AARP Eye Center
Here’s what none of my clients wants to hear: You won’t get rich selling your stuff. But you will be able to get rid of clutter. That, after all, is what really matters. By keeping that ultimate objective top of mind, you can be done with the business of selling your overflow possessions and get on with the business of living.
The options for selling your possessions are numerous. I’ll go through the most important ones that I use.
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Local online sales sites
The “for sale” classifieds in local newspapers have long since migrated to regional online listing sites such as Craigslist, Nextdoor, OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace (my personal favorite due to the high traffic volume). For all items that will sell for less than about $5,000, as well as for bulky items like furniture or fitness machines that can’t be packed up and shipped easily or cheaply, I turn first to these sites.
Be sure to search prospective buyers’ profiles to determine their trustworthiness. You can receive payment electronically and even organize pickup without coming face-to-face with the buyer.
This article is adapted from Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff, by Matt Paxton with Jordan Michael Smith. Published by Portfolio Books/Penguin and AARP.
Classified ads in local newspapers can seem an obvious way to sell possessions directly and quickly. My issue is that while they seem inexpensive, you have to wonder what you’re getting for that money. The local readership may be easier to reach in other ways.
Consignment shops can be worthwhile for selling clothing. You can make a good amount of money quickly by emptying an overstuffed closet and consigning all the clothes you’ll never wear again, or with those boxes and boxes of baby outfits in the attic that were worn only a couple of times. Vintage clothing does especially well on consignment.
I used to suggest that clients sell nice furniture at a consignment shop, but those days have passed. Most places don’t have enough foot traffic or an online presence to get your bigger or more valuable stuff the amount of exposure that would lead to a decent sales price. Shop owners usually have to move items as quickly as possible to make whatever money they can and free up room.
Over my 20-plus years in the business, consignment sales have consistently declined. What you’ll earn for your hassle (delivering the item and checking in regularly to see if it sold) is rarely worth what you’ll make on the sale.
People are sometimes surprised that I’m not opposed to pawnshops. They are tightly regulated, and most are reputable. With pawnshops, you get cash for an item and you’re done with it. Remember that your primary goal is to save time; your secondary goal is to profit financially.
This option can be a good outlet for specific categories of items. For example, you would think that jewelry is a natural for a pawnshop sale, but pawnbrokers tend to grossly undervalue jewelry. Ultimately, silver and gold jewelry is usually melted down, and the pawnbroker is looking for the best price per ounce. He or she is unlikely to consider the value of a vintage Tiffany piece. On the other hand, musical instruments (especially guitars), watches and firearms are hot items in pawnshops. Be ready to negotiate to get the best price for any item you take to a pawnshop.