How to Sell Your Stuff
By Steve Gillman
Whether you need to raise cash or just simplify your life,
selling your stuff is a way to do both. What's the best way to
cash in? The answer to that question depends on whether a fast
sale or getting the most money is the more important goal for
you. It also depends on what types of things you are selling.
Let's look at some of the options for selling your excess possessions,
along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.
photo by Ken Teegardin)
This is perhaps the fastest way to sell your stuff, and if
you really just need the cash but don't want to part with your
things you can pawn them and get them back later. You will almost
never get the highest price for your things selling this way
though. If a used stereo will sell for $100 to a retail buyer,
for example, a pawn shop is unlikely to give you more than $35.
A pawn shop is a good place to sell things that would be too
tedious to sell on your own. For example, it might be too much
trouble to sell one DVD at a time if you have a hundred to get
rid of, but a pawn shop might buy them all at once - even if
at a steep discount.
You'll get more selling things at a garage sale than at a
pawn shop - if you sell them. Their are some problems with garage
sales. First, they really only work if you have a decent location.
You can get some traffic from newspaper classified advertising,
but many people search out garage sales by driving around on
Fridays and Saturdays, looking for signs. It also takes some
time and effort to organize a garage sale.
One advantage of going this route, though, is that you can
sell your friends' stuff for a commission, and you might even
try selling cold pop and snacks to generate extra income from
the sale. Another advantage is that if enough people come, you
can sell anything from kitchen pans to books and bicycles. Our
page on having
a successful garage sale will help.
There are different types of flea markets, but if you have
one near you that lets you set up a few tables for less than
$20, it can be a better way to go than spending that money on
an ad for a rummage sale. Some decent flea markets will have
a thousand shoppers come through on a Saturday - more than you'll
ever get for a yard sale. This is an especially good way to sell
your stuff if you have many unusual items or collections, like
old radios or a CD collection.
Here's a trick for getting rid of everything: toward the end
of the day approach one of the regular vendors and ask if he
or she would like to buy everything you have left for a low price,
to resell for a profit.
On obvious disadvantage of selling things this way is the
commission. Typically you'll pay from 30% to 60% of the sales
price to the shop. For example, our local consignment furniture
store takes 40% if the item sells within a month, and 50% after
that. On the other hand, they also get much more than one would
typically get at a rummage sale. In fact, we have bought furniture
at garage sales and sold the items at the used furniture store,
making a decent profit even after the 40% commission. Clothing
is difficult to sell in other ways, so stores that sell it for
you are a good way to go. Even if a store does not advertise
itself as a consignment operation you might ask. A bicycle shop
might sell your bike for a commission, for example.
Before you try any of the other methods here think about what
you need to sell and which friends or family members might want
to buy your things. Give them a call. You'll probably get a better
price than at a pawn shop.
Newspaper Classified Ads
This can be expensive if the newspaper is a widely-circulated
one, and people shop by way of newspapers less and less. On the
other hand, there are some small papers that still cater to classified
advertisers and shoppers and offer free placement. In that case
it might be worth trying this first if you are not in a hurry
to sell. This is also a decent way to sell large furniture, bicycles
and other things that don't ship easily enough to sell on the
Craigslist is a relatively
efficient way to sell your stuff, and has largely replaced traditional
classified advertising. Basic ads are still free. It works best
if there is a section for your city. In small towns it doesn't
work quite as well. Where we live, for example, you would have
to advertise under the heading for a city 40 miles away. Craigslist
is better than eBay for selling large items that you wouldn't
want to ship.
This is perhaps the best way to get top dollar for obscure
things like collectable dolls or knives, and just about anything
that has only a few potential buyers in any given area. There
might be no buyers for old "Objectivist Newsletter"
issues or Russian army boots where you live, for example, but
if there are a dozen potential buyers for either scattered around
the country you can be sure that half of them check eBay regularly.
Other Ways to Sell Your Stuff
Large items can sometimes be sold just by displaying them
where there is traffic. This is certainly true for cars, which
can be parked in busy locations with a "for sale" sign,
but you can also sell furniture or large exercise equipment in
this way from your front yard if you live on a fairly busy street.
Here's how to sell your stuff in a more creative way, and
for a higher price: have a raffle. For example, if you have a
television worth about $80, get ten friends to each buy a $10
ticket and have a drawing at a party. You'll make $100 (minus
the cost of the tickets, but you can print these out yourself
on your computer.
Finally, if the more important goal is to get rid of your
things - and you itemize on your tax return - you might do best
giving everything away to a thrift store run by a charity and
taking a deduction.
How Much Can You Make?
I recently talked to guy who spent years restoring classic
old cars, and when he discovered Ebay he made over $20,000 selling
off all his leftover parts. Most of us don't have that much "stuff
capital" banked in our garages and attics, but you might
have a few hundred dollars' worth of things you can use to raise
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
If you choose to sell your things by way of Ebay or Craigslist
you might volunteer to sell your friends things as well - for
a 20% or 30% commission, of course. You'll be dealing with taking
photos, answering phone calls or emails, shipping and such anyhow,
so why not make some extra cash while you're at it?
Qualifications / Requirements
Stuff to sell.
Gather up all the things you no longer need and decide whether
you want to sell fast or get top dollar. Then choose one or more
of the methods above accordingly.
- One of the busiest websites on the internet, and a great place
to sell your stuff.
eBay - A bit
trickier to sell things here, but good for special items.