I have been selling vintage home decor on Etsy since 2013. With over 2,500 sales in vintage items ranging from dining room tables to porcelain figurines, I will share with you my top selling vintage items on Etsy. This is a list from real-life experience and not a guess on top sellers.
How I Began Selling on Etsy
I started selling vintage items in my own Etsy shop nine years ago after collecting too many things from garage sales. I needed a way to clear stuff out! I had sold on Ebay before but decided to use Etsy as it seemed to be a more “boutique” experience (aka allow me to make the most money on an item).
Two years later, I was making as much on Etsy as my financial sales assistant job, so I quit my day job to pursue Etsy from home. Since then, I’ve had two children, my main reasons for continuing my online business. Throughout these nine years, sales in my Etsy store, Our Vintage Bungalow have continued to grow year to year.
This successful Etsy shop has allowed me to bring in a good part time income as a work at home mom while also letting me pursue my passion of vintage home décor.
Why Sell Vintage On Etsy?
Many people just think of Etsy as a handmade seller’s market, but handmade items are not the only category on Etsy! It is full of vintage items that you can use to create a part time or full time income from. From vintage clothing to home décor, from jewelry to vinyl records, vintage on Etsy is a thriving platform and community.
Etsy has made creating a shop and listing very user friendly. Yes, you could sell on your own website, Facebook Marketplace or Ebay, but Etsy shoppers are a more “destination” shopper. They love to browse; they love the story behind an item; they love to shop small businesses. For me, Etsy is the best online marketplace to sell quality vintage items.
An important thing to remember is that with this higher end shopping experience on Etsy, potential buyers expect great photos and a personal touch. Again, don’t let this deter you from starting. A good phone camera can get you started as long as you brighten up the photos in an easy editor. (Pro tip: download the free Lightroom app, buy some presets that don’t look overly edited and run your phone photos through this before listing an item.)
With Etsy’s low listing fee of $0.20 per item, it is a great way to start an online store with very little risk. Start small and move up to the higher price, unique items as you grow and learn. Being an Etsy shop owner is rewarding and a fabulous way to make extra money.
What Vintage Items Can You Sell on Etsy?
Etsy defines an item as “vintage” if it is 20+ years old. You do not have to prove the authenticity of an item’s age to list it. However, you do need to be honest and have a little knowledge about the item. If Etsy buyers begin to suspect you’re selling new items as vintage, they will be unhappy at best and file a claim against you at worst. If Etsy suspects you are dishonest in the age of an item, yes, they have the power to kick you off.
But really, honesty is the best policy in all of life. Do your best at estimating an item’s age. If you are honest, you’ll be fine.
You can list ANYTHING vintage on Etsy. I am not including large vintage furniture such as tables or couches in this list, though I have sold these items. Shipping large items is a whole other issue that I am not going to discuss in this blog post.
How to Price Vintage Items on Etsy?
To price a vintage item or to know an item’s approximate value before I buy it, I simply search for it on Etsy itself. You will find an extremely wide range of prices on certain items. Many people think to sell an item you have to be the lowest price, but this is NOT the case. First, you need to make it worth your time of finding, photographing, listing, storing, packaging and shipping an item. Some prices on Etsy leave me scratching my head as to how someone wants to do all that work for $5.00 profit.
For the most part, I stay away from items that make me less than $30.00 over my purchase price of an item. There are a couple exceptions that I will go into below.
When I look up an item, I will choose a medium high selling price. I don’t want to be the highest price, but I want higher than mid range. However, I am an established shop, so I do have customer backing. Starting out, you may choose more towards the medium range prices. Don’t choose the low end prices. Potential customers tend to question the quality of a low priced item.
I always charge shipping cost on top of the price. Etsy encourages sellers to offer free shipping, but on vintage items, this is hard to do. Most items are either heavy or bulky. If you offer free shipping, you have to raise the item’s price significantly, which scares away customers. I have tried offering free shipping multiple times and have never had success with it.
To put the above discussion in an easy to follow list:
- Look up a vintage item on Etsy to decide your listing price.
- Choose a competing price point in the medium to medium high range compared to the other listings.
- If an item’s price point is at least $30 higher than what you paid for it, it’s worth selling.
- Charge shipping costs on top of price.
Top Selling Vintage Items on Etsy
1. Vintage Brass Candlesticks
From Mid Century Modern to Farmhouse styles, brass candlesticks fit in with vintage home décor. I’ve had these top selling items in Our Vintage Bungalow since 2015, and they have continuously been in high demand. I create one listing with photos of variations. Give the customers a choice between shiny, dull or a mix of finishes. Then I simply re-use the same listing and restock.
2. Vintage Television Trays
As with all my best selling Etsy items, I figure out what sells by trial and error. Vintage TV trays are an amazing-to-me best selling items that I just happened upon. Most people under value these items at yard sales or estate sales, so you can pick them up inexpensively and make a great return on them.
3. Real Cotton Stems
No, this is not a vintage item, but it does fit with vintage home décor and is one of the best things I sell. Way back in 2015 I decided to list some stems of real cotton I had picked up from a picked field. Since then, simple cotton stems have made me thousands of dollars. This item is $14.95 for three stems, so it is lower than my $20 value mark noted above. However, it is one listing that sells over and over without me doing anything. And many orders are more than three stems.
If you don’t have a cotton field nearby, look around for some other real, natural item such as magnolia leaves and stems, pampas grass or bamboo. People can buy the fake stuff anywhere in person or online, but sourcing real nature is more difficult. You can become their source.
**Please note, do NOT just go into a farmer’s field and pick an item. That would be stealing. You MUST ask permission and offer to purchase. I have a standing relationship with a local farmer where I get permission and pay him for the cotton.
4. Vintage Wood Oars
Row boat oars with the hardware or simple wood canoe paddles are all profitable items for me. All wood finishes sell, but the dark wood finish or chippy painted ones in green or white tend to sell quicker. I also hand vintage hand carved canoe paddles that sold like hotcakes.
5. Brass or Copper Indoor Water Cans
Plant people also tend to be vintage people. And plant people love vintage gardening tools. Since these vintage items will most likely be used, make sure they hold water as you don’t want an unhappy customer. A bonus to selling this small item is that shipping is very easy.
6. Vintage Plant Misters
Like the watering cans above, these are great usable items for vintage loving plant people. Make sure the bottle holds water, and the mister works. They also make great gift ideas for plant people.
7. Vintage Cubby Cabinets
Vintage cubby cabinets can be a wide variety of pieces from post office mail sorters to simple desktop cubbies. People love to find a vintage piece that also serves as a useful purpose such as craft supply, office or mail organizers.
8. Vintage Library Card Catalogs
From small two drawer desktop versions to large furniture size library drawer cabinets, these pieces are hugely popular items. Again, it is a vintage piece that can be used for storage and organization, so it’s a win for the vintage decorator!
9. Vintage Rotary Telephones (in unique colors)
Vintage rotary phones are a piece of nostalgia that people seem to love and are one of my best items. Black sells ok, but a phone in a color like yellow, green or red doesn’t last long in my shop. Wall phones tend to sell quicker than desktop phones. I do not test these phones, so working order is not a must.
10. Vintage Bamboo or Rattan Shelving
Whether a tabletop shelf, a hanging wall shelf or a larger floor shelf, anything that is a Mid Century style bamboo shelving piece is another of my best sellers.
11. Vintage Recipe Boxes Filled with Vintage Recipe Cards
It’s like stepping back to grandma’s kitchen and reading all her culinary secrets. People love to buy old recipe boxes filled with vintage recipe cards. Another item that seems to be undervalued at sales, you can often find these hanging out in the estate sale kitchen cupboard for a few dollars. The more colorful or “artsy” the box, the more of a hot seller it is. They can be filled with typed or handwritten cards, but handwritten obviously is better. Just be clear to in the listing what type of cards are included.
12. Vintage Trash Cans
Yes, you heard right, TRASH CANS make a lot of money. Mid Century brass waste cans to Industrial foot pedal trash cans sell extremely quickly. And, yes, this is yet another undervalued item at flea markets and garage sales, so you can find them hidden in a garage or basement of an estate sale for just a few bucks.
13. Vintage Lucite Grape Clusters
Mid Century home décor is having a moment right now. Everyone wants a piece of grandma’s house nostalgia. Did your grandma have those oversized, glass-like grape clusters? Mine did. And everyone seems to want a set. I don’t know how long the trend will last, but for now, colorful lucite grape clusters are all the rage.
14. Vintage Umbrella Holders
From Mid Century brass umbrella holders to Cottage Chic metal cans, vintage umbrella stands are another vintage item people can put to good use. These don’t last long whenever I list them.
15. Vintage Typewriters
The more colorful, the better, but even black sells well for vintage typewriters. I make sure the keys function well, but I do not service them. Most of the time the typewriter tape is dried out and will have to be replaced by the customer if they want to use it. I note all these facts on the listing.
16. Vintage Globes
Vintage globes are another piece of nostalgia that customers buy time and again. Obviously, the older and more unique, the better, but I have good success with the simple brown or blue Replogle globes you often see at sales.
17. Vintage Coffee Crates
Coffee, coffee, coffee. People love their coffee (and their coffee crates!). I sell large ones that can double as coffee tables or end tables, but any size doesn’t stay long in my shop. You will most likely pay a premium when you buy a coffee crate at a sale, but the return is worth it most of the time.
18. Vintage Water Skis
I’ve sold red skis, teal skis, brown skis and skis made into a wall hanger hook. All vintage water skis are almost a sure thing when selling on Etsy. Who knew?! (Well, now you do.)
19. Vintage Paint By Number Art
Again, Mid Century is having its time in the spotlight, and vintage paint by number artwork are some of my Mid Century big sellers. Animals such as horses, dogs and cats are the most popular though scenic paint by number artwork is also successful on Etsy.
20. Vintage Stoneware Crocks
A staple for the Farmhouse kitchen, antique items such as utensil sized stoneware crocks, pitchers and Ironstone crock bowls sell well in my shop. Dark brown, tan or tan with blue stripes are all popular.
I hope this list of top selling vintage items on Etsy has helped you! Whether you’re a seasoned Etsy seller needing new ideas or a new sellers, try some of these items out to see if they work for you.
Interested in selling vintage items for extra income? Comment below and tell me your top question regarding online vintage selling! I would love to help you.
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How & where can I sell very vintage items without shipping involved such as “Pick up only”? Not a whiz on trying to figure out this issue which is why I am asking any sites where they can pick item up at my location. Also, price range. Thank you for your input.
For pickup only, you can list vintage items on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and Ebay. (Yes, vintage lovers still use Craigslist.) For Marketplace and Craigslist, people usually assume local pickup, but make sure you put that at the bottom of the description. In the listing, I would put the closest major city as your location rather than a small town nobody has heard of and then mention in the description the town you are in. Ebay has an option of “local pickup only.” Just make sure you check that box when filling out the “shipping” part. I am not sure what you mean by price range as different items range in price. Marketplace and Craigslist definitely bring a lower price on items. Ebay would be somewhat of a higher price on an item though you will have to lower it some if it’s local pickup. If you are close to a big city, you can ask a higher price. If people have to travel to a small town, then you will again have to lower your prices.
I have lots of vintage linens doilies tablecloths. Do they sell well
I have not had much experience with linens, so I don’t know how well they sell. I did hear a podcast interviewing an extremely successful Etsy shop who sells primarily tea towels though. Maybe it would help you. It is episode #264 on Etsy Conversations Podcast interviewing Etsy shop NeatoKeen. I’ve linked the podcast here. https://convome.com/264-from-collector-to-successful-etsy-seller-w-cindy-of-neatokeen/