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Selling Your Old Stuff? How To Make the Most Money


Woman takes photo of denim shirt on smartphone to sell in internet shop.

Anna Gorbacheva/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Selling old stuff is an attractive idea for many people because it fulfills two great functions: it gets things out of your house and you make money: win-win!

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According to the Mercari Reuse Report, American households are left with an estimated $391 just on children’s toys and clothing that could easily be resold. But maybe you also have vintage furniture, old machine parts or appliances that are still in good condition, old cars, clothes, household goods – you name it.

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In the age of online marketplaces, it seems like selling your stuff should be both easy and lucrative, but it really depends on how you go about it. Here, experts offer strategies for maximizing your earning potential when selling your old stuff.

Timing is the key

According to Dan Kroytor, founder of TailoredPay, a leading provider of merchant accounts, selling your stuff is all about timing. “Whether you get the maximum amount of money from selling your stuff depends a lot on the time of year. For example, early fall is when the moving season is almost over, so furniture and household items sell very well during this time. Conversely, springtime is when dresses, suits and beautiful clothes for summer events like weddings are in high demand. To get the most out of your old stuff, pay close attention to when you sell it.”

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Find your niche

Trying to sell items at random in a scattershot approach may not get you very far. Instead, see if you can find a niche (or more) for what you’re selling. Daniel Morris is in the chainsaw niche with FireandSaw.com – (you probably didn’t even know such a niche existed!).

He said, “To make the most money selling your old stuff, get your old stuff in front of the people who want it.”

In his case, Stihl chainsaws are extremely popular and very collectible, so he specifically searches for Stihl chainsaw fan Facebook groups [x] or other similar groups looking for these items.

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“If you put your old stuff for sale in groups that focus on those old stuff, you’re almost always going to make the most money. You can often even leave links to your eBay listing,” he said. “The harder you work to get your listing in front of the right audience, the more you’re likely to make.”

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Determine its value

Beyond that, Morris said, don’t just throw a random prize at your items and hope for the best. “Try to determine the value of what you’re selling up front so you don’t list it below its maximum price,” he said.

“Better to list things too high at first than too low. You can adjust down later, but not up once you start attracting interest.

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Set a price pain threshold

According to Veronica Hanson, owner of Nomad Veronica, LLC, which helps moms become minimalists, it’s a good idea to set a “pain threshold for the price,” or a dollar amount that you set if your efforts are worth the time, the items needed for sale. “Selling random things in your house is not a sustainable sideline. Turning junk into cash is a good idea when freeing up cash to start an income-generating business or carrying you through negative cash flow periods,” Hanson said.

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“Typically, the price pain point is between $20 and $50 when selling items individually through online marketplaces. Anything below your price pain threshold should be rolled up into a mass selling strategy like a flea market.

Look for established consumer marketplaces

Don’t try to put up your own clapboard or reinvent the wheel when it comes to selling your old stuff, said Karim Hachem, VP of eCommerce at Sunshine 79. “The best way to sell your old stuff and make good money is to choose an online marketplace that already has an established customer base. That way you can dive right in, market your stuff as ‘vintage’ and ‘restored’, set your own prices and head out to the races.”

He gives examples of well-known sites like Depop, Etsy, ThredUp and eBay. Then all you have to do is focus on presenting your items in the best possible light.

Make the products look presentable

Old things often need fixing, refurbishing, or just a little polish or dusting to bring them back to life. Don’t expect to throw something you’ve pulled out of the basement online and see how it sells.

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According to Ethan Caffrey, a Certified Financial Advisor and CEO of Storific.com, “First, polish the products as much as possible when you’re trying to maximize the value of the sale. You can sell a nice looking table for a lot more than if you left it all gathering dust.”

He also recommends taking good photos of your products. “Don’t just take a picture of your table in your dark closet. Instead, take it out, place seating around it, place a vase filled with flowers on top, and then take the picture. That will make a world of difference.”

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