What's the best way to sell a lot of stuff online?
September 11, 2012 8:12 AM   Subscribe

My guy and I are digging in to all of his old stuff and we're going to sell a bunch of it off. What's the best way to do this?

I've sold stuff on eBay and Amazon, so I'm slightly familiar with that process. However, my guy was a bit of a collector in his single years and it got a bit out of hand. He's totally down with purging his collection because a lot of this stuff has just been sitting in boxes for nearly eight years (sometimes longer) and he's been lugging it around for lack of anything better to do with it.

We don't want to have a yard sale or sell on Craigslist because, honestly, that's just dealing with too many people. He's too much of an introvert, and I'm in too much pain to deal with people right now. It's easier for us to do it online. If it were just a few things, I'd list them on eBay or Amazon and be done with it, but we have boxes and boxes of things. There are toys (models mostly, and stuff he bought while in Tokyo way back when), board games, anime action figures, Star Wars action figures, Star Trek action figures, other action figures from TV shows and movies (I didn't even know they made Jay & Silent Bob action figures). We've so far uncovered a couple of cameras, some commemorative coins, a walkman, a discman, and just all kinds of *stuff*, and we've only gone through eight boxes (the first closet)... There's still five closets full of boxes, and a room full of Video games, CDs & DVDs. I can't even tell you what awaits us in some of the boxes, because he doesn't remember. I figure if it's been sitting in a box that long, he probably won't want to keep it though...

So, my question is, what is the best way to sell this stuff?

I'm thinking of perhaps opening an eBay store, but a friend of mine advised against it. Something about taxes... She said it was better to keep it to simple eBay. I don't know if she knew what she's talking about. I think a store is a good idea, but I have no idea what I'm talking about, so there's that. I know it would be relatively simple to sell the books & CD's on Amazon because the prices are pretty much set through the system - I've done that before. My guy likes the idea of auctions though... I don't know if mainstream books & CDs sell well on eBay. I don't think it would be too much of a hassle to have both an Amazon and an eBay set up.

Just so's y'all know... I'm aware that a bunch of this stuff probably isn't worth much of anything, but we're hoping to accomplish several things with this process: 1. get the stuff out of the house so we can make this place over the way we want, 2. raise a few funds for our wedding next March & 3. give me something to do since my physical difficulties are making it impossible for me to find work right now. I can work at my own pace with this project and help bring money into the household at the same time. We also figure this process of purging and reshaping will bring us closer and give us time together since we're still learning about each other.
posted by patheral to Work & Money (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'd group things into like areas of interest and sell them in lots on regular eBay.

Another option is to contact your nearest Android's Dungeon and see if you can work out a deal for bulk items.

As for the video games, CDs and DVDs, I loved using Second Spin. Talk about painless. You look up the title on their site, they tell you what they'll pay, you mail them media rate, and then you get money in your account. Could not be easier. No separate shipping or waiting for the auction to end or any of that shit.

Books, you may as well donate them, or sell in lots. You can't get more than .25 for paperbacks and very little more for hard covers. Look for specific titles though, some can be rare (gaming books especially) beyond that though, library.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:18 AM on September 11, 2012

Books and CDs - Bookscouter and spun.com.

Other stuff though - the work involved in listing and shipping on eBay isn't worth what you'll make, more or less.

Except if it is speciality stuff... Do a search and see if any of his stuff has value.

Otherwise, a garage sale is the best bang for your buck, and then donate the rest to Goodwill and take a tax deduction.
posted by k8t at 9:31 AM on September 11, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, we're totally not looking to retire on this stuff. We just want to get it out of the house and not in the landfills, and not deal with people in the process. Posting things online & putting it in the mail is way easier than dealing with phone calls, pick ups and all the stuff we'd have to do with Craigslist or freecycle. With the eclectic mix of stuff he's got, I'm sure there's someone out there who wants what he has, even if they just pay enough to cover shipping. He's a geeky geek with geeky stuff that geeks collect (not your average collector what collects average things).
posted by patheral at 10:45 AM on September 11, 2012

Best answer: Big Bad Toy Store buys toys/action figures/anime stuff/Japanese imports.

More Details

You'd have to put a list and maybe pictures together for them. You won't get what you would get selling individually on eBay, but I have found that to be generally true when selling lots regardless.

But if you have stuff they'd want, it's a fairly easy way to dump a bunch of stuff fast.

Good luck.
posted by PlutoniumX at 11:00 AM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I came back to say that the buyer should pay for the shipping, no matter what. So you should at least clear a couple of bucks.

Anecdotally, I had some Krishna Comics and I got $15 for each of them! You'll be amazed at what sells!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:40 AM on September 11, 2012

Best answer: If you want to sell it all on eBay, setting up an eBay store will not benefit your situation as described. Ideally you will have sold everything within 2 months (say), at which point you won't be selling stuff on eBay any longer. Setting up a store is for long-term sales, where you want to attract a customer base and do this as a job, basically.

As someone who has sold on eBay professionally, and worked with professional full-time eBay sellers, for the last decade or so, my advice is to group everything into the largest lot feasible.

You will be extraordinarily lucky if you clear $1 profit per item. More likely, after eBay fees, shipping fees, unexpected shipping costs (like boxes, or postage being more than you thought), Paypal fees, etc, you will be breaking even on everything.

Thus, your optimal strategy here is to minimize the number of listings and boxes you are shipping out.

(I'm assuming that he collected the kinds of things that most of us collected in the 1990s and 2000s: Simpsons, Star Wars, X-Files memorabilia, Magic Cards, that sort of thing. Obviously the advice would be different for rare coins or Civil War memorabilia.)

Have your beau identify (perhaps with post-it notes) the items he knows are most likely worth something. Then set up lots of 10 or 20 other things, plus one maybe-valuable item.

Sell your listing auction style with a starting price of (say) $.50 per item in the lot (i.e. $5 starting price for a lot of 10 items). And set a Buy-It-Now price of face value for each item in the lot. Set your listings to end Sunday night.

Example: let's say your guy has 200 Simpsons action figures, and he paid roughly $5 for each one. He picks out the 10 that he thinks are most valuable.

You put together a group of figures: 9 from the "other" pile plus 1 from the "valuable" pile. You set this pile on your postage scale, along with the box you will ship it in and a handful of whatever packing material you have, so that you can judge the shipping weight accurately. Optionally, you can take it to the nearest Post Office and ask them to weigh it for you.

List this group as an auction-style listing with a starting price of $4.99 and a Buy-It-Now price of $50. Use eBay's shipping calculator to set the shipping price, based on the weight of the package. If you're lucky, you will be able to sell each lot for enough to cover the listing and Paypal fees.

Honestly though, you are far better off selling it as large lots on Craigslist. You could list all 200 of those hypothetical Simpsons figures for $1,000 OBO, be willing to talk it down to $500, and have them all gone in one fell swoop.
posted by ErikaB at 1:29 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you'd like to find out what similar items are selling for on Ebay, go to the Advanced search and type in the keyword(s) (e.g. Jay & Silent Bob action figure) then check only the "Completed listings" box before hitting the Search button. This will give you a list of items sold (and unsold) in the past - again the Jay & Silent Bob example.

Bonus: you can also figure out what other sellers are charging for shipping.
posted by humph at 2:20 PM on September 11, 2012

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for the links to second skin, big bad toy store, and the others. I'm sure that we can spread this stuff out and get it out there to people who want it. I totally am not set on sticking to eBay for it. I mean, the idea is to get it from the closets to the big, wide world without it ending up in the landfills, and to give me something to do for the next few months (we're not in a huge hurry). He doesn't have 200 of anything in particular but he does have, say, a small collection of Star Wars action figures (not the same one), a few figures from a particular anime, and say, the Power Puff girls action figures. Some are in their package, others are not.

He honestly doesn't know what's valuable and what's not. He wasn't collecting for resale. He always buys stuff because he likes it, or some of it was given to him, or it came with something he bought and he just tucked it away for lack of anything else to do with it. It'll be up to me to look everything up and find the value.
posted by patheral at 7:29 PM on September 11, 2012

Best answer: I used to have a much larger video game collection and sold it off. Personally, I think Second Spin is a bit of a rip off. For example, they're paying 16 bucks for Skyward Sword, and selling it for 40. I doubt they move much product on that site, and offload the surplus on Amazon or something, where it's selling for 25 used. 50 percent profit margin is pretty nice.

Personally, I've been using Glyde to sell games. It's not a "make two phonecalls and everything disappears and you're richer"; you'll need some time to catalog the inventory. What they have going for them is threefold:

1. They insure risks like non-payment and non-delivery, and handle all the talking with other people part.
2. They take care of most shipping and handling. They mail you a mailer to mail out, if that makes sense.
3. They do market analysis to set price ranges, and encourage people to list competitively.

You can kind of speed up the sales process by deliberately lowering the price. Or slow it down, like I do, by listing games at the highest price available.
posted by pwnguin at 10:56 PM on September 11, 2012

Response by poster: Okay, I've just started digging deeper into his stuff and researching more and I've come to the conclusion that he either bought stuff no one else on Earth collected or no one else is selling. I've run across a few items... a couple of books, a few movies, a bunch of die-cast figures of unusual sizes... that I can't seem to find online. Most of them don't have isbn numbers or bar codes, so I can't look it up that way, and those that do are not in any databases that I have access too. And the packaging is (I believe) written in Japanese, which doesn't help me. I found one book (an art book for an anime) on sale in both Japan and Korea, but the listings were years old, so that doesn't help me much.

I have no idea where to go from here with those. Set them aside? Bite the bullet and take them to a store? Which store? The Star Wars figures were easy, but I'm in way over my head with some of this. Um, if you're still reading... Help!
posted by patheral at 9:23 AM on September 18, 2012

If this is import stuff, the market will be thinner. I've never bought or sold manga / Japanese figures, but there is this site. Never used it so don't consider this an endorsement of mine. Also, this guy's advice might be helpful.

On second thought, you might enlist Google Goggles to help you identify manga. I just tried with a Haruhi cover, and admittedly I found the image via Google image search, but it seemed to work pretty well. If you've got an android phone, give it a shot and see if it helps.
posted by pwnguin at 10:43 AM on September 18, 2012

Response by poster: Unfortunately, most of it is not manga or anime. Some of it is related to manga/anime, but not the manga/anime itself. That would be easy. ^_^ The book I mentioned (the one I found on the Japanese website) is an art book related to an anime that was kind of popular in the US, but not really. From what I've found researching the franchise, there's a small but loyal fan base. No online stores for them though.

The figures I mentioned are also related to an anime (a different anime) that I've never heard of, but which also has a small following in the US. I can find *some* figures from that anime, but they're a different size, or made of a different material, or they're models while the ones I have are die cast figures.

My guy says he bought these here in the USA (or at least he thinks he bought them here), but he can't remember exactly where or when. *sigh*
posted by patheral at 3:12 PM on September 18, 2012

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