How to best dispose of my unwanted stuff?
July 15, 2010 6:19 PM   Subscribe

I am working on getting rid of a lot of old possessions (baseball cards, electronics, clothes, etc.) that I've accumulated since childhood. I am not certain of the best way to dispose of some of these things. What's the best way to make sure most of it doesn't just end up in a landfill and/or might also bring me some profit?

Here are the things I have dug out of my closets and garage and am looking to purge:

- a few hundred late 80's/early 90's era baseball cards (including some Jose Canseco and Marc McGuire cards, most in decent condition)

- some old bed sheet sets and comforters

- clothes (including but not limited to: sneakers, geeky t-shirts, old "dress" clothes, all in lightly or never used condition)

- old, well used (missing parts, etc.) Star Wars toys

- VHS movies in good condition

- a few hardback RPG books (all in new condition)

- several textbooks, bought within the last 10 years

- a dozen or so assorted hardback and soft cover novels (all in really good condition)

- old, unusable model paints and thinner

- two pairs of old computer speakers

- an old (dual cassette, AM/FM) shelf stereo unit with speakers and subwoofer

- a couple old car multi-CD changers (the kind installed in the trunk of the car) and a stereo head unit (with removable face)


I'd prefer not to just toss the things that might be worth something into a garage sale, if possible.
posted by digitaldraco to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
As a near-last step, almost anything that appears to be worthless, would probably be picked up via Freecycle.
posted by inigo2 at 6:20 PM on July 15, 2010


Craigslist. Make up what you think the item is worth, add a little bit. Then subtract a little bit every day until it sells.

Or just have a garage sale.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:20 PM on July 15, 2010


Or give it to Goodwill.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:20 PM on July 15, 2010


There do exist stores that sell your stuff on eBay for you and give you a cut of the profits.

Try looking for those locally and research their percentage.
posted by carlh at 6:29 PM on July 15, 2010


The paint and thinner should probably go to your local hazardous waste collection. Where I live it is free, but some places might charge you. That stuff is toxic and should be kept out of the landfill; please don't just toss it in the trash can.

Goodwill (or equivalent) for the old sheets and used clothing; Ebay or Craigslist for the rest.
posted by Forktine at 6:31 PM on July 15, 2010


Half.com worked pretty well with my textbooks about 3 years ago.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 6:32 PM on July 15, 2010


eBay
posted by Rendus at 6:33 PM on July 15, 2010


We are selling our house after living here 20 years and had the same issue. I didn't have time or motivation for a garage sale, so we did a lot of curb alerts on Craigslist, which is kinda the same thing as Freecycle. I hit on friends and family pretty hard for things they might be interested in, since I knew a lot about their habits and hobbies. Your RPB stuff might go this way. My kids are young adults and are just now moving out on their own, so I kept a lot of their childhood things in those rubbermaid bins that close airtight. I'll keep those in the attic until they have kids of their own, I tried to pick and choose what they might want for their families later. You might want to rethink your starwars toys for that kind of thing, and maybe your baseball cards also. Your geeky t-shirts will make a great blanket or quilt, if you can find someone to make it, especially if they have any personal significance to you. Bookcrossing is a fun thing for some of the books, craigslist for the school stuff. Most larger municipalities have a hazmat drop-off place for the paint and other chemicals. Local shelters can usually use the bedding. The electronics need to go on craigslist or freecycle as give-aways.
posted by raisingsand at 6:35 PM on July 15, 2010


Your baseball cards are probably pretty much worthless. Did you have dreams of retiring at 35, based on the card collection? I know I did. And apparently so did every other kid my age. We've kept them all, and the demand (or so I've been lead to believe) is at an all time low. On the bright side, I'm never wanting for a bookmark anymore.
posted by .kobayashi. at 6:38 PM on July 15, 2010


I generally push these things out to friends and such whenever I can. Also, take pictures of the items in question if you think it's even remotely possible that you might miss them.
posted by adipocere at 6:38 PM on July 15, 2010


It really sounds like most of that stuff belongs in a landfill. You might be able to sell your hardcover novels unless they're missing the dust covers.
posted by halogen at 6:39 PM on July 15, 2010


Goodwill will take much of that, and you get the triple-whammy of 1. getting rid of stuff you don't want, and 2. the hope that some bargain hunter who was looking for EXACTLY THAT THING can find it and be happy about it, and 3. the profits go to a good cause. Agreeing that the paint thinners should go to your local household hazardous waste day.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:43 PM on July 15, 2010


I'm with .kobayashi. You're cards are worthless. I gave my few thousand card collection to a colleague's kid---he'll have fun sorting through them.
posted by chiefthe at 6:53 PM on July 15, 2010


www.freecycle.org is a great way to get rid of stuff - just visit the site and see if there is a group on your neighborhood.
posted by MustardTent at 7:04 PM on July 15, 2010


Sorry inigo2 already mentioned it and linked it. Try it out!
posted by MustardTent at 7:06 PM on July 15, 2010


You can donate the books and movies to a library or a school.
posted by Nolechick11 at 7:12 PM on July 15, 2010


Some good tips so far. Thanks to everyone for the quick responses! I'll definitely look into Goodwill and Freecycle when I get done with this project.

@.kobayashi. & chiefthe: Disappointing news about the baseball cards; I didn't expect to rake in a ton of cash on them but thought a few might be worth salvaging. Should I not bother to buy a pricing guide?

@halogen: I've found there are almost always alternatives to just tossing things in the trash, as evidenced by the other answers here.

@adipocere: Good idea on taking some photos of things. :)
posted by digitaldraco at 7:14 PM on July 15, 2010


If your clothes and shoes are name-brand stuff, you could sell them at Buffalo Exchange.

I had horrible luck with Craigslist (people not showing up) and Freecycle was a pain (I couldn't just give my address in the post; I had to correspond with individual people and which then turned into the same problem as craigslist). So it depends how much time and energy you want to expend. I agree that the paint and thinner should absolutely not go to a landfill, however.
posted by desjardins at 7:20 PM on July 15, 2010


You have to perform a cost benefit analysis.

On the one hand, this stuff must be worth SOME amount, even if it's not much in the grand scheme. On the other hand, you don't really want a lot of muss and fuss.

So which of these niche markets would you like to become a quasi-expert in?

Is it baseball cards? Do you feel like cruising eBay and hobbyist sites, determining which cards are worth 5 cents and which are worth 25?

Is it car CD changers? I'd probably go with this one. If they work, they must be worth something, even if it's $10 or $20. Do you feel like gaining knowledge of which cars your CD changers are compatible with?

I'd say the majority of your stuff is worthless on the open market, but if someone you know has some use of any of it, you could be giving them something they'd use for years. (I'm thinking of the tape deck and the computer speakers here; otherwise they're worthless, I think.)

A lot of the other stuff would be good to give to the Goodwill. The VHS tapes, probably the books (check Amazon.com first to see if any of them are worth more than a buck or two; you'd be surprised), maybe the clothes (try selling them to Buffalo Exchange or your local consignment store), and definitely the bedsheets, unless you maybe know someone who's going off to college in the fall?

If it were me, I'd hold a garage sale, but include a couple of more interesting things I could part with that might piqué people's interests and get them to stop and hang out.


Ahh, who'm I kidding? My gameplan here would be to offload some stuff on friends and family if they wanted it, and just trash the rest.
posted by malapropist at 7:26 PM on July 15, 2010


I'd only bother with the pricing guide if you're looking for a reason to go down nostalgia lane and look at every one of your cards. But it could be fun to check on them, assuming you tempered your expectations. I can't imagine listing the cards on ebay would be worth the time & effort, and I doubt you'd get any value from a card store, if they even wanted them.

I kept my cards, because they don't take up much space at all, remind me of good times from my youth, and because I enjoy randomly grabbing one as a bookmark and seeing who I get. Right now it's Oddibe McDowell's '87 Topps card.

So I'm not going to tell you to chuck them, unless you really need them gone, though you probably can do it without any attandant guilt. I'm just saying that if your collection is anything like mine, you'd do better if you weren't thinking of it as any kind of cash cow that you were turning your back on.

(Seriously, I was going to buy a boat and retire early on the strength of my stack of these. At least, 11 year old .kobayashi. was sure of it.)
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:45 PM on July 15, 2010


The personal finance blogs The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly (by MetaFilter's own jdroth) cover this very topic with surprising regularity. I think it's a topic that comes up a lot in peoples' lives. You can check out a quick Google listing of articles from the two sites on the subject: [selling old stuff site:getrichslowly.org OR site:thesimpledollar.com]. I imagine their advice will reinforce most of the comments in this thread, but you might find some good analysis of your different options.
posted by Alt F4 at 8:12 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a professional organizer, I help my clients get rid of many things just like this. If my clients so wish (and many of them do), I'll take the things with me and find them new homes.

Some of it goes to a local thrift store that benefits a good cause - my close-to-home Goodwill equivalent. I do that for most clothes, although I give good-for-an-office clothes to charities that help people get jobs.

Sometimes I sell books to my local used bookstore. Some things go to specific people I know can use them: school supplies to teachers, for example. Sometimes I give towels and bedding to animal shelters. Every once in a while something is worth enough money that it's worth selling; I use craigslist, because it's less hassle for the infrequent user than eBay is.

And a LOT of the stuff I give away on Freecycle. True, you don't include your address in your listing - although my group does allow a Curb Alert with an address, IF no specific items are listed. The problem in listing specific items and an address is that many people may waste their time coming to your place, only to find the thing they wanted is gone.

But you know, I still get rid of tons of stuff on Freecycle with very little hassle. And except for the paints and thinner, all your items are things I would expect to easily get rid of if I listed them on my local Freecycle.

And I'll nth the baseball card thing. I had a client with a LOT of these - and they were not worth much at all.
posted by jeri at 8:28 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter's own jdroth from Get Rich Slowly here. I think it would be worth your time to look up some of your top cards in a catalog, but do it online or in a bookstore. Don't buy a guide. Chances are your cards aren't worth much. People have a tendency to severely overvalue their collectibles. And the rest of your Stuff? It sounds mostly worthless. (Okay, not "worthless" precisely, but all-too-common.)

My advice? Have a garage sale, preferably with neighbors. it's unlikely that your Stuff will bring you much money, but you can maximize potential profit by holding a neighborhood garage sale. The more people you can get to look at your collective junk, the more you cash you can pocket.
posted by jdroth at 8:40 PM on July 15, 2010


If you're not pressed for time, you can sell items on Etsy (as vintage, not handmade goods).
posted by mirileh at 5:50 AM on July 16, 2010


IANOAR

(I am not on antiques roadshow)

De-junking is cathartic and fun. There is no reason why you can't monetize some of this crap. Here's what I would do:

a few hundred late 80's/early 90's era baseball cards
complete sets in mint condition are worth keeping. There's no chance of the commons ever being worth anything in your lifetime. I have t206 commons that are only worth 40 bucks. Free to whoever wants them on Craigslist. You'll make a card geek's day.

some old bed sheet sets and comforters
if they are in good condition, Goodwill. Poor condition, landfill.

clothes (including but not limited to: sneakers, geeky t-shirts, old "dress" clothes, all in lightly or never used condition)
you might see some money here - geeky "vintage" t-shirts sell on Ebay. You can get 10 bucks a pop. The sneakers and dress clothes go to Goodwill.

old, well used (missing parts, etc.) Star Wars toys
HUGE Ebay market for this. If you have the right toys, this could be a cash cow.

VHS movies in good condition
I would list them all as one lot on Ebay. You wont get much, but someone will pick them up. Not worth listing individually.

a few hardback RPG books several textbooks, bought within the last 10 years a dozen or so assorted hardback and soft cover novels (all in really good condition)

check prices on amazon. Anything selling for 7-8 bucks or more, list. I've made good money selling books on Amazon and Ebay. Added bonus, the folks that buy used books are reliable (read: minimal drama) in the on-line transaction department.

old, unusable model paints and thinner
find out when it's hazmat day and put it out for pick-up.


two pairs of old computer speakers
Goodwill.
an old (dual cassette, AM/FM) shelf stereo unit with speakers and subwoofer
if its name brand and mint condition, Ebay. If its cheap junk from the 80's, Goodwill.

a couple old car multi-CD changers (the kind installed in the trunk of the car) and a stereo head unit (with removable face)
Ebay or pawnshop. Don't expect much.
posted by archivist at 6:05 AM on July 16, 2010


I too collected McGwire (and Canseco) cards in the 80s. The most valuable cards in my collection were my 2 copies of his 85 Topps rookie card from the Olympic team. I was just a kid and couldn't afford mint copies, so mine had slightly frayed corners. A few years ago I got curious if they were worth anything. Turns out that these days people only seem to want to buy cards that are PSA graded, and guess what, that costs at least $15. And near-mint graded copies of that card sell for only about $20-30, so I would probably have lost money by having mine graded for sale. It was quite humbling, because I spent so much of my hard earned lawn mowing money on my baseball cards at the time.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:27 AM on July 16, 2010


I did something very similar to you a while ago - getting rid of a LOT of stuff that had been carried place to place.

What I learned is that most of my stuff wasn't worth much at all - as in, I didn't recoup the cost nor the time spent selling them on eBay. If you have tons of time and need the money, do it, but it will take up your time. eBay is not the amateur thrift store it was five years ago and is hard work for private sellers as many users expect sellers to work rather like e-tailers.

Anything hobby/collectable went on specific fora for those hobbies. This included Threadless T-shirts, as there is a forum for these, rethreaded.net. Star Wars is not my thing but if the toys aren't particularly rare and are worn you might be wasting your time - are there neighbourhood kids you can pass these on to?

Books you can sell on Amazon, and I'd recommend the forum route for the RPGs as those are more specialist. Textbooks date very quickly, though, and books get cheaper all the time - if you have a used bookstore try that.

Clothing - if it's name brand or good quality get it on eBay, take measurements for EVERYTHING and describe the fabric accurately, and always send by a tracked postage method.

Most charity shops here do not take VHS videos as donations. Unless they're rare - not available at all on DVD - don't bother.

Freecycle or Freegle is your best option for textiles. Or perhaps a local homeless shelteR?

It was quite humbling, because I spent so much of my hard earned lawn mowing money on my baseball cards at the time.

If you enjoyed using the cards and collecting them at the time (I'm not sure what baseball cards are used for) then you didn't waste the money.
posted by mippy at 7:02 AM on July 16, 2010


Donations to Goodwill are tax deductible if the items are in decent condition. And the values are higher than you might think. Use a program like TurboTax It's Deductible to track them or Goodwill's suggested values. It's not cash in your pocket now, but it's a higher refund in April if you itemize deductions. And it's a lot easier than a garage sale.
posted by Sukey Says at 12:33 PM on July 16, 2010


Star Wars is not my thing but if the toys aren't particularly rare and are worn you might be wasting your time - are there neighbourhood kids you can pass these on to?

IAAVTC (I am a vintage toy collector) - its hard to underestimate the amount of money I've seen really, really beat up 70's - early 90's Star Wars toys go for on eBay. Some people just want to get a toy they loved for their kids. Others are collectors who will use parts from broken toys to make other broken toys complete. Others are collectors who are trying to to create a secondary set of the "mint" toys they have to keep their own kids from playing with the mint toys.

I recently paid $5.00 for an all-wood body little people person that had visible chew marks because it was hard to find and completed a set from my childhood.

eBay those, without a doubt.
posted by anastasiav at 3:26 PM on July 16, 2010


I would take all the VHS tapes, place them in a box with a sign saying "FREE", and take it to my local senior citizens' center, preferably before a big gathering/bingo/social event.
posted by invisible ink at 4:17 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


some old bed sheet sets and comforters
if they are in good condition, Goodwill. Poor condition, landfill.


No, not landfill. Pet rescue groups / vets / similar places often REALLY want this stuff.
posted by inigo2 at 7:13 AM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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