it, they just want a picture and an honest description. If the box or tag's a little scuffed, just be honest. Honesty seems to move items faster, as people know the truth of the condition. People are rightly skeptical of the listings that imply it's in perfect condition.

Since the Hess Trucks are used and not particularly old, I'd peruse the listings and see how they sell. If they're going for money, list them. If you're going against some mint condition ones, just donate them to some poor kids who've never had a truck. Maybe also give away a few of the more common Beanie babies?
posted by explosion at 8:23 PM on January 28, 2008

crap made especially to be collectible doesn't hold much value, in general! but ebay is likely your best bet...

there were 26746 beanie baby sales in the past month...very few brought any real money

take the time and list each one, start them all at $4.99

good luck!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 8:43 PM on January 28, 2008

To be brutally honest, you may be better off either taking them and donating them to the Salvation Army or putting them out with your trash. The time it took you to think and type your question is probably worth more than the stuff you're trying to sell. It's disappointing, but such is the risk of manufactured fad collectibles... like pogs, baseball cards from the early 1990s, comic books from the mid-1990s, Avon bottles, Playmates Star Trek and Toy Biz Marvel action figures, and figural Jim Beam bottles.

If you do decide to eBay them, just save yourself a lot of trouble and sell them in two big lots (Beanies in one, Hess trucks in the other).
posted by MegoSteve at 8:50 PM on January 28, 2008

The 90's were a really bad decade for collectibles. I currently have over 500 lbs of my husband's 90's baseball cards and collectibles stored at my house. They are worth pitifully little. We are saving them though. If peak oil hits, we might be able to burn them as fuel or build a hut out of them.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:04 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

You'd need to research it but I wonder if it be worth translating (or getting translated) the listings and offering them on non US Ebay sites where I suspect the market is less saturated?
posted by ceri richard at 5:26 AM on January 29, 2008

I'd echo what MegoSteve said.

What you've got to ask yourself is, would your life be worse or better with those collectibles out of the way? I'd venture to guess your life would be better. So whatever you can get for the least amount of effort is worth it.

Make sure you cover your shipping & handling costs in the auction, but other than that, just take a couple pictures of the lot of them and get them online!

I did this once with my collection of Star Wars figures from the Phantom Menace movie. I found that by advertising the fact that I was liquidating the whole of my collection at no reserve price, and the auction actually did quite well. I didn't take time to describe each figure or research prices or take detailed photos - I left it purposefully and overtly ambiguous. My assumption was that the casual or serious collector took me for a know-nothing chump just looking to dump his old toys, which kept driving the auction price up and up. "Surely," they thought, "there are some real worth-while gems in this lot of toys because this guy has obviously done zero research."

People feel like they're getting some sort of secret deal - but you'll find that the auction will attract basically anyone searching for any kind of beanie baby or Hess truck. My Star Wars figures got me more $$$ than any other similar auction I could find within a 10 month span - I'm betting you'll find similar success with your collectibles.

And if not - oh well! You're better off without the clutter!
posted by Detuned Radio at 11:06 AM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]

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