Saturday, December 15, 2007

I Sold It! Will Sell Your Accumulation....

Being a baby boomer, it feels like I hear weekly about yet another friend's parents downsizing, moving into independent living, assisted living, or continuing care communities. Once all the financial and psychological hurdles are cleared, there is the inevitable challenge: what to do with all that stuff? Since I am a local Freecycle mayven, people often ask me for suggestions about how to deal with these houses full of unsorted items, some of which may be valuable, and much of which, except for its sentimental value, is essentially worthless. Where to start? What to do with it all?
Some folks hire professionals to come in and clean these places out; others go through things themselves. My friend Marianne had the task of cleaning out her aunt's house and discovered several glitzy, real diamond rings in an envelope in a drawer; after that she was afraid to throw away anything without checking its contents.... That clean-out took many months.
Quite often it makes sense to sell these household items, if no one in the family needs or wants these things, or some parents need the proceeds to cover their next stage of life. For people with a few boxes full of items, rather than a whole house, check out I Sold It!, a series of franchise stores which work with Ebay. They will look through your items with you and appraise their worth while you are there, based on the extensive Ebay auction data bases. In other words, they see what similar items have sold for. They can tell you if you have a collectible likely to generate some serious bucks, or if you can just take the item straight to Good Will. Their fee is approximately 40% of the sale of the item, and they provide the photography, the listing on Ebay, and ship your items which sell. You just leave your stuff with them. If it doesn't sell, you can either pick it up or they will donate it to charity for you.
It seems like a fairly straightforward procedure, especially if you can find out estimated values for your items on the spot, and leave everything with them. I sent a friend there and she was delighted with the outcome - she brought in several boxes of stuff and a few weeks later she received a check.
I love that the internet has made this kind of resale and reuse possible. Before you basically had to put stuff out at a garage sale, and your potential buying audience was limited to people who walked past your house. Ebay opens up your specialized item to millions of buyers around the globe. Maybe someone wants your grandmother's Limoges cakeplate. And if not, you can rest assured that it's OK to give it away!
Note to my generation: don't do this to your kids! Take your junk along with your parents when you go to I Sold It!, or put things up on your local freecycle.

If you've used I Sold It!, please share your experience and advice.

1 comment:

sgluskin said...

Great post. Sounds like I Sold It provides a lot of knowledge and handles a lot of logistics for a fair portion of the take.

If you are looking to sell only a few items, you don't need to be an expert to price something on eBay. For example, my son trades, buys, and sells Game Boy games with his friends and I insist that he check the value on eBay before proceeding.

The trick is clicking on "advanced search" and then checking the box, "completed listings only" when you are looking for comps.

Of course you also have to put in the keywords, description, etc... to most closely get the search results you want, not being so broad that you get thousands of results -- 99% that are not relevant or being too narrow and possibly not picking up results that are appropriate.

The more defined the market for the item, the easier it is to determine value.

Never assess value based on a current listing (as opposed to a completed listing). Much of the action for any auction takes place in the last one minute which is why the "price" of an active auction tells you nothing.