goodwill can be great for dropping off lots of stuff at once and just being done with it. i'm sure they appreciate most of it…and it creates jobs for those who need them. a pick-up service can also be good for this purpose, but beware. a lot of those organizations with the trucks don't actually have a store where they sell your cast-offs. many of them sell the stuff by the pound…and it gets transported overseas or to rag makers. the value of your items is mostly lost in these kinds of transactions…and dumping it overseas destroys their economies of making and supplying items for themselves.
stuff has a price up front which is more than meets the eye. there are resources, farming, mining, weaving, dying, transportation, and labor conditions to consider. and there are costs involved with letting something go. a good clear out is good…but we want to make sure that each item gets into the hands of someone who will appreciate and use that item. how do we find those hands? ...and maybe can we make a little money out of the process?
here are a few of my favorite methods of connecting my stuff with people who want it:
--craigslist is great for connecting locally with people who are looking for what you've got. this works well for big items, like furniture, outdoor play sets, bicycles, ceiling fans, cars, and yard items…and for less expensive things like baby items, toddler toys, bigger kid toys, curtains, and games. we have bought and/or sold all of these items on craigslist.
to sell on craigslist, you simply google craigslist and your city…go to the website and click the "post to classifieds" link. follow the steps one by one, and…
-name it accurately and with all the variations someone could search, for example, if you are posting a bookshelf, list is as wood wooden bookshelf book shelf bookshelves bookcase...
-post attractive, well-lit pictures with neutral background
-price it to sell- remember it was making you no money going unused. don't get greedy now…the goal is to get it out! some money is better than none. the buyer is moving it on out for you and giving you space!
-measure it- it will save you lots of emailing…or someone coming out and not buying it
-note flaws, so there aren't surprises- or say- perfectly chippy paint, or something, to let them know it's a design element :)
-let them know if it's coming from a smoke-free, pet-free environment
-post- cash only
-once you click publish, make sure to go to your email and click through the email they send you to actually post it on craigslist.
-(there are no fees to pay craigslist)
there are some horror stories about craigslist, so be safe and smart. when people inquire about coming for the item, i make sure to nail down the time before giving out my address. i don't tell them when i won't be home. if something feels off, just stop communicating and wait for the next person. i also move the item outside, so that they don't have to come into my house. if you are single and need help moving that couch outside- get someone to come help you move it out and stay with you for the exchange. i respond to the emails saying, "we will be here…." i wait until my husband can come to pick things up with me. it's just smart.
be ready for some low ball offers. i do want to sell, but i get to decide what i'm willing to accept. remember that when someone gives you an offer, you are bargaining. you can counteroffer! :)
to sell on ebay or etsy is a bit more involved…but worth the set up, in my opinion. (maybe not, if you are only wanting to sell a couple items…but if you want to sell a couple items now…and a couple more next month…and…then, yes.) you will need to open a paypal account (it is the mode of transferring money) in addition to your ebay or etsy account. simply go to the appropriate sites (ebay has country specific sites) and follow the instructions for sign-up. you will need to input your bank account or debit card numbers.
ebay, etsy, and paypal charge small fees for using their services. paypal's fees (only for incoming money- not for transferring that money to your bank or for paying for things) come out automatically, but ebay and etsy bill monthly. read their policies carefully to figure out amounts. when listing on these sites, use the tips above for craigslist listings...list size numbers, woman's, boy's, etc. in the title...be sure to note flaws and take pictures of them to clarify. i've learned not to say things like "new condition" or "no holes", because people can argue these statements. i like 7 day auctions, because it is the end of an auction that often triggers urgency and purchasing. starting the bidding price low will help the item get noticed and watched, but don't price it lower than you would be happy selling it for…there may be only one person interested. (again, some money is better than none.) you could also post a "buy it now" price to entice someone to buy it on the spot instead of forgetting to (or deciding not to) bid on it later. (updated 2019: now I like buy-it-now listings best, because it offers that instant gratification for the buyer + instant payment for me.) :) you can check the status of your item along the way, and an email will let you know when something has sold. send an invoice, wait for payment (if the item was sold through a buy-it-now listing, it will already be paid for), pack it up nicely in recycled packaging, and ship promptly.
to sell on amazon, you can search for your item and find the spot where it says "have one to sell" in the description page or once you've clicked onto the "used" page for that book. click there and follow the instructions. you will need a seller's account…and to link that to a bank account/debit card. amazon takes out a small fee, but discloses the exact amount on the pricing page. look at the price of other used books in similar condition. i like to price mine as the lowest price, in order to sell. i've found that if the book is going to be priced lower than about $7, i feel it's not worth selling there (considering fees, packaging, and drive to post office). i donate those books to the library book sale or take them to half priced books. books in great condition are also great to regift, if they are something someone you know would love. an email will let you know when you've sold a book on amazon. log into your seller's account, get the address, mark as shipped, ship it in recycled packaging, and your deposit will go into your account in a week or so.
-to sell with thredup, you can order a free mailer bag. they want defect-free, name brand, on-trend clothing. put it into the mailer bag and mail it off- postage paid by thredup. they will determine what items they want on their site (typically about 50% of what they receive) and also the price you will get for them (remember they need to get paid as well). you will need a paypal account (as well as a thredup account), if you'd like to be paid for your items.
phew….that's a doozy of a post! hope there was something helpful there. let me know if there are any more questions…and i'll try to help, if i can!
happy clearing out! enjoy the space you've created! now don't go filling it up again, right?! :)
p.s. a little more on pricing shipping in the comments. :)