Chapter 7: Selling Your Items

We have reached the chapter where you learn how to take your winning locker and turn someone else’s forgotten items into your personal riches!

Once you have won your unit and separated the sellable items from the toss items, you need to figure out how you are going to actually sell the items. The answer may seem obvious, especially if you are a store owner. But how you decide to sell your items can make a big difference in what you actually get. And the options can be daunting: pawn shops, consignment, eBay, Craigslist, and the list goes on. To add to the confusion, different items sell better in different scenarios, and how long you can wait to pocket the cash also changes things.

Let’s start by taking a quick look at some general tips to follow.

  • Always get a professional appraisal on anything you are unsure of. Knowing what you actually have on your hands will not only give you a better sense of it’s worth, it will also allow you to market the item to maximise your profit.
  • Be wary of appraisers who offer to purchase the item from you. This happens frequently, especially when it is someone you haven’t worked with before. If you’re suspicious, seek a second opinion.
  • Not all offers will be people trying to rip you off. The appraiser might be able to resell it for a profit that still leaves you ahead of the game. Take the following example:

    You purchased a unit for $100. There’s a good couch and chair set that you know you can sell for $300 already tripling your investment. You find a glass sculpture with a signature and markings on the base and take it for an appraisal at a local art gallery. The gallery owner tells you it’s a well-known artist whose work fetches several thousand dollars and estimates that your piece may be worth around $2000. He offers to buy if from you for $1500, a $500 difference. That’s a lot of money you’re leaving on the table. However, he has the contacts and store space to sell the sculpture for it’s top dollar. You don’t. Taking the $1500 offer leaves you, with your furniture set, $1700 ahead of the game and it’s money in your pocket.

  • Research pays off. The Internet makes it very easy to research any item. The extra time is well worth it. Knowing what you have will help you find the right venue to sell it and get a good idea of what price range you should be offering.
  • Keep in mind how long it might take to sell an item. Even if something is worth a lot of money, if there’s only one buyer out there, it could be a long time before you turn your item into cash.
  • Build a network of people who can help you. The more contacts you have, the easier it is going to be to sell your items.

    Now let’s take a closer look at some of the different ways to sell items.

    Pawn shop:
    This can be a great way to unload items for cash. You are not likely to get top dollar for your items but if you are stuck on how to sell something, or can’t afford to wait for the cash, try a local, reputable pawn shop. Tools, electronic ware, and any items you don’t have contacts for are great for pawn shops.

    Consignment:
    For higher dollar items, consignment is often a good choice. You won’t get your money until it sells, but it can be well worth the wait. Try to find a consignment store that targets your item and avoid general consignment stores. Designer clothes, jewellery, and antiques are just a few of the types of items that do well in consignment. The advantage here is you get to wait for a top dollar buyer without having to store the item or deal with customers. There is a cost as the store will take a percentage of the sale. Again, only deal with reputable consignment stores.

    Art and antique galleries:
    Because these stores have a targeted customer base, it can be the ideal way to sell art and antiques. Some galleries run as a consignment store where you get cash when the item sells while others will buy the item from you. Both have their advantages and you will have to make an independent decision as to whether cash in hand is more valuable to you than waiting for top dollar.

    eBay:
    When using a site such as eBay, stick with items that are easy to ship and have a higher dollar value. This can be a great way to find the most buyers for your item if you have the ability to store and ship it. Reserve prices can ensure you don’t let your item disappear for pennies, but it can also mean you might not sell your item. Take good photos of your item. If there are labels, signatures, or markings that should be highlighted, photograph them as well. Always be honest about the condition. Having a reputation as someone who stretches the truth will only make it more difficult for you to sell your items in the future.

Selling locally (Craigslist):
If you don’t want to ship an item, such as a bicycle or baby stroller, try selling locally with an online site such as Craigslist or Kijiji. You will get paid in cash and the sale often happens relatively quickly. There are definite draw backs to consider. You will have to deal with people either coming to your house or meeting them, and there will be a lot of no shows to contend with. There will also be a lot of lookie-loos. To avoid this, put as much information as possible in the advertisement and use lots of photos. Again be honest about your item. State in the advertisement that you are looking for serious buyers only.

Although the item will largely dictate how you sell it, we are also going to look at each type of storage auction buyer and highlight the best ways to unload your items.

Treasure Hunter

You are looking for that hidden gem and when you find it, you’ll want top dollar to cover your costs. Galleries, consignment, and eBay are your best choices for selling your items. If you have a rare find, you might want to try a high end auction house. Letting a professional sell your item, whether through a gallery or an auction house, will save you the headache of trying to garner up the best buyers. They know how to advertise, get attention, and ultimately get you the dollars. It will cost you, but it can be worth it.

Reseller

You are already comfortable with eBay and selling items through swap meets and flea markets. It is extra important for you that you figure out which items to sell by what means. Taking the time to figure out how you will sell each item will help maximise your profits. If you have a higher end item, consider letting a professional sell it for you. For your more standard items, good quality household goods for example, go off the size of item and how long you can store it. A couch might be better sold at a swap meet or Craigslist as it would be expensive to ship. A decent pair of gold earrings might maximise their profit on eBay, and not eat up all your earnings in shipping.

Store Owner

Since you own your store, the selling part is much easier for you. Make sure you price items appropriately so they don’t sit on your shelves. eBay can still be a great way to move items off your shelves. For items that don’t sell well in your store but still have value, try Craigslist and eBay. If your customers don’t have the money for expensive items, go the route of consignment stores, galleries, and auction houses.

Questions