Liquidating Barbie
June 12, 2016 2:33 PM   Subscribe

How can I sell a collection of Holiday Christmas Barbies that no one seems to want?

Decades ago a well-meaning relative started collecting Holiday Christmas Barbies with the idea that the Barbies would become so valuable that they could pay for my college. It has been years since I graduated and the Barbies are gathering dust in the top of a closet. It is almost a complete set up until the mid-2000s, but there are a few years missing. Most of the boxes are in very good shape, but one or two are a little bent. I would like to sell the Barbies, reclaim the closet space, and put any money I can get toward a bike.

I have looked on eBay and it seems there are alot of other people in the same situation who are understandably having trouble selling them. I really don't want to deal with the hassle of Craigslist. Unfortunately there aren't any stores in my area that specialize in selling dolls/action figures/collectibles and the ones I have contacted hours away didn't even bother to respond.

Any ideas on what to do? I'm thinking that I might need to consign them at a local auction service and hope that someone wants to buy them for their grandkids, but I'm hoping someone on AskMeFi who has been in a similar situation might be able to suggest an alternative I haven't thought of. Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As a professional organizer, when my clients have "collections" like this, I contact an expert I know who does eBay reselling. I provide her with photos, model numbers, and such, and she gets back to me as to whether there is any value in bothering to resell. If she's not willing to waste her time to get the commission, I know it's not worth my client's time and money for us to go beyond.

After having done some Holiday Barbie research for a few clients, I'd like to point you to this article. With the exception of 1988's Mint in Box (MIB) or Never Removed from Box (NRFB), you'll see that these aren't worth much, most are less than the original purchase price. Unless you sell them in blocks, you're going to get eaten up in fees and shipping costs if you do anything online. If you're willing to consign them locally, that'll be the easiest track to ridding yourself of them in one fell swoop (especially if the auction service will donate unsold items to charity IN YOUR NAME so that you get the deduction), but don't expect much. Focus on the value of getting your space back.

I see this every week, and whether it's Beanie Babies or Christmas Barbies or 90's era boy band marionettes (seriously?), if the items are not rare and in demand, it is a better use of time, money, and effort to donate the items to a non-profit and take the deduction. If you are a renter and don't itemize, you may find that you have a relative or friend willing to let you donate them in his/her name and then give you a cash reward equivalent to whatever deduction he/she gets.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 3:00 PM on June 12, 2016 [9 favorites]

I know you don't want to deal with the hassle of craigslist, but trust me, it will be much less of a hassle than attempting to mail a very large volume of boxed Holiday Christmas Barbies after selling it on ebay. List them on craigslist and base the price based on recent sold auctions.
posted by arnicae at 3:00 PM on June 12, 2016

I've been doing some major decluttering and have just had to accept that a lot of things I thought of as "valuable" aren't worth the hassle of selling. I'm sure I've spent tens of thousands of dollars on books - most of which are for sale for a dollar or less on Amazon. Considering that my time is worth something too, I've taken to just donating things. I wonder if a children's hospital or shelter for battered women would want your Barbies. This blog post on the "wastefulness" of decluttering helped me a lot.
posted by FencingGal at 5:45 PM on June 12, 2016 [10 favorites]

Also remember that when you donate, you can take it as a tax write off. I am always surprised by Goodwill's deduction amount.
posted by Vaike at 5:55 PM on June 12, 2016

List them on craigslist and base the price based on recent sold auctions.

You can use it as a rough metric, but CL and other local venue items are expected to be cheaper than eBay, as having to mail you, figure out a time to come by your house, etc, etc, is a pain, whereas doing a few clicks and having PayPal send you my address so you can be the one with the hassle of boxing stuff up is a different story. You are also not paying eBay and PayPal fees, and most buyers of collectible whatnot recognise this and expect a discount for cash transactions.

Can you wait some more months? If yes I would put them up on a local-to-you FB for-sale site starting in late October. In my experience with a massive collection of outgrown Groovy Girls and outgrown My Little Pony play sets, there are loads of parents who do not mind buying used Xmas presents for their kids, and when my own kid went through a Barbie phase I was really pleased to find that the older, "collectible!" MIB ones were cheaper than the new fancy ones in the store, and purchased from collections like yours.

FB buy-and-sell sites are, in my experience, way less hassle than CL/Kijiji/etc because the person has a real name and is in your community and thus has that extra incentive to not flake and not show up. Also, when I sell things for under a certain $ amount (that amount goes up if I have sold to the same person before), I leave it on my porch and tell the person where to look for a hidden envelope to leave the $. (In five years of doing this regularly I have never been burnt and have saved so much time.)
posted by kmennie at 6:17 PM on June 12, 2016

The other way to look at it, if you've got tons of books that are worth less than $1 on Amazon, is that you can get rid of them if you think you might want to. If you change your mind and decide you want them back, you know they won't be difficult or expensive to replace.

If you've got any misgivings about getting rid of these Barbies, at least you know it probably won't be difficult to replace them, if you wanted to.

There is a larger point about collectibles here- if something is widely available and people at the time it is widely available are collecting it thinking it will be valuable one day, then it probably won't. Invest your money in a more standard investment like a mutual fund instead. Collectibles are only valuable (excluding considerations like sentimental value) if there are more people who want to buy them than there are people who want to sell them. If lots of people have bought them and kept them, that's unlikely.
posted by Anne Neville at 7:01 PM on June 12, 2016

I collect Star Wars and there are many collector groups on Facebook. They tend to have much nicer people, and you avoid all the eBay fees. If you want to sell them in one go, it's a good place to get rid of big lots.
posted by dripdripdrop at 9:22 AM on June 13, 2016

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