What Sells on eBay: Top 10 Vintage Items From the 1980s

Woman holding 80s style boombox
••• polinef/iStock  

New eBay sellers may think it's difficult to find inventory to sell. This is often not the case, especially if you were born in Generation X and went to high school in the 1980s. If you've held on to any of your old belongings, you may have all kinds of valuable items packed away in your garage, basement, or attic.

Your old 80s stuff may have real value on eBay, and you might even be shocked when you see how much people will pay for what you consider your old "junk." Following is a list of 10 1980s vintage items that have value on eBay, and you may have some of these items in your home right now.

Vintage Concert T-Shirts

Those concert and rock band t-shirts are worth good money on eBay. Authentic t-shirts from bands including Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Rolling Stones, Journey, ACDC, Devo, and Metallica can sell for over $200 on eBay.

To keep things confusing yet interesting, stores like Kohls, Walmart, and Old Navy are now manufacturing "vintage inspired" t-shirts so a lot of you'll find out there in thrift stores isn't actually vintage. Do your homework by looking at the garment tag and check where the item was made to determine if it's actually vintage or a modern-day copy. 

Flip Clock Radios

Remember the clock radio with the flipping digital-style numbers in the movie Groundhog Day? Or the clock that Marty McFly used in the movie Back to the Future? Or maybe you had one that you used in elementary or high school. You can probably remember hearing the clicking sound of the numbers flipping.

Those old flip clock radios are highly collectible and make great sellers on eBay. The Panasonic brand sells for the most, sometimes as much as $300. So if you have one of these clocks stashed away in your junk, or see one at a garage sale or thrift store, check out the value on eBay. You may have an item in your home that can pay your car payment next month!

Action Figures

You may have some seriously big money potential if you've kept your action figure collection from the 1980s. Lots of these toys sell for big cash, sometimes upwards of $1,000 depending on the item or items. Star Wars figures, Transformers, and GI Joes command the highest prices.

Even if the action figures aren't in pristine condition, they will still sell. Collectors love their action figures! Remember the movie "The 40 Year Old Virgin" where the guy worshipped his action figure collection? That's real. Grown men (and women) go to eBay to find more things for their collections. If you're holding on to your G.I. Joes or Luke Skywalker figures from the 80s and your kids have no interest, it may be time to sell them to pay for a vacation cruise!

Boomboxes

Ahhh, the 80s. The time when bigger was better. Big hair, big sweaters, and big radios. Boomboxes were a prominent part of the 80s culture. Also known as ghetto blasters, you'd see these not just on street corners, but by the pool, the lake, the beach, in the park, pretty much anywhere you went.

For unfamiliar readers, a boombox was a large, battery-operated AM/FM radio with big attached speakers, and it usually came with a cassette player. It was very loud and you could often see young people walking down the street carrying one on their shoulder while it belted out 80s pop and rap music. And yes, these still sell on eBay.

Depending on the brand and features, some boomboxes can sell for over $800 on eBay. Additionally, these can sell even if in non-working condition for parts. Gen Xers with their heart and soul stuck in the 1980s may have a hobby or passion for restoring boomboxes and need parts that are no longer made or available on the consumer market. 

Board Games

Like action figures, board games are highly collectible. Sure, some people may actually play them, but their value lies in their collectible nature. Remember games like:

  • Fireball Island
  • The Goonies (from the movie by the same name)
  • Ouija Board
  • The Dark Tower
  • Nintendo Legend of Zelda

Some can sell for over $100 on eBay. Even the game pieces have value, and if you don't have the complete game, you can sell the board and game pieces separately. Buyers may be trying to complete their own game set, and people do all kinds of other things with game pieces like making jewelry, Christmas ornaments, or decorative art for their homes. The boards can be used to make table tops or framed for an interesting conversation piece. 

Sneakers and Running Shoes

Bestsellers here are Nike waffle running shoes, Vans, and Converse. Vintage Vans slip-on canvas shoes with the checkerboard print (style #5) have sold for over $400 on eBay! These were the shoes made famous by Sean Penn's character, Jeff Spicoli in the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Vintage Nike running shoes with the waffle soles are also highly coveted. The first Nikes of this style, the Cortez, were the royal blue with a yellow swoosh on the side. This style in good condition consistently sells for $300 on eBay. Even in not great condition, they can sell for around $100. The grand prize winner of vintage 1980s shoes is Converse. These can sell for thousands. Converse made several limited edition versions which are collector's items. If you have the box and the original receipt, they will be even more valuable.

 

Smurf-Themed Items

Who knew 30 years post-Smurf, those adorable little blue creatures would be worth so much? Anything Smurfy goes:

  • Board games
  • Small figures
  • Sheets
  • Drinking glasses
  • Plush
  • Costumes
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Posters

Girls rule in this category as Smurfette is the most valuable. A tiny 1 inch tall PVC figurine can sell for over $50! The board game, Smurf Village, consistently sells for over $150 if in new and sealed condition. Watch for this one at garage sales. Hardees made a set of collectible Smurf drinking glasses and these sell for over $100 if you have all 14.

Strawberry Shortcake Dolls

These were enormously popular in the 1980s. eBay shows 1,400+ sold items with the keyword "Vintage Strawberry Shortcake" in preowned condition. That tells us that these items are out there, they aren't terribly rare, and they sell on eBay. If the doll is in the original box it can be worth hundreds.

Orange Blossom, Mint Tulip, Banana Twirl, and Peach Blossom Strawberry Shortcake dolls all sell for over $400 if in the original box. The houses, clothes, and accessories are valuable. A set of the "Merry Attic" plastic furniture sells for over $100! That's right, a few pieces of tiny plastic fashioned into doll furniture is worth $100.

Collecting is serious business, and if you learn what collectors want and how to find it, you can make a killing on eBay selling it. Even things like stationery, paper party plates, mugs, hair barrettes, sheets (you don't need the whole set), throw blankets, or bicycle license plates can sell. 

Prom Dresses

If you were lucky enough to go to a prom in the 1980s and saved your dress, they're worth money on eBay. Remember the ruffles, puffy sleeves, and hoop skirts? Some fashions never die, even though they probably should.

Vintage prom dresses can sell for over $200 on eBay. This is another great item to look for at garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment stores. The bigger and more ostentatious the better! Loud colors, metallic fabric, exaggerated details like mutton chop sleeves, big bows, colors that don't match, and puffy flowers. Yep, that's the 80s. 

People these days are seeking out authentic 80s vintage fashion, so while you think your old prom dress might be worthless or even ugly, somebody somewhere will buy it and probably for more than you can imagine. Who knew prom dresses would appreciate over time? 

Scratch and Sniff Stickers

It seems like kids put stickers on everything in the 80s. Notebooks, lockers, sticker books, and each other. The scratch and sniff stickers were really popular, with scents like chocolate, fruit, or pizza.

There was a brand called Mello Smello that was popular. Hallmark also had a line of chocolate scented candy themed stickers. Lots (groups) of stickers, especially still new in the package (called new old stock) can sell for over $100 on eBay. There was another product, stickers and trading cards called Wacky Packs with take-offs of name brand products.

These were very clever and funny, like Moron Salt (instead of Morton Salt), Wind-Hex with a witch on the front (instead of Windex), and Ego (instead of Eggo) waffles. You might find these in those aisles of junk at thrift stores. It is worth looking at the little stuff, too.

The 1980s were a great time to be a teenager. Your main focus might have been what to wear to school the next day (Gloria Vanderbilt or Calvin Klein jeans) when you might run out of Aqua Net hairspray, or what was playing on the radio. Plenty of sentimental Gen Xers out there are more than willing to buy your 80s stuff, or maybe you want to start buying their stuff to add to your own collection.