Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The "Don't Want" Pile: To Sell or Not to Sell?

The spring and summer are popular seasons for yard sales. It gets me a tad worried about people purchasing more clutter to add to their homes. However, for the yard sale host, selling the unwanted items is a great way to declutter. Many times clients aren’t sure what to do with the stuff they’ve sorted; they have identified what they don’t want to keep or throw, but would like to try selling or donating the rest. What are some options?

Garage/Yard Sale – The pros are the potential to make some cash while getting rid of items and that you can do it right at your house. Cons include: no guarantee of selling anything; your time sitting outside with your stuff on a weekend; costs of promoting the sale; whatever doesn’t sell, you still have to deal with. Often people wait until they have enough to make it worthwhile, so in the meantime, a pile builds up. And what about wintertime? Sometimes yard sales are worth it, sometimes not.
eBay – With eBay and the like, you can make money (a lot depending on item) from the comfort of your home. All you need is a computer, online access, and a digital camera. Unfortunately, you need to consider that there’s no guarantee you’ll sell anything. Other cons are your time to take digital photos, write listings, and monitor listing; cost of listing plus final value to eBay for whatever sells; if items don’t sell, you still have to deal with them. In my opinion, the things that sell best on eBay are brand names and unique/antique or collectible items.
Freecycle – The pros of Freecycling is that you get rid of items by gifting to someone else. You don’t have to go anywhere; just list the item(s) online through and if someone wants, they’ll pick it up. Cons include: no guarantee that someone will want items; amount of time to list, monitor email responses and coordinate with person you’re giving item(s) for pick-up; sometimes Freecyclers don’t show, and then you decide what to do with item(s); not all towns have a Freecycle group; no money is exchanged.
Local Charities (i.e. Big Brother Big Sister) – I’m a big fan of this option for the following reasons: your stuff goes to a charity; you feel good about donating; you receive a tax deduction receipt; your item(s) leave your house. Depending on the organization, you may have to bring the items to the charity, not all charities accept all kinds of things or all the time, and for whatever they don’t accept, you have to still deal with.
Give to Friend/Family/Other – The pros of giving to someone you know is that you get rid of usable items to people that you know who receive the benefit of your donation. However, it might be hard to find someone who wants your stuff; or it may be time-consuming to coordinate the donation. Often clients plan to give things to friend or family but never get around to it, so stuff sits around at their house.

Obviously there are advantages and disadvantages to each option, and you have to do what is right for you. I strongly suggest that you consider pros and cons before you start decluttering, and limit the number of outlets for your stuff. Don't have 5 categories -- "I'll sell this, donate that, give that to Aunt Jane, save those for my neighbor Sue, and do a yard sale for the rest". It's unrealistic and slows down your process for reducing the inventory in your house. The key is to do something!