Have you ever heard the phrase, "one man's trash is another man's treasure"? Act on this thought and you've found yourself a nice way to get money while disabled when you're strapped for cash.
Now, before thinking about all the stuff you could offload, there are a few things to know about pricing and where to sell your items. Should you run to the nearest consignment shop? Upload everything online? Host a weekend yard sale? All that plus more is covered in this article.
So, let's dive in!
HOW TO PRICE YOUR ITEMS
You can't think about pricing if you don't even know WHICH stuff you want to sell. Well, here's a quick and dirty method to find out — throw any items you haven't used in the past TWO years into the "sell" pile and keep the rest. Pretty simple, right?
Now, before getting rid of any items, you have to know what there are worth — overvalue it and it'll never sell, undervalue it and you won't make as much as you could. This is where an appraiser can help...
If you have items on the pricier side to sell ($1000+), consider hiring an appraiser to give you an accurate price. But keep in mind, these guys don't come cheap! ($100-$300 an hour). Here's where to look:
Another option to help with pricing is Statricks.com, a pricing aggregator which pulls data from several online entities like eBay and Craigslist for thousands of products.
With this information at hand, let's talk about the best ways to sell your stuff.
WHERE TO SELL YOUR ITEMS
There are many ways to sell your items so how do you know which way to go? Broadly speaking, it's best to sell popular and expensive items online or in consignment shops and everything else through yard sales.
Now, it may be tempting to throw everything online to reach the largest audience but it's probably not the best strategy because the time commitment is HUGE. How so? Well, every one of your items would need its own unique product page, complete with photos and descriptions!
That's a serious undertaking which is why the online option is best reserved for top-tier stuff and the rest for yard sales.
The one avenue you definitely want to avoid are pawn shops. While it might be the fastest way to get cash for your stuff, you probably won't get a fair price.
Regardless of which avenue you take, there are a couple things to do to get your items ready for the market:
- Make sure to check your clothing pockets, furniture drawers or anything else where you might have left personal belongings.
- Take LOTS of photos using multiple angles for proof, should any quality issues arise.
Okay, let's now take a closer look at where to sell your unwanted stuff…
1. Consignment Shops
If you have well-made furniture in good condition to sell and other items like sporting goods and jewelry, consignment shops are worth considering. But while they handle all the work for around 50% of the cut, there are usually super picky about what they accept. And even if they agree to sell your stuff, your products could sit there for weeks or months at a time!
That's why you should only work with popular, well-run shops that sell the same kind of items you're selling.
Now, before heading out to your nearest consignment shop, look online to see how they conduct business as some have been known to shoplift unsold items for themselves!
An honest shop normally reduces the price of an item if it hasn't sold within a specific time frame and returns it to you after 90 days or so if it still hasn't sold after that. Make sure to get all this in writing before handing over your items!
If you need help locating a shop near you, check out the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops.
Many online consignment shops have popped up in recent years which is great, especially if you're nowhere near an offline store. The way it works is easy — you simply send your items to the company using a prepaid label, upon which they inspect, determine a price and list them on their website. If your items don't meet their standards, there are either returned to you or donated someplace like Goodwill.
Most of these online stores take anywhere from 15-20% so, in this respect, there are better than offline consignment shops. However, there are limited to smaller items like clothing, handbags and jewelry which offline shops aren't.
Here are some popular online consignment shops for smaller items...
- Designer/Luxury Clothes
- Non-Designer Clothes
- Wedding Dresses
2. Online Stores
For the amount of time it takes to set up individual product pages, you want to make sure your items sell, right? Well, the items that fare best are typically rare and in demand, lightweight (under 15 lbs.) and in great condition — all perfect characteristics to sell online.
Now, even the most amazing product will have a tough time selling if it doesn't entice the viewer. Here's how to prevent that from happening:
- Include lots of good photos using multiple angles on your product page (at least 5 or 6). If your item has defects, make sure to show those too.
- Write thorough descriptions and include the condition of the item.
- Read and reply to customer responses in a timely manner.
- Ship the item immediately after it's sold as delays can lead to bad reviews, making it harder to sell other items.
Amazon | eBay
Practically everyone's familiar with Amazon and eBay — the two giants in the online selling space. And because there are so big, you get the advantage of tapping into a huge audience. On the flipside, you're also competing with FAR more people. Still, it's worth trying depending on the items you want to sell.
As expected, there are fees to list your items but they run on a sliding scale based on the item being sold, how much it's selling for, plus shipping charges. For a breakdown of Amazon and eBay's fees, go here and here.
You're best off finding someone local to get rid of heavy and bulky items like sofas and the place to go for that is Craigslist.org — the internet's premier classified website. Here are a few pointers...
Tips for Your Ad
- Find similar items to the one you're selling to get an idea of the asking price but make it high enough to allow for haggling.
- Write a clear and precise headline that grabs readers' attention.
- Write a compelling description and include a couple photos showing different angles of your item.
- Ask interested customers to reply with a phone number in your description.
- Set a deadline to inspire potential buyers to take immediate action.
- Decrease the price of your item if it doesn't sell to whatever you're willing to get for it.
- Repost your ad several times as newer ads will push it down.
Meeting the Customer
- Craigslist has a reputation for attracting some bad characters so it's best to meet people in public places. If that's not possible, get some help to move your item outside your house before your exchange. And to be extra safe, have another person or dog there too.
- If you want a safer alternative to Craigslist (but far less traffic), try VarageSale.com, a company which requires an application to become an approved member.
I went to a garage sale. "How much for the garage?" "It's not for sale." – Steven Wright
More Online Options
Of course, there are lots of other websites to sell unwanted stuff online, many of which are tailored to specific categories like cameras. Most of these work the same way — you enter in the item you want to sell, the company gives you a tentative price, and if you agree, you ship it to the company and they cut you a check.
Here are some popular online stores to sell your items, broken down by category...
- cameras/video equipment
- CDs/DVDs/Video Games
- Sports Equipment
It's best to avoid selling books on Amazon as many vendors will grossly undersell you with prices as low as $.01! To find out where to sell books for the most amount of money, check out BookScouter.com. All you need is your ISBN to search for your book.
3. Yard Sales
If you want to get rid of your less expensive stuff in one fell swoop without incurring fees or restrictions, yards sales are the way to go. The same goes for more expensive items which didn't sell online or in consignment shops.
Before you start posting signs around your neighborhood, make sure to call your local government first to see whether you're required to get a permit (they usually don't cost much).
Now, to host a yard sale, you need a yard, right? Well, obviously not everyone does which is why you may want to combine your yard sale with others to host a community-wide event.
So, how do you get people to come?...
How to Find Customers
Start getting the word out through traditional advertising methods like these:
- Place ads in your local newspaper and/or Craigslist.
- Create leaflets and post them in your local library and/or grocery.
- Post your upcoming yard sale on YardSaleSearch.com and mention what you're selling.
Additionally, make good use of Facebook:
- Search for private Facebook groups to join in your local area under "Buy, Sell, Trade" and "Garage Sale." Once you're approved, post the details of your upcoming yard sale and any specific items you wish to highlight.
- Create a Facebook event and invite your family and friends to it.
How to Make Your Yard Sale a Success
- Create plenty of signs for your yard sale. It can be as simple as featuring the word "Sale" with an arrow pointed in the direction of your event.
- Start early, around 6:00 or 7:00am to catch both the work and school crowd.
- Be friendly, engaged and willing to answer questions from customers.
- Don't price any item even if you have a number in mind. Instead, ask the customer for his/her best offer — who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised! Only name a price if the customer won't offer one.
QUICK BREAKDOWN OF WHERE TO SELL YOUR ITEMS
* Online Consignment Shop
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN!
Have you ever tried to sell your unwanted items? What was your experience like? Leave your comments below!