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Where to Sell Old Unwanted Stuff

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Stuff for Sale HereAccording to Wikipedia (and they don’t cite a source), there were 50,000 self storage facilities and 2.35 billion square feet of self storage at the end of 2009. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are 307 million people in the United States. That’s over seven and a half square feet of self storage for every man, woman and child in the United States.

It’s clear, we have too much crap and not enough money. So the only solution is to get off your butt and sell some of that unwanted stuff. If you rent a storage space, clean it out and save yourself even more money.

If you aren’t sure how to sell your stuff, here are a few suggestions:

Ask Friends

We often forget the easiest way to get rid of stuff… ask your friends if they want it. It costs you nothing and it takes only a few seconds to do. With the popularity of online communities like Facebook and Twitter, asking your network takes two seconds, costs nothing, and could be the quickest way to getting rid of that glitter-encrusted eagle statue you’ve had since junior high school.

Community Garage Sale

A community garage sale is a lot like your garden variety garage sale except there is a lot more stuff and a lot more foot traffic. I’ve never sold anything at a garage sale but anytime I’ve passed by or stopped at one, there are always a lot of people milling about. A community garage sale is when a large number of homes get together and through a joint sale. By having more homes involved, there is wider selection. You can divvy up the cost and work of advertising and still get rid of your unwanted stuff.

  • Pros: Fun socializing with your neighbors. Spread out the costs.
  • Cons: Lots of work, you have to watch your stuff for hours. Lots of negotiating (if you dislike it).

Craigslist

The first place I’d try is Craigslist because listings are free and there are no commissions on sales. You don’t need to register to post and it takes about five minutes to get a good listing up. If you’re smart about your listing, showing pictures and giving a good description of the item, you can usually get some answers within an hour or so. Be as descriptive as possible and be clear in how much you want for your items.

If you don’t get any bites in the first hour or two, chances are you won’t get any whatsoever. Craigslist is very popular so depending on the category, your listing may be pushed down very quickly. Another downside is that Craigslist buyers are unreliable. Don’t agree to a meeting unless you talk to someone on the telephone so you get a small gauge of how serious they are. If the item is small enough, agree to meet somewhere public, rather than your home.

  • Pros: No registration required. Free. Easy to use.
  • Cons: Unqualified, unreliable buyers. Many listings. Spam.

Local Newspaper Classified

In a digital age, it seems odd that I’d recommend your local newspaper #2 on the list. While you may spend a lot of time on the web, there are plenty of people who aren’t and you can reach them through your local newspaper for a pittance.

If I wanted to buy a classified ad for a piece of furniture in a little paper know as the Washington Post, it costs only $29 for three days, three lines of print, and then 7 days online. If the item is under $250, I can get it listed for free. If you go even more local, which is what you’d want to do for furniture, many local papers have free classified sections.

eBay

eBay is best for items that are commodities and are easily shipped. Selling on eBay requires a registration and the listing wizard takes a few pages before your item is up. It’s a bit more work than Craigslist but auctions are binding and you will only get serious bidders. In exchange for getting better bidders, you pay more for it.

There are two main eBay fees when you list an auction – listing fees when you post the item and final value fees when you make a sale. Each are based on the price of the item. I always list items at $0.99, which is free of insertion fees, if the demand for the product is large enough. The final value fee is 9% with a maximum of $50.

  • Pros: Strong branding and traffic (eBay is where people go to buy used stuff).
  • Cons: Registration required. Long listing wizard. Moderately priced fee structure.

Amazon Marketplace

Amazon Marketplace is Amazon.com’s used section. When you look at any item on the site, it’ll usually list used items at a discount. Amazon’s Marketplace puts you in front of a very large number of buyers at a cost. Amazon will only charge a “final value fee” when the item sells based on this fee schedule. The fees are very high compared to the alternatives but the listing process takes mere seconds.

  • Pros: A lot of buyers. Quick to list. Free to list.
  • Cons: Registration required. Very expensive fee structure.

As for me, I will list the things I want to give away for free on Craigslist, list books on Amazon, and anything commodity-esq (DVDs, XBOX games, etc.) on eBay. I have yet to go the garage sale or classifieds route but I have had friends who have success with both.

What’s your favorite way to get rid of old unwanted stuff?

(Photo: debaird)

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35 Responses to “Where to Sell Old Unwanted Stuff”

  1. This is a great way to get rid of old crap and get some extra money. It’s also good for the environment since its promotes reuse. Many of the items we buy do not have to be bought new, especially those we only use a few times. Why not save some money and get more use out of an item that may have normally gone to waste?

  2. Maddhatter says:

    Just saw on the news last night about Safe list. It is Like Craig’s List, but supposively “safe and secure”. Small world that they did a little news clip about it and this morning we have a topic on selling stuff.

  3. billsnider says:

    I have bought ans sold stuff on Craig’s List. Very happy.

    I usally buy electronics stuff on ebay. They are the cheapest.

    I have sold stuff on Ebay indirectly. There is a store nearby that takes stuff and they do all the work. This includes shipping, photos and other stuff like that. They have a 99.99% rating, which helps to sell. They keep 40%. It is a win-win situation.

    Bill Snider

  4. CK says:

    I like craigslist but wish they would bring it up to date a little.

  5. Ryan says:

    What about pawn shops, consignment stores and other local businesses that buy used items?

    I have listed almost 50 items on Craigslist in the last few weeks and we also had a garage sale 2 weeks ago and while we have made over $1000 so far I still have lots of things unsold. I have slowly been lowering my prices in hopes of just getting rid of the stuff but I am almost to the point of just hauling it down to a pawn shop and taking whatever is offered or donating it to a local charity. Any suggestions about pawn shops and/or consignment is appreciated. We have a store called play-it-again sports that will buy most of my sport stuff either cash, trade or consignment that I think I am headed to soon.
    Thanks,

    Ryan

    • Jim says:

      Good suggestion, I’ve never tried pawn shops or consignment stores. If you do, I’d love to hear your stories afterwards.

      • jsbrendog says:

        i have never sold to a pawn shop but i have bought many a cd from them. you cannot beat 5 cds for 10 dollars.

      • Ryan says:

        The last time I tried a pawn shop was to sell some old PS2 games and the guy just got on the internet and offered me 1/2 price what gamestop bought for, the internet kind of hindered me a bit I felt. But it seems that they will buy almost anything.

    • echidnina says:

      Recently I’ve been going through my old books, music, and video games and selling them back to places like Half Price Books. It definitely didn’t net me as much cash as selling each item individually on eBay or Amazon, but for the time and convenience, it was worth it. I wasn’t interested in having to deal with shipping each item individually or waiting for someone to buy them, I was more concerned with de-cluttering my home and getting some fast cash from stuff I don’t use. It worked out pretty well.

  6. Mark says:

    If you are selling DVDs, Video Games, or Books take a look at half.com. It’s owned by Ebay (your login works at both) and is really easy to sell things with an ISBN number. You just type in the ISBN, select the condition of the product, and it does the rest (product description, etc). They also take CD’s, but the market is flooded, so don’t waste your time. You get a shipping allowance and they take their cut out of your price. I have been able to get rid of dozens of old DVD’s that way.

  7. Jessica says:

    We have used Craigslist with a lot of success. We have sold strollers, furniture, electronics. Great way to earn a little cash. I also know people who sell gently used children’s clothes on EBAY.

  8. DIY Investor says:

    Use local consignment shops.

  9. Shirley says:

    I usually ask family and friends if they want any of the items. If nobody needs them, I take them to our local hospice 2nd hand store as a donation.

    No money gain here, but I’m satisfied with helping hospice. They really helped us when my parents were ready to say their last goodbys.

  10. I love Craigslist. It’s super easy to list things. Very low-barrier. Plus you don’t have to deal with shipping, and you get the side benefit of meeting sometimes interesting people. :)

  11. Jin6655321 says:

    You can always donate it and take the tax deduction.

  12. jsbrendog says:

    craigslist is great. i sold my original xbox and an old blackberry with no problems whatsoever. it was great. Also, I have sold some video games and books on half.com.

  13. zapeta says:

    I’ve sold a lot of textbooks over the years on Half.com. The fees are pretty high but I’ve usually gotten a lot more selling the book there than I would have elsewhere. I’m planning on selling a TV and some other stuff on craigslist when we move in a couple months.

  14. Master Allan says:

    That Craigslist free category is what you need to lighten the load before moving. With a move on average of once a year living like a minimalist has its advantage. I put twenty of my heavy ten year old college textbooks (worthless on buy back sites) and had 8 inquiries within the hour. Gone; no more lugging around, what was I thinking? Old backup DSL modem hoarded for years, gone. Collection of never used 10×8 picture frames purchased for a price too low to show, gone.

    When I have something not worth the time to sell but good to give away I list and make followup arrangements with the first to contact. Works well every time. I box it, leave it by the front door, and the responder can pick it up at their convenience.

  15. lostAnnfound says:

    Don’t forget about Freecycle for getting rid of those items that will not sell through other means. Just be sure to get a phone number (to set up meeting time) and possibly meet at a public place unless you’re getting rid a large item (like the old working 32″ inch TV we got rid of this month).

  16. I find humor in your statement “It’s clear, we have too much crap and not enough money.”

    If we all utilize the approaches above, we are technically just transferring “crap” to others and not actually ridding ourselves(collectively) of it. ;)

    However, I will gladly transfer my “crap” to someone else for some cash because money takes up much less space in the bank and you don’t have to worry about cleaning around it!

    • Shirley says:

      “However, I will gladly transfer my “crap” to someone else for some cash because money takes up much less space in the bank and you don’t have to worry about cleaning around it!”

      LOL… I have to agree that it would be a hassle to dust between all those stacks of money just sitting around. Thanks for the morning grin!

  17. javi says:

    I have used half.com and amazon marketplace for books and they work great. The best tip is friends. They take everything you don’t want. :)

  18. eric says:

    Craigslist is really effective in an urban area. I usually get multiple responses within the hour. It’s quick, easy, and gets the job done for me. I do agree that you need to gauge buyer’s seriousness though. There are a lot of flakes out there and you can save yourself the trouble by screening ahead of time.

  19. A lot of books don’t sell on Amazon or half.com. If there are 400 copies of a book going for a penny, your listing will never sell. What I did with my monstrous book collection was group the books into genres and sell them as lots on eBay. In some cases, I just got a buck or so. In others I got quite a bit of cash in a week for things that were sitting there unsold for months on Amazon. Junk jewelry does very well on eBay too. I had a lot of 10 or 12 pieces of broken, corroded junk jewelry in condition so poor that even good will wouldn’t take it. I sold it for $15 on eBay.

  20. FinEngr says:

    There are a ton of specialty sites if you’re willing to do some sleuthing. There’s one site out there that specifically buys/sells Nintendo games & systems. There’s many other textbook sites (beyond half.com). And so on…

    The value you’ll receive is only as much as the buyer perceives. If you can find a buyer who knows the product (i.e. not pawn shop) than you’ll be getting more cents on the dollar back.

  21. elloo says:

    I live in a small town with no town trash pickup service. So, if I want to get rid of stuff very easily, there’s a space set aside at our town recyling center (aka town dump) for free stuff. You leave something, you find something. Easier than Craigslist, which I have done (got rid of my old tv there).

  22. J's Mom says:

    I sell what I can on Ebay, give what I can to friends, and take the maximum tax deduction by donating the rest (especially books) to Goodwill.

  23. Jim says:

    Swap sites like bookmooch.com and paperbackswap.com are another good way to get rid of books you don’t want. Instead of money you get points that entitle you to get books from other members.

    Both are good but I find that books move faster and it’s more
    freewheeling on bookmooch but there’s more current selection on
    paperbackswap.

  24. FrugalGuy says:

    Craigslist and Garage/Yard sales have really helped to reduce clutter and make some extra cash. However, when advertising and selling via Craigslist it is always best to meet and conduct transactions in a public place.

  25. sonia says:

    we have used house hold stuff for sale like sofa washing machine n lot of things if anybody interested pls contact on 09211392270 only for in Gurgaon with in 15km

    thanks


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