September 9, 2022
min read

Collector's guide to 80's and 90's vintage stickers

In this series, we'll feature Q&As with collectors of all kinds, find out why they collect what they do, some of their prized finds, and share tips on shopping and listing collectibles on Mercari.

Team Mercari

Ever wondered why collectors collect what they do? One of the top categories on Mercari, Collectibles are huge … from sports memorabilia to coins, Squishmallow plushies to Mini Brands and beyond, there’s something for everyone. In this Collector’s Guide series, we’ll meet collectors of all kinds, find out all about their hobbies, and get their tips on buying and selling.  And we’ll start with 80's and 90's vintage stickers… including my very own experience getting (back) into this blast from my past.

During the height of the pandemic, I desperately needed a hobby. Something to keep my mind busy, to give me something to do while stuck inside the house. So I asked myself, “what’s something I loved doing as a kid?” The answer smacked me in the face: sticker collecting. I loved stickers. In fact, I’d kept my collection all these years, and – feeling nostalgic – I headed to my garage to gaze upon the scratch ‘n sniffs and puffy stickers of my youth. 

Some of my favorites

But after checking every box to no avail, I finally came to terms with it: I’d lost my collection. 

Sad trumpet noise.

But not for long. Intending only to find some photos online, a quick Google search of “80's scratch ‘n sniff stickers” brought me to Mercari, where I found a bunch for sale. And, that was it. I’d found my new hobby: re-collecting vintage stickers.

In the process, I did what any hyper-fixated collector would – I went looking for like-minded people … and found a tribe online. After joining multiple groups of vintage sticker fanatics from all over the world, a new friend and I started up one of our own, and Stickerland was born. 

In Stickerland, hundreds of collectors feed off each others’ sticker addictions. We buy and sell, trade and auction all things nostalgia stickers, from fuzzies, puffies, scratch ‘n sniffs, and prisms to stickers featuring brands such as Lisa Frank, Sandylion, Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, and Rainbow Brite. It’s a place where 80’s dreams are made, and many of us find a good portion of our stash on marketplaces like Mercari

In this collector’s guide to vintage stickers, you’ll get to know Mandy and Joanna, fellow sticker collectors who share why they got into this hobby, some of their prized favorites, and what they love about shopping and selling on Mercari. And, I’ll share my own tips on buying and selling.

Remember Toots? They're made by the brand Cardesign.

Q: When and why did you get into vintage sticker collecting?

Mandy S.:  “I first collected them as a child. I remember my best friend and I trading stickers. Scratch ‘n sniff stickers were the best – I carried my sticker box around everywhere I went. When the pandemic hit, I saw a post online – someone had posted photos of their sticker collection. The familiar images took me back to my youth,, and I went on a hunt. 

First I bought some Cabbage Patch Kid puffies, then other 80’s characters and then the holy grail: Lisa Frank stickers. Then, it happened: I found a seller that had Stinky Stickers and she kept amazing care of them! It was the biggest sticker purchase I’d made. When they arrived, I went through each one, smelling them and laughing as I teased my children to smell the nasty ones like ‘stinky shoes.’ There were great smelling stickers, too – my favorite was watermelon. 

Yep, they still smell exactly like you remember

I’ve learned about so many different stickers, and I love the history of the sticker companies. My favorite part of it all is meeting new people and finding out we have the same sticker love and passion to help each other find the stickers we want and need to add to our collections.”

Joanna B.: “My husband and I became obsessed with Geedis, a silly internet mystery from a few years ago, and I found some of those sticker sheets online. After I bought them for what seemed like a ridiculous amount of money at the time – I've since spent way more on a single sheet! – I framed them and hung them in my dining room like family portraits. 

Geedis stickers! Credit: Joanna B.

A while later, I found a big photo album full of Lisa Frank stickers at a secondhand shop in my hometown. I sold them all but quickly regretted it, and after that, I started rebuying stickers I remembered from childhood and other ones that just made me laugh. My daughter was four when Covid hit, we really couldn't go anywhere, and things felt pretty bleak for a while. Getting stickers in the mail was the brightest spot in my day, and still is sometimes!” 

RELATED: 8 Mercari finds that give us serious nostalgia

Q: What's your favorite brand or style of sticker?

Mandy: Cardesign and Illuminations, hands down. 1980’s stickers are just the best – the details, the quality, the colors, and the amazing art.”

Joanna: “I'm trying to collect all 120+ Sandylion Maxi Activities. They're sheets that have one big sticker that's an empty scene and smaller stickers that you can place in the scene, like a beach and bunny sunbathers or a mad scientist's laboratory and some monsters. I really like stickers that show a background/context for the stickers rather than just having isolated figures, so these are right up my alley. I have about half of them so far (the easy half!).”

Sandylion maxi activity stickers
RELATED: 5 in-demand items for sports memorabilia collectors and fans

Q: Tell me about a great 'score' or 'jackpot' you made when hunting for stickers online.

Mandy: “My best score was a NIP (new in package) Hallmark Rainbow Brite puffy sticker sheet for $18.00. The actual price for this sticker can go anywhere from $60-$100!”

Joanna: “I bought four vintage sticker albums online full of awesome stickers, and tucked into a pocket, completely intact – and not mentioned in the listing – were some of the rarest and most expensive Sandylion Maxi Activities I've seen, like Adorn a Christmas Unicorn. It was a huge win!”

The actual Adorn a Christmas Unicorn Sandylion sheet. Credit: Joanna B.

Q: What do you enjoy about Mercari, as a collector?

Mandy: “As a shopper, what I love about Mercari is that I can follow my favorite sellers and get updates when they add items, so I can try to be first to snag any must-have stickers they might list!"

Joanna: "I've sold on Mercari, and I really felt like they had the seller's back. The buyer's ability to try any funny stuff was very limited. It's become a big problem on other platforms so it was much appreciated! I also like how much Mercari fits into the search results. I like to take in a lot of information quickly, so the display with wide columns of many pictures works well for me.”

If all this sticker talk has you curious about collecting (or re-collecting), here are a few tips for shopping and selling on Mercari:

  1. Try a bunch of different search terms combined with ‘stickers’ to find all sorts of gems: retro, vintage, NOS (new old stock), NIP (new in package), 80s, 90s, old school. Try searching on different types, like scratch n’ sniff, puffy, fuzzy (and who can forget oilie?). You can also unearth a lot of serious nostalgia searching for specific themes or brands, like “80s Halloween Hallmark stickers” or “vintage puffy Sanrio stickers.” 
Press 'em and they change color. Still!
  1. See stickers you like on Mercari? Consider making an offer or giving the item a ‘like,’ so you’ll be first to be notified if the seller drops the price. And, save your search on Mercari so you can be notified first of new listings, and quickly find the latest (sticker people tend to pounce!).
  1. Got an old album full of stickers you no longer want? Sticker collectors LOVE buying old albums – some collectors even use tools like a Xyron to restore old stickers onto backings. No need to spend time unsticking those googly-eyed puffy stickers from pages and attempting to list them individually, unless you really want to. Take some good quality photos (head here for tips) of your album pages, and list the album as-is.
  1. If you’re ready to list but don’t know how to price your stickers for sale, a quick Mercari search on similar sold listings can help you get into the right ballpark. You might also try joining some vintage sticker communities online to get input, especially if you think your collection might have some rare finds.

Collecting is a great hobby, and there’s nothing like that rush of making a great find. So whether it’s stickers, records, sports cards, action figures, or whatever it is that brings you joy, go for it! You’re never too old – this is coming from a 40-something mom with a now-massive collection of cute, colorful sticky paper from the 80’s. 

Stay tuned for more Q&As with collectors right here on Mercari’s Full Circle blog, and in the meantime, check out these vintage stickers on the Mercari marketplace or check out all sorts of other collectibles. See you there.