By Kevin M
Just about everyone has stuff sitting around the house doing close to nothing, but some of it could put some money in your wallet, or better, your bank account.
On an otherwise uncommitted weekend, convince yourself you’re moving soon, and will need to pare down your collection of gadgets and baubles to the smallest pile possible, by picking out and removing the items you can most do without. Then clean them up, figure out about how much you might sell them for through a variety of channels, and store them away in a safe secluded spot so that they don’t blend back into the trappings of your life.
That being accomplished, it’s now time to figure out the best way or combination of ways to sell it all. There are a number of ways to do this, but three prominent ones come to mind:
Garage sales are probably the easiest way to sell your stuff—all you need to do is gather it, price it, put it on tables, place some signs around the neighborhood, and potential buyers will find a way to your home.
They’re usually held on Friday and Saturday, from early morning to early afternoon, though you can run them longer if you are continuing to get lookers who are buying. Spring and fall are the best seasons, and better weather makes for better sales.
You will need to advertise midweek and the day of in your local newspaper, unless there is a street wide or neighborhood sale drawing people in, and those are usually the most productive.
Garage sale transactions normally happen in cash, so keep a supply of cash in singles for change; $50-100 is highly recommended. You’d probably be well advised not to accept personal checks, since they can bounce AFTER the issuer has made off with your merchandise, and the amount collected will probably be too small to justify legal action.
Price your merchandise to sell, but be prepared to negotiate. Buy labels and price most of your inventory, but it will be best to bundle and sell small items as a package where ever you can.
It’s been my experience that people don’t buy the stuff we’re selling that we think of as “good”. Instead they buy the things that we’re almost embarrassed to sell, so put out what ever you have, no matter how substandard or downright crappy you may think it is. Other people having garage sales have reported the same experience; I don’t know why it works that way, only that it does, so plan accordingly. But take heart, you probably can sell the better stuff on eBay anyway (see below).
It would not be out of line to make several hundred dollars on a single garage sale, if you have a lot of merchandise, the weather is good and the buyers are out. We’ve generally found $100 to $300 to be the typical range, if such a thing exists.
These are businesses that take your merchandise without buying it from you then put it on sale in their store and split the proceeds with you when it does sell. If you shop at consignment stores you should look to sell through them as well.
This is not a place to try to sell your junk, as they typically will sell only gently used items. But it’s far superior to taking on the cost of selling single items through the newspaper, fielding a bunch of phone calls (or worse, none at all) and entertaining lookers at your house who may have no intention of buying what you’re selling unless you practically give it to them.
Establish a relationship with one or more consignment shops in your area, that way when you have better used items to sell you’ll have a ready outlet to do it in.
Selling on eBay
I may not be telling you anything you don’t already know here as many people sell on eBay all the time. We’ve sold a decent number of items on eBay, and are usually surprised to get more money for them than we expect. EBay seems to attract the type of buyer who is the exact opposite of the kind who frequent garage sales.
What you want to sell here are higher priced items (those you think you could get over $20 for) because there are fees involved. Items should be in good condition, and readily shippable for a nominal fee, which the buyer will usually pay as part of the transaction.
I’m not going to give a lot of specifics here because selling on eBay is a subject unto itself, and has gotten both more expensive and complicated over the past few years. But if you want to get some deep information on this subject, I highly recommend getting a copy of Marsha Collier’s latest edition of Starting an eBay Business For Dummies. It’s an excellent, easy to understand guide from someone who really knows the system, which is what eBay really is.
I must emphasize that you make sure it’s the latest edition of the book because things are changing all the time on eBay, and you will need the most up to date information in order to do it right and to maximize your return.
Converting it to a side business
If you’ve developed a new found life of thrift—as many people have in the past few years—you should be coming across bargains regularly when you shop, and that can provide an ongoing inventory source for a budding online sales business.
The more you do something, the more you become familiar with how it works and with what it works. By becoming familiar with bargain shopping you are actually putting yourself in a position to gain access to inventory which you can sell in order to make more money. In a way, it’s the flip side of frugality—taking the buying skills you’ve honed to save you money, but capitalizing on them as a source of income!
In a very basic way, selling your stuff can be the start of an at-home or side business if you approach it in a meaningful way and as an ongoing venture. If you have a knack for spotting bargains, it may be just the niche you’ve been looking for.
Have you ever tried any of these ways to make extra income selling your stuff? How did it work for you?