One rainy afternoon, after a particularly fruitless quest at my local thrift store for any books to pick and resell, I stumbled dejectedly into the aisle that carries used office supplies. While I have purchased second-hand scissors and rolls of half-used packing tape from the messy bins before, I had never considered any of these items worthy of an eBay listing. Desperate and dejected from my failure to find anything on the bookshelves, I grabbed a particularly complex looking calculator and punched the model number into the search bar of my eBay app.
My eyes nearly burst from my head when I saw the results. What I thought was some worthlessly outdated 1980s hunk of junk was consistently fetching over $40! When I brought it up to the register, the clerk charged me 50¢.
Even better, when I got home and put a new battery in, the sucker still worked. Well, I polished it up, took some photos, and listed it on eBay that very night. A week later the auction ended for over $50, nearly all profit. You can bet I was searching every nook and cranny for old calculators from then on, and still do.
Since that fateful rainy afternoon, I've picked and sold a few dozen more calculators (amongst other office supplies). I've sold some vintage 1970s for big bucks (sometimes over a c-note!), and I've been able to make a decent profit putting several old non-working calculators into a lots to resell. I've sold HP, Casio, Sony and others, but, by far, the most common calculator to find and resell are the Texas Instruments Graphing kind. The ones with the big screen and the removable plastic face guard. If you find one that has a USB input, you're really happy!
Almost all high school and college students (or their parents) are required to buy on of these at some point, and they are rarely used again once classes are dismissed in the summer. They are one of those kind of items that are stupidly expensive to get new, yet are often overlooked as a big-ticket item on the local resale market.
Just look at some of these common selling prices on used calculators I gathered from completed eBay listings just now:
- TI 83 Plus: $30-35 each
- TI 84 Plus: $45-60 each
- TI 86: $30-40 each
- TI 89: $55-65 each
Calculators are just one of the many atypical items that can be commonly found cheaply in person and quickly flipped for a healthy gain. Stay tuned to Part Time Picker for more great items you may not have considered. If you have an uncommon category of items that you have profitable picked (and you're willing to share it), please send me an email or leave a comment.
...and don't forget the Little Professor.