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Selling Stuff

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Since getting serious about debt reduction, I have been meaning to clean out some closets and sell some stuff. I would love to have a garage sale, but my husband is working basically 7 days a week and there’s no way I could pull one off on my own. So I’ve been planning on selling stuff online and just hadn’t gotten to it….yet.

A couple weeks ago I was basically forced into the process. My girls have figured out how to open doors (and the world is over!), and now they will go into their closet and tear into all the boxes of outgrown baby stuff that I’ve been hoarding for the last year. It was just the push I needed to do a little Spring Cleaning. Last weekend I pulled out all the boxes, organized everything, took photos, and started posting in online Facebook baby/garage sale groups.

At the end of the weekend I had sold 6 items and earned an extra $64.

But was it worth the time investment?

I think it can be. But there have to be rules and boundaries in place. Even though I’m only one weekend deep into this side-gig I’ve got going on I think I’ve learned that, as a seller, I need to make everything at my convenience.

What does this mean?

  • I pick the time.
  • I pick the location.
  • Short turnaround only.

Most of my sales were relatively effortless. I post an item, a buyer says “I want this, let’s meet!” We set a time and place, and the transaction occurred seamlessly. But one buyer was an absolute pain! She asked if I had other items for sale (in addition to those posted), so we went back-and-forth a million times discussing additional items, taking and sending additional photos, discussing pricing, etc. etc. etc. It was the entire weekend! I asked at four separate points when she wanted to meet and she kept dragging it out (e.g., “I need to borrow my Mom’s car” or “I love it, but my daughter is being really fussy right now!”). I get it and I don’t want to be heartless, but at some point its just not worth my time anymore. It dragged on and on and we ended up eventually meeting on Tuesday (after literally spending all day Saturday-Tuesday texting back-and-forth) and I made a sale for $7. Not worth all the hassle, effort, and time.

But if I were to enforce these rules (saying:  this time, this place, no holds), then either I would have made the sale or not, but I wouldn’t have wasted 4 days in the process.

I’m taking a little break for a bit and spending time with my family this Memorial Day weekend. I still have more baby-related items I plan to post and try to sale, but when I do so it will be with this set of “rules” in place.

Any tips for selling things online? Do you have any “rules” you set for these transactions?


16 Comments

  • Reply Mary |

    I agree. Make your own rules and don’t let someone else steal your time. I would have told her they were sold, lol.

    Years ago, I used Once Upon a Child. It’s a franchise that buys gently used clothing. I’d bring in my son’s clothes (I’d iron them before bringing them in to make them look great.) and drop them off. They review the clothes and then would call me when they were done. They’d tell me which items they’d want to buy and offer me a price for it all. Most of the time, they bought everything I brought in. It was more than I’d make at a garage sale and less hassle. They buy kids furniture and equipment too. There are some times of the year where they have enough stuff so you call ahead to see if they need boys clothes size 10 or whatever. I made a lot of money that way. What they didn’t purchase, I dropped off at Goodwill.

  • Reply Shaun |

    I am a member of a FB group where we can sell/buy/trade on the “honor” system. The group is open to friends of friends and in a small geographic area. You leave the item on your porch, they leave the money if they take it. It makes it very simple to do. You may even want to start such a group. It is a closed group, fairly set rules and we have very few issues pop up. This saves the meeting and planning time needed in Craigslist.

  • Reply the spunky banker. |

    Selling clothes is definitely the hardest. I always take stuff to this place called Daisy Exchange (I don’t know if it’s locally owned or a nationwide thing) and I always get frustrated because it’s so random what they will take. I will leave the store so mad with like $16 for 2 Betsey Johnson bags, skinny jeans, a few tops and a couple dresses with the tags still on and I’m thinkin to myself “that girl is like 16, how does she get to decide what stuff of mine is considered ‘trendy’ or not?”

  • Reply Theresa |

    Have you thought of trying a consignment sale like Just Between Friends http://nwtucson.jbfsale.com/homeView.jsp or Consignment Mommies http://consignmentmommies.com/ChildrensConsignmentSalesbyState/Arizona.html? I have shopped at a Just Between Friends Sale but haven’t sold at one. I have had friends that have had good experiences. This was in MN so I can’t speak to the AZ sales. It might not solve your problem of getting stuff out of your closets immediately but long term it could be a solution for selling or buying.

    As for selling on Facebook/Craigslist I would always say that my price is firm. I had a haggler once on an item that had a lot of interest and I was really annoyed. I would also state that this item needs to be picked up “this weekend” to give people a sense of urgency but I also make sure that there are several large blocks of time where I can meet someone. I don’t like it as a buyer when seller is unavailable either. Good luck!

  • Reply Sandra G. |

    I sell things on my local FB group all the time. I make it a point of letting them know what area of town I live in, that they need to pick the item up and that it is a cash only sale. That avoids a lot of hassle. I try not to meet anybody anywhere, my time is to valuable to me. I know for some that is not an option, people need to feel safe but for me it works. I live in a small town.

  • Reply Kili |

    Yeah, it can get super annoying what hoops potential buyers ask you to jump through…
    for some stuff that’s easy to ship i still like ebay because it targets such a vast audience… but it does take time to look in advance for how much an item is usually selling, taking nice pictures and writing a good description.

  • Reply Becky |

    I second the consignment sales the post above talks about! I have three kids under 4…this spring I bought all their summer clothes for about $100 and made $88 selling outgrown clothes and toys and a few DVDs. So I ONLY really paid $12 for clothes :). It is easywork and iI had the option ti donate whatever didn’t sell. Worked great for me!

  • Reply Klm |

    Is there a Mothers of Multiples group where you are? Here they have large, well publicized, centralized ‘yard sales.’. It might be worth paying the table rental fee to get rid if a lot of stuff at once.

    • Reply Ashley |

      The closest MoMs group is in Phoenix (2ish hours away). But others also recommended some sort of consignment sale. Its worth looking into!

  • Reply adam |

    great suggestions here. I was also going to suggest consignment stores.

    We have bought and sold a lot of stuff on craigslist. I can say that after a while, you can start to get a feel from the first email they send you if they are really interested in your item.

    One huge tip off is if the first message says, “I’m interested in your item, but would you take $X for it?” When that happens you can tell they are more interested in negotiating than they are in the item. I usually don’t even respond to those anymore.

    I agree with your idea of setting and enforcing rules.

  • Reply Mary from SC |

    This is a great avenue to get those closets cleaned out and make a little more than you would at a yard sale. We have those sites locally and they are moderated so that we don’t have much problem with “no shows”, etc. One lady that does an extremely good business has two meeting times per week and that is it…if you can’t make it, she moves on. That way, she is not tying up every day waiting to meet someone. I work in the town where this facebook site is, so I actually just leave the item in my car and the person comes by at his/her convenience…looks at the item and if they like it, they take it and just leave the money. It’s a small town and this works here. That way, they come by on their schedule…I let them know when my car will be there. Obviously this wouldn’t work in a larger city or if I felt uncomfortable with people knowing where I work. Bottom line – it’s your time and your stuff, so do what you are comfortable with and just enjoy the extra $$$. It all adds up!

  • Reply DC - Kate |

    Just want to echo that on our neighborhood listserve, people will put a designated pick-up window for items. That way you aren’t waiting around for someone. Also, we’ve sold a lot of stuff on Craigslist, I think you get more money than you would at a yard sale. I weed out a lot of people based on the first e-mail. I dealt with too many flaky people when I started selling stuff there, and unless they are definitive about when they can meet, and express some enthusiasm, forget it.

  • Reply Shoeaholicnomore |

    I agree. I’ve made some good money doing online sales thru local area Facebook buy/sell/trade groups, but it can be a HUGE PAIN! Some people want to haggle on price until you finally give in. Some don’t show up at the designated time and thus you have put your evening on hold for nothing, etc, etc, etc. I need to be more heartless. Plus, about half the crap I’ve sold isn’t mine anyhow, it’s my parent’s stuff. They don’t live in town and thus don’t have an easy location for buyers to swing by and pick stuff up. I think I need to charge my parents a fee for doing all this for them…

  • Reply Jocelyn |

    I’ve been selling stuff lately, too, in preparation for a move. I’ve listed everything on craigslist. What doesn’t sell there will be taken to a kid’s consignment store by us. What we don’t sell there will go in a garage sale. And what’s left over from the garage sale will be donated. So hopefully we’ll make a few dollars. 🙂

So, what do you think ?