How to Buy and Sell Collectible Coffee Mugs on eBay
If you are looking for a product that is easy to find, inexpensive to buy, and potentially profitable, you might want to consider selling used coffee mugs.
On average, they sell for less than $20 including shipping and considering that the cost of a mug is usually under $1 there is the potential to make a profit on most mugs. However, some sell for hundreds of dollars, which makes the investment of the fifty cents or a dollar it costs to buy a mug worth the risk.
Once you learn a bit about buying and selling mugs, the return on your investment will grow.
Pros and Cons
Everybody needs one
They are breakable and require protective packaging when it comes to shipping
People love them and continue to use them even when they are broken
Many are not particularly valuable
They are easy to find, commonly turning up in thrift stores, consignment shops, or at garage sales
Shipping can be expensive depending on where you are located
Used mugs are affordable, with most priced at under $1 and collectible mugs priced at $3 dollars or less
There are many people selling them online
They are easy to store
It is easy to determine whether a mug is in good or bad condition
Buying Mugs to Sell
Like every item, there are some mugs that are more valuable than others. Learning which ones to pick up and which ones to leave behind is a process that will take time. If you aren't buying a mug online, check the condition by searching for chips, cracks, scratches, and stains. Generally, you want them to be in nearly perfect condition. If buying online, try to look for these discrepancies in the images provided. Here is a short list of types of mugs to look out for as you get started but be aware, not all are equal when it comes to value.
Coffee mugs are easy to check for damage. Simply check each one carefully for chips, cracks, scratches and stains. Generally, you want your mugs to be in nearly perfect condition.
What Mugs Should You Buy?
- Vintage Pyrex, Fire King and Anchor-Hocking.
- Vintage restaurant ware.
- Starbucks. Some are quite valuable but many are not. I leave behind most Starbucks mugs.
- Mugs depicting famous places, people, TV shows or movies.
- Disney mugs can be good or bad. They sell a lot of items at retail price when they are first released so I an Disney mug is not necessarily a good thing. In general, the Disney Store and Disney Parks mugs are a better choice. Shop carefully and be picky.
- Fine china manufacturers like Lenox, Villeroy & Boch, Portmeirion, Tiffany, Wedgwood, Adams and Royal Albert.
- Vintage Taylor and Ng.
- The FTD mug known as the Big Hug Mug, which is shown below. It appeared in an interrogation scene on HBO's television series True Detectives. Since then, it become highly sought after, peaked and plummeted in value.
- Newer mugs by companies like Anthropologie, Tim Hortons, Davidstea.
Pricing Collectible Mugs
A helpful approach to pricing is to do an eBay search of listings with the highest prices listed first. Scanning a few of the top listings will give you an idea of important keywords to use in your listing title and will allow you to determine what you might expect to get.
The price is ultimately your choice, but having an idea of what they usually sell for will help you price it reasonably while still making a profit.
I recently sold a vintage green jadeite mug. It might have generated more excitement if I had listed it at a lower price. Since I am aware that I do not often have a lot of success in the auction format, I started it at a price which I knew would cover my shipping costs and allow me to make a profit. I still managed to draw a couple of bidders.
I priced it at $39.96 and the final sale price was $45, which I was happy with. My costs for selling (including purchase, shipping, eBay and PayPal fees) left me with a profit of $27.29, which is not bad considering my initial investment of one dollar.
Packaging Coffee Mugs for Shipping
My shipping method is fairly straightforward and I have yet to deliver a broken cup.
- Use bubble wrap with large bubbles.
- Wrap the mug twice using a wide, 12-inch strip of bubble wrap with the bubbles facing in.
- Secure the ends of the wrap with packing tape. (Scotch tape will not hold.)
- Place the wrapped mug in a box, leaving some wiggle room and making sure it's not too tight. (Fill any extra space with filler, such as more bubble wrap or newspaper.)
- Situate the handle in the corner of the box and cushion it. This is the most vulnerable piece.
- No part of the mug touch the box. Make sure it is well padded before shipping.
This YouTube video outlines the best way to package a mug, which you definitely should employ for those valuable mugs. I particularly like the addition of the cardboard to protect the handle.
The Perfect Box For Shipping Mugs
If you want to buy just one size of box, you might go for the 8 inch by 8 inch by 8 inch box, which would work for both smaller mugs and for larger mugs though in the case of the smaller one you will have space to fill.
I now keep on hand THREE sizes of boxes for mugs so that I can pick the perfect one. Those sizes include 6 inch, 7 inch and 8 inch square. This allows me to reach for the appropriately sized box and to avoid having to fill empty space in a box that is slightly to big.
Have You Ever Sold a Coffee Mug?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2011 Treasures By Brenda