Friday, March 2, 2012

Selling Your Stuff-The Ups, Downs, Why's and Where's

Previously, I've talked about how I sell stuff.  I consider selling stuff an income stream, and sell from a variety of sources.  I sell my own stuff as part of my slow downsizing. I buy and resell other people's stuff (from yard sales, library book sales, thrift stores and flea markets). Some times I refurbish these items, sometimes I sell them as is.  Finally, I sell stuff I have made. Admittedly, the last category is a different thing entirely, and a separate income stream.

As I've explored ways to sell my own used and bought elsewhere stuff, I've ended up using four main resources. Each of these resources has positives and negatives, depending on what I'm selling. Since so many bloggers seem to be sharing their downsizing stories, I though I would share what has worked and not worked for me.

Craigslist:  Let me say here that I think Craigslist gets a bad rap. Most of the safety issues have to do with basic common sense.  The three major positives with Craigslist are that it's local, it's free, and you can refresh listings regularly to put your item at the top of the proverbial heap. The downsides?  It's local-meaning in theory the audience is not as wide (although you can look at craigslist nationwide and go from there). Because you don't "make a bid" or "buy", someone may express interest and not follow up.  If you don't want someone coming to your home, you do have to go to an agreed meeting place. Craigslist is my first go to for many items. In the past year I have sold my collection of department 56 Valentines and Easter Houses, excess Longaberger baskets, Vera Bradley purses, quilting fabric, a wooden sewing box made in Scandinavia and other things on Craig's with much success. I paid no shipping cost (for boxes) or listing fees, making this the cheapest choice. My experience is that one needs good descriptions and good photos here as elsewhere.  I don't sell things that are important to me, or that my family or I will use. Although I eliminated two villages, I have a huge Christmas village and add to it yearly-I've even started a city village for my son.

Amazon:  What can I say folks, Amazon is not just for books!  While it's true my son has an Amazon store and sells mainly used and collectible books, Amazon is much more.  Put simply, if you can find an item on Amazon, or if the item you want to sell has a UPC or ISBN, you can sell that item. In addition to books we have sold sewing items, camera cords, even a net book (bought with financial aid-lost the receipt, got more than I paid on amazon).  Right now I have fabric, a paper cutter, an unused heating pad and even a small safe listed on Amazon.  It's easy to become a seller on Amazon, it's easy to list things to sell.  Finally, you don't have to pay for shipping-or rather you don't have to pay for shipping and then be reimbursed. Put simply, you print your shipping label through Amazon, and no money leaves your bank account. Amazon collects costs and shipping, and then subtracts the shipping when you print. It also makes bookkeeping easier as amazon takes fees out as you sell the books (unlike EBay or Etsy where you pay a monthly bill). I really cannot say enough about selling on

Etsy:  Folks who know about Etsy probably think of it as a handmade market place, and rightly so.  But Etsy is more. They have many vintage sellers and buyers as well, and this would be my first go to place for small older items. Up to this point I have only sold classic sixties sewing patterns on Etsy, but plan to expand to include old Fisher Price, vintage china tea cups and vintage linens.  The downside of Etsy is obviously that you have to actually take the time to create a "shop" with departments, a banner and policies. If I had small items to sell, I would try Craigslist and then move to Etsy if they were vintage or collectible

EBay:  EBay is the elephant in the room, but it is always my last place to sell. Yes, I read quite a few blogs about people selling on eBay. As someone who looks for things to resell, some of those items I find end up on eBay. Why is eBay my least favorite place?  Well, their fee structure favors large sellers. Their feedback structure favors buyers, leaving sellers little recourse. And frankly, some things have simply flooded the market. This isn't to say I'll never sell on eBay. I'll just say that for me, it's not the first choice, and leave it at that. I've sold some vintage plane models and the like and will probably sell my collection of ugly Christmas sweaters next year.  Ebay, however, is not the only kid in town any more.

What I haven't talked about here are local options. I do have one yard sale annually. Frankly, I'm unwilling to clog up my garage with boxes of things, to bag them, price them, and spend a day or two in the sun dealing with money. I adore yard sales and get much of my stuff to resell from other yard salers.  That said, I prefer to sell stuff as I come across it, or as I elminate it from a room.  These means I'm listing a couple times a week as I come across items.  Some things get saved for the proper season (I wont try and sell my extra set of Christmas dishes until the fall). Otherwise, I want the stuff gone and the cash in hand now. For the same reason, I don't do flea markets or swap meets.

I also have not talked about donations.  Donating items are a good way to declutter, and in fact this household regularly donates both used items (mainly clothing) and handmade items (quilts, baby blankets and so on). For me at least, the financial aspects of bringing in money from my excess is more advantageous than the tax benefits.

Finally, I haven't talked about where I get the stuff that I resell, and how I go about it. I figure that's a blog entry for another day.  Meanwhile, if you have items ready to leave your home and would like to get some cash, I encourage you to experiment with Etsy, Amazon, and Craigslist as a way to get stuff out and money in.


  1. Great entry! I have learned more about selling stuff from your one entry that I've learned from all the time I've limited myself to eBay. Never thought about other sites.

    Thanks so much for all the info. will definitely use it in the future.

  2. I totally agree with you. Craigslist is my favorite. Ebay my least favorite. I have yet to try to sell anything on Amazon or Etsy, and we have used garage sales--lots of them in fact--when we wanted to sell everything in our house. I definitely have to try Amazon some time.

  3. Thanks for your post, I have thought about selling quilts on ETSY but I have been to confused on going about it.

  4. I have not put a lot of time into Craigslist, but after reading this article, I will definitely give it a serious look!

    Great Article!

  5. Thanks for the reminder that Amazon is more than books ... may give that a try for some things!


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