Are stoop sales a thing of the past? As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, it seemed like you could hardly go a sunny weekend without passing at least a couple around the neighborhood. But now that eBay, Craigslist and even Facebook are the go-to-market places for used stuff, the hassle and time-suck of a day spent hawking your old books on the stoop seems unnecessarily inefficient. Do I miss the community vibe of selling my stuff on the street? Or that rush of discovery that stumbling on a great stoop sale gem brought? You bet. But not even this nostalgic Brooklyn kid can discount the efficiency and convenience of reselling stuff online.
If you’ve got a lot of junk — or, let’s say “lightly-used” items — cluttering up your apartment and could use a couple of extra bucks, check out this guide to pricing and selling the unexpectedly valuable stuff in your closet.
Resale Value on Used Stuff: How to Make a Lot vs. a Little
Start by distinguishing whether your products are simply good quality things ready for resale or if you think you have something collectors might want. If you are unsure, look it up on Google or eBay and see what comparable prices are. That dusty Beanie Baby collection? Worth a fortune! Actually probably not, but it’s always worth double-checking. For potentially valuable goods do a little research on eBay or the similar auction-style site Bonanza to see if you have a winner.
Here’s a shortlist of popular items that might sell for more than their weight in gold:
- Comic books – The rarer and older, the better. Near-mint condition is important for making a big sale, too. Some early Superman comics routinely sell for over a million dollars.
- Vinyl – The first editions of many popular records can be worth an easy four-digit sum.
- Toys – This could be everything from old Happy Meal toys to once-trendy items like Furby and classics like Barbie.
- Vintage books and magazines – We’re talking first editions or anything old and quirky.
- Collectibles – Pokémon cards, baseball cards or stamps, might be worth a lot now.
Selling Used Stuff Locally
If you aren’t selling something rare, then you have to work a little harder to find a buyer and set the price competitively. Websites like Craigslist and eBay can help connect you with locals who are in the market for just about anything. Here’s how to get the most out of these sites.
- Take good photos and write detailed descriptions of items to garner attention for your stuff. Be honest to avoid any disgruntled buyers.
- You need to have a game plan for pick-up of goods and decide whether you are comfortable with random people coming to your home or if you want to meet somewhere public.
- Do a little research on price and decide if you want to haggle. A good price range is somewhere between “cheaper than it would cost brand new” and “costly enough to make it worth your while to sell it.”
- Show some respect to the second-hand market. Don’t try to sell things that are dirty or smelly. Don’t offer something heavily used for 5 percent less than it would cost brand-new.
Because NYC is full of students, passers-by and the upwardly and downwardly mobile, there is always a market for used furniture. Selling beanbag chairs and cotton couches with stains is obviously harder to sell than wooden armoires and glass coffee tables but anything other than a mattress can usually sell. If you are selling high-end furniture, a site like AptDeco might help get you a better price. As long as you’re honest and price it fairly, it’s OK to try to sell lower quality things too. I once sold an old white loveseat with a big wine stain for $30 to a couple that didn’t care because it was going in their son’s treehouse.
You can make a small fortune or at least enough to pick up the next bar tab at happy hour by selling small appliances from your home. Whether you just got double-gifted on an espresso machine or you realize that you have no room for that Roomba, these items are fairly straightforward ways to make some cash. A little homework will usually give you a current manufacturer’s price for your item and then you do some math to find a reasonable second-hand price.
Clothing & Accessories
Selling clothing requires a little common sense. Anything you wear as an undergarment is probably out of the question as are things you regularly sleep or sweat in. The secondhand clothing market is for higher-end items like coats, designer shoes and bags, dresses, suits and high-end casual wear. Consider websites and apps like Poshmark, ThreadUp and ReFashioner, where you can also shop secondhand clothes and get a sense of the market.
For local vendors, try Beacon’s Closet, HousingWorks or Buffalo Exchange all of which have multiple locations across the city. You can bring in your used clothes to any of these places and they will review and consider them for purchase. If your used stuff matches their style aesthetic (you never know what a used clothing store will like!), you have the option to sell it for cash or store credit. Whatever they don’t take will be donated to charity and you can get a tax write-off.
There is a market for just about anything, so get creative. Other things that sell well include musical instruments, sporting goods, art, tools and just about anything else that can be put to good use in a new home.