If you’ve got a closet full of old toys or you love to thrift, you’ve probably wondered if you could sell board games. Toys are big business on Amazon and eBay, and new and used board games are no exception.
I remember when I first discovered that used board games were profitable on Amazon. I was out sourcing at a yard sale and found an old Deluxe Scrabble board game (the one in the red box).
I had played this game as a kid so I decided to go ahead and scan it just for kicks. Well to my surprise, this used board game was going to make me over $100! And the best part? It only cost $2 at the yard sale.
Most of my retail arbitrage methods are based on buying new items, but sourcing for used board games can be really fun and profitable!
I consulted with my friend Stephen Smotherman to gather some tips for anyone who's considering adding board games to their inventory. Stephen is the author of the book The Reseller's Guide to Board Games, so I'm glad he took the time to share some tips with me.
Today I'm going to explain why I think that selling board games is a smart idea for online resellers. Then we'll get right to the tips so that you can get out there and start searching for board game goodies!
Why You Should Sell Board Games
Used board games are cheap, profitable, abundant, and FUN to shop for. Sometimes you can even find brand new board games for bargain prices at thrift shops or yard sales.
There are a lot of good reasons to sell board games, but here are some of the most enticing ones for online sellers.
Much like used books, it's really hard to beat the ROI (return on investment) on board games. Where else can you snag an item for $1-$2 that you can easily sell for $25, $50, or even more than $100?
But what makes board games even better than niche books is their strong sentimental value. When someone spots a hard-to-find game from their childhood, you can bet that they're willing to pay a high price for it.
And even though someone could go to every thrift store, garage sale, and estate sale in their town, they'd probably rather just do a quick search on Amazon and then get their favorite board game delivered in two days!
I've always had good luck selling board games, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't the only one! I asked Stephen to share some of his recent board game wins with me. Check out these profits!
Obviously, these are some of Stephen's bigger “home run” finds, but we've both been impressed by how easy it really is to consistently find these kinds of deals.
Profits on a Beginner's Budget
The low cost of purchase and high profit potential make board games perfect for Amazon beginners.
We understand that many new resellers have a small budget to start with. So if you've got $250 to go out shopping, you can really make your money go a long way by buying low-cost items.
I always suggest that beginners diversify their inventory by buying wide instead of deep. Well, you could quickly build a large inventory with a small investment by focusing on board games.
Then, because the ROI is so high, you'll have a lot more money to reinvest after your first used board games sell. If you can turn just $50 of used board games into $100 profit, then you can really start growing your business fast!
Supplement Retail Arbitrage
Even if you're not a beginner, supplementing your traditional retail arbitrage (RA) with board games is a smart idea.
If you stock your inventory with some of these one-off, high ROI winners, you can afford to take lower margins on some other replenishable RA items.
Retail arbitrage resellers are already used to prepping and packing their own items, so adding in used board game sourcing isn't a lot of extra work. The two business models of new RA and used game sourcing really complement each other.
The Best Place to Sell Board Games
This won't surprise my long-time readers, but I think that Amazon FBA is the best place to sell board games! A lot of sellers don't know this, but you can sell new and used board games on Amazon (as long as you follow Amazon's guidelines – more on that later!).
Board games do sell well on eBay, but buyers will pay higher prices for the trust and convenience associated with Amazon's FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) program. And as a seller, you can do your prep all at once and then just send your board games off to Amazon.
If you're already doing retail arbitrage and Amazon FBA, then it's no trouble to add a few board games to your next RA shipment. And then if the customer has any problems, Amazon will be able to handle the customer service.
Stephen and I have put together a list of 7 tips that will help you make the most of your board games sales on Amazon. If you're smart about your sourcing, prep work, and pricing, then you can really make a lot of money by sending board games to Amazon FBA!
1. Know Where to Shop
If you'ew new to reselling or you've only done RA in stores like Walmart, then you might not know where to find valuable board games. We're not talking about current, mass-produced games that are featured at Target, Walmart, and Kohl's. We're doing a bit of a treasure hunt instead 🙂
Yard sales, garage sales, and estate sales are all great sources for used board games. Someone may be unloading their entire personal collection of games all at once and it's up to you to find the hidden gems. Games are likely to be very cheap here, so it's a great place for cash-strapped sellers to source.
Thrift stores (both chains and local options) also generally have a good supply of board games for low prices. If you're already at a thrift store to scan books or housewares, you should definitely take a look at board games, too.
But the best place to buy board games isn't at a store or even a garage sale. The best place to buy games to sell on Amazon is eBay!! That's right, it's easy to double your money (or more) buy buying on eBay and then reselling on Amazon.
Board games might cost a little more on eBay than they do locally, but you can really start to search for rare and high-priced items there.
Here's a good example. One time I found this “Nightmare Video Board Game” at a yard sale and I sold it Used on Amazon for $25. It sold pretty quickly so I decided to see if I could find it somewhere online. I ended up finding it New on eBay for $50, but I then turned around and sold it on Amazon for $170! That means my profit after fees and the cost of the game on eBay was still more than $80!
Remember, board games are everywhere. Once you start looking for them, you'll discover just how many there are for you to scan!
2. Understand Amazon's Condition Guidelines
It's time to clear something up. This whole blog post, I've been talking about selling “Used” board games. And that's a pretty logical way to talk about a board game that has already been opened up and used by someone else.
But Amazon actually doesn't allow anyone to sell toys and games in the “Used” condition. If you're selling used games on Amazon, you actually need to be listing the items as “Collectible.”
It is very important that you follow Amazon's condition guidelines. Amazon won't even let you list a toy or board game as “Used”, so you'll be prompted to use the Collectible Toys & Games condition types right away.
Amazon has detailed condition guidelines for Collectible Toys & Games that are different from their General Condition Guidelines. This information can be found in full on the Condition Guidelines help page in Seller Central.
At the time of this writing, the Toys & Games guidelines are sort of hidden away under the Consumer Electronics section. I'm going to copy and paste the guidelines here for your reference, but always check the original link for the current rules:
“Collectible toys and games must be rare, exclusive, one-of-a-kind, or otherwise unique.
Note: The General Condition Guidelines do not apply to Collectible Toys & Games.
Use the following condition types for Collectible Toys & Games:
- Collectible – Like New: An apparently untouched item in perfect condition. The original protective wrapping, if any, may be missing, but the original packaging is intact. There are absolutely no signs of wear. Suitable for presenting as a gift.
- Collectible – Very Good: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. Item and instructions are complete and undamaged but may show some signs of wear.
- Collectible – Good: Item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition. The original instructions are included and in acceptable condition. The item may be marked, identified, or show other signs of previous use. The item works perfectly and is in good shape overall.”
If you follow these guidelines and grade your Collectible toys carefully, you'll be able to charge the right price for your item and capture more sales.
3. Inspect Used Board Games
This step should really go hand-in-hand with assigning the proper condition guidelines on used (Collectible) board games. It's important that you double and triple check to make sure that ALL of the board game pieces are included.
No one wants to receive a game only to find out that it's missing pieces and can no longer be played. It's just good customer service for you to take the extra time to inspect each used game before sending it off to Amazon.
Sometimes you might not know exactly which pieces are supposed to be included. Luckily there are sites like boardgamegeek.com that have detailed information on how many of each piece is included in most board games.
If you do find that you're missing a piece but you still want to sell the game, you can often track down replacement pieces on eBay. That way you can complete your game for maximum profits (and happy customers!!).
If you're selling used electronic board games (like the original Mall Madness), you'll also need to check the batteries. First, you should check that the battery compartment is not corroded. Then go ahead and put in fresh batteries to make sure that all the buttons still work.
I like to remove the new batteries from the game's battery compartment after testing, but I do include fresh batteries in the box. I also add a condition note on Amazon that says “Fresh batteries included.” Again, it's just an extra step that will help you get the sale and keep your customers happy.
4. Board Game Packaging
To keep your board games in the best condition, it's important to package them properly for shipment to Amazon or the customer.
My top choice for packaging board games is an impulse sealer with a heat gun. However, for smaller games, self-sealing poly bags are a great choice. If you need recommendations for these items, I discuss my favorite packaging products in my blog post about how to package bundles.
You might find board games at thrift stores that are held together by a rubber band or tape. I don't recommend sending in games this way to Amazon! Both tape and rubber bands could easily break in a FBA warehouse or even while sitting on a hot UPS truck.
5. Pricing Strategies
Prices can really fluctuate on collectible board games, especially as supply decreases. You can check Keepa or CamelCamelCamel for pricing history on Amazon. If that doesn't give you enough information, you can search for your game on eBay.
Board games sell on Amazon all year long, but things can really take off during Q4 (aka the holiday selling season). Many board games, both new and used, sell for much more during November and December.
Again, if you use Keepa to check price history, go ahead and see if there were any price fluctuations last November/December. If the price really goes sky high, then you can always price accordingly and enjoy increased profits!
6. Profit Off of Parts
You know how sometimes a junk car is worth more when it's sold for its parts? Well, sometimes board games are the same way!
If you end up with a half-empty board game box, you can try to make a little extra profit by checking the individual pieces on eBay. Your unwanted pieces could be just the missing part that another seller or collector needs!
I know some eBay sellers who source used board games locally just to sell the parts. When you think about it, it's not a bad idea if you can get a whole used board game for $2 to sell the pieces for $1-$5 each.
Not sure which pieces have value and which are just trash? Do some research online in advance. You can always go to eBay and search for “replacement game pieces” in the sold listings.
7. Unknown Games, Unlimited Profits
Once you've been scanning and selling board games for a while, you'll start to recognize the good sellers. You'll get faster at quickly scanning a room and spotting the valuable board games.
But don't let your “scanning eye” get lazy! If you see a game that you've never heard of, you want to scan it right away. Sure, it could be a strange game that no one wants, but it could also be something really rare and profitable!
Stephen was telling me about a board game called “Space Hulk.” I had never heard of it and neither had he until he spotted it in a thrift store. But he knew that it was worth scanning anyway and sure enough it was selling for $219 on Amazon. It's now a game that I look for as it consistently sells for anywhere between $199 and $400 on Amazon!
Everything You Need to Know About Selling Board Games
If this blog post has you searching the newspaper for estate sales, you're going to want to check out Stephen's amazing guide The Reseller's Guide to Board Games: How to Turn Play Money into Real Money.
I've read Stephen's book and it's packed with all the information you need to find, buy, prepare, and sell board games for maximum profits. In the book, Stephen shares all of his most profitable secrets and even generously shares 50 board game BOLOs!
I wish I had a book like this when I first started selling board games on Amazon! This guide will definitely help you get started selling board games without making a lot of beginner mistakes. It eliminates the guesswork so that you can focus on sourcing games and turning a profit!
If you're looking for a fun and affordable way to diversify your inventory, I can't recommend board games enough! And if you really want to master the board games niche, then Stephen's book is the way to go!
I know that all of the inspecting and packaging can seem like a lot of work compared to regular RA. My tip for new board game sellers would be not to go overboard at first.
You have to spend the time making sure that these games are complete and nicely packaged before sending them in. If you don't stay on top of it, you could end up with a heaping stack of games that need processing. Start with a few used board games, get them to Amazon, and watch them sell! The ROI should motivate you to stick with it 🙂
So what do you think? Are you inspired to give it a go? Let me know in the comments if you're ready to sell board games!