Debt Reduction

Making a profit on used goods

I should start this post with a caveat: Going to a garage sale, buying something at a discounted rate and then turning around to re-sell the purchase to make a profit is not something that I’m good at. So I turned to my friend Deb to find out how she does it. My friend Deb is a stay-at-home mom and one of the things I’ve enjoyed watching and hearing about during our post-high school friendship is how she is able to keep her kids fashionable and not spend a lot of money. I also enjoy it when Christmas or birthdays roll around and she tells me about the gifts she has found for them on Craigslist, eBay or elsewhere. Here’s my friend’s story:

“OK – I have done a little selling of used stuff. I’ve learned to be a lot pickier in what I sell and to price it accordingly. My best conquest: Last fall I found a used Leapster video game on Craigslist and 9 games for $50. I’d been following the prices of these items for a few weeks because Katie wanted one for Christmas. This was priced well below what most people were charging, even though the Leapster was an older model. So I took a chance … I went and bought it from a woman about 20 miles away. Then brought it home and tested it. It worked well. I saved about 4 games out of the group, and sold the other 5 along with the game system. Used games were going for about $10 a piece, but I wanted to just sell it all together because it would be less work at the time. After 5 days it sold for over $85. I made $30 and got 4 free games out of the deal.

When I sell the kids’ stuff it’s easy to price it with a sentimental tax on top of the regular price. So I have to be careful not to charge more than it’s worth. Obviously you have to keep in mind the season that you are selling it in. People aren’t going to pay $5 for a cute rain coat in January or snow boots in May. The BEST time to sell any kids’ stuff has got to be from about October – December. People are on the lookout for Christmas gifts.

For clothes I try to sell them in $10-15 outfit groups. Sometimes people ask to break them up, sometimes they don’t, but creating outfits out of your items make it easier to get the sale. Groupings seem to go better on eBay as well, although I haven’t done many clothes on there. Too much for shipping. Craigslist is easier to sell clothes, BUT you have to deal with the occasional no-show, and you have to remember to be safe. Try to schedule pick-ups in public places if possible, for example the mall, coffee shop, etc. Just remember to take good pictures of your items. No pictures = no sales.

Some other people have had good luck selling things at a consignment shop as well. I haven’t tried that myself, but I think it would be a great option for those that work outside the home and don’t have time to do it on their own.

Eighty percent of the clothes that I sell were purchased used as well. If there are stains, rips, etc – I don’t sell them. Those are tossed or used for something else. I’m not trying to screw someone out of their money by selling items I wouldn’t want myself.

I just participated in a community garage sale as well. I paid $30 for 2, 6 ft tables to sell my items. I kept all proceeds. I ended up making about $130 in 4 hours. To me, that was worth the work. Better than having my own sale because I didn’t have to worry about advertising. After the sale I went through the items left and divided them into 2 groups – one to donate, and one to save for selling later.

Some people say that it’s useless to sell used items, just donate them and take the tax deduction. For some people, they can’t make use of the tax deduction. For us, we can make better use of some extra cash. We aren’t wealthy people trying to ‘make a buck’ on selling our stuff. I’m a stay at home mom trying to earn extra money to pay for swimming lessons and summer camps – things that we deem a ‘luxury item.’

Is this time consuming? Hell yes. Would I do this if I didn’t stay at home? Maybe not as much.”

What kind of tips do you guys have for making a profit selling used goods?

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1 thought on “Making a profit on used goods

  1. My wife and I moved from WV to KY back in August of 09. In June and July we set out to have a yard sale. We were downgrading from a 3200 sq. ft. house to a 980 sq. ft. apartment. We price reasonable and people bought like crazy. We made really good money on things we really didn’t need. We financed our move from that money. And donated what we didn’t sell. It was the first yard sale I ever had and I loved it.

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