The average household has over £1k of unused gadgets – here’s how to make a small fortune selling online


The average household has over £1,000 of unused gadgets, not to mention clothes, cookware, jewellery and vintage items. Things that if resold could ease the cost of living crisis for many families.

The success of online auction site eBay and the growing popularity of reselling sites Vinted and Depop has shown how Britons love a second hand or vintage purchase. While items are being snapped up, more of us are opting to become sellers, and are turning to these sites to help make extra cash to cope with the rising cost of living.

In a survey eBay UK found that 77 per cent of adults had already started, or were considering, selling items from around the home to help supplement their income. Many of us have unused items worth £100s if not £1000s within our four walls, according to eBayUK.

It estimates that the average home could make £528 re-selling unused and unloved tech items such as smartphones or laptops. Having a clear out of clothes and cupboard items such as cookware, would make the average Briton another £1,106.

Emma Grant, head of pre-loved at eBay UK said: “We know people around the UK are concerned by the rising cost of living and while selling unwanted items might not be a solution to the problem at large, it can be an effective way to make some extra cash to go towards bills or contribute to your savings for a holiday this summer.”

The added bonus is, said Grant, that selling your unwanted items might help someone else find something they have been looking for, but without the hefty price tag. “A win for you, someone else and the planet alike.“

Wholesale Clearance UK looked into the most expensive items sold in the main eBay categories. It found an Audemars Piguet watch sold for over a quarter of a million pounds in fashion, while one seller got £65,000 in 2007 two-pound coin featuring the 1807 abolition of the slave trade and one vintage gaming PC sold for £15,500 under the electronics category.

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While digging out an old Rolex to sell for a few quid may not be an option available to many of us, used photo and video kit selling platform MPB estimated there may be around £1,300 worth of abandoned gadgets, that’s enough to spend 24 days at Disneyland Paris, lying unloved in the average home.

It estimated 83 per cent of UK adults have at least one piece of unused tech in their home and it calculated the entire country is sitting on over £89bn worth of devices that they don’t even use.

Despite how much Britons stand to make, MPB said only a third, 37 per cent, of us have sold an old piece of tech in the last 10 years, with 73 per cent admitting they’ve never traded in an old gadget in order to get a new one. When asked why they hadn’t ever sold an unused piece of tech, the two most popular reasons consumers give are they think they won’t get much money for it, 47 per cent, or that they or someone close to them might need it one day, 25 per cent.

Matt Barker, founder and CEO of MPB, said: “Circularity should be a way of life but our research shows that this really isn’t the case when it comes to unused tech. There are opportunities online and on people’s doorsteps which allow them to give their unused items a new lease of life and they should grab them with both hands.”

Barker said camera kit was a particularly lucrative item to resell. He said: “Your old smartphone might not be much use to someone as a smartphone anymore, but if you’ve got an unused camera in your drawer then get it back into circulation so somebody can make the most of it. You also stand to make some cash and offset the cost of a new piece of kit in the process.”

MPB’s research also showed the average UK adult spends around £374.80 on tech each year. “This means if they sold all of their unused tech, by their own estimates they could get enough money to pay for three and a half years’ worth of new gadgets.”

Matt Barker continued: “Taking cameras as an example, the average MPB customer saves a third when they buy a used model from us, compared to if they had bought that same model new. Savvy shoppers are catching on to this but there are so many people still out of the loop.”

Meet the sellers who have turned unloved items into cold hard cash

Tom Nagel, is 26 a software developer from Cambridge

Tom Nagel has made £600 in just over a year selling video games on eBay

“I have made £600 in just over a year selling video games on eBay. I grew up in Southampton. I spent a lot of time gaming, hours each day playing on my Nintendo consoles and GameBoy with my brother and sister. I listed my GameCube and Nintendo video games on ebay after I found demand was really high on eBay.”

“I recently sold Mario Party 7 for £150 on eBay and the GameCube (Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness) for £90, which I used with my brother and sister to celebrate a night out in London together.

He added: “It’s not just the money you can make on eBay that is so valuable, but just the variety of used products on offer. I’m a big proponent of looking for ways to reduce consumption and eBay has not only allowed me to sell niche items, such as my retro video games, but I’ve also recently bought used tech items. You’d never think you’d find some of these things on eBay but you’d be surprised.”

Anna O’Brien, is 24 and from Frome, Somerset

“I’m now a full time Depop seller, and I’m also a part time carer for my grandmother along with my mum.”

“When I began selling on Depop I was completely ignorant of the value of vintage clothing. So when I started sorting and listing the clothing hoarded by my nan, I was totally taken off guard by the amount of sales and extra income I was getting so much so that it allowed me to quit my full time job nine months later.

“It’s true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” became very obvious to me. I was selling my mum’s and gran’s old dresses from the 70’s and 80’s for over £60 each. Many were pieces my mum was planning to throw out! One specific item that comes to mind is a pair of very unique and dangerous looking platforms. After some research I discovered they were Vivienne Westwood rocking horse shoes from the 80s as the brand name had worn off on the inside. They still make the design to this day and they retail for around £400.”

Siobhan Maher, is 36 from Birmingham and runs a jewellery copywriting business

“I’ve been shopping vintage since I was about 16-17, so since the early 2000s. About ten years ago I realised I’d amassed quite a collection, much of it “proper” vintage picked up when it was affordable – deadstock fifties and sixties dresses for a tenner, that kind of thing. My style had changed and vintage was in vogue, so I sold much of it. I made enough to pay for a trip to India, over £2k.

“As well as selling on eBay I also sold to vintage shops. I’m based in the Midlands and would take bits into vintage shops in London whenever I went down, as I got better prices.”

Cecilia Aldworth is 51 and lives in Aberdeenshire

“A couple of years ago I was a workaholic, stressed, maths teacher. I’ve always loved jewellery, and hated waste. The Carbon footprint from precious metals and gemstones that ripped from the Earth each year is heartbreaking. How many pieces of broken, tangled and generally unloved items of jewellery end up in landfill, or are melted down as scrap? So I set up Jewel Destiny Jewellery in 2020 and am about to start selling on Etsy.

“I started to source pieces of mainly sterling silver jewellery that may have languished at the bottom of a drawer for years, perhaps tangled up with others, with pieces missing, mis-shapen, blackened or tarnished.

“I change their destinies by restoring them back to beautiful wearable items, ready to be treasured again. I detangle, repair, source missing parts, mix and match and spend hours cleaning and polishing, so that the jewellery can be worn again to make you sparkle, knowing that in my own little way I’m helping to save our planet just a little, to improve the destinies of our children and children’s children.

“I really believe in the sustainable/eco friendly aspect of my business model, trying to restore items instead of them ending up in landfill or being melted as scrap, and in my tiniest way I’m trying to reduce the plundering of our Earth’s resources that occurs through mining for new precious metals and gemstones for the jewellery industry.”

(www.jeweldestinyvintage.Etsy.com)

Padraig Floyd, is 51, a journalist and lives in North London

Padraig Floyd, is 51, a journalist and lives in North London

“In 2012, I was part of a group that climbed a mountain to raise money for breast Cancer Now. Now, as far as I am concerned, fun run is an oxymoron, so I wanted to find a way to contribute without the chafing of sensitive parts. For some years, I’d been accumulating a lot of budget and higher end guitars and other equipment that needed a really good service or repair.

So a few years ago, I started selling off bits and pieces on ebay that I didn’t want or need. All proceeds – less costs of shipping – went to Breast Cancer Now. By the end of the year, I realised I’d raised about £500.The next year, Covid-19 struck, and I only managed a couple of hundred pounds in those months I could arrange shipping/arrange collections.

Last year, I had a bit of a push and we raised almost £2,000 for Breast Cancer Now. I’m a bit behind this year, as my dad’s pass away in December, and I have since been very busy with work. But I’ll keep selling my unwanted or unused gear and not only provide money for the charity, but present someone with something they can cherish – at least for a while.”

Six items in your home that could make you a fortune

Furniture

A growing trend for retro-furniture means that post war furniture from the 60s, 70s and 80s sells well and on Facebook’s Marketplace, G-Plan and Schreiber furniture gets snapped up quickly. G Plan Fresco cabinets are reselling for £250 and upwards, sideboards are in demand too, and in good condition can fetch £400.

Clothes and shoes

Vintage Dr Martens boots hold their value well, and can sell for more than £100 on Vinted and Depop. If you have 90s clothing, then labels including Karen Millen and Kookai are being snapped up.

Electrical, DVDs, games and books

Reselling website Music Magpie will buy your unwanted CDs, DVDs, games and books, although you won’t make as much as selling them individually yourself. The site claims yo have made 4 million sellers over £160m. Use the app to find out how much you can sell them for. Music Magpie also takes tech and refurbishes it to sell on.

Vintage magazines

Depending on the condition Buyers will pay £5 or more for copies of Smash Hits dating back to the 1980s, or even Hello featuring Victoria and David Beckham’s wedding. The rarer the magazine the more buyers will pay. Vogue copies from the 1970s have sold for over £100 or more.

Baby gear and childrens’ clothes

Baby and toddler clothes are popular items on Facebook Marketplace, Vinted and eBay. Brands including Next, Jojo Manman Bebe and Boden are coveted, although you may be best off putting these in bundles unless they are a rare or limited edition. Items from Mothercare’s Little Bird by Jools Oliver often sell for over £10.

What to sell

Janine McDonald is a professional declutterer

Janine McDonald is a professional declutterer and founder of Clear the Clutter Now. Here she offers some top tips on how to cash in on unwanted goods…

Clothes

McDonald advises her clients to do with their gut. She said: “Does it make you feel confident and fabulous? If yes, then keep, if no pass it on for someone else to enjoy whether to the charity shop or by selling through one of the many online selling platforms. One of my clients has raised over £1500 by selling items of clothing and boots she no longer wears. Some clothes have memories attached to them and you still love them but they don’t fit anymore – could you have them altered to become something different ie a long dress to a top.”

Any clothes which are showing signs of wear and not suitable to be sold, you can still donate them to the charity shop, said McDonald. “Just mark the bag up as ‘rags’ this means the charity can still benefit.”

“When it comes to clothing sizing – I recommend only keeping items you love which fit you now or are one size up or below. Anything either side of these can evoke feelings of guilt or shame – it’s like they are shouting at you each time you open your wardrobe door – ‘you used to fit into me’ , be body positive and wear what makes you feel good now.”

Furniture

McDonald recommended selling certain furniture and decor in seasons, for example dining tables and chairs in the run up to Christmas. Garden furniture around Easter or late spring, “You will gain a better price this way.

And think about whether you really smile when you look at the items, do they bring back happy memories? If so, keep them and put them on display. If an item doesn’t light you up then it’s a good time to ‘pass it on for someone else to enjoy’ – I always say this to clients as it’s a positive way of thinking about items rather than ‘getting rid of’ them.”

How to sell online

Grant advises all sellers to take the time to get your keywords right and bidders will come. “When buyers search, eBay.co.uk automatically filters the listing titles, so it’s crucial to write your listing in your fellow users’ language and use the terminology they search for – especially brand and product names.”

  1. Choose the right category for your product – It might sound obvious but it’s very important to always choose the most specific category to sell in. Make sure if you are selling old children’s clothes, to sell in the children’s fashion category, rather than just fashion in general.   
  2. Pictures are important – Most users will not bid on items they cannot see. For best results, take photos in natural light against a neutral background and be honest about any scratches or aesthetic damage to the item. 
  3. Be as detailed as possible – Be honest about the condition of the product and be sure to note any wear and tear. By including details that can’t be seen in the image, for example if you are selling clothes noting the feel or fit of the product, you’ll help buyers decide if this is the item for them.
  4. Be realistic with pricing – consider your pricing strategy carefully following the eBay pricing recommendations. Try searching for similar items on eBay, to make sure you’re going for the right price and always ask yourself ‘would I pay this price for this item? 

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