I very much enjoyed a recent Saving Advice column that considered the etiquette of having a yard sale. The writer made several excellent points about how a seller should approach a yard sale and what can and should be sold at yard sales. It occurs to me, however, that a yard sale really should only be a sale of last resort.
When one considers the effort that goes into a yard sale, from accumulating items for sale, to pricing them, setting up the yard sale, sitting through the sale and then cleaning up after the sale, there is a lot of time needed to effectively participate in a yard sale. Even if you do invest the necessary time for a yard sale, you are subject to the fickle whims of the buying public and the weather. Moreover, you can be assured that your customers, assuming you have any, will be extremely low-bidders.
You can make money at a yard sale, but it is just not usually worth the effort. What then can you do with all of the stuff that you want to eliminate from your home but which still has some value that you would like to exploit? Here are four suggestions.
eBay: If you have not used eBay to sell anything, you really are missing out on the world’s largest marketplace. Take the time to learn how to sell on eBay and you will find that you can exploit the broad reach of its brand to find people who are actually willing to pay the real value of whatever it is you have to sell. You will be able to control the minimum price but not the maximum price that the laws of supply and demand will generate for you. You also won’t have to wait for your once or twice annual community yard sale date to start selling. You can do it piece by piece today.
Stores that Sell Used Goods: If you have good quality goods that still have life left in them, there are a lot of mainstream stores that sell used goods. Used book stores, for example, are much more likely to purchase your books in bulk, as compared to selling books one at a time over the course of several yard sales. There are still used CD and record stores willing to purchase your music, although the market has certainly declined over the past decade for all but the most collectible of vinyl. Used sporting goods stores like Play It Again Sports will purchase used athletic equipment and there are plenty of consignment shops that will help you to sell clothing that still is not ready for Goodwill. Stores like this give you the benefit of one stop selling and will ensure that you sell all that you have to sell. You won’t get as much as you would selling on eBay, in all likelihood, but you will very likely sell much more than you would at a yard sale – probably for more money.
Donations Can Be More Valuable than Sales: If you have good quality merchandise, especially big ticket items, donations to a reputable charity can gain you a tax write off that will be worth more than you would make by selling the item at a yard sale for much less than its value.
Collectibles Dealers: Baseball cards in the attic? Inherit Aunt Petunia’s stamp collection? People like to collect things. Before you sell your stuff, determine whether any of it is collectible and then seek quotes from multiple dealers. eBay will almost certainly be your most reliable method for selling your collection but you may find that the ease of selling to a dealer is worth a decreased sales price.
If you cannot eliminate your used-but-still-useful items via any of the above routes, you probably do not have much worth selling. If you still think that there is some value in having a yard sale, go for it, but then be ready to dispose of anything that does not sell because it is probably ready for the scrap heap!
How do you like to sell your old things? What methods have been successful for you?