June 20, 2011 -- They exist in every home. Junk drawers filled with forgotten items we don't want to throw away, but don't quite know what to do with.
Junk drawers in American homes are estimated to house 15 billion unused gadgets, from cell phones to chargers to old computers and CDs.
The good news for Americans is that their clutter could be turned into cold-hard cash.
"GMA" hit the streets to help families clean up in more ways than one, making a surprise visit to four homes in Closter, N.J., to see how much money could be sitting in their drawers full of "junk."
How big were their payouts? You'll find out, but first, the junk drawer finds.
"GMA's" first stop was the home of Nita Moore, a music teacher, wife and mom whose family had managed to accrue an eclectic collection of junk drawers.
Found in Moore's stash were a drawer full of pins, a collection of singing ashtrays and multiple musical instruments.
"This is interesting junk," Moore told "GMA" of the finds even she had forgotten existed in her home.
Up next was the busy home of Nancy Sapper, a mother of two young sons whose downstairs was a junk lover's paradise, with bins full of just the types of old electronics – blackberries, chargers and music and television equipment – that can go for big money on online trading sites like Craigslist and eBay.
The third stop on "GMA's" junk drawer tour was the front door of Jeanette Waters, another mother on the block who had also accrued a collection of "junk."
Found in Waters' home was a collection of keychains and two drawers full of instruction manuals for items her family had long gotten rid of.
Downstairs in Waters' home, however, was the real find: two junk drawers filled with 400 CDs that Waters admitted hadn't been played in more than four years.
"These are collecting dust," Watters told "GMA."
The fourth and final stop for the "GMA" "junk tour" was the front door of Kristen Schwartz who, it turns out, is an old gadget collector too.
The junk bins in her family room included old cell phones and VHS tapes that her family could not even view.
"I think we have it down there," Schwartz said of the family's unused VHS player. "But it's broken."
Hidden Treasure, Found Cash?
Now that the "junk" was found, "GMA" brought in an expert, Paul Vertrano, owner of the Select Salvage Co. website and store in Sea Cliff, N.Y., and self-described "Pawn Star of the East Coast," to see what kind of cash the New Jersey women could be sitting on.
Vertrano began by appraising each of the items collected in the women's homes and identifying what could be sold online, and what should be taken to an electronic or salvage dealer.
It turns out buried inside the New Jersey housewives' "junk" were, in fact, more hidden treasures than they thought.
Those old pins collecting dust in a drawer of Nita Moore's home?
Vertrano estimated her collection could be worth up to $200!
While Moore's more eclectic items like the singing ashtrays aren't valuable without a specific buyer, her pins could fetch as much as $30 to $50 each.
Vertrano recommended Moore sell her pins as a collection on eBay or Craigslist to increase their value, and save her time in posting each item.
Nancy Sapper, it turned out, was the big winner among the four women with her collection of old electronics.
Sapper's check amount? $635!
Her gadgets like old cords, electronics and chargers weren't worth much individually, Vertrano estimated, but the bins full of items quickly added up at $5 or $20 each.
Vertrano also offered Sapper $150 alone for the entire collection of old Playbills she had collecting dust in a drawer.
Like Sapper, Jeanette Watters had a huge collection of old gadgets, but her real treasure, Vertrano discovered, was the collection of old CDs she had lying in a basement bin.
Vertrano was willing to buy Watter's CD collection, around 400 discs in all, for $200, but also said she could easily sell them to a salvage dealer or music store for 50 cents to $1 each.
Another tip from Vertrano: download your CDs onto your computer, so you can still play them if you want to, and then sell the hard copies, either online or in a store. This will make you money, and save shelf space.
Finally it was on to the "junk" of Kristen Schwartz who had the bins of VHS tapes, with no VHS player to watch them.
Vertrano estimated that Schwartz's dusty tapes could garner her as much as $180, with each used tape selling for $1 or $2, while her boxed sets of TV shows or old movies could be sold on eBay or bought by a salvage dealer for as much as $20 each.
If you're still questioning whether the effort is worth it, take a tip from the "East Coast Pawn Star" himself.
"There is value to be found in a junk drawer," Vertrano told "GMA."
Even if you can't imagine that any of your junk drawer contents could be turned into cash, it can't hurt to take another look at the old contents lying around your house. Remember, one person's trash is another person's treasure.
Start by separating the contents into piles, and then begin to organize and save what you think is worth reselling and pitching what you know is truly junk.
Then take your new found items to an appraiser or salvage dealer to check their value, or post the items yourself on EBay or Craigslist to sell them directly.