T.H.R.I.F.T. #3: Foreign Languages, American Dollars.

Welcome to another edition of T.H.R.I.F.T. – Team Hellions Reselling Information and Finding Treasures.  The column which shares what I have learned as a top rated eBay seller with you in the hopes that readers can also find a little bit more money hiding in the midst of someone else’s junk.


Today, let’s take a look at media in languages other than English.  Now, some of you are already thinking that you don’t know any other languages so how on Earth could you read the language, know what it is, and know how to sell it?  Further more, its not something that interests you.

See, that’s the secret about thrifting.  It’s not about you.

That is a bit simplistic but there is still a rule here.  When thrifting it is best to start with items you are interested in and thus know.  It makes the most sense.  Items that you collect, or have an affinity for, means there is already a certain amount of knowledge.  You wouldn’t be starting at zero.  If you’re into vintage clothing for yourself then it makes sense to start there for sourcing.  This vintage top is cool, in demand, and will command a good price but its not your size.  Get it!  Get it now and sell it.  It already has a desire of one, yourself.  The only reason its not being bought for you is because its not your size.  But you already have all of the knowledge needed to write a listing, post a description, and make this item of clothing desirable for someone else.

For me, most forms of media (dead media at that) fit that bill.  I’ve worked in bookstores, and always had an affinity for not only collecting, but also hunting for, the odd the strange the forgotten stuff at garage sales, flea markets, and antique shops.  Most people know to grab the toys from the 1980’s and the older looking comics.  Antiquarian book sellers have apps to scan through every book in a store to find the gems.

But down there on that dusty shelf, or in a forgotten box, will be a label that says “other countries”, “foreign”, “world”.  What it really means is the proprietor of the store, and thus head researcher, decided that these books are not worth the time.  Somehow they ended up in the shop.  If someone comes in and wants them, sell them as cheap as possible while still making a profit.  This is where your patience overcomes their laziness.

It is 2018.  Another language should not limit any seller as long as there is a cell phone with a camera and apps in your pocket.  While you may not understand the words, there is still a picture, and a picture of your items is worth a thousand bits of information.  It is incredibly simple.  Open the Amazon app, look up an item with the camera, and hover over the book, CD, or movie with words you cannot read.  Amazon will immediately bring something up.  In the majority of cases it will also have a translation.  Now I have the original text in that language, a translation, and usually an idea for what it is selling for.

I recently found a book for under a dollar, and it was written in Spanish.  I do not live in a large Spanish speaking community and thus I knew this had been overlooked and I was getting it for a steal.  It also helped that I used what knowledge I already had, as mentioned above, and recognized that the name Gabriel Garcia Marquez was the author of this Spanish language book now in my hands.  Bought for under a dollar, sold for one hundred just two days later.  A book that was passed over by numerous other “experts” because it wasn’t in English.

This has also happened for DVDs in Korean, music in Latin and Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, and while I have had a good deal of success with media in Russian I’m getting a bit nervous of selling anything with a Russia connection right now.  Something to keep an eye on.

If the price is low enough for you, I would say a dollar or under for sure, I would take a chance on anything you find that’s not in English.  Absolute worst case it sells cheap, like $3-$5.  Charge for shipping, and at worst you’ve made your money back plus a little profit and get good feedback.  That’s at the worse.  But maybe, just maybe, you found that gold too.

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