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Where to Sell Old Unwanted Stuff

According to Wikipedia [3] (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.


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.

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 [4], 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 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 [5] 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.

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 [6]. The fees are very high compared to the alternatives but the listing process takes mere seconds.

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 [7])