Don’t be so quick to dispose of “dust-collectors” in your attic or basement; you may be surprised just how much some items can be worth. Whether it be vintage magazines, outdated furniture, or even old clothes, there are a number of ways to make a quick buck on stuff you simply don’t use anymore. 

According to, there are a few things to consider before appraising your old treasures. The item, completeness, condition, function, authenticity, and scarcity/rarity will all determine the value of the object. As you begin the somewhat daunting task of rummaging through all of your things and considering what may be valuable, it may be helpful to ask yourself a few important questions. Does the item have all its original parts? Is it still functional? What is the originality of the piece? Is it easily replaceable?

Furniture finds

Michael Merisola, owner and operator of the vintage furniture and decor store CooCooU on Niagara Street in Buffalo, is living testament to the importance of knowing the worth of items lurking in your basement.

“When I first moved out on my own, all I could afford was the Goodwill and Salvation Army. All you were seeing back then in the thrift stores was this cool modern design. At the time, I had no idea what I was looking at,” he says. 

He grew to realize the novelty of the second-hand finds in his apartment during his first trip to New York City when he was twenty years old. He walked into an art gallery and was completely amazed at what he saw.  

“I just looked at everything and said, ‘Wait a minute. I have that, and that, and one of those!’ I asked the curator of the gallery if he would be interested in buying anything. So I went home, took pictures of all my Salvation Army furniture, got them developed and sent them in. Sure enough, the guy showed up at my house and bought my entire apartment. I had no idea the value of those things at the time.” 

Merisola has since cultivated the ability to spot a valuable piece of furniture a mile away, a proficiency that has taken years to perfect. It’s easy to mistake outdated furniture or decor as dispensable, but you never know the hidden gems that could earn you a pretty penny. 


Sell your stuff

Sift through the old clothing and accessories in your closets and stored around the house. Instead of simply donating clothes, consider finding a thrift store that is willing to purchase your old clothing from you. Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor pay cash on the spot for gently used items in good condition, as well as handbags, jewelry, shoes, and accessories. Visit or to find a store closest to you. 

For jewelry appraisals, consider Barbara Oliver Jewelry located on Main Street in Buffalo. Visit the website to see hours of operation. 

Roycroft Campus Antiques in East Aurora has a long history of appraising and buying antiques. Their website lists a variety of items they are interested in appraising, including rugs, glassware, coins, and artwork. With years of experience and a keen interest in the antiques industry, the family-run business is always looking for antiques to add to the store, as well as offer appraisals. Items can be brought into the store (call for an appointment) or contact them by phone. Visit the website at or call 655-1565.

With the help of modern technology, there are a number of easy ways to get a quick appraisal for the objects in your home. If visiting an appraiser in person isn’t something that interests you, try an online service. Country Living Magazine has a free online appraisal service with expert Helaine Fendelman, who uses her thirty years of appraisal experience to provide a detailed appraisal. Visit the website at or email with any questions. is another free site that offers expert advice. Your questions will be answered by the community (other readers) as well as the site’s antiques experts. Use caution, however; not all of the people commenting are experts, but you may get a good idea of a price range for the worth of your item. 

Whether it be an old set of chairs or a box of old clothes, there may be value lurking where you least expect it.  

Liberty Darr is a Buffalo Spree intern and Buffalo State student studying journalism.

Wendy Guild Swearingen is Senior Editor of BUFFALO SPREE MAGAZINE, and Editor of FOREVER YOUNG MAGAZINE.

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