What Things Do I Own That People Want To Buy? And Where?
September 8, 2017 4:08 AM   Subscribe

I have a semi-urgent need to make a small-to-moderate amount of money quickly, so selling off things seems like a no-brainer. But how do I go about it? What do I probably own that could actually bring in cash? Where is the best place to sell them? Even if you think the answer is super obvious, I am freaking out badly and can't even think, any advice appreciated.

I have a lot of stuff that I feel like could probably bring money on Ebay - like, box sets of old series! very old books! fancy shoes! cool funky jewelry! old video games! Weird stuff!- but I don't have the time to wait 7 days. It is absolutely essential I make up the difference within a few days. I know I should have planned my life better but I just didn't and am now kind of desperate.

So what do people buy for cash? What will sell on craigslist? What will secondhand stores buy for cash rather than consignment?

I am not in good health and so probably couldn't sell plasma per the page I looked at, but have considered it, just to give an idea of the kind of things I'm considering.

I am not allowed to have yardsales in my apt complex, making this even harder.
posted by sockmeamadeus to Work & Money (33 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Local Facebook marketplaces get more action than Craigslist these days and things move a lot faster.

Cleaning out for my recent move, furniture went the fastest and for the best money. (Not nice stuff, just like Target storage units I wasn't using any longer, or random stools.)

I found on Facebook if something didn't get interest in the first 24 hours it probably wasn't going to. (Craigslist has a fatter long tail.) You can certainly list both places.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:18 AM on September 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

Facebook buy/sell groups! Look for what is near you, and price to go.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:19 AM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

For fancy shoes, try consignment shops -- many will give you cash up front. It's not a good deal, but it's fast.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:20 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't know where you're located, but if there is a Half-Price Books near you, they'll buy books and games and music. If there's not one, look for other second-hand book and music stores and see if they're buying.
posted by umwhat at 4:50 AM on September 8, 2017

Do you have a friend who could host a yard sale at their house?

Ebay has a Buy It Now fixed price option, where you don't have to wait 7 days to sell an item.

If any of your items are gold or coins, there are stores that will buy them (probably at a not-good price).
posted by Vispa Teresa at 4:57 AM on September 8, 2017

Also, if you have a bicycle those tend to sell well. I would try Craigslist.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 4:59 AM on September 8, 2017

If you're a new eBay seller, they will hold your funds for up to 30 days, or until they have proof that they have been delivered.

At least, that's what they did with me in the last couple of months - I had sold on eBay before, but not for years.
posted by needlegrrl at 5:13 AM on September 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Not knowing what the "difference" is that you're trying to make up or what the consequences might be of falling short, but knowing that you're approaching this in a mood of panic and desperation, I'll just suggest that you try to slow down and think this through. The stuff you mentioned is going to be of interest to niche audiences, and on Craigslist it will take some time for interested people to find it. The only way you'll sell it quick is if you sell it very cheaply, and it doesn't sound like that would be in your long-term best interest. Breathe and center yourself before you dump valuable stuff for pennies.

When you do start advertising things, use good photographs and accurate descriptions with appropriate keywords.
posted by jon1270 at 5:16 AM on September 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

Pawn shops basically exist for this reason. Also those payday loan places. You could go to one of those to buy yourself some time to sell stuff to payback the exorbitant interest rate.
posted by greta simone at 5:18 AM on September 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Local Facebook marketplaces get more action than Craigslist these days and things move a lot faster.

I've had good luck buying and selling on Next Door too.
posted by dogmom at 5:30 AM on September 8, 2017

Craigslist is _great_ for furniture.
posted by amtho at 5:47 AM on September 8, 2017

I wouldn't go the payday loan route -- way too easy to get trapped in a hole of never-ending debt. But selling stuff at a pawn shop is a valid route to consider, especially if you have things like electronics, tools, musical instruments, or fine jewelry. You won't get a ton of money for them, but it'll be something.

Individual small things like books or clothes may not sell online (eBay or Facebook marketplace), but bundles of things might sell better. Ten books for $5, that sort of thing. People feel like they're getting a deal. Furniture will probably sell fast if you price it low. Think college kid budget -- $10, $20, $50 at the very most.

Note that all this will probably amount to $100-200, at the very most. If you need more than that, you'll need to explore other options.
posted by snowmentality at 5:48 AM on September 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

I've been selling things on the Facebook marketplace to get rid of stuff before a move/make a little cash. The things that moved quickly: an old gas barbecue grill (in 10 minutes!), a Cuisinart griddle (the lady drove over from another state to get it!), a space heater, a Baby Bullet blender, a jogging stroller. Stuff that HASN'T moved: a pair of vintage Doc Martens, DVDs, baby clothes, a baby carrier. I probably made $120 total from the stuff listed that I sold. I just sold a baby cosleeper, and some pouches for storing baby food but that took a couple of months.

I would meet the buyers at a local convenience store parking lot and make the sale. No one was weird or creepy. I had to give barbecue grill lady my address but fuck it, I was moving anyway. Because I wanted to get rid of stuff, I took pretty much any offer but I wasn't willing to drive far for $8. You meet me at this store or no sale. Price your stuff pretty low, I aimed for about half of retail and put in your little sales blurb that prices are negotiable. I probably sold 2/3 of the stuff I listed.

I've had no luck with Let It Go.
posted by Aquifer at 6:12 AM on September 8, 2017

If you've bought anything in the past month or so, see if it's still possible to return! This includes non-perishable groceries.
posted by cogitron at 6:20 AM on September 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

I find that outdoor recreational hobby gear and equipment sells quickly- bicycles, motorcycles and gear and parts, hunting and fishing stuff, hiking gear, camping gear, skis, snowboards...
In addition to Craigslist and fb, some areas have resale shops that focus on these things. It's fall in the NE right now (not sure where you live), so prime time for a lot of these!
posted by ElectricGoat at 6:32 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Facebook Marketplace is the way to go. It's like Craigslist on steroids. I sold a car (20 years old, in terrible condition) in a day and a half with multiple offers. Tip: price it a little higher than you think it's worth. You can always bargain down.

I would NOT recommend selling things to resale stores (Half Price Books, Play It Again Sports, etc.). Pennies on the dollar, literally, if you get anything at all. When I moved recently, I tried to get rid of some old clothes my wife and I no longer wore. I took around 40 items to a resale store down the street from us. They accepted two items, for $7. Likewise, I don't think I've ever gotten more than $25 from Half Price Books. I once took three cardboard moving boxes, about half of which was DVDs, and they gave me $22. If you need the money to eat at Taco Bell, that might be a good way to get it, but anything more and you're probably out of luck.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:32 AM on September 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I have to strongly anti-recommend Half Price Books. You can bring in a huge grocery bag FULL of hardcover novels in beautiful condition and they might give you $5 max for the lot. It's fine if you just want to get rid of stuff, but not good for making any money off it.
posted by anderjen at 6:44 AM on September 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

I don't know where you are, but, if by any chance you're within easy travel distance of Manhattan, The Strand isn't a terrible place to sell your books. They won't take everything, but I feel like they've paid pretty fairly for the not at all rare but moderately interesting books I've sold them. Plus, they actually have the knowledge to evaluate your very old books.

I've also sold furniture - mostly shelving units - on craigslist pretty quickly, but priced to sell, not priced to make me money.

Finally, have you thought about other ways to make money, like babysitting or dog sitting? I know you mentioned your health wasn't great, so these may not be available options, but, if there's any kind of quick work you could do, that also might be a good way to supplement the sales.
posted by snaw at 7:27 AM on September 8, 2017

Remember: if you list something online, you have the expense and effort of packing up and sending what you sell. If you sell locally through Craigs List there's still a lot of effort involved, with no sure sales.

Going with greta simone on this one -- your situation is what pawn shops exist for. Take something in, (hopefully) get some money immediately. They may not give you as much as you could get going another route, but it's money in your hand immediately.
posted by kestralwing at 8:06 AM on September 8, 2017

Depending on how much free time you have (and your location and access to a car), you could watch Craigslist's free section for a little while and probably pick up something worth reselling to someone else. I see valuable furniture on my local Craigslist free section every day.
posted by pinochiette at 8:40 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

How much money are we talking about? I agree that selling books to a local used book shop (not Half-Price Books, I agree) could get you some cash, although it's hit-or-miss what they'll take.
posted by radioamy at 9:04 AM on September 8, 2017

1. How much do you need? This is pretty relevant.

2. What's your timetable?

3. Have you asked everyone you know for money? Borrowing/getting a gift from relatives and friends is going to be a better call than selling your stuff, if you can do that.
posted by Slinga at 9:09 AM on September 8, 2017

Response by poster: How much money are we talking about?

I need at least 200$ and probably 300$. I know it probably seems like a small amount to some and I'm kind of embarrassed which is why I didn't post details but I know it is totally relevant.

Have you asked everyone you know for money? Borrowing/getting a gift from relatives and friends is going to be a better call than selling your stuff, if you can do that.

Without going into details, this is not possible at the current time. Everyone who would, can't, and everyone who could, won't.

Finally, have you thought about other ways to make money, like babysitting or dog sitting?

I would be up for this, but no one in my area seems to be hiring on a piecemeal basis within the next few days, which is when I need it.
posted by sockmeamadeus at 9:15 AM on September 8, 2017

Apologies if this is super offensive to you, but if you are female, there's a chance you could offload a bunch of old dirty panties or pantyhose to fetishists on craigslist. Some people will pay upwards of $40 a pop for some that are recently worn and, um, smelly. Obviously this is easier in a major metropolitan area where there is more likely to be a denser population of anonymous niche fetishists that you don't have to worry about running into at your grocery store.
posted by greta simone at 9:23 AM on September 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

things I've sold really fast on craigslist:

small kitchen appliances (ex: icecream makers, foreman grills, blenders, juicers, etc)

Fake Christmas tree

Exercise equipment (ex: bosu ball, chin up bar)

Yard maintenance equipment (shovels, aerators, edgers, rakes)

Power tools (sometimes - though sometimes this is slow and the pawn shop might be better)

OR if you can join a wedding buy/sell group on facebook, you'll get great traction on things like, vases (especially if you can pull together a lot) lacey things (tablecloths? runners?) White or nice party dresses (advertise them as bachelorette party dresses), ribbons, lanterns, candles, etc. anything you could use to decorate a wedding. Also, maybe your wedding dress / husband's suit if it's still around?
posted by euphoria066 at 9:34 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can bring in a huge grocery bag FULL of hardcover novels in beautiful condition and they might give you $5 max for the lot.

Right, nobody wants hardcover novels in any condition. That's true everywhere. Allowing them to be donated is the best most places will do, and they don't like doing even that.

Used book and music stores almost always have a written guide to what they do and don't want and if you're not familiar with what sells in your area, check it out (online, or call them) before making an appointment or walking in with a heavy box. If you are lucky enough to live in a place with stores that still buy from the public for cash and not just store credit, figure that they'll sell for half cover price and offer you no more than half of that. One or two dollars per saleable paperback or CD is very fair.

Used clothing places are much worse and less transparent about their pricing/buyback math -- unless they're high-end consignment stores and then you don't get the money soon enough. But if you live in a college town with a Buffalo Exchange and you have a lot of clothes in good condition from brands they like, you can get another $20 from a bagful. It really depends what level of funds you need.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:38 AM on September 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Has nobody mentioned Pawning? This is literally what pawning was invented for - short term secured loans. Pawn shops can be really nice actually, pay in cash, may want games and electronics, tools, jewelry etc. I'm sure there are some seedy ones but I think that's largely unearned, at least with the big chains in modern USA.

These days most people just "sell" stuff to the pawn shop, but you can in principle buy it back next month for a small fee if it's grandma's ring or whatever.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:12 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Besides Craigslist, I've had good results selling stuff on the OfferUp app, though it was mostly furniture.
posted by zap at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I sold - no lie - a half case of awful sour stout that was in my garage for months, because someone gave it to me and I hated it. I had competing bidders on NextDoor and it went the same day. So you never know. It doesn't take any resources other than time to photo and post, so I'd post anything that you think would have a reasonable chance of selling.

NextDoor is good because it's organized by community, and people are close by. If you sell there or anywhere on line POST PICTURES. Many people don't even view postings without photos. I bought a French Press coffee pot last week from a neighbor that had a "NextDoor stoop sale"

I found a used bookstore in my area that will take books for either credit or cash, but the cash is a lot less. I agree that this is a time-consuming route unlikely to garnish much cash. I also took tons of old CDs to a local new-and-used record store - some of it pretty bad leftovers from my daughter's tween years - and I got 50 c per disc for the group. Apparently there is an audience for old Britney Spears! Vinyl was greatly desired, so if you have a good vinyl collection (especially genres like jazz or original 60's discs in very good condition) they would be desirable both to a shop and also online. Good luck and do let us know how you do!
posted by citygirl at 12:02 PM on September 8, 2017

Pawnshops are fine if you're going to get it back, but if you're just looking to SELL it, they're not going to give you as much as Craigslist or eBay, by far.

Do you have any of the following?

Decent stereo equipment
Old tube-type stereo equipment
Video game console
Jewelry made of sterling silver or 10k or higher gold
Old coins, especially silver or gold ones
Old cell phones that aren't that old--iPhone 4/5, Samsung Galaxy S4/5 or newer
Ipods of any sort
Old car that you're not using, even if it's dead
Bike that you can get rid of
Spare tires/wheels for car (like, a full set of 4)
Antiques that are worth real money
Trading cards--Magic, Pokemon
Sports cards from pre-1970
Sports collectibles--signed balls, jerseys, bats, etc

This is all stuff that you could probably Craigslist for decent money. Realistically Craigslist is one of your better options, since it's quick to post on and it's free. It doesn't have to be your ONLY option, but I am not a big fan of pawnshops and similar, and you don't have time for eBay.
posted by Slinga at 3:12 PM on September 8, 2017

I can tell you what not to waste your time on, if you even have it - formal china. No one wants it. I had two sets in storage for 20+ years and finally had to give up the ghost that they would ever get used. I tried to sell them for over six months, with nary a nibble, until just before the holidays.

(One set went the day before Thanksgiving to a woman who was unexpectedly hosting dinner the next day. The other went two days before Christmas to a really nice man who wanted to give it to a lady at his church who was always taking in people who had no where to go for the holidays. So it made my heart glad to know that each set went to nice people and would be put to good use, but surely both my mother and grandmother were rolling over in their graves to know that their 12 place-setting sets were sold for $50.)

I still haven't found any takers for the silver and it's been a good two years since I started trying to sell it.
posted by vignettist at 12:07 AM on September 9, 2017

There isn't a lot that sells quickly at a good price, though I do second better small kitchen appliances -- there are a number of them that, if I spot one going cheap in a thrift, I will buy it for $10 just because I know I can painlessly sell it for $50 the next day.

That said, do you by chance have the luxury of having four friends who would each lend you $50?

Assuming you are on FB, do not overlook your friends as potential customers. Just fling out a status update with "emergency fund-raising de-cluttering? Do I know anyone looking for...? All must go; prices negotiable!" Some people feel odd giving $ to friends for ?reasons?, but buying something from them is another deal. You might also ask around and see who has stuff they want to declutter; you agree to take the whole pile, and then sell what you can. (I have noted the health issue issue and am totally empathetic and very much hoping you have a friend who might be able to pitch in. Do you know anyone else in need who might want to go in with you on a quick push to hustle up $ and do some small jobs and junk-selling with you?)

Things are very seasonal on FB/CL -- I could not even freecycle a fake tree one summer, but quickly had multiple offers in November.

If you are well enough to go walking around on trash night with a wagon, old car, big IKEA bag, whatever, the stuff people throw out can be pretty astonishing. Do not be choosy about neighbourhoods; the best trash night walks I ever had were in a hardscrabble blue collar area. I would find a nifty antique or vintage version of X next to the Walmart box for the new cheap thing it had replaced.

Old china, as mentioned, goes for a song, but certain things are always in demand if you sell them cheaply enough -- old china will go if you look at it as worth what any full set of dishes is worth. Same with any halfway decent cutlery. Things that most people NEED will always sell if priced to move. For interesting reasons, Ikea stuff holds its value very well.

Books and CDs and DVDs can go okay if sold in themed lots -- alternatively, take good pix of the spines and say "$X each, come over and pick out what you like." (I sold a lot of Groovy Girl dolls and My Little Pony toys like this; it was a very pleasant thing to do because my customers were largely grandmothers and little girls, both of whom really enjoyed picking out what they wanted.) Do you have any toys that have geek appeal? I was very surprised to find myself instantly slammed with offers for my kid's old Scooby Doo van & characters.

It took me ages to shift an entire garbage bag of men's clothing for $20. Some was stuff to wear for chores, but there were also nice desert boots, a Bean cable-knit wool sweater, etc.

Do not forget your terms, which are: as is, where is; please carefully inspect items before buying as seller does not provide refunds -- and then be nice and be sure to have an uncluttered electrical outlet for people to test stuff out with, and do not rush people -- be generous with your time and encourage them to look it over. (And be chatty; you never know who will mention that they also love X, and, hey, you happen to have an X...)

Dirty socks, both men's and women's, will...sell... You don't have the time to stink up much, but if I had not just done the laundry I probably could have hustled up $$ from all my lover's reeky socks that were in the basket.

Housewives on FB will impulse-buy personal items if they are cheap enough: if you have a bunch of bras you don't wear, half-finished perfumes, disliked nail polishes? Put them in groups and ask low prices; they will move. They also really like decorative junk and (unsurprisingly...) anything at all storage-related.

Good luck!
posted by kmennie at 8:24 AM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have sold rare / out of print books at both Powells and the Strand and made much much more money than I thought. Caveat: my collection was both esoteric and of a nature that is in demand to collectors. Many of the books they didn't want but both times I was moving/cleaning house so I just donated them there, quite easy, not sure if they both still do that or if you have a similar reputable used book seller near you.

Used clothing places was a big miss for me, made like $20 and a lot of it was unworn/designer stuff I had acquired free or cheap. I just donate or re-home clothes and shoes now. I know "trendy" people sell clothes well online but not sure if you need 10k instagram or facebook followers for that to work.

Furniture sells well, but unevenly, eg., people will pay the same for an ikea book case in good shape as a desk that cost like $700, but having only done this in cities, the portability might be a big factor here.

People definitely buy perfumes, makeup, even samples, perhaps facebook is a place for that? I do not use facebook.

I would say something like "Selling today or tomorrow only" in your posts, definitely post to multiple places.
posted by love2potato at 9:11 AM on September 9, 2017

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