Whether you are searching for basic stuff to fill your collection or things a bit more “intriguing” with a little work and a lot of luck, you can find buried treasure.
1) Goodwill and Salvation Army Stores/Online
The definition of hit or miss lies within these stores and unfortunately 98% of the time it will be a big miss, but that is not to say it’s not worth trying!
Generally these stores are pillaged on an hourly basis but with an ever revolving stock of stuff being there at the right time can prove worthwhile.
While I personally have not had incredible luck at Goodwill or Salvation Army there have been a few good finds including a complete TMNT Mini Mutants set from the vintage line. It is all about patience here.
One last thing, did you know Salvation Army has an online eBay like bidding site? It’s true and worth checking out: http://www.shopthesalvationarmy.org/
Tip: Look in places other than the toy section, at its peak TMNT had products that ran the gamut from board games to cookie jars. Also do not neglect the random grab bags they put out.
2) Antique Stores and Malls
Among the century old creepy baby dolls and musty linens can be undiscovered treasure.
While most antique places stock things of a much deeper vintage than the 80’s and 90’s there are some that may surprise you. Digging around these places, especially ones with a lot of stock, can unearth good stuff from time to time.
Pricing in these places can range from the wildly absurd ($20 for an incomplete Leonardo with scuffed up shell) to very reasonable depending on the perceived value of the seller. If you see crazy prices, just walk.
Tip: Look for stores/malls that feature a number of sellers in one store. Variety is the key!
3) The Lowly Garage Sale
Ideal? Not really. Shlepping around town all day getting odd looks from people as you rummage through boxes of god knows what isn’t everyone’s ideal weekend.
For those brave enough to adventure out there is hope. With the recent TMNT animates series and set of movies now in our rearview mirror the chances of picking up some more recent TMNT items is much, much better. I dream of finding a large set Half Shell Heroes one day.
Vintage stuff on the other hand? That well is running mighty dry. Chances are most of those old bedrooms of now 30 year olds have been cleared out long ago, but don’t give up hope altogether! You never know what grandma had up in her attic these last few decades.
Tip: Go early (early bird gets the turtle or something). Also keep an eye out for those neighborhood sale weekends.
4) Vintage Thrift Stores
Different from your run-of-the-mill antique store with slightly better prospects for stuff from the 80’s and 90’s. While yes you may find some cool stuff the chances of them being overpriced raises dramatically.
With the accessibility of eBay at everyone’s disposal we now encounter sellers who find the highest price on eBay and tag their merchandise accordingly, which doesn’t work. Be persistent and keep an eye out because for every 10 sellers that overprices there is 1 who just wants to move their stuff off the shelf. Those sellers are to be coveted.
Tip: Don’t be afraid of a little haggle. These sellers want to move merchandise and depending on how long the item has been sitting around you may get a better deal.
You know it, you probably use it. The possibilities are endless on this website and if you keep tabs on the right searches you can find some great stuff.
The ability to search makes finding things quick and simple, but that also means it is quick and simple for everyone. Scooping up good deals requires persistence and luck, not only because things sell quick but for the simple fact a lot of sold items are simply forgotten and left on the website.
Well worth 10 minutes of your time every now and then to drop in some keywords and check over the results.
Tip: Lookout for lots and bundled items being sold off en masse. You never know what could be in that “2 bins of random kids toys” that just got listed.
6) Second Hand Children’s Stores
This one is completely dependent on availability but as the popularity of these types of stores rise the more likely you are to find one around.
At first glance it appears that these stores are meant purely for the baby/toddler crowd and while that is not false it doesn’t mean random old items find there way onto the shelves.
Speaking from experience you never know what you will find in one of these place. In the past while between shopping toddler pants and baby walkers you see some interesting stuff lying around, maybe even some vintage TMNT plush toys or a Party Van, ya never know.
Tip: Bring a kid with you or put on your dad flannel to feel more comfortable in the surroundings. Less awkward for everyone!
7) Social Media
Yep, good old social media. Let’s take a look
Facebook Groups: There are numerous groups for any interest on Facebook including TMNT specific groups created just for buying and selling. I have had some luck here but tread lightly as not everyone is as honest as we would hope. Find the people who have a good rep and ask around if needed.
Instagram: Sounds odd but it is an untapped market, a wild west for toy collectors. Personally I have done dozens of transactions buying and selling on Instagram with much success. The key is to really build up a reputable account and only buy from those within the toy community who are established on some level. Use search terms such as “toysforsale”, “toysfortrade”, or any other number of variations to pull up results.
Things to Keep in Mind
You are not going to strike gold frequently, the selection in most circumstances is going to be slim, and it takes a lot of time to find good spots.
The road is heavily traveled.
Flipping stuff through eBay is thing now and there is no getting away from it. Frustration will build when someone grabs that box of random toys that has a sweet Cheapskate and Leo in there and it is that guy who is checking eBay prices everyday at Goodwill. Getting discouraged won’t help but being more diligent sure will.
Persistence is totally the key. Check often and check obscure places. There is still good stuff out there!
- eBay, because ya know…eBay.
- Small online retailers. There are a selection of great little eCommerce shops for toy collectors out there including one of my favorites Toystable’s Attic.
- Flea markets are always ripe with junk, just be ready to get dirty.