Great Places To Earn and Save Money On Used Items

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-05-0522

How tough is it getting out there these days? The general consensus is that it’s been getting economically tougher, with more reports surfacing and providing us newer metrics that prove we’re in the midst of a market decline.

And the latest proof that we’re in a slump? How about a marked increase in the sales of used goods? Apparently, more and more people are unloading their possessions, valuable or otherwise, at various second-hand markets and at a greater frequency than in the past.

And no, people aren’t selling stuff just because they want to declutter their home or have a desire to downsize. What the media is saying these days is that along with the arrival of recessionary forces and the frugality trend beginning to pick up, we’re also seeing this concerning new trend: people selling stuff to pay the bills. They’re actually selling off their goods — including their heirlooms and expensive possessions — in order to raise cash fast. I suppose that with the credit crisis coming to a head and sliding property prices preventing homeowners from using their home equity as a cash account, folks are simply running out of options.

This sounds a bit sensationalistic to me, but here are some points I culled from articles that are trumpeting a new kind of behavior among those who are trying to keep themselves financially afloat.

Selling Household Items For Cash: A Growing Movement

  • Supposedly, desperation is driving people to unload their heirlooms just to pay off higher gas, medical and food expenses.
  • Individuals with expensive tastes but who’ve lost their jobs are finding themselves in a bind: unloading high-priced, branded clothing like Hermes leather jackets, Versace jeans, silk shirts, handbags, and the like just to be able to pay basic grocery, utility and insurance bills.
  • Collectors are unloading their highly prized collections at online auctions in order to pay for necessities. I guess it’s true: you can’t eat art.
  • At Craigslist, for-sale listings are up 70% from 9 months ago and doubled from last year. Similar reports are coming from other online auctions and classified ad sites. The number of ads are much higher than normal.
  • The ads submitted in online auction and “flea market” type sites are written in a more desperate tone.
  • People are using online sites like they do traditional pawn shops.
  • Hot items in the second-hand market are cars, clothing and furniture.
  • Areas hit hard by high gas prices are seeing higher sales of vehicles in general but particularly those that are less gas efficient.
  • Recreational vehicles like campers, trailers and boats are glutting the used goods market.
  • Areas hit hard by the housing crisis are seeing more furniture on sale in used markets.
  • Unfortunately, Goodwill and the Salvation Army have been negatively affected by the sales trends as donations are down 20% this last quarter.
  • Prices of used items are going for 25% to 35% less than they did last year.

Though a lot of people have been affected due to job loss and dropping home prices, a lot of those severely affected have also been vigorous spenders in the past. From the aforementioned facts, it seems to me that a good number who are selling today are those who have a lot of extra things they can *possibly* get rid of; I wouldn’t actually consider recreational vehicles, electronic gadgets or branded merchandise as essential to living….

At any rate, this is definitely a sign of harder economic times: where families are affected by job loss and general higher prices across the board. In my own community, we’re seeing $4 per gallon and the $40 I used to spend for a full tank has now risen to $60. I’m sure glad I’m no longer commuting!

So along with higher foreclosures and bankruptcies, you can also consider this, a sign of the times: the indication that the used goods market is heating up big time. Which could be the silver lining to those of you who are frugalists in the market for buying stuff. So if you’re looking to buy anything, you’re in luck, as you’re in the midst of fire sales right about now.

garage sale

Where To Go For Second Hand Merchandise?

If you’re looking to sell or buy used items, here is a quick list of places and resources to visit:

Online Sites

  • is the original classifieds and business directory site, and is also recognized as the biggest one in its niche. Thanks to Craigslist, I’ve sold a couple of cars and also bought myself some furniture, including a nice dining set. šŸ™‚
  • doesn’t need an introduction. For those who want to sell at the original online auction on the web, here are some eBay selling tips! I’ve been a regular buyer here of specialty items myself.
  • eBizAuctions helps you with selling your stuff on eBay as “professional and certified auctioneers and appraisers.”

If you do an online search for auction and classified ad sites, there are tons more where these came from. šŸ™‚ The list goes on. There are easy-to-scan reviews of auction sites on the web. Auctions have actually been a highly touted place to buy and sell wares, so much so that even houses are sold through auction sites these days! Auction sites have indeed come a long way.

Traditional Sources

  • Consignment stores in your own neighborhood are a good place to check out high quality items you need. Furniture, decor and clothing are common products you’ll find available in these stores. I’ve picked up some really beautiful art pieces from consignment centers before.
  • Local classifieds are found in your local paper or at local community web sites. Fogster is one that I check out that caters to my neighborhood.
  • Flea markets are a traditional way to buy and sell your wares. I visit a few during the spring and summer when the weather is pleasant. Who knows what possible treasures I may stumble upon?
  • Holding garage sales is an American pastime that you may want to try at least once in your life. Ok, maybe not — it can be a big hassle and does take some time and preparation to pull off. It’s not my favorite way of decluttering the house, but it’s a good way to get a tan over the weekend while you attend to curious visitors on your driveway. But! I have been known to visit a few estate sales each summer just to see what can be had. Lastly, you can also advertise your garage sale via the web or your newspaper if you want to go this route.
  • Participating in storage unit auctions is a rather esoteric way to pick up some used goods. If you’re intent on getting some good deals, you may just find them in these abandoned storage areas. I’m not kidding.
  • Your own family, friends and neighbors may be just the buyers or sellers you need to trade goods with (for a few bucks). I’m glad I have extended family around so it’s been easy for us to take advantage of recycling items amongst ourselves for really attractive, bargain prices (if not free)!

Are there any other good sources out there? Please feel free to let us know!

It goes without saying that you’ll need to check out the various resources and see which ones you’re most comfortable working with. Different sites, storefronts and communities may provide different price points for items, so doing some research is key. I’d always start with the places I find most trustworthy and with the best reputations. I’d also score a particular resource well based on convenience and ease of use. For example, selling and buying on Craigslist is something I favor because there’s representation in my local community and my experience with it has been straightforward and simple. I’ve also been happy using eBay as a good source of merchandise.

Given what’s going on with our national as well as our household economies these days, it makes sense for us to buy used, to stop spending on non-essentials, and perhaps to trade in more of our clutter for cash.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg May 5, 2008 at 12:27 pm

My husband and I just had a yard sale and were amazed to make over $400 — and we still have lots of stuff left that we’re going to try to sell or donate! We didn’t even bring out the pricier items because we’re planning to sell many of those online (yard salers are cheap). We really can’t believe how much stuff we’ve been selling because we didn’t think we had that much stuff! We’re not big shoppers these days, and we’re big into decluttering but normally we donate items or Freecyle. But a month or so ago we started going around the house with the attitude of “would we rather have this, or they money/space?” and we found tons more stuff to sell. We even sold some unopened soap that my husband had bought in bulk years ago before deciding that he didn’t care for the type.

thebaglady May 5, 2008 at 1:15 pm

I held an yardsale once and made $17. My mom laughed at me. Anyway, I still have some clothes from a church sale from 15 years ago. Neighbors are a great resource like you said. Our next door neighbor moved and threw out a ton of her clothes and dishes and now I’m using them.

Aryn May 5, 2008 at 1:40 pm

My question is: if so many people are selling stuff, who’s left to buy it all? I suppose some people with some excess money will want to snag a good deal on something, but what happens when they decide to tighten their belts, too?

It’s an endless cycle.

zowoco May 5, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Although I will use ebay to source and sell rare collector’s items, there’s no fun like visiting a garage sale! It’s a very sociable event and you are bound to walk off with some item you wouldn’t use in a million years! Very enjoyable! šŸ™‚

Save Money May 5, 2008 at 9:26 pm

You know, it’s a really good time to settle yourself into a good standing. Cut down your costs, be a little frugal and take advantage of the position people are in. I know that sounds pretty bad, but if you don’t others will.Get outside and start finding bargains, there is no better time.

Personal Money Tips May 6, 2008 at 8:55 pm

Another site like CraigsList is

David May 8, 2008 at 9:00 am

How about free? is a great resource.

Money Millionaire May 12, 2008 at 6:46 pm

I love Craigslist – buy a lot of stuff there. A greatly overlooked advantage is that you can sell back an item there often for the price you paid. It’s like you get to use the item for free.

Tim February 24, 2009 at 11:12 pm

My wife and I just emptied out the things that I’ve collected over the years. We sold it all on line! Great article.


Natalia April 22, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Great post. I am a little afraid to use Craiglist though.
I used to sell my used staff on eBay, but I got tired of them increasing their listing prices and fees.

Newark NJ September 16, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Great article. We have a big garage sale every few years to get rid of the stuff that the kids just “had” to have and ended up only using for a bit. The money made from such a garage sale is negligible in comparison to how much was spent on them, but getting any amount for something that otherwise lays around is a great deal!

Fashion Watch April 19, 2010 at 11:00 pm

My wife and I just emptied out the things that Iā€™ve collected over the years. We sold it all on line! Great article.

Sunclair May 18, 2010 at 6:08 am

Its unbelievable to see what people throw away. Therefore I think it’s not only good to use secondhand (often almost new) stuff, but also to make a few extra bucks on the side, by selling things you find at traditional places on online sites like eBay.

blah blah March 12, 2011 at 8:59 am

The problem with Craigslist is that it’s free, fast and simply to post ads. As such, people with no clue about selling post ads. When the economy was going good, people would sell $200 for $100, because they just wanted to get rid of it and had money to burn (most of it living life on credit, though). But now that things are tough, they’re the opposite. They want $200 for their $100 item. I stare at the computer section quite often. The market value for a P3 comp is nil; they are worthless. Not that they’re useless (they can still be used), so worthless != useless. But folks regularly get on there, don’t know what they’re selling, list very vague details, like a brand name and model number, and want $300 for it.

They figured they spent $2000 on it brand new 5 years ago, so it’s got to still be worth a few hundred. You do the research and it’s an old P3 beater. The larger picture to this is that if you want to save money by shopping on things like Craigslist, you have to spend a lot of personal time looking at ads to get a baseline for the market value. If your time could be better spent doing something else, like freelancing jobs for $25 / hr, then that money you save spending 1 hour a day for 2 weeks (14 hrs) just to save $100 on some item marked down from $200 was probably a waste. You could have earned 14 x $25 = $350 in the time it took you to shop around for that item, then spent full price for the item (-$200), and still be ahead $150.

So, folks need to avoid being short-sighted. As economics goes, there’s this whole cost/benefit & opportunity cost to everything. Granted, most folks just work a 9-5 job, and picking up side-work wouldn’t pay $25/hr unless they’re talented or motiviated or own their own business. Some folks just like the thrill of bargain hunting, too, and you can’t put a price tag on that. So some folks not earning much and spending time they have shopping for bargains can be a deal, others that earn a lot of money per hour may be better served by working more to get more money while they hire a maid to clean their house and pay full price to get new things. Just have to do the math to see which one is most cost-effective.

Ginette May 2, 2011 at 5:52 am

As you shop consider saving! I thought I’d share a site I stumbled across the other day that gives me money when I shop or sell through Ebay and also when I shop major retailers online. It’s called Big Crumbs. It’s free (of course). Don’t we all love a good deal? Happy shopping and saving!

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