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Thrifting has become increasingly popular as a weekend activity. That’s because it’s a good way to pick up one-of-a-kind — or new-to-you — items at a fraction of their regular retail price, all while avoiding the environmental guilt that comes with supporting fast fashion. But if you’re an avid thrifter, you might not have considered that your hobby can also be a great source of supplementary income.
In Canada alone, there are an estimated 1,400 second-hand stores, and Toronto is one of the biggest hubs for thrifting in the country. Looking through vintage and antique markets has become the norm for thousands of Canadians, with over half of the population reporting shopping second hand in the past 12 months. The second-hand economy is booming — you’ll find flea markets in empty parking lots across Toronto on just about every temperate weekend.
With such a massive array of outlets to visit, you’ll occasionally be able to find items of surprising worth. But how do shoppers in these cities make money with their new purchases? The following items may bring you the most significant potential for a return on investment.
1. Gold and Silver Jewellery
Look for authentic gold and silver jewellery. It’s the very best thrift store treasure because it’s small and lightweight — the perfect takeaway if you’re using public transportation.
Bring a strong magnet when vintage shopping or if you’re looking to sell silver jewellery in Toronto. Generally speaking, precious metals are non-magnetic, making them easy to identify; be sure to use the magnet on a chain if you’re looking at necklaces. Sometimes the clasp isn’t gold or silver, while the chain is.
First-edition and signed books are another good place to begin. With some research in advance (and onsite), you could find yourself with a genuine collector’s item. For example, a first edition copy of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (with sleeve) has been known to sell for upwards of £150,000 (or around $235k CAD).
3. Designer Clothes, Bags and Shoes
High-end brand names have a great resell market, both online and in consignment stores. It’s essential you do your research on this to avoid investing in convincing fakes. Bring your smartphone and Google brands you find (and common signs of fabrication).
4. Vintage Toys and Board Games
Toys are of enormous interest to specialized collectors. Unique, limited-run Legos and Beanie Babies are a hot commodity in the toy collector world. So much so, in 1997, a woman’s car was broken in to; the robbers didn’t touch anything of obvious value — the radio, loose change, shopping items. Instead, they broke in for a retired Beanie Baby that was sat atop the dashboard.
How Can You Sell Your Thrift Store Purchases?
When it comes to selling your thrift store finds, it’s worth seeking out someone who specializes in the items at hand. For example, if you’ve found gold and silver jewellery, take it to the physical storefront of a financial service that specializes in jewellery. While there are jewellery buyers and bullion dealers that operate online, speaking one-on-one with a trustworthy specialist who can guide you and offer in-person advice is invaluable.
So, pay close attention the next time you’re at a local second-hand shop. There might be gold and silver jewellery, first edition books, original artworks and much more hidden among the shelves.