Disclosure: Some of the links in the post below are "affiliate links."
Where to sell vintage items online and in real life.
Please do not ask me to appraise, buy, sell or help sell your item. I’m either not qualified or simply don’t do any of those.
So you think you’d like to sell vintage and/or antique items? Maybe you already sell in one venue and looking for another. Perhaps you have more of Grandma’s stuff than you have room for. Or, if you’re like so many of us, you need your addiction to pay for itself.
Selling vintage and antiques can be fun, rewarding, tiring, frustrating and profitable. Sometimes all at once. I’ve been buying and selling since 1997. No, I haven’t tried all the methods listed below, but you can bet I’ve certainly thought about them all!
There are so many different ways of selling, both online and off. Here, off the top of my head, are
19 21 different ways.
- Good ol’ eBay. It’s the venue most people think of when you say you’re selling online. It’s hard to beat for a quick sale. But the “glory years” of eBay are long gone. In the beginning, you could sell any old thing for an amazing amount. People started to catch on and list their any old thing, and then there were 10 of the same any ol’ thing up at one time and then 20, until the market became saturated. Buyers started looking for the lowest price. Things can still be sold for an amazing amount, but it generally has to be extraordinary. Something truly hard to find, but not so hard to find that nobody’s looking for it!
With eBay you can have a store or “fixed price” or, if you’re a gambler, put your item up for auction. Auction can be the quickest way to get some extra cash, but not necessarily the most profitable. The fee structure is a bit complicated. Rather than try to explain it, I’ll send you here to their fee chart.
I cut my teeth on eBay, but have since moved on to #2……..Etsy
- Etsy. Many people think Etsy is strictly for handmade items, but you can sell your vintage items there, too. There is actually a huge vintage market on there. The only requirement is that the item is older than 20 years. Pretty cool, huh? It only costs 20¢ per item to list and it stays listed for four months. Yes, 4 months for 20¢! If your item sells, they take 5% of the sale + shipping cost. This new fee structure starts in July of 2018. If it doesn’t sell, you can relist for another 20¢ or if you don’t want to relist it, then… don’t. Sellers, myself included, are a little miffed that they’ll be taking a percentage out of shipping costs. eBay started doing this a few years ago which is one of the reasons I moved to Etsy. I still love Etsy and am torn with getting my dander up about the new fee structure and just sucking it up and continue listing there.
There’s a myth that you have to promote yourself for more sales on Etsy. Maybe when Etsy was young, but these days, your listing will probably be on the first page of a Google search for the item and more and more people are learning about Etsy and starting there just like they would eBay. Of course, self promotion never hurts.
And by the way. If you click on the Etsy links I’ve given and sign up as a seller, both you and I will get 40 free listings. Occasionally someone will email me to say the free listings didn’t work. There are only a couple of stipulations. Per Etsy: If [you] navigate away from the link [provided here] or switch browsers, [your] new shop will not be registered as coming directly from [this] invite. And the free listings will be forfeited.
You might like to read 7 Mistakes New Etsy Sellers Make, too.
- TIAS. TIAS is a venue for antiques and collectibles. It costs $39.95 a month (on a month to month basis). From their site: “If your total sales for one month on TIAS.com result in a monthly 10% commission fee paid to TIAS.com that is greater than $39.95, you pay just the 10% commission that is due. No other additional fees will apply.” Um… I don’t understand that, but I can be stoopid sometimes. There is also a yearly plan that works out to be $34.95 with the same commission structure. It’s been around since 1995.
- Ruby Lane Ruby Lane is a bit more persnickety about what you can list. You must have at least 10 items in your shop at all times and they have a minimum price. Each “lane”, antiques lane, jewelry lane, doll lane, etc. has it’s own requirements, but they’re not so bad. Vintage/collectible requirements are that items have to be 20 years old or older with a minimum selling price of $5.00. They have a minimum fee of $54 a month plus 39¢ per item to list.
- Your own website. One of the most popular ways of selling where there are no rules or fees is to sell on your own site. If you want a blog platform, I recommend using WordPress. (Not wordpress.com, but a WordPress that you install on your own domain, from wordpress.org.) There are several free storefront plugins to choose from, like WP eCommerce or WooCommerce. (I use WooCommerce on this very blog.) A non-blog site could use the free ZenCart or AgoraCart. These take some technical work on your part. You won’t need a lot of coding, but you should be comfortable with the back end of your site. If you’re not comfortable setting up your own site, you can use a service like StudioPress. I’ve heard wonderful things about their Genesis platform and their service.
Another option if you already have a blog is a paid venue like, Big Cartel. They provide a storefront that is on your domain. They have a free plan for up to 5 items. Other plans start at $9.99 a month. There is no extra fee associated with them.With all of these, you’ll need to work at promotion. There’s no third party to promote for you. It’s your responsibility to get your items to show up early in Google or otherwise in front of buying eyes.
- In a similar vein, Shopify. It sets up a store for you on your site for as little as $29 a month. They also have a feature where you can sell directly on Facebook, Instagram and…. wait for it… Pinterest! Yippee! They were one of the first to have “buyable pins” on Pinterest. I’m hearing good things from people who have started to use Shopify. I’m seriously considering trying it myself. The Pinterest Buyable Pins could totally be worth the money!
- If you have old books to sell, then Amazon might be your market. There is also AbeBooks and Alibris. I sell books on Amazon, but haven’t tried the other two, so I can’t say how sales might be there.
- Consider selling dishes to Replacements.com
- Sell on other specialty sites. There are sites that specialize in certain items, ie. coins, baseball cards, records, jewelry, mid-century modern, etc. that have a selling platform for you. You just have to search them out.
- Instagram stores and Facebook auctions. I’m putting these together because they work basically the same way. (Instagram is generally a fixed price and Facebook auctions are, well, auctions. However either could be auctions or fixed price.) Here’s an explanation of how these work from Southern Living: Retailers post new inventory on their Facebook pages during predetermined time periods (for example, Accessories Auction routinely hosts auctions on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:00 pm CST). Then fans “bid” on products by posting their email address and desired quantity in the comments field. Those who score first dibs receive an invoice and then, after payment, (yes, there is that pesky part) receive their winning items in the mail.
This is just the beginning of where to sell your items online. There are certainly more, but these are the ones I’m most familiar with. Now, let’s talk about selling out in the real world.
Sometimes our items are bigger than we want to ship. Nothing’s impossible, but many of us just don’t want to try to ship a table and 6 chairs. Plus, there are many things that will just sell better in person.