How to Make Money Flipping Antiques

And have a little fun while you're at it

How to Make Money Flipping Antiques

Key Points

  • There’s a wide variety of antique and vintage items that resell

  • Depending on where you look, sellers may be listing valuable items for low prices

  • Spotting the right items and looking in the right spots is critical for an antique reseller

Why not pick up a new side hustle? Whether you’re hurting for cash or just want a little something extra, flipping antiques can be very profitable. There’s all kinds of vintage and antique items people are willing to pay top dollar for. Furniture, clocks, clothes, watches, rugs, and way more. No matter where your interests lie, there’s a way to make money flipping antiques. Interested? Let’s get into it.

Is flipping antiques profitable?

As would any good reseller, you’re probably asking if there’s any money in antiques. Otherwise, what’s the point?

There’s plenty of money to be made flipping vintage and antique items. The cornerstone of reselling is finding items with high demand and low supply; the nice thing about antiques is that they’re all discontinued! There’s never any worry about an item restocking or a limited edition suddenly getting a full release.

Additionally, as items age and deteriorate, the value of an intact product will rise. Finding antiques in good condition will generally equate to profit one way or another. On the other end of that spectrum, even items in rough shape can still be worth reselling. Whether they’re very rare or you can do some simple repairs, there are tons of ways to make money reselling antiques.

Depending on your knowledge and free time, flipping antiques can be anything from a hobby to a full time job. Similar to many other items to resell, antiques are just one part of a complete reseller’s breakfast: something to keep your eye out for, but not necessarily rely on.

Now that we know antique reselling can be very profitable, let’s ask the obvious question: just what is an antique?

Understanding antiques as a reseller

Many people believe that an antique is any item that is at least 100 years old. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to be covering both antiques (very old) and vintage items (still pretty old). The definition of vintage is even looser; there may be examples of vintage items from the 21st century that are already reselling. For now, let’s give some specific examples.

Examples of antique items to flip

If you’re an American, you likely have a different understanding of antiques compared to a European. For example, a pocket watch or dining set produced during the American Civil War would be held in high esteem here, but a European would be less impressed. Items overseas are generally not considered impressively old unless they were produced before the Industrial Revolution.

All this is to say is that the definition of antique is loose, fluid, and open to interpretation. It differs between cultures and subcultures. For this article, an antique is an old item, out of production, and generally rare and valuable.

Here are some examples of the most common antiques to resell:

  • Furniture. From couches to grandfather clocks, furniture is one of the largest pools of antiques that is traded around today. The high quality of craftsmanship in previous centuries means these items are both beautiful and durable. Owning a vintage chair or table is desirable because of the item’s provenance, as well as its decorative value. Buyers are willing to pay lots of money for the right piece. We’ve written an entire guide on how to resell furniture, so make sure you check that out
  • Knick-Knacks and Collectibles. Just like people of today, our ancestors loved to make and collect trinkets. Ornate letter openers, baseball cards, figurines, porcelain and pottery, basically anything meant to sit on shelf and soak up dust. Items like these vary wildly in value and production numbers, with some being worth nothing and others could be a down payment for a house.
  • Functional items. Think of kitchenware, tools, knives. Well-made antique and vintage items are perfectly usable even centuries in the future, and collectors love to get their hands on them to fit in with their other tools.
  • Art and Decorations. You’ve probably heard stories before about works by Van Gogh or Vermeer appearing in garage sales. While that isn’t exactly common, there are examples of valuable antiques produced by notable designers or artists sold for cheap. Recognizing an item like this can be a ticket to some major cash.

Vintage items to flip

There are some items produced more recently that are still quite valuable. They have much of the same appeal as antiques, but sell to different buyers.

Here some examples of vintage items to resell, some of which you may have already:

  • Electronics. Collecting outdated but functional electronics is a popular hobby. Record players, speakers, old computers and video game systems, even CRT TVs. Collectors and hobbyists will pay top dollar for a functional and undamaged example.
  • Clothes and Shoes. There is a thriving market on Depop for t-shirts from band tours. These include shirts produced as recently as 2000, often times in not great condition, yet they can still resell for $100 or more. It’s also possible to find vintage clothes from designer brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton on sale for low prices, depending on where you look.
  • Car Parts. If you’re knowledgeable about cars, there’s actually a good deal of money to be made in the junkyard. Buyers will fork over cash for high-quality, undamaged parts for their project cars. Dashboards, interior pieces and seats resell, along with exteriors pieces like door handles and trim.

How to find antiques to flip

Now that you have an idea of where the money is when it comes to reselling antiques, it’s time to find some to flip.

Your best bet will be to stay local, and focus on in-person sales. It’s much harder to get a good deal when selling online, as there’s a good chance the seller has already researched the item they’re selling and knows it’s worth. Your goal when finding antiques to flip is to know more about the item than the seller, and know what items are being undervalued.

The obvious answer is an antique store. After all, where else would you find a wide collection of antiques for sale? The problem with antique stores is that again, the sellers generally know more than you. Most antique stores are run by extremely knowledgeable people, who are selling antiques to collectors. They’ve already done the research, they’ve sourced the right items, and they are selling them for more than they paid. You’re unlikely to get a good deal at one of these shops.

How to Find Antiques to Flip

You can find garage sales in your area with Yard Sale Search

Instead, keep your eye out for local garage and yard sales. When someone is moving or trying to clear out junk from their house, they’re incentivized to sell their bigger items. Yard sales are a great place to find antique furniture and collectibles for sale.

Not to be morbid, but estate sales are also extremely lucrative as well. When someone dies and their items are put up for sale, there’s a good chance the sellers are not as familiar with them as the deceased. They may be selling high-quality antiques for a fraction of their true value, which is exactly what a reseller will be looking out for.

You can find clothes and smaller vintage items for sale at thrift stores. You might be surprised at what you’ll find thumbing through the racks at a Goodwill or Value Village. Whenever possible, try to shop at local stores instead of chains. Pawn shops are another option, but the owners tend to be a bit sharper and knowledgeable about their goods than other stores.

It’s generally best to try and buy directly from another person. The best place to find antiques for sale is at an estate sale, followed by yard and garage sales. Thrift shops are still viable, but once you start looking at dedicated antiques retailers or buying online, the odds of finding a good deal start to drop.

How to tell if an antique is valuable

Once you’ve got an antique in sight you’re considering buying, you should get an idea of what it’s worth. Depending on your personal level of knowledge and experience, you might be able to clock an item’s value or instantly, or have no clue.

The first step to tell if an antique is valuable is research it on the internet. Try to find identifying marks on the item like the item’s name, the manufacturer, and date of manufacture. If the item is priced cheaply, it’s better to not ask the seller directly. You don’t want to tip your hand, so try to figure out what you can about the item on your own.

Once you’ve identified the item, check to see if there are other people selling it. Search the item’s name on eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace. If you see at least a few listings, you’re probably onto something.

There will be times where you can’t quite identify the item. In these cases, ask the seller for any extra information they can provide, and try to see if there is demand for similar products by the same manufacturer.

How to spot fake antiques

Generally speaking, this isn’t a tremendous concern for casual antique resellers. You’re far more likely to buy some worthless junk than a malicious fake in most cases.

The basics of fake-spotting are just paying attention to details. Make sure names and words are spelled correctly. Cross reference the item with pictures on the internet to make sure details are the same. For furniture, take a good look at the wood and paint. Pay attention to repairs or spots that don’t match the rest of the item.

Typically, someone willing to put the effort into faking an antique is also going to try and sell it for a high price. You don’t really need to worry about running into fakes for cheaper items, which are exactly the type of antiques you’ll be hunting for already.

Tips for negotiating on antiques

Once you’ve found an antique you think you can flip for profit, it’s time to make an offer.

If the item is listed for sale at a good price, just buy it. This is the easiest flip out there, and can be a pretty enjoyable feeling to find one in the wild.

Other times, you may find an item has no listed price. This is common at garage or yard sales. For relatively cheap items (that resell for under $100), you can simply ask the seller what they want for it. Chances are they will come up with a number on the spot, which will be in your favor.

For more valuable items like furniture or jewelry, you’ll want to be the one to make the offer. If the seller has an idea the item may be valuable, they might be inclined to research its price. By making an offer yourself, the seller may simply take it at face value.

We hope you have a solid idea of what goes into flipping antiques. While many resellers prefer to stick to recent releases and sold-out stock, you may find that reselling yesterday’s goods can be not only profitable, but enjoyable. The growth of thrifting as a hobby in recent years is just the latest in a long line of collectors buying and reselling vintage goods. No matter how niche a topic is, there’s always someone out there interested in it.

If you’re serious about flipping antiques, you may want to join a reselling community like RC Elite. Not only will you have access to a constant stream of updates on new items to resell, but you can also connect with experienced resellers. From cars to watches to antique chairs, there’s a good chance someone in RC Elite knows a thing or two about what you’re trying to resell.

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