Convert Your Crap Into Cash Without a Garage Sale
We all have extra stuff lying around that we'd love to pawn off for cash — in theory. But let's face it. Organizing a garage sale can be sort of like planning a dinner party without the payoff of good friends, good conversation, and a couple of refreshing gin and tonics. All that sorting and polishing and sticker-tagging and sign-making — not to mention the time you'll spend trying to shoo the neighbor who wants to take home your kid's $500 barely used air hockey table for 20 bucks — and you might not even earn enough to cover your expenses for that bottle of upholstery cleaner. (See also: Have Your Best Yard Sale Ever)
Fortunately, it's true what they say: One man's trash is another man's treasure. The trick to making this maxim work for you is finding the right platform that will put your well-cared-for Coach purse before the eyes of fashionistas who deeply value the absence of scratch marks on the leather strap.
The Internet is a brilliant resource for reaching your best-bet buyers. So is your flesh-and-blood network of family and friends. Here's our guide to getting the biggest bang for your leftovers and unwanteds using the basics of target marketing. It's all about finding your niche.
The founder of ThreadFlip launched the up-and-coming online marketplace for second-hand garments and accessories two years ago after taking a peek at his wife's cluttered closet. What struck him was that most of the overflow was comprised of perfectly fashionable, cared-for pieces that she never even wears. When he asked his wife and other women why they hold on to clothing they know they'll never put on, they gave him the same answer: "It's too hard to do anything else with them.
Sites like eBay and Etsy work great, too, but ThreadFlip offers the added benefit of a niche audience. This is fashionistas selling to other fashionistas, so you're bound to rake in more cash for those peach-colored stilettos than if you were to try and hawk them on a generalized resale site. (Another excellent option for pre-owned luxury clothing and accessories is Portero).
When you sell on ThreadFlip, the site helps you lure in buyers by marketing your items with high resolution photos. (If you're clumsy with a camera, you can fork over a higher percentage of your earnings and the company will handle the photography for you.) Once you hook a buyer, an empty box arrives at your doorstep. Simply fill it with the items you've sold and call for a pickup. ThreadFlip will ship the box directly to the buyer, and for this the site takes a 20% cut of the sale.
It's not easy — nor cheap nor in any way desirable — to sell a couch by mail. Sites that facilitate resale transactions with buyers right in your local community are your best bet for larger items, like furniture, swing sets, and pinball machines, that are too cumbersome for the postal service.
While Craigslist is well-known, Krrb (pronounced "curb") is a newer hyperlocal classifieds platform that's on the rise in popularity. The 75,000-member online consignment boutique caters to the bargain hunter with sophisticated taste. High-end furniture pieces go for anywhere between $800 and $10,000 depending on condition and style. Recent listings include a Victorian aquarium, 19th century furnishings, and a vintage mahogany sideboard. There's also a pair of taxidermy goats that's going for $1,500.
In most cases, the buyers on sites like Craigslist and Krrb are willing to come to you. And it's on them to hire a truck to transport the antique bed and night stands. All you have to do is hold out your hand. Ahh, how good it feels to have a fistful of cold, hard cash.
Here's the good news: Amazon will buy your old electronics in exchange for money to spend on Amazon. And considering the breadth and depth of the Amazon marketplace, credit for this online shopping site is nearly as good as cash.
It works like this: Check the trade-in page to see if your old cell phone or video game console is eligible for the gift-card program. (Books are also applicable.) Then package up your gadgets and send them off to Amazon. The company will even pay for the shipping. Once the company receives the items, your Amazon account will be credited in about two business days.
Amazon doesn't have a monopoly on the electronics trade-in industry, although its service in this department is streamlined and immensely easy. Still, there are other options to explore. Nextworth and Gazelle offer similar trade-in programs with an added benefit: They'll actually send you a check for your outdated iPad. On the downside, Nextworth can often take upwards of 10 days to reimburse you while Gazelle tends to lowball its offering price.
4. Valuables That Aren't Selling Online
There are certain items you won't want to part with unless you're getting what they're worth. Diamond earrings. The teak end-table. Those leather boots you bought on your honeymoon in Italy. You know they are high-value items, even if the bid amounts on your eBay auction suggest otherwise.
Chances are that at least some of your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors share in your taste and would love to go on a shopping spree at your house. So why not let them? Simply price the items you want to sell and invite a group of people over to browse.
Or, take a hint from the minimalist, world-traveling duo Warren and Betsy Talbot and host a Reverse Birthday Party. The next time your birthday comes around, examine the stuff in your house and stick price tags on all those beautiful, loved items that you could only bear to part with for a fair price. Then invite over the friends and family members you know will appreciate just as you do that antique farmhouse spinning wheel or the cutesy Christmas china set and let 'em loose. In lieu of gifts, your guests will be doing you a favor by spending that gift money — and then some, if all goes to plan — on all that exquisite stuff you need to part with in order to declutter your life.
Take whatever's left over to a brick-and-mortar consignment shop.
How have you turned your old stuff into cash without bothering with a yard sale? Please share your secrets in comments!