Thursday, March 19, 2009

How To Sell What Where, When Selling Used - Part 1

Tip #95 - How To Sell What Where, When Selling Used – Part 1. There are so many options today for selling your used things, it’s hard to know which items to sell where. Do you put your priceless antiques out at a garage sale and your kids’ toys on eBay? Do you list your lawnmower on Craigslist or donate it to charity? How about your clothing? Do you sell it at a consignment store or a seasonal consignment sale? How do you know which venue is the best place to sell each item in order to get top dollar?

Here are my criteria. I am not an expert, but I am an experienced seller. I have been buying and selling on eBay for 7 years and on Craigslist for approximately 5 years. I have held about one yard sale per season and visit on a daily basis to discuss buying and selling. I shop at consignment stores and at consignment sales on a regular basis and donate often to charity. So I am writing from my experience in this area (as all of my posts are).

Let’s start with when to sell on eBay: Anything that is easy to ship and appeals to a relatively select group of buyers should be listed on eBay. Examples would include an older set of a book series, name-brand boots or suits or other desirable label clothing, collectibles such as vintage Fisher-Price toys, Matchbox cars, old radios or telephones. The list goes on and on and if you check out eBay you can see there really are all sorts of things sold on there. But if you are looking to get rid of things in your home, these types of items do best.

In short, if there is a limited number of people who would be interested in your item then you want to give it wide exposure. Online auction sites like eBay (and similar ones) give you great exposure. Also, that is where most collectors are looking. Sure you can try to sell your vintage Mrs. Beasley doll on Craigslist and you may luck out and find a collector nearby, but chances are those in the market for a Mrs. Beasley doll are few and far between. Also, people who bid on eBay are willing to buy an item at a certain price, and when competing against other bidders who also want that same item, it can bid up the price of what you are selling dramatically. You generally won’t have that competition on Craigslist. Remember, though, the item should be reasonably sized for shipping. Yes, you probably can ship a vintage juke box if you had to, but would you really want to? The trouble may not be worth it. And that’s where Craigslist comes in.

Craigslist is a venue for local buyers and sellers to come together. I wrote about selling on Craigslist here. I like to think of it as online classified ads FOR FREE! Craigslist is a great place for getting rid of general use things – furniture, lawn equipment, baby gear (such as highchairs, strollers, bouncy seats), large lots of books, electronic equipment (such as televisions, computers, DVD players), household items (such as bread machines, blenders, dishes, and vacuum cleaners), and cars. Why sell on Craigslist versus eBay? First, if the item is bulky like a vacuum cleaner, then it’s difficult to ship. Second, general use items do well on Craigslist, so why not try there first? There are no fees attached with listing the item and no commission paid for what the item sells for. There is usually a wide market for the items listed above so you have a good chance of selling them. How about selling these items at a yardsale? In general, if the item is worth $10 or more, it’s worth putting it on Craigslist. People cruise Craigslist looking for specific items such as a highchair. There is a search function that people use to look for an item they want. Why put it at a yardsale where you only have a small chance that a buyer will come along looking for a highchair? Also, you will get a better price on Craigslist than at a yardsale, where people expect a real bargain. (Check out other "frugal" posts on Life As Mom.)

In Real Life – My husband sold his first item on eBay when he wanted to sell an expensive watch he owned. He saw the ‘going rate’ on completed eBay transactions for this watch and knew he could not get the same price at the local watch store. After he sold that item, we looked around the house for other items we had and no longer needed. We found some books and vintage games that we didn’t want and sold them, too. We also sold some designer label clothing that no longer fit us. Some items that we listed did not sell, while others did. As time went by and we became more experienced at selling, we figured out our niche. (We no longer just sell things we own and want to get rid of; we actively seek out items to buy low and sell high on eBay). We generally stick to items we know do well – specific dolls or toys that many people are after, name-brand clothing, and vintage collectibles. I had a large lot of Nancy Drew books I no longer wanted so I sold them online. Similarly, I sell American Girl doll clothing and dolls on eBay on a regular basis. We once sold a convection oven on eBay, but would probably save that item for Craigslist now. In general, we have no problem, trying one venue first and if it doesn’t pan out trying another. An item that doesn’t sell on Craigslist for a target price we want will often get listed on eBay.

For Craigslist, we have sold tons of our baby items. We’ve gotten rid of strollers, large play equipment like sand and water tables, play kitchens, and play yards. We have sold dining room breakfront, our kitchen table, our childhood furniture, a coffee table, and kitchen appliances. Anything that is big and bulky usually adds to much cost and work to ship so we try to sell those items locally. Also, items that would appeal to many people locally, we also put on Craigslist first before trying eBay.

In the next post we will discuss what types of items to sell at yardsales, consignment sales, consignment stores, and when you should donate the item.


Amanda said...

Thank you for this! Our neighborhood is having a yard sale this weekend and we were trying to decide about setting out baby gear as you describe. It sounds like Craigslist is the way to go for us. I appreciate your thoughts.

Manshu said...

That makes sense to me. Although the only thing I sold on eBay are games and only thing I bought on CL is a car -- I see exactly what you mean.

LaVonne Long said...

thanks for posting such a practical tip. I linked my own frugal fridays to your post. Stop by sometime!