I’ve recently gotten involved in the Tiny House Movement. It’s exciting that people are downsizing from their 2,500 – 4,000 sf homes to 400 sf—or less! This requires more downsizing than Mother Hubbard did when she moved her 16 children into a shoe. But for Tiny Housers, it’s well worth saving money, being mortgage free, leaving a smaller carbon footprint, being closer to family, and even traveling turtle-style with one’s house. Singles, couples, and families are all part of the Tiny House Movement.
Some downsizers have asked me what to do with the many items they want to eliminate. For most of us, the best option is to recoup some of the dollars they cost. I’ll focus on that option here. In another blog, I’ll discuss option two: donating items you don’t want or can’t sell.
First, don’t beat yourself up for spending money on items that you’re now discarding. It’s important to keep only the items that you truly love (see the blog “Love is in the Air”) and not think about their cost. Your goal now is to move into your Tiny House and feel comfortable, not cram it with unessential items, such as a Thanksgiving-size platter just because it cost $100. I guarantee once you sell it for a few bucks, and reinvest those bucks in an upgraded faucet or sink, you won’t be thinking about that platter!
I have found that the easiest and most profitable way to sell items is to find a Facebook Garage Sale group. Here in the Rochester, NY area, you’ll find “Garage Sale Days”, “Garage Sale Days for Rochester, NY” and many others. On Facebook, search your area for similar garage sale sites. These sites offer many advantages. You can Instant Message potential buyers and post many pictures, for example. In general, you can ask more for the items and sell them faster than you can on other sites. Make sure you read the rules of the group. I recently had a virtual garage sale and made over $500!
The old standby Craigslist is another place to sell items. With Craigslist, you can also post pictures. Just make sure you post pictures of the item’s flaws. There’s no faster way to kill a sale than to surprise someone when they come to get the item and it has a tear, a spot or a nick. Many people will still be interested in a flawed item if they can think how to fix it. Surprising a buyer is self-defeating and a waste of time. Displaying flaws also shows that you are honest and forthright. In general, selling items on Craigslist is slower, more difficult to track, and more work overall. However, it is still very effective– particularly if you live in a small town/area. Also, Craigslist is a highly effective way to sell furniture. Always sell for cash only and stipulate if the buyer will need help. The buyer will appreciate knowing if it’s a particularly heavy item or if you are unable to help.
Third, you can sell your items at stores such as Clothes Mentor, Plato’s closet, or Once Upon a Time that will pay you cash on the spot. Check for similar stores in your area. They will take your gently used clothes, shoes, jewelry, scarves – anything you’d wear – and put cash in your pocket immediately. They won’t give you a fortune, but you will make a few bucks, and it’s an easy route to sell those extra clothes.
Fourth, you can have a normal, old-fashioned garage sale. You can sell anything and everything going this route.
Finally there is Ebay. For most of us, this is the slowest and most difficult way to sell items, although small collectables sell particularly well on Ebay. Make sure you check under “sold” to see if 1) similar items have actually sold and 2) the price for which they sold. There is a fee to list each item so make sure your item and its price are competitive. The first time you sell items, you do not have access to Ebay’s “Buy Now” option and so you have to wait for your auction to end – which could be as long as 3 days to 1 month. This can be a major disadvantage.
I suggest using a combination of these options. You can take your clothes to Clothes Mentor. Whatever they don’t take, you can take to Plato’s Closet. Then whatever they don’t take, you could take to a consignment shop. Then whatever they don’t take, you could list on your garage sale Facebook site or have a garage sale yourself.
I wish you luck. You will rarely if ever recover all the money you paid for an item. When pricing items, think about what you would pay for them. Use garage sale prices. Your goal is to get something for the item.
Next week, I will post how and where to donate items. Good luck and if you have any questions or any other questions or suggestions, please comment below!