Generationally, the Boomers made a huge cultural splash, (just ask one). Gen X had its moment with grunge flannel fashions, Brat Pack films, and musical giants like Prince and Madonna, but the Millennials seem most determined to leave an indelible mark on America’s pop culture.
As the eldest Millennials near 40, they are reaching the “Nostalgia Zone” – that age when we look back on everything from our childhoods with fondness. That means they will be drawn by a supernatural force—like something out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer—toward garage sales and yard sales for 90’s items and other tokens of their not-so-long-lost past.
Here are some leading 90’s items that Millennials should snap up if they find them at vintage yard sales.
Throwback Music Platforms
Technology advances for a reason. Innovation makes living easier. Still, there is a voice in all of us that clings to some objects from our past. These 90’s items stand out as signposts on Millennial memory lane.
Walkman—If it’s true that an interest in beekeeping skips a generation, the same must be said about fans of the Sony Walkman. When it was first introduced in 1979 until production ended in 2010, the portable cassette player freed younger people from the reign of the FM radio program director on their transistor radios.
They were portable and easy to use, but they didn’t always stand up to the wear and tear of everyday use and they had a bad habit of eating tapes. These traits have not dimmed the affections of those driven by Millennial nostalgia from seeking them out, especially one in mint condition, or from snapping up any functioning cassette tapes they can find at their nearest vintage yard sale.
Vinyl records—While GenXers embraced CD technology wholeheartedly and lured their Boomer elders along with digital remasters of classic Beatles and Pink Floyd albums, none of them ever imagined that Millennials would embrace retro vinyl records even after MP3 technology was everywhere.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, as of 2019, vinyl record sales have increased for fourteen years in a row. Along with the sale of vinyl records comes the need for turntables to play them on, as well as an increased demand for vintage vinyl at yard sales, which may mean that your dusty old box of LPs up in the attic are worth more than you think.
Old School Technology
Millennials first began goofing around on their parents’ computers back when floppy disks were still a thing and email wasn’t. They grew up during one of the most dramatic periods of innovation in human history: the Tech Revolution. As such, they are inclined to maintain a soft spot for to prehistoric floppy and 3.5-inch disks.
But the true focal point of Millennial passion for most prized 90’s items are Old School video games. Many a Millennial has tracked the evolution of the video game from Pong to Space Invaders to Tetris to the over-the-top hyper-realistic, online role-playing games of today.
Gameboy—Among 90’s items, the Gameboy is the Holy Grail of vintage Millennial electronics. Select games for Gameboys range in price from a few dollars to a hundred, whereas mint Gameboy players can fetch $700 or more.
Nintendo NES—The Nintendo NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) reigned supreme among home gaming systems from 1985 to 1995. Known as a platform for popular games, such as Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda, the system likely enjoys a fond place in Millennial’s hearts because it encouraged friends and family to gather around the machine.
While the systems don’t bring top dollar, they remain popular items at garage sales not because they are collector’s items but because people are still playing them!
Toys & Kids Stuff
Polaroid cameras—The Polaroid camera was the go-to accessory for every kid at a bar miztvah or middle school bus trip to Washington D.C. And even though these days, when we feel like the phone camera’s got everything covered, we can all recall the appeal of the Polaroid, the experience of the shared excitement that came from shaking the film until the image was revealed.
Lisa Frank—There were no 90’s items that captured the candy-colored, carefree spirit of the Millennial age like Lisa Frank designs, with her bright cheery, rainbow color schemes and her lovable stuffed animals. For twenty years, her vibrant designs graced the bedrooms, backpacks, and spiral notebooks of almost every pre-teen girl in the country.
Sadly, the Lisa Frank empire collapsed in the early 2010s, which means 90’s items that were sold on the cheap at Walmart 20-30 years ago are becoming 90’s collectors’ items. And Lisa Frank stickers and stationery are likely to be Millennial favorites at vintage yard sales for years to come.
Beanie Babies—Has so much ever been made of something as little as the Beanie Baby? This undisputed champion of Millennial nostalgia was little more than a bean bag shaped like an animal, and yet they captured public imagination among kids and adults alike.
With their signature tags and their endless roll-out of special limited-run beanies, they might as well have rolled off the assembly line with the words “collector’s item!” stamped on them. And though the luster has long faded, many of the rarer items are still worth thousands today. So, if you have any lying around, they could fetch top dollar!
Find Your Favorites
These are just a few of the endless trends of 90’s items that captured the imagination of America’s youth. If you are a Millennial, you probably have your own favorites that you are on the lookout for when you hit the sales. Make sure you make Yard Sale Radar a part of your search to up your chances of finding some of these tangible memories.