Saturday, January 30, 2016

Advice for Selling Your Possessions

The Dusted Attic, KCMO

Stuff, stuff, stuff. We have so much of it and not much use for it. But I will say that stuff isn't all evil. One advantage I find in having stuff is that you can make money off of it. It has actually become my favorite part of having stuff. I move a lot so I tend to pack light, but there's some comfort in the fact that my stuff can help me travel more. I mean who couldn't use an extra chunk of change while traveling?

Right now I'm in the process of selling my stuff. I've done it before but this time I decided to ask a professional for advice. I already know a lot of the usual methods for selling but I wanted to properly assess the pros and cons of each method.

With a business degree and five years of experience under his belt, Chris P. runs a successful online business and consigns for a popular auction business. Don't ask me what he sells. Even I can't figure it out. It's all quite random. I walk through his large warehouse space and consistently think to myself, "people pay money for that?!" The funny thing is the answer is yes. My theory is if this guy can make a business out of selling random stuff he's probably the person I need to go to.

Ebay and Amazon

Some towns have markets that feature a collection of local vendors.
These sites are very well known and are good sites for selling individual items. Ideally, I would sell relatively light-weight "big ticket" items like electronics and accessories. While it is ideal for selling a bunch of smaller items, always keep in mind how much money you may be spending on shipping. It may sound nice to use free shipping as a method to add value to your product but it is very easy to rack up shipping costs. In addition to shipping costs, according to Chris P., Ebay and Amazon take about 15% of everything. You have to have a bank account and be verified which usually takes a week or two. If it's a new selling account they limit you to 10 items or $1000 in your first month and then it's performance-based, every month. During the verification process, if you happen to make a sale they hold your funds for up to three weeks but after you are approved, its immediate. Amazon has unlimited selling for starters and they pay you about every two weeks. Either way, you'll have to wait for verification so if you are leaving in a week, it may be a better to sell your possessions through alternative means.


Do you have a few big things you want to sell but don't want to pay for shipping? This is your ideal spot for items like furniture, TV's, bikes and the like. Unfortunately, with Craigslist you don't know who you are dealing with. If someone is coming over to pick up your stuff, it may be ideal to have a friend or two with you. If someone  requests that you ship something be extremely wary. Especially, if they ask to ship it to another country. I wouldn't even bother.

The first time I ever sold something on Craigslist I was scammed (go figure). I followed all the rules (I used Paypal and everything!) but they got me because instead of checking my actual Paypal account (it was my first time using Paypal, as well) I got an e-mail saying that the money was deposited into my Paypal account.Turns out it was a phishing e-mail (fake e-mail sent by the scammer). So as far as I know, my laptop is in Africa somewhere. If you are going to ship, I'd go through Ebay. They have actual customer service and guarantees that can protect you from such situations.

 Are you a horrible haggler and pushover, like me? Chris offers advice: "People buying on craigslist will always ask you to lower your price so be firm with what you need out of them."

Garage Sale

Old school method. Works like a charm. I made $400 on my first independent garage sale and I was pretty confident my stuff wasn't worth much. The advantage is you can sell what you want, without limitations. The only disadvantage is everyone wants to haggle you down. I would sell my clothes and CDs at a garage sale but not my big electronics. Also most cities require a garage sale permit. They are about $5 and you can get them at your local town hall.  Chris' advice would be to "make sure you advertise a lot. If you can, it's a good idea to piggy back off of a neighborhood or church garage sale. This is great if you have an an apartment and no yard to sell your stuff." You can even piggy back on Craigslist and post your garage sale in the "garage sale" section.

While an added advantage of garage sales is that you make your own hours, try to be open early. Many people who go to garage sales go on a constant basis. If you have real gold and silver jewelry, mention it in your ad. Warning: People looking for gold and silver WILL show up at your place up to an hour before the garage sale. They can be vicious so either be ready to give them what they want or be firm enough to tell them that the sale starts 9am sharp. Pushover advice: It's not your problem that they came early. You wrote the time on the ad (you did, right?). A few years back my friend and I had a garage sale. People showed up way too early and wouldn't back off. My friend's mom had to put cones up and shoot them evil mom looks. Her evil mom looks can scare a grizzly.

Flea Markets

Mary of Mary's Markdown Mercantile and Ray of Ray of Sunshine Markets
in the Dusted Attic, West Bottoms, Kansas City
Same as a garage sale but sometimes the vendor fee is more. The advantage here is that you don't have to do any advertising and you get more traffic. The disadvantage is competition. The other disadvantage is that that there may be a restriction as to what you can and can't sell. So make sure you ask if they have a "do not sell" list before you pay that vending fee. If you can sell clothes, great! If not, I recommend small household appliances, decorations, jewelry and small electronics. In terms of vendor fees, assess whether the fee will be worth it. It may be a flat fee for a certain amount of space or a percentage of everything you sell. The last thing you want to do is spend all that time packing, selling, driving just to break even. If you don't have a lot of stuff but you want the traffic, team up with a friend or a current vendor who sells items that are similar to yours. Next to garage sales, this actually is becoming my favorite way.

Consignment Shops

 If you have an eye for name brand fashion than this is your best hope. Sometimes they purchase your items right off the bat. Sometimes they don't send you a check until it sells. The disadvantage is that they don't take non-name brand clothing unless it's super vintage. "Make sure the shop has proper security." says Chris P. "The last thing you want to is to lose your money due to theft."

Personally, I never buy name brand unless it just happens to be cute and at a thrift store. And usually I don't notice the brand until after I take it home. My other source of name brand clothing comes from my aunts' hand-me-downs (which are amazing and I usually want to keep them forEVER). Other than that, I pretty much shop at Forever 21 or places similar. If you shop like me, it will be very difficult to get rid of your clothing. Especially, with the increase of donation-based, thrift shops.

Because of my clothing situation, I tried this app:


It's a garage sale/ trade app. I think it's great for posting several individual items. You have individual pictures and the app itself is pretty easy. Instead of just selling you can trade for things as well. I've used it but it's not yet popular in Kansas City so it didn't do much for me. There are commercials and they have it in the UK and France so I'm sure everyone will be talking about it in the next year or so. My only qualm with it is that it's only an app. Not a website. I have large fingers and typing a description on my phone isn't very fun. Personally, it's easier to do things on my computer. The other dilemma is that there is a limit to how many items you can put up. I would likely consider it good for trading whilst on the road but I think I'll have to wait until it becomes more popular before it becomes useful. Until then, I'll stick with the flea market.

Here's some more advice on how to sell your stuff by Chris P.

About clothing

"People usually buy clothing online if it is something they need immediately or for a specific event. For example a party or holiday."

About electronics

"Wipe all of your info off if it's got a hard drive. Make sure you can sell a working product otherwise it'll come back to bite you. [In terms of traveling] Expensive electronics are better to sell rather than potentially have them stolen from you. Always remember that electronics have depreciating value, so sell them as soon as you can."

About appliances

"Offer delivery if you have the means. Not everyone has a car but needs the product. You can even offer $20 more to install the product. Clean everything. Offer a small week long warranty. That'll make people feel comfortable about buying it."

Home products

"Craigslist is the best place to sell them when selling online. When you post on craigslist make sure you add an accurate description and make sure you use good keywords so that the item is more likely to pop up in a search."

About selling in general

"When it comes to selling your possessions, it can be an issue having an emotional tie to them. You're not going to get what you paid most of the time because you've used it. You have to come to terms with yourself and why you're getting rid of it."

"Use pawnshops as a last resort because they don't give you what it would sell for."

"Meet people in a public place like a library where they can test the product."

"Take what you can today because people may not want your stuff tomorrow. People lose interest. Realize that there might not be that next offer."


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