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2davidc8's avatar

Online buying and selling: do you have advice for me?

Asked by 2davidc8 (7794points) July 17th, 2014

OK, so I’m finally getting around to try and clean up my parents’ stuff that’s been stored and taking up too much space in my garage, my extra bedroom, even my living room…
A lot of stuff will be donated or given away, of course. But there are things that may be of some value in the used merchandise marketplace. I’m thinking maybe Craigslist or eBay, but I’m a newbie at this. I’ve only used Craigslist to give away stuff.
What advice can you give me? Are there other sites that are better suited to my purpose?
Would it be advisable to set up a PayPal account? Is this easy to do and what should I watch out for?

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9 Answers

Dan_Lyons's avatar

It depends on the item, the size of the item and how you want to get paid.

jaytkay's avatar

—Good for stuff you don’t want to pack and ship
—Cash only
—Meet in a neutral, public place, like a coffee shop

—Feedback matters – buyers and sellers rate each other
—Build your feedback and people will be more likely to buy from you and pay a higher price
—Most sales result in positive feedback
—Start buying cheap items and give the sellers positive feedback so they give you the same
—Not everybody gives feedback – maybe about 75% respond, 25% do not – don’t worry about it
—Offer free shipping – if the item is heavy simply start the price high enough to cover your shipping
—Don’t guess about shipping – get a box, package your item, weight it and compare postage, Fed Ex and UPS
—Low starting prices attract attention – after years of experimenting I start all my auctions at $0.01 (yes, one penny!) with free shipping.
—It’s nerve-wracking early when your $900 camera has bids of $1 and $10 but this strategy has worked for me
—The $0.01 strategy works for well-known items. Random stuff that YOU like don’t count.
—Explore eBay for previously sales to get an idea of your items’ worth

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Get appraisals from a used furniture and get more than one. Sell in lots and have the buyer pay for shipping or they pick-up. I’ve sold stuff to an appraiser at the other appraiser price. LOL

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@jaytkay Sellers no longer can give buyers anything but positive feedback.

Otherwise Ebay is an excellent way to go and if you use PayPal for payments your total payment to them is about 15% of your total sale.

jaytkay's avatar

@Dan_Lyons good point, don’t forget that eBay and PayPal are taking a good-sized bite out of your selling price.

It’s worth it, much better than standing on the street trying to sell your stuff, but don’t forget to include the overhead in your math.

ibstubro's avatar

I no longer mess with Ebay. They started out where the sellers could screw the buyers at the drop of a hat (so to speak!). The ‘fix’ was the opposite…the buyers can hold the sellers for ransom with the threat of negative feedback. Not to mention that, as a new seller, you’d have to practically give away 10–50 items just to get enough positive feedback for the longer-term users the take you seriously. That’s a lot of work to establish cred.

I have an auction house and most of my customers that sell online are doing so on…drum roll please…Facebook. There are on-line selling groups you can join, and it is still currently fee-free. It meets all of @jaytkay‘s Craig’s List pluses above with as much danger of running into a looney or having someone hijack your email or other personal ID. Craig’s list has basically become a Phishing pond, IMO, and it’s hard for a newbie to protect themselves.

The biggest drawback to using Facebook is you have to be a Facebook user, and you have to set your price (unlike bidding on eBay). You can search for like items on eBay under sold items and get a decent idea of market value there. And if you stay local, there’s no packing and no shipping fees.

Then again, depending on where you live, you might consider unloading all the sellable stuff with a couple set-ups at a local flea market. Or you could take a spot in an ‘Antique Mall’. I have one I pay $40 a month for. I’ve always made rent and have gotten checks as high as $280 after rent. Another place I have a spot takes things on consignment, where you just take the stuff in and they price and sell it for a percentage, cut you a check.

Or just find a reputable local auction house, consign the stuff, and collect a check.

Explore your options, in other words.

Pachy's avatar

Never do business with any buyer who offers to pay you extra money via PayPal if you’ll ship your item to someone in or out of the country. It’s a classic scam, and falling for it once taught me this invaluable lesson. As @jaytkay wisely advises, always accept cash, and only in person in a public place.

JLeslie's avatar

Looks like you have some good advice above. I’ll add that used books and CD’s are best sold on

Stay safe. If the person is coming to your home have someone else there or have a friend who expects your call at a certain time and they know something is wrong if you don’t call. The trick is if you happen to forget, they can call you, but then you either have a secret code word that everything is ok, or they don’t know your ok unless you call them right back. A bad guy might let you take a call, but they are not going to let you make a call. When we sold somthing on Craigslist it took about ten minutes to already have three people very interested, it was incredible. I don’t know how typical that is.

Think about having an estate sale or garage sale. Take a small ad out in the local paper to advertise it.

If you have trouble selling something don’t forget you can donate things for either a tax write off, or just because it might be a nice thing to do. Children of friends just starting out and in need of things, new immigrants to the country (you can look for the same background as yourself if you are so inclined).

2davidc8's avatar

OK, duly noted. Thank you, everybody!

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