Restoring for Resale


Restoring Used Items for Resale

Restoring for resale is very important to make maximum profit on reselling used items. The Garage Sale Academy provides advice for fixing up many different types of vintage items, what tools and products we use to restore garage sale and thrift store finds, and how to make your items look best for eBay auctions and Amazon listings.


Vintage Motorcycle Restoration


Antique Chair: Before and After Restoration

When searching for inventory for resale, two questions often arise:

  1. Is it worth buying items that need restoration before they can be sold?
  2. How much restoration should be done on antiques and collectibles?


When to Restore, When to Leave ‘Em Be

There are a number of factors that will determine whether a given item will be worth restoring for resale.Often, one of the biggest factors is: Do I enjoy doing that type of restoration work, or not?If the item is not something I’m interested in, I would the decision is one of simple economics. Is the time spent on the project going to make me enough money, or not?

If the item is cool, and the repair work is going to be fun, I’ll take on the project, as long I think I’ll make a little money and somebody will get some enjoyment out of the item when it is done.

Minor Restoring for Resale and Touch-Ups: Easy Money

With the exception of very fragile items, and some particular collectibles that we mentioned before, you will almost ALWAYS make more money on items that look good in eBay auction photos!Don’t be lazy, and make your items look as good as they can.We are talking about minor work, like the watch on the right: This was a 5-minute restoration –the glass face was wiped and polished and the metal was polished. Look at the difference!

You could easily double your ending price on an auction, where the item’s photo looks that much better.

A Quick 5-Minute Watch Restoration:

Which Watch Would You Bid On?


Basic Restoration Instructions

When you start your minor restorations, begin SLOWLY, especially if you are using chemical cleaners or working on a surface that you have not worked on before. You may wish to start with a damp cloth and wipe gently, unless you now the surface lends itself to common cleaners like glass or stainless steel.If you are not sure what the surface is, or how the cleaner will react to the surface, start slowly and start somewhere that your work will not show, like a bottom corner or back. Watch what happens when you start lightly rubbing. If the surface starts flaking, or the paint starts coming off, stop immediately, and sell it as-is.

60% of the items you will find can be easily upgraded simply by taking a moist cloth and wiping the dust and surface build-up off. Even if the item doesn’t look overly dusty or gross, many will still look “freshened up” by wiping them off.

Polishing metal surfaces can also greatly increase selling prices when restoring for resale. Be CAREFUL when doing this work, though. Start with the wet rag first, and see what you get. If everything looks good, step up to the next level. We use Tarn-X for most of metal cleaning needs. It does a great job on a variety of metals, and is fairly inexpensive. When using any metal cleaner, read the instructions, and start in an inconspicuous location.

We have used the Novus scratch removal system for removing scratches on many surfaces, from car glass to eyeglasses to helmet visors to vintage plastics. It works great on most surfaces, and has different levels of abrasion for fine to heavier scratches.


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