In my previous post I shared my tips on the best way to sort items when decluttering and downsizing. What I found was that it was relative easy to decide on what to keep (items I loved, needed or used) and what to throw away (broken items, old TV’s, obsolete computers.) . The donate pile was easy too, (old clothes, furniture, extra kitchen utensils and small appliances).
The biggest stumbling block for me, which I assume it might be for others, was deciding what to do with those items that were relegated to the sell pile. We had items like vintage fishing lures that had belonged to my grandfather, antique linens and china that had belonged to my mother’s great aunt and a pottery collection that I had grown tired of. These things were obviously not suited to my local Salvation Army drop off. Luckily time is on our side since we plan to downsize in 3-5 years not next month. I therefor had the time to try out a combination of multiple selling venues. Listed below is what I found to be the pros and cons of each.
Pro’s: people came to us and in one day we cleared out some stuff and what didn’t sell we hauled back into the garage to deal with as time allowed.
Cons: It was a huge amount of work getting ready for it and we made only pennies on the dollar. It also involved giving up a full day on a beautiful weekend in the Spring.
What I learned: Yard sales are great for things that you know local folks want. Kids toys, garden supplies, picture frames, current best seller books and tools. What didn’t sell were cheap decorative items (made in China), clothes, older sports equipment, old books, and rugs.
Pros: I was somewhat able to set the selling price (I got more than I would have at the yard sale) and people came and picked up the item.
Cons: Strangers come to your house, and what I found was that people would make an appointment to come and see the item and then 75% of the time they wouldn’t show up, nor would they call and cancel.
What I learned: Similar to yard sales, people shopping on Craigslist are looking for rock bottom prices. After weeks of listing and re-listing we eventually sold an oriental rug that was in mint condition for $300… sadly,we had paid close to $2,000 for it. Out dated dining sets will only sell for a couple hundred dollars and no one wants upholstered pieces unless you are practically giving them away (the bed bug scare maybe)? What sold best for us on Craigslist were current style, well known brands; Pottery Barn, West Elm and Crate and Barrel items all received an immediate response.
Pros: The items that sold, fetched WAY more than I had even anticipated. If you are listing as an auction item the listing fee is free. If something doesn’t sell it is easy to re-list. 90% of the items I listed sold the first time around and the second 9% sold the second time around. 1% of the things I listed didn’t get any bids even after several attempts. It’s also fun to watch the price go up as people bid and out bid one another.
Cons: Okay, I’ll be honest, there are a lot of cons to selling on ebay. First of all, it takes a huge amount of time to photograph each item, list it and then once it sells it is your responsibility to package and ship it. It took me a full day to photograph and list 6 items. There is a learning curve for selling on ebay and the listing process is tedious and time consuming. Lastly, since I don’t own a postage scale I lost money on almost every single item because I underestimated the shipping cost.
What I learned: Small and hence easy to ship items are the most manageable to sell on ebay. I sold some pottery and then spent almost an entire day searching for suitable shipping boxes, purchasing bubble wrap and peanuts and then packaging everything up to take to the post office. Antiques do very well on ebay as do any kind of vintage collectibles. An antique doll sold for $184.00, a pair of miniature sterling silver antique scissors sold for over $50.00 and the antique fishing lures all sold for good amounts.
My final post (part three) of my declutering experience will be up next week. I will give both the pros and cons of my final three selling venues; auction, consignment and a local flea market. Until then, happy decluttering.
What is your favorite way to sell items?
If 2014 is the year you decide to finally love your home, give me a call.
Karen E Kelley says
Linda, for things donated I realized that not all organizations are created equal. It is good to check how much goes to the organization and how much money the executives pocket!
Thank you for this useful post Linda. Now I know why trying to sell a new rug on Craigslist did not work out. I ended up selling it for 75% of the price to my friend, while people shopping there wanted it for a fraction of the price. I was contemplating Ebay recently, and your experience is very valuable.