Know the market. The best way to find what is selling is to search eBay's completed auctions. From the drop down box, select highest ending to see what and why. Check the sold items - not the hopefuls (unsolds). Read the description to see what made that gadget so valuable.
Subscribe to Kovel's free website for approximate values on antiques and collectibles - remember that the market fluctuates and a gadget is only worth what someone is willing to pay. This is true whether you are selling on eBay or through a consignment store.
Grandma's "rare" set of English teacups might not be as rare as you think. A few years back, when people were into tea parties, teacups were an hot item. The market has cooled and unless it is a Shelley China, Co. teacup, I will pass thank you very much. Know the market.
Know your product. There are some can't lose products; old Waterford crystal, vintage Christmas decorations, 1920's era pottery just to name a few (I can't give you all of my secrets).
It has to be authentic. Do not sell an item on eBay without being certain that it is authentic. If it is not authentic your listing will be pulled and you will get a big, old strike.
American Indian items continue to be highly collectible and eBay auctions are closely monitored. A good, free (I am all about the free) website is Indian Territory ; do not bug them with every little basket you find - they might change their mind about the free part. First do your research, if you think it is authentic, then send them a picture.
The web is full of free research sites - use them! Know your product.
Know the news. This is where a gamble can pay off. A company announces a new gadget, but the supply will be limited - boom, some entrepreneur waited in line for days to be the first person to buy all the gadgets. Now the gadgets are only available on eBay for two or three times retail. You're left wondering why you didn't think of it first... you were not watching the trends.
Soon you will catch yourself eavesdropping on adolescent conversations to find out what is hot! Know the news.
Illustration: Know the market: Charles Schultz drawings are very collectible. Know the product: Three large black marker drawings on heavy artist paper signed Schultz without a copyright mark. Six dollars each in a consignment store. Know the news: It was 2001 and Charles M. Schultz had passed away in 2000 at the young age of 77.
The three drawings were found rolled up and in the back corner of a side room in one of my favorite consignment stores. When I asked about the history of the drawings (useful when writing an eBay description), the store owner said that she had a "paper expert" look at them. The "paper expert" said, because the lines were broken, the drawings were prints. (Treasure goose bumps formed on my arms). Through my research I learned that most prints have a copyright symbol, none here. Prints on heavy, bumpy artist paper, not typical. Heavy black marker on bumpy paper; broken line. After research and attempts to authenticate them, the drawings went up for auction: $75.00 each. They were clearly described as unauthenticated Charles Schultz drawings. Ten day auction, ending price $1,000.00 per drawing!
That is how you win. Know the market, know the product and know the news. Check back for shopping estate sales. I won't give you all my secrets... But I will point you in the right direction and tell you about a little Pewabic Pottery vase.