These digital shortcuts make it easier than ever to resell trinkets, treasure, and everything in between. Our experts offer their advice for how to make both online (on sites like eBay) and in-person sales a success — starting with how to figure out what your belongings are worth in the first place.
When Donna Dawson of Westfield, Wisconsin, realized she had sold an antique lamp at a garage sale for about $200 less than it was worth, she considered it a lesson learned. Reyne Hirsch, a former appraiser for Antiques Roadshow, has seen an almost infinite number of similar examples. "Before you start selling, do your homework," she cautions. Certain categories have a higher chance of containing buried treasure.
If you can't tell a master piece from a reproduction, you're in good company. But before you put your art up for sale, check its provenance: Take it to a local appraiser or head to ValueMyStuff, a site launched by a former Sotheby's director that considers photos of artwork and gives professional appraisals starting at $10. The company has uncovered more than a dozen pieces valued at over $1 million — including a Vincent van Gogh original!
Hirsch has seen plenty of sold-for-cheap jewelry that turned out to be real diamonds or platinum. In general, fine jewelry will have a hallmark — a stamp on the inside of a ring or the clasp of a necklace that says, for instance, 18k for 18-karat gold — seem heavier than costume jewelry counterparts, and feature prongs to hold gems in place. "Even costume jewelry can sell for $200 to $1,000 or more if it's vintage," Hirsch says. If you're unsure, get it appraised.
When it comes to finding treasures in your kitchen cabinets, you don't always have to lean on a pro: Head to eBay for a quick sense of how much that China cream pitcher or mid-century cake stand might be worth — one vintage Pyrex casserole dish recently sold for $1,325! But know that condition will be a huge factor in price. Hirsch says, "The odds of selling anything cracked or chipped for more than pocket change are pretty slim."
Baseball cards, vinyl records, vintage toys — it takes about two minutes to look up your items on eBay and get a rough sense of their value, says Aaron LaPedis, author of The Garage Sale Millionaire. Use the "show only sold listings" option to see what people have actually paid so your research won't be skewed by overly optimistic sellers. An item in the original packaging may snag you 30% more than a mint-condition item that's packaging-free.
A range of well-known and new websites can take your yard sale to the next level and save you time, effort, and money. Some of these will even do most of the work for you.
eBay is the go-to for resellers around the world, but with eBay Consignment, you can partner with an industry expert and agree on terms and logistics to sell your collectibles.
Amazon Trade-In offers Amazon gift cards in exchange for thousands of eligible items like books, tablets, video games, and cell phones. You'll get an immediate offer and free shipping.
This Facebook destination makes it easy to post items for sale to all local Facebook users and, unlike Craigslist, allows you to check the profiles of interested buyers, coordinate through Messenger, and report suspicious activity.
Thanks to the luxury consignment site, TheRealReal, you can mail in a few luxury items, such as watches and handbags, then kick back while the team handles listings and sales. You'll earn about 50% of most selling prices.
Yes, even in the digital age, the perks of an old-school yard sale are real. You can sell a bunch of stuff all at once, make the event a family or neighborhood affair, wrap up the decluttering in just one day, and get paid in cold, hard cash.
A week before the sale, share details through social media, including any Facebook neighborhood groups or yard sale groups you find. Include a hint about what you're selling ("Tons of kids' clothes!" or "Sports gear galore!") as well as nuts-and-bolts info like the starting and ending times and your address, suggests LaPedis. The day before and the day of your sale, post again. If you live near another town, consider posting in its Facebook garage sale group too.
Here's where the details matter. "If you make a neat, easy-to-read sign, you'll make more money, because you'll attract more shoppers," says Lynda Hammond, author of The Garage Sale Gal’s Guide to Making Money Off Your Stuff. She suggests grabbing a stack of neon-pink poster board, roughly 15" x 15", so the signs will stand out but won't flap in the wind. Then keep it simple: Write "Yard Sale!" with an arrow. Put a new sign every three blocks or so or wherever there's a turn. Designate someone to right any crooked signs and replace missing ones.
If the thought of putting a little price sticker on each and every thing you want to sell sounds exhausting, "Save yourself gobs of time and skip it," says Hammond. Instead, ask people how much they'd like to pay. A good rule of thumb for what you might get for most items: 10% to 20% of what you paid. That shortcut could prevent you from underpricing items. "You want to get rid of that blouse or that book, so you might mark it at $2 while a buyer who wants it would be willing to pay $5," she says.
Hang clothes on a coatrack, arrange jewelry in a muffin tin, and set up a mirror so people can confirm that a necklace or windbreaker looks good on them. Make sure bicycle tires are full of air and garden tools free of dirt. "I'll even cover tables with tablecloths to show off items like crystal or China," says avid yard-saler Dawson. "You want to make it clear from the curb that it's worth their while to stop."
Parents will browse longer if their kiddos are occupied, so consider setting out a freebie bin of small toys or books for pint-size attention spans. Joan Soltwisch of Minooka, Illinois, loves bargain-hunting on the weekends, and she says the garage sales with refreshments tend to stand out. "My daughter bought bacon from the local meat market and served it in paper cups lined with a paper towel," she says."You could smell it all over, and the sale was a huge success."
If you live in or near Portland, Seattle, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, or Boston, and someone's waffling over the logistics of hauling a larger item (or you have boxes of unsold goods you want to bring to the nearest donation center), check out Dolly. Book online or on the app, and you can get local haulers to your place and spare yourself the strain. Moves average $70 to $80.