This is my third and final post about my personal experience with decluttering. In part one I explained how I sorted my clutter, and in part two I shared my experience with selling my things on Craigslist, eBay and yard sales. This final segment is a recap of my final three selling venues; an auction, a local consignment shop and a local flea market.
Pros: The auctioneer came with a truck and loaded up our items; an advantage since we have small cars. When you sell at auction you have the option of setting a reserve so that if bidding doesn’t reach the minimum amount you are willing sell for then you can have the item back (read more about reserves below). It was a fun and exciting night, we made some money and we came home to less stuff in the basement.
Cons: If the auction isn’t well attended you can end up making very little money. Also, if your items are in the wrong auction; for example you have a collection of Chinese export plates but the big draw that night is motorcycle memorabilia then you will do poorly. Talk to the auctioneer and make sure your items are in the right auction for the crowd that night.
What I learned:The auction house takes a commission anywhere between 15%-25% so be sure to do your homework and put your items with a reputable auction house. Similar to my experience with ebay, unique or one of a kind items did really well while older furniture and vintage glassware and china did not do well. A 1940′s solid Cherry sideboard only fetched $50.00 (I almost cried) but an old duck decoy went for over $400.00 (I couldn’t believe it)! Also, we chose not to set a reserve because if the item didn’t reach the minimum not only would have to take the item back but the auctioneer would still takes a commission (determined by the reserve price).
Pros: Similar to auction houses the consignment shop will usually send a truck to transport your big and bulky items. If the shop is heavily trafficked lots of people will see your item. The consignment shop usually styles your items so that they are shown in the very best light.
Cons: Many consignment shops lower the prices every 30 days an item doesn’t sell. You need to tell the owner your bottom line on price so that you can take the item back if it doesn’t sell. The shop takes 40%-50% of the final sale price.
What I learned: This venue for me was the least successful of everything I tried. Of the 4 items I consigned, nothing had sold after 90 days. I had the option of either taking everything back or the shop would donate it to a charity. I ended up taking back a set of vintage china and a lamp and donated the table and chairs to charity. In defense of consignment shops, I think I picked the wrong shop. They went out of business a short time later so I think it was more an indicator of the specific shop and not a reflection of all consignment shops. As far as profit, I think consignment shops will net you similar to what Craigslist will (after the shop’s commission) with the added advantage that strangers will not be coming to your home.
A local Flea Market
Pros: if you are rating venues based on a fun meter this one wins hands down. I set up a table with a friend one Sunday last Summer and we had a blast. The crowd was great, we sold lots of collectibles and during the slow time we browsed the other vendors treasures and had a great time talking to folks. We both made almost $200.00, caught up with lots of chatting and got rid of a bunch of stuff.
Cons: We had to get up and leave the house at 4 am, yes 4 am, because the market opened at 5 am and the hours of 5 am-10 am are the busiest and when the serious buyers are out. We spent a lot of time loading up her van, unloading at the market, reloading after the day was done then unloading back into the garage the things that didn’t sell.
I hope my three decluttering posts have answered some of your questions about decluttering and selling. I can not stress enough that decluttering is a process. Take your time and do a little each day or weekend. I am still working through my stuff and even as I type this I have a box of small collectibles to photograph and list and eBay….maybe tomorrow
I would love to hear your story. Are you working on decluttering in 2014?