Like Storage Wars, but without the camera crew
August 17, 2014 10:27 PM   Subscribe

I want to get rid of a houseful of stuff, but I don't have the time or energy to sell it on Craigslist or hold a garage sale. Are there services that will pick up & sell things for me? Location: Seattle.

I'm downsizing. I'm getting rid of most of my stuff. I don't have delusions about how much my stuff is worth, but it feels like $10 here and $50 there might add up, and getting some cash might make it easier to declutter and let go. In my fantasy world, there is a dream service that will drive up to my house with a truck, look through the stuff in my garage, give me some money, put all my stuff in the truck, and then drive everything away. A lesser fantasy scenario involves someone visiting my garage to take pictures of stuff, coordinating sales of individual items on Craigslist, and splitting the profits with me.

In previous questions, I've seen references to /r/flipping, estate sales, junk dealers, consignment shops, something about finding buyers on Craigslist. However, I'm not sure how to find a reputable service, or what to expect if I do find one.

I can take care of some stuff, like driving boxes of books to used bookstores or driving bags of clothes to consignment shops. There's other stuff, though -- bookshelves, desks, chairs, toys, kitchen appliances, tools, knick-knacks, etc. So much stuff.

If I try to find someone to take the entire lot, is it better to leave everything (for instance, don't get rid of the books separately) to make the lot more, uh, valuable?

What else do I need to know? What should I expect? How do I find a service, or does anyone have specific recommendations in or around Seattle? Or is it likely that the decade of stuff I've accumulated isn't going to be worth anyone's time, and I should just donate everything to a charity that's willing to pick things up?
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There are people who do this for a fee - I've seen them advertised for older people who are downsizing. Googling "estate sale downsize Seattle" turned up this and this
posted by metahawk at 10:33 PM on August 17, 2014

getting some cash might make it easier to declutter and let go.

If that plan works for you, awesome. For me it was more like a neat daydream, the reality of which created another level of complication and procrastination. I rented a dumpster for a week, emptied my basement into it, and never looked back. It felt great. Whatever those "$10 here [realistic] and $50 there [nope]" would have added up to, the monetary sacrifice was worth the simplicity and having it done.

If this isn't for you, so be it, but I thought I'd suggest it since I used to be in your position. I found the company in the yellow pages. The only caveat was that the company tried to charge me extra for dumping a television, a refrigerator, and a tire. The first was my mistake, and the latter two were imaginary; I told them so, and they corrected the bill.
posted by cribcage at 11:30 PM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Do you have a friend who frequents garage or estate sales, who can cast a critical eye on your piles of stuff and give you an assessment? Most people tend to overestimate the value of their own stuff. They remember what they paid for it, or they need it, financially or emotionally, to have a certain value, or they are blind to the fact that what something sells for on eBay is usually substantially more than they can get for it on Craigslist, which in turn is far more than it will bring at a garage sale. I frequent garage and estate sales because I like bargain hunting, and without seeing what you've got I can only speculate. You say "chairs," and I don't know whether you've got nice vintage furniture or clunky and dented rubberwood stuff bought six years ago at target. You say kitchen appliances and I don't know whether you want to unload a Kitchenaid stand mixer or a George Foreman grill. You say tools and I don't know whether you've got your grandfather's table saw or a dollar store screwdriver. Chances are, though, that since you're still alive you're probably keeping all of the best stuff and offloading the dregs, in which case most of it probably isn't worth much unless you're fairly affluent. Sight unseen, my instinct is that you should consider selling a handful of the nicest things, and donate the rest.
posted by jon1270 at 3:25 AM on August 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Another route you can take is Freecycle - there's a Seattle group and others nearby.

"Assorted books, 3 boxes, primarily scifi - must take all" is a very valid post, and you'll likely get people coming to take several items at once (who then might be willing to take more if you tell them about downsizing).

To really extract the money from the stuff you don't want any more, it would take legwork and time. eBay > Craigslist > garage sale > donation. That potential value is something that may keep you holding onto it much longer than you really want. There are services that do this, but they tend to get paid for their services in your stuff-that-is-saleable rather than giving you money for it.

Decide whether you want rid of it or you want money for it or some medium. Medium would be to cherrypick the larger/more valuable items and list them on eBay or Craigslist and freecycle or donate the rest in large lots.
posted by bookdragoness at 4:02 AM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar question about downsizing a houseful of stuff so some of the answers might be useful to you. We ended up selling a few major things on Craigslist, having a garage sale (big mistake, extremely time/effort consuming), and taking the vast majority to Goodwill.
posted by desjardins at 6:42 AM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: > Chances are, though, that since you're still alive...

Wow, that is a depressingly big difference between me and a standard estate sale. Thank you for pointing that out. I'll try to sell the best stuff and donate/give away the rest.

Thanks everyone!
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 4:42 PM on August 18, 2014

I'll recommend Half Price Books for the books, if you have them near you. The ones around Pittsburgh at least will buy any books you bring in. Yes, including textbooks. A lot of other used bookstores are pickier about what they will buy. And you're not sticking a charity with a book that will be hard for them to sell.
posted by Anne Neville at 6:48 AM on August 19, 2014

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