Friday, September 25, 2009

Turning Your Trash into Cash

"It isn't sufficient just to want - you've got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want."

-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

I went out to the magazine section just for curiosity to see how many magazines had articles about organization or de-cluttering advertised on their cover and to my surprise, there was only one! Perhaps the fact that it is fall and not time for spring cleaning could explain why I wasn’t inundated by tips and tricks from the experts. The articles in the current October issues were more about comfort food and the up-coming holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. There were organization articles in several of the magazines but they were filler rather than feature articles. There was even a short piece in Cooking Light on how to organize your herbs and spices. Not surprisingly, the most popular "teaser" was about investing which appeared on as many as a dozen covers.

The one feature article is in Ebony and it is titled “How To Declutter and make Cash.”

The article, written by Margena A. Christian, starts with a discussion about having successful garage sales. She uses Elena Jackson of Los Angeles as an example of someone who has turned garage sales into a successful sales business where she has developed a base of loyal customers that are anxious to see what she has each month on display. Ms. Jackson not only sells the items she has de-cluttered from her home, but she also reconditions, repairs and refinishes items that she finds in the trash or that are under-priced at other garage sales or junk shops. The tips the author gives about having a successful sale are the following: Obtain a garage sale permit if required; tag the items with prices and a brief description if the item needs explanation (i.e.: works great or newly serviced); categorize items by putting like items together; make sure all items are clean and neat – presentation makes a difference; and be friendly. Let customer’s know if you don’t deliver. If you do, be clear on the charge. Do not post signs on city property; you could be ticketed and have plenty of change available.

They also discuss the merits of selling your stuff on eBay – “The World’s Online Marketplace” or on Craig’s list, a similar online marketplace like eBay only with a local customer base saving you the time and expense of shipping. Research shows that every person has approximately 50 items they would be willing to part with that could be sold on eBay. They say, “There is a buyer for everything. You may think that no one wants it. You’re wrong. There is a buyer for it on eBay.” We have held several seminars here at the library, offered by the Post Office, on how to sell on eBay (and ship using the U.S. Mail) and the library has available for check-out several copies of the DVD handout showing just how to get started, how to write an effective add and how to make money. Craig’s list is similar, but there are no costs associated with an ad placed on Craig’s list. The Ebony article tells how to get started on Craig’s list. The website is If you are going to post multiple items or you think you may have to repost the item if it doesn’t sell, it is worth creating an account. It makes it easier to copy and paste from a previous ad and if you want to see more. You can post anonymously and still get the buyer information sent to you. You choose the city you are closest to, the category of what you have to sell, and then you post the title and price of the item(s) you have to sell. You can post an item for either 7 days or 30 days and you can repost the item if it doesn’t sell.

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