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Sunday, October 10, 2021

Clean Out Your Closets and Sell Extra Stuff

Decluttering can take a load off your shoulders and bring in some extra money to boot! 

With the holidays coming up, what better way to both make your home look inviting and score a little cash for gifts than to sell unwanted items? It’s never been easier, thanks to the internet and a host of apps. All you need is a smartphone to get started earning.

The first step is weeding out clothing and other items that you don’t need. The process can be very difficult when sentiment is involved. Can you really part with Dad’s favorite chair? How about the vase Mom always had on her kitchen windowsill?

The Kondo Approach

One idea is to take a look at the methods of organizing diva Marie Kondo. She believes that less “stuff” in our lives makes us happier while acknowledging the difficulties of letting go. 

Seller Beware

No matter where you decide to market your extra things, make sure you only give personal information out to the site, and never to prospective buyers. Scam artists are waiting for newbies. They will send a note telling you they want to give that bracelet you have posted to their wife for her birthday, but can you save it until then? and include “their” email address and/or phone number. Never respond to such requests. Legitimate buyers go through the site’s messaging service and never ask for personal information.

Quick Tip: Fold, Don’t Hang

When you’re repacking clothes, folding takes less space than hanging. The problem is that clothes on the bottom of the pile tend to get wrinkled and stay unworn since you never see them. Remedy this by folding into three parts (left, right, center), and then again into three or four parts top to bottom, and packing one-side-up. You will be able to see the side of every item within a drawer, and no item will be crushed beneath another.

Kondo espouses the “three piles” approach: take out all your clothing, for example, ALL of it at once — drawers, closets, anywhere there is a single sock! — and divide into piles to keep, donate, or throw away. You can add another pile: sell. This pile may replace the “donate” stack, or it may be separate. 

As you are going through item by item, mentally thank each piece for its service. Remember that Grandma’s hankie won’t bring her back but place it in a pile with gratitude and love. Keep only those things that spark joy and can still be of use to you. (Good-bye, dress that never quite fits.) See if family members who don’t live with you want items that hold memories. If not, it’s time to acknowledge that the item’s work is done. Perhaps it will go on to make meaningful memories for someone else, but its time with you is over. 

Hassle-Free Sales

People who just don’t have the time or energy to sell online can opt to take clothing to a local brick-and-mortar consignment store. Generally, management will look over your clothes, choose what they want to market, and either pay you a set price on the spot or keep track of each item and pay you a commission when (and if) it sells. Generally, items are kept for 60 or 90 days, and they may be marked down every 30 days. Items that don’t sell are usually donated to a charity for you.

Another way to get items you want to sell off your plate is to use the online consignment store ThredUp. Order a Clean Out Kit and the company will send you a large bag to fill up, complete with a shipping label. Drop it off at FedEx or USPS, and they do the rest. You can opt to get cash or shopping credit for items that sell, and they will donate what doesn’t. They pay 3% to 15% for items that sell for under $20, and up to 80% for those pieces priced at $200 or more. 

DIY Local Sales

Several apps allow you to sell locally. You post the photos and description and use the app’s messaging service to connect with buyers. This can be a great way to dispose of large items like furniture, that are difficult to ship. Craigslist is perhaps the oldest and best-known, but Nextdoor, letgo, and Facebook Marketplace are coming on strong. The advantage of these last three is that your buyer has a profile you can check. All are free to use. No matter which app you choose, never schedule a showing when you are home alone. It’s also helpful to move the item to your garage or porch, if possible, so your house can stay locked. If the item is small enough, load it in your car and meet buyers at a local grocery store (or anywhere there are always a lot of people) or police station. 

You can always opt to give things away for free via the above apps or join the Buy Nothing network, where members give away things they don’t need and pick up items they can use from each other. It’s a great way to recycle and it fits everyone’s budget! 

DIY National/Worldwide Sales

If you want to get top dollar for your items, you need to expand your pool of buyers while utilizing a platform that will help you get views. Facebook Marketplace can be used, or go with the daddy of this method on eBay and gain access to over 183 million buyers for anything from jewelry to cars. Take your own photos, fill out the listing, and then ship your item when it sells. EBay allows you to have an auction-style sale with bids (quicker, but usually the sale price is lower) or set a price. You can opt to allow buyers to make offers. EBay will handle payments and gives sellers a discount on shipping, which is made easy through printable labels the company sends to the seller. 

A plethora of companies have popped up to take share from the generalists, and they’re viable options. Poshmark and The RealReal specialize in designer apparel, accessories, and home goods. Sell tech and small electronic goods on Decluttr and use MaxSold, which specializes in estate sales, for collectibles. 

No matter which route you take, you’ll feel great knowing that you have less stuff taking up space, and the things that are left are ones you care about and enjoy. Some of your things will be giving joy to other people, and some will have ended their usefulness. And some will have put some holiday cash in your pocket.