How to Sell Your Stuff

Turn castoffs into cash with these easy-sell secrets.

By Amy Maclin from Reader's Digest | November 2009

With an Auction House
If you’re a bit of a gambler, consider an auction house, especially if you have several items. An auctioneer has to be licensed and bonded, and he has a vested interest in getting the most money for your item, since he makes a commission (20 to 30 percent) based on its sale price. A good auction can whip dealers into a frenzy and drive up prices, says auctioneer Walt Kolenda. Find local auctions at

With a Dealer
If you’re a cautious type, you may be happier with a dealer. He’ll usually pay you immediately, but he may pay you less, since he has operating costs to cover and could be sitting on your item for a while. But if you have only one or two things and need to move them right away, this may be the best option. Pick a dealer by soliciting recommendations, says New York dealer Nick Dawes. “Dealers have a reputation that they’re out to scam you,” he says. “But if a dealer is well established, he can’t afford not to be honest.”

It’s advisable to make appointments at a few places, says Kolenda. He cautions, however, that dealers do hate to hear “I’ll get back to you,” so be prepared to hear a lower estimate if you go back a second time.

At a Consignment Shop
Yet another way to move your merchandise if you can sit tight, says Szescila: consignment shops. You take your item to the shop, the merchant sets a price, and you get a percentage of the money when your item sells.

Worth the Least?

A. A pulled tooth
B. A glass eye
C. A “limited edition” collectible

Answer: C. “It’s junk,” says auctioneer Walt Kolenda. “They’ll say ‘Limited to a firing of 10,000 of these ceramic plates.’ Yeah, 10,000A. Then they’ll do another lot: 10,000B. They make millions.” On the other hand, Good Ole Tom’s, in Connecticut, and other metal retailers will buy your dental gold (Tom’s figures it at 16 karats), and Dave Adelman, of Jerry’s Pawn Shop in Atlanta, says his father-in-law once paid $100 for a glass eye from a customer down on his luck—though of course he had no intention of reselling it. “That’s what we call a sweetheart loan,” Adelman admits.

Other DIY Marketplaces An online garage sale, with a community of small sellers and the chance to negotiate in real time via instant messenger. Anybody with a webcam and a mike can star in this DIY version of the Home Shopping Network. (This one’s still at the beta stage.) Luxury jewelry, accessories, artwork, and housewares. Books, movies, CDs, and video games, new and used. New and secondhand books both rare and common. New and used books, music, movies, and textbooks. Sell your used, new, and even broken gadgets, including iPods, cell phones, and game consoles. Used CDs, DVDs, and video games., If you want to keep things local—because you have an item too large to ship or just like the personal touch. Both are free.

National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops ( Search for stores based on city or zip code.

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