Monday, March 23, 2009

How to Sell What Where, When Selling Used – Part 3

Tip #102 - How to Sell What Where, When Selling Used – Part 3. The guidelines for selling used items that I presented in parts 1 and 2 of this series are ones I have developed for myself based on what I have sold in the past, how much time I have, and where I live. Some of these rules may not apply for you. If you live in a very rural area, Craigslist or a yardsale may not work out well for you. In that case you may want to start directly at a consignment store or try eBay for selling the more valuable items. Or perhaps you don’t have much time to list things, take pictures, hold a yard sale or tag items for a consignment sale. Then the consignment store, again, may be your first choice. Remember, though, to first look up an item's value on eBay (completed auctions) before selling your item.

When deciding where you should try to sell an item, look carefully at it and ask yourself, would someone drive over to my house specifically to buy this item from Craigslist or would they bid on it at an online auction site such as eBay? If the answer is no, then put it into the yardsale pile. If the answer is yes, then try one of those venues first. Anything that doesn’t sell can always be put out a yardsale before it becomes a donation.

This leads to my next point, if you have utilized all of your options for selling, and the item still hasn't sold, just give up trying to make some money off it and donate it instead. There is no reason to waste time and resources on something that won’t sell. The board game that you thought would go for $10 on Craigslist that didn’t sell and also didn’t go for $3 at a yardsale is ready for the donation pile. Even if you do not get a tax write-off for the item, at least it is out of your house. And that is usually at least one of two goals for selling things (making money being the other). The benefit of donating, besides the tax write-off, is that you can decide where you donate – maybe baby clothes can go to a local women’s shelter or to someone needy in your neighborhood on Freecycle. Whatever you choose, you should feel good that you may have made a difference in someone’s life, even if you did not make money on the item.

Lastly, I want to mention that there are other places to sell items such as auction houses and flea markets. Some very valuable items may be better suited for an auction house instead of eBay. I’ve never had the good fortune to own something like this, but if you have a priceless antique, an auction house may be the right venue. And while flea markets are generally for people who are dealers in buying and selling items, sometimes you may find one that is for the general public to sell at. You can sell items at a flea market that you would normally sell at a yard sale. Or you may even be able to sell items that you would sell on Craigslist, because you may get good exposure if the flea market is well-advertised and well-attended. Finally, while I mention eBay, because that’s the biggest online auction site, there are other online selling sites out there such as Bonanzle, ioffer, SeeAuctions, and others. Also, in addition to Craigslist there is Kijiji and many kids’ classified sites, as well other online and offline classified sites. The list presented here are the most popular ones, but there may be others that work better where you are.

In Real Life (IRL) – I held my first yardsale when I was a teenager and my parents were selling their house. We were complete newbies as far as selling used things, and I’m sure we made many mistakes on pricing things. However, we really didn’t know what we were doing and we were just happy to get it out of the house so we didn’t have to move it. Since then I have become better at selling, especially because eBay has taken the mystery out of pricing so many items. I've had several yardales over the past 10 years and now know better what items to sell there. And I’ve been selling things for about five years on eBay. With eBay, I started buying items on there about two years earlier and then slowly began selling things that I owned. I did not do it on a regular basis as a business until a couple of years ago. It’s best to start out slow and learn the ropes of selling - writing a good description, taking photos, using keywords in titles, etc. For me, it started out as a way to get rid of items I owned and has since turned into a small income-making business.

After doing eBay for a year or so, I learned about Craigslist and was very excited to have a venue for selling bulky items, like big kids' toys and furniture. Plus with no fees, there isn’t much to lose by listing there, and it’s easier to do than eBay. I didn't have to worry about describing every little detail because potential buyers see the item before they buy it. And a seller can get away with not having photos if absolutely necessary (although photos improve the ad dramatically). I had great success with Craigslist and have continued selling on there at least once a month.

As I mentioned, I have never sold at a consignment sale, mostly because many of our clothes are hand-me-downs and after my kids are done with them, they often look like it. So I just pass them on to others. Also, putting tags on each individual item that may not get much money seems like a lot of work for me. And since others often give me their stuff, I like to pay it forward. However, other people do quite well selling their clothing there, and I think it's a great option for some. Since I stick to selling more expensive items and toys on Craigslist, I don’t sell at consignment stores either. But maybe one day when I go back to work full-time and don't have the time to take pictures, write up a description, and meet people to sell things, consignment stores will become a better option for me. Just like I have figured out what works for me, you need to think about what would work best for you when selling used items. Consider your circumstances – your location, amount of time you have to devote, and whether you have a camera, among other things. Then you can successfully sell your used items and maximize your sales price. Good luck!

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