How to Sell Legos Online for Cash
My 12 Year Old Son's Experience
My son Brendan set up his online Lego business with my help when he was 12. He set up the store and interacted with customers and I handled payments and shipping. In six months, he had sold everything in his store and made $900 from sets that had been purchased for under $200. He kept that money in a college fund and has added to it through working as a lifeguard.
Good Beginning Business
While I wondered at the time whether this idea of selling on Bricklink was worth it, I now realize that my son's experience in this business was transformational to his character. He realized that he could do something important and that he was able to run a business. Now my son is 19 and over the last 7 years he has deliberately bought new and used Lego sets with an eye to their resale value. All in all, I am very glad I invested in his "crazy idea."
Used Lego Sets are Easy to Sell
Unlike most toys, Lego sets continue to have adult fans, and the adults who collect are serious and will pay good money to get what they want. In fact, used sets tend to become more valuable the older they get, especially if they are complete. It helps to still have the boxes and instructions but those aren't essential.
While sets that are still in boxes are prime, most buyers don’t expect that. They do like instructions but anyone can download those from Building Instructions from Lego.com (for sets going back to 2002), or the free site run by building enthusiasts, Lego Instructions. You can print them out, or just give the buyer directions on how to find them. Unless a set has been unpopular, Lego sets tend to retain their original value and even go up over time. What is important is having all the pieces in the set. Complete sets are worth a lot more than just a bunch of pieces. They are also easier to sell. If you are missing some pieces, you can often find these online at Bricklink.
How to Set up Your Store
You need to click on the “Sell” tab at the top of the page. There will be a helpful page in which you can tell what, and in what condition, your sets and parts are. Don’t do that yet. You need to create the store settings. Click on “My Store Settings”. There will be several things for you to fill out on that page.
Fill everything out and then click on the tabs above to set other things. Be to click “Save Settings” at the bottom after you finish each page! You will need to enter an email address and also set up a sellers account at PayPal. That is where a parent needs to help. Bricklink also allows you to take checks, but PayPal is a lot faster and easier for most customers.
How to Set Up Your Business
The best way to start your business is to go to a site called Bricklink, which is an online mega-store for used Lego sets and bricks, basically an eBay for all things Lego. Sellers can set up a store and buyers can either browse for a specific product or browse stores. As a seller, you can use the prices at other stores to help you decide what to charge for your stock. To set up your business:
- Decide on a name and create a store (see the video for instructions).
- Attach your store to an email and PayPal account (that is where an adult over 18 has to be involved).
- Inventory what you want to sell.
- Add your items to your storefront and price them.
- Luckily, pictures of the item are easy to add from Bricklink, or you can take your own photos of built sets.
- Get some packing materials for shipping (we ordered flat rate priority and priority envelopes for free from USPS).
- Open up your store and wait for sales or emails from customers.
- Be ready to mail out at any time and be sure to check the email at least daily for questions from buyers.
One thing we found out was that buyers on Bricklink expect to pay for shipping, and the international buyers are not deterred by shipping costs. Moreover, they are also some of the best buyers because some international collectors can’t get Lego sets they want in any other way. So it is a good idea to agree to ship outside the U.S. if you want to get the best prices on your items.
Do I need to take photos of my sets?
No! One of the best features of Bricklink is that you don’t have to take any pictures of your items! The site has pictures of all the sets and pieces pre-loaded and all you have to do is check the box for a picture when you list an item and Bricklink will automatically put the correct picture next to your item. That makes it easy!
Add Items to Store
After you have set up your store, it is time to fill it! Choose the items you want to sell and be sure to clean them. Check to be sure you have all the pieces and put them all together in a box or Ziploc bags. Make sure you don’t have any junk in your pieces. If you have the instructions, you should include those too.
Sets are generally worth more than pieces, because they have more in them, and they’re made officially by the Lego Company. If you have any instructions for sets and have all of the pieces, then rebuild the set! If you don’t have instructions, you can find them online at the Lego website under "service" and "building instructions."
Sets or Bricks?
Do I have to sell just Sets? No, you can sell anything Lego at Bricklink and lots of people offer individual pieces for sale, which are great for anyone who is missing a piece in a set, and will be helpful to you if you have a few pieces missing in your sets.
Tip: If you want to offer individual pieces for sale, you will probably need to divide these up and put them in Ziploc bags, envelopes or plastic sorting bins to keep them organized. Be sure to label the pieces! Look on Bricklink to see how different pieces are labeled so that your buyers can find the pieces they want.
What do you do with your Lego sets?
How to Price Items
Next, check on Bricklink to find out what prices are being asked for the sets you want to sell. Of course themes like Star Wars and Batman will be worth the most, but many other sets can also bring good prices. You have to have an idea of what the other stores are selling the item for before setting your prices. If you want to sell your items fast, you might want to price them slightly below what the competition is asking.
Now you have your items ready to put in your store. Great! You need now to actually put the items in the store. Go back to the helpful page telling you how to put your items in the store, and go through that. Be honest about what your set is like, and you might want to price it down if it is used or in bad condition (If it’s in bad condition, then your price should be pretty low).
Pictures and Pricing: Include pictures in your store by copying the stock pictures on Bricklink. Not getting any orders? Maybe you didn’t check the other prices first and priced it too high, or maybe there isn’t much of a demand for what you’re selling. Just hang in there, and eventually, it will be sold. If you really need to get rid of it, then price it below the competition, which should help. Bricklink lists the lowest cost item first on a search, so this can help your store get traffic too
Can you Make Money?
How to Maintain Your Store
As a parent, I liked the fact that I could have the questions asked by buyers filtered over to my email so I didn't always have to check the Bricklink store or else wait for my son to tell me about them. However, on the other hand, because my son could answer questions through Bricklink, I didn't have to be involved in every transaction.
Usually, the question that buyers want to know is the cost of shipping, so it helps if you have already weighed your sets and can use that weight to figure out shipping costs. You can ship either through UPS or USPS and either site lets you ship from home and offers free boxes to ship with. Buyers on Bricklink know they are paying for shipping, the cost is not a problem, but you will need to tell them how much to pay you on PayPal (price of item plus shipping) before you send the item.
Shipping Lego Sales
You need to get supplies ready for shipping and sending off these sets you have for sale. Get standard boxes to ship the sets in from your mail service. (USPS for me) and some bubble wrap/some sort of cushioning for the sets, especially if they are being sold for a lot. Take sets apart and offer to not include the box to ship more efficiently and lower shipping costs. Bricklink lets you print out a receipt for your orders right on the website. After you ship an item, you can also record the fact that it is shipped on Bricklink so that your buyer knows it is coming.
Whether you help your kids set up a used Lego business or do it yourself, you will be glad you didn't just throw those bricks away when you see the dollars coming in!