eBay vs. Garage Sales?

October 19, 2007

A woman taking a photo of a vase to post it on eBay.Which do you think is more profitable, Ebay or garage sales? Why?




Silver Post Medal for All Time! 267 Posts
October 19, 20070 found this helpful

I would say it really depends on what you are trying to sell. A garage sale is some setup and one weekend of intense work. It is good if you have a lot of things that you want to get rid of but aren't really worth a lot of money. Also, you should really do the garage sale during the nicer weather because you will get more traffic. If you are just trying to clean out the garage, consider having really cheap items or a free box to get the stuff to people who will use it. I did this with a couple packages of pull ups that we didn't need. I couldn't see selling them but someone grabbed them right away in the free bin.

Ebay is good if you have things that you need to get a specific price for or are worth more money. Keep in mind that you have no guarantee of selling anything on Ebay but it will cost you for the auction, no matter what. The work and cost is more spread out. If you do decide on Ebay, be sure to post good photos because you are more likely to get bids. Selling things in batches is often a good way to go because you seem to get more bids, because the shipping is less per item. You also need to make sure to send off items right away so that your rating doesn't go down.



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By lindajean (Guest Post)
October 19, 20070 found this helpful

What about Craigs List? Free! Or

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Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 378 Feedbacks
October 19, 20070 found this helpful

Neither! G-sale - it rains and brings strangers around. EBay - every item takes so long. Best profits for me are with It's Deductible, the software comes bundled with my TurboTax, and can be downloaded for only $15 or so. It's like having a garage sale, except the only customer is the IRS and they pay top national prices. You donate your stuff to a local charity and get a receipt. You have kept a clipboard with a list of what went, with some description, and as it was all spread out on the bed for the last check before it went out the door, you snapped one picture. You use the software to get the true value of what you donated. We all undervalue things so much! We forget that the pair of blue jeans that didn't fit had a well-known label!


They wrote the software by checking all regions of the country in thrift shops to see what things are selling for and used that. Best part - they have survived every audit! So when I do my taxes, I get my refund, and wow, the refund is nicely fatter than it would have been, and I did so little work compared to eBay or garage sale! One rule! you can't use anything that was a gift to you. You can only use things you purchased. I have been so pleased with It's Deductible! my donations pile has that clipboard, I describe an item as I drop it onto the pile (never a big writing task of a whole bunch), one photo, done. Recommend!!

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October 19, 20070 found this helpful

I'm an ebay seller of handmade fabric items. The lady above is right. It all depends on what you sell. Use the word Lot in your title description if you sell more than one item in a listing. People search for that word.


Another good source of saling items that are large or that you know will sale for a good price if its available in your area.Is by radio. Our local radio station has a progran each weekday morning & evening as well as on saturday mornings which last for 30 minutes in which callers can call in, fax or email the item they are selling by telling what the item is and your phone number. Just make sure not to give the directions to your house until you will be there with someone eles when they come to look at your item you are selling. I even keep my item on my porch if possible so they donot have to enter my home. We have sold many items that way.
Also you have flea markets you could sell at. They usually charge very little for a table rental and you will do much better there than having a yard sale unless you are in a good location. Good luck!

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By Fay (Guest Post)
October 20, 20070 found this helpful

The only things I have had luck selling on ebay are collectibles. I am thinking about trying Have any of you tried that?

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By Dannielle (Guest Post)
October 20, 20070 found this helpful

I think a garage sale is more profitable and you can get rid of a whole lot at once instead of having to wait on all the bidding and then paying the shipping and handling. If you do a garage sale right, you can make a good profit.


The last garage sale my mom and I did was in the spring of this year and we made 1400.00. It also depends on what you are selling.

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By jojo (Guest Post)
October 22, 20070 found this helpful

I imagine everyone will have their own preferences, not to mention experiences, with both.
I had one garage sale but found that people are only interested in rock-bottom prices (generally speaking). I was surprised at some items which didn't sell during our garage sale so I then sold them on ebay for MORE MONEY than the asking price at the garage sale. Even after paying the advertising fee I was still in front by comparison. The buyer pays shipping (or collects) so that doesn't factor into it but your time does. I'd think ebay would also reach a wider 'audience', so to speak.


From my own experience I prefer ebay, but if buying it pays to ask all questions before bidding as I've had a few let-downs but on the whole it's been positive.

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By Susan (Guest Post)
October 28, 20070 found this helpful

I have been selling on Ebay for 7 years - for one reason - to make money. I started out by cleaning out valuable collectibles that were sitting in my attic. I knew I wouldn't get anything for them at a garage sale. Then I went on to other things - like name brand clothing, housewares, etc, until I found my niche - Vintage Clothing and accessories, like costume jewelry, nylons, lingerie, purses.I don't buy my items for a lot - under 3 or 4 dollars - most things .50. And I buy my items at, you guessed it --- Garage Sales.

Garage Sales are good if you have a lot of stuff you want to make a few hundred bucks off of quick and then load it all up to take to Good Will. I would like to correct the previous poster who mentioned having to pay postage for the eBay items. The buyer pays that over and above the amount they won your item for. So you really aren't out anything.

I use USPS Priority shipping that provides me with free boxes and free pick up service off of my front porch. All I need to do is box it up professionally so it doesn't get damaged. I think it really has to do with how much time and patience you can devote to ebay vs. a garage sale. Ebay is an endeavor where your integrity is on the line. Be honest, responsible, respond quickly to your customer and don't sell junky items. Meaning - don't sell something that when your customer opens it up that they are disappointed. Explain all details - the good the bad and the ugly - don't leave anything out because that is what they will always find first.

The Vintage items I sell always have wear so I explain that in my description. People looking for vintage expect wear unless it is something that is new and has never been used - so it sells because that is the nature of vintage. If you want to sell baby clothes then don't sell stained ones. If you want to sell glassware then don't forget to mention the microscopic chip on the lip. It's not worth trying to sell damaged goods. It will always come back to bite you.

A word about pricing....If you have Grandma's jewelry box and it is a prized possession, don't expect to get $100 on it because of sentiment - it is only worth what similar items are going for right now. So do some research. Look up that item on ebay and see what it is selling for. The most amazing things that you don't think are worth anything sell for big bucks. Here's an example - I sold a red and white polka dot bullet bra from the 1950's for $40. Go Figure! A few months after the sale I received in the mail a post card. It was a very impressive post card advertising an exhibit featuring The History of Women's Lingerie at the History Museum in Phoenix ( I live about 2000 miles from there!) On the back in pen was written - "just thought you would like to know that your polka dot bra is in this exhibit" and the name of the buyer!

I just sold a pair of rain boots for $14 that I bought for $1.00. I would have never gotten that for them at a garage sale. I figure if you've got something - somebody else is looking for it somewhere. Don't throw anything away until you research it. You might be sitting on a gold mine.

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November 1, 20070 found this helpful

I think that they both have thier place.
I recently had a garaage sale an did well, what I like about garage sales is you don't have to ship.

on the other hand I had a couple of items that didn't sell
at the garage sale so I posted them on e-bay and sold them for 15times what I was asking for the items at my sale.

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January 17, 20080 found this helpful

In my opinion a yard/ garage sale is best All it cost is time, and poster board, with e-bay you have to #1 take photo's of every items your gonna sell, #2 describe every item in detail, #3 pay for it to be put on e-bay, then you run the risk of non-payers so your out for your photo, your money to have it placed on e-bay. You have to look for boxes, bubble wrap, if its a breakable item, then a trip to the post office to weigh it to see how much it weighs, so you'll know how much to charge.

Like some one else mentioned the "buyer" pays the postage, but if you ask for $5.00 postage on an item that costs them 2.00 to mail out then the customer can leave negative feedback because of your shipping prices,. Then you also have to worry what if it gets lost or they just lie and say they never got the item. At a yard sale, folks can look over the item and not be "surprised" when they get their stuff.

On Ebay I have bought stuff that I paid for and NEVER got it at all, so you have to look at everyone's feedback to see if they ship promptly, if they've had any type of negative feedback, plus a lot of folks wants pay-pal. Not everyone has a credit card, nor do they care to have one, where at yard sales you can say cash only, no checks, and no credit cards.

If your stuff is marked at the right price which is (nation wide for the most part) 10% of what you gave for it new, or $2-3 dollars if new with tags. You'll move more stuff at once, where on e-bay, unless a person sees your other items for sale they will only buy 1 item from you.

Yes yard/ garage sales takes a little more time, but is a lot cheaper than e-bay. Here in TN poster board is only 50 cents a sheet, so even if you bought 6 sheets, cut them in half, you're still only out $3.00 for 12 signs or you can even use a box, and add a big rock in it so it doesn't blow away. Then make signs to place at stores, laundry mats, on drink machines, etc, which cost maybe 10 cents,if you make them on your pc or even by hand.

Like I live by TN's largest state park, so I put signs up over there with directions, and I try to put things out that I know campers may have forgotten to bring. You also get to meet new people who may become regular customers if you have a lot of nice, name brand stuff. Then all you'll need is thumb tacks or nails, stuff to make tables out of. You can lay a blanket on the ground for things such as toys, so kids can see the items and want them insuring yet another sale.

I've given over 20 yard sales in 23 years. I make no less than $500.00 for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I don't have to wait for the auction to end, then wait on my m.o, or check, wait for the check to clear, then pack it and all that. I do how ever recommend that you have PLENTY of bags from your local grocery store, because I hate going to yard sales where they have no bags. Try to have different size bags too, so they don't leave carrying 5 small bags.

Pricing is easy, you can buy the stickers with prices on them, use masking tape, cut small pieces of paper out, write your price on them and staple it to the label, ALWAYS price your items, even if you have to go to e-bay, and see about what things are selling for. Go to other yard sales to see what their prices are. I also suggest that you try to get several families involved so on your posters/ signs you can write 5 family yard sales, or multi-family yard sales. You can also run an ad in your local paper if it's not gonna cost you a lot.

You'll need a few tarps to cover the stuff up at nights in case it should rain. Always check your weather for that week, even in your ad in the paper or on your signs/ poster put the date, time, location. Maybe add a few items on it that you'll have like " home interior, baby clothes, baby items, clothes of all sizes, etc, or put something for everyone, then put " if rain, sale will be the next weekend."

Put similar items together, and if possible put the same sizes together. Mens in 1 place, womens in another, kids in another, shoes in 1 place, books in another, and house hold items in another. If you don't have the fancy things to hang clothes on like stores have, run you a $1.00 rope from the dollar store and add a piece of card board between each group of clothing. Make sure you have nice clean clothes and shoes.

Don't put anything out that you wouldn't buy yourself. If you know a shirt is missing a button and you don't have one, make a little tag and write " one button missing". Have a give away box for things that still good. It's also good to have batteries on hand to let folks see that the item does work, or a drop cord for things like blow dryers, Iron's lamps, etc.
I've sold furniture, lawn mowers (which we had gas in so they could crank it) clothes, shoes, purses, make-up, grills, tires, toys, movies, cd's (keep movies and dvd's. cd's etc in shade if at all possible). Keep pictures out of the sun too so they don't sweat, candles out of the sun so they don't melt. Use common sense on those type of items.

Trust me, I have folks ask me all the time, "when is your next yard sale gonna be, make sure you let me know!" I'm cheap on my items. I don't go buy stuff cheap at yard sales just to bring them home and mark them up like a lot of folks do on e-bay or even yard sales. Be fair about your prices.

Get several family members or friends to help you out to keep an eye on your money, and as bad as it sounds, to make sure no-one walks off with stuff they didn't pay for because shop lifters doesn't just shop lift at stores, they steal everywhere! Plus it gives you time to spend with that family member or friend, and have a good time with it!
Hope this helps some,

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January 18, 20080 found this helpful

Definitely it depends. I live overseas so I don't have access to garage sales now, but I do shop Ebay. Shopping Ebay is like having the "world as my store". I am bound to come across exactly what I want if I can just keep waiting. On the other hand, to the seller...the world is your potential customer. I've had friends in Poland and Germany check out things on Ebay.

BUT, to the seller, a GOOD picture/pictures makes a world of difference. It is hard to imagine that some people just describe their item and hope to get a good price. Make sure your pictures are close up and in sharp focus. The picture sells it!

I've noticed that on Ebay, knowing how to write up the description makes a difference. If you don't know too much about it, okay, you can admit that, but just saying, "Sorry...won't measure it" (for fabric), or "I don't know what it is" turns off people looking for something like cotton or cotton blends. If you aren't willing to describe something accurately, please give extra photos. I saw a double knit UGLY blanket/quilt sell for $15 or maybe even more (that I thought no one would pay even $1 for it) because the description was wonderful and she described it as an "UGLY quilt" in the title line, but wrote a nice description. I think it was sent around the internet in various emails just because it was so well done.

Also, a lady sold her kids pack of some cards they sneaked in from the grocery store (cost under $5) and last I saw, it was going for $115 because of the description that the mother wrote. It was hilarious.

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By (Guest Post)
February 10, 20080 found this helpful

I would say... mmm that is hard most things in garage sales are more worn but you can get them faster but ebay the stuff is non-worn but it could take weeks to get it.

Editors Note: I've known many eBay sellers who go to garage sales to get the items to sell there.

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By Sharon (Guest Post)
March 24, 20080 found this helpful

I found another new way of selling especially bigger items that are hard to ship or store-CRAIGSLIST. You can put pictures on and the listings are all free.Some things take awhile to sell, but overall I've had good success. Yard sales are a lot of work for sometimes very littles money- like a previous writer said - People are looking for rock bottom prices and you have to watch closely for stealing.
I buy and sell stuff to sell at flea markets during the good weather at - you guessed it- yard sales.Ebay does take a lot of time and the fees are increasing,but it is good to make money with when the weather is bad.

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By Ms.Step (Guest Post)
May 17, 20080 found this helpful

My husband is trying to figure out how to bring a little extra into the household since we started out as pack rats a few decades ago, and would like to reclaim our living space. He has a mentor he meets at estate sales who sells old books and photos and describes himself as detail oriented. He is doing great business on ebay...check out any posting by him and everything said in posts above and more is what you will find.

I am not personally interested in his merchandise or even know him, but here is one vendor to refer to, if you want to make a decent profit on an item you know has true value, but do not need anymore. Penumbra-uniques is the name of his e bay store, or whatever they call it.

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June 5, 20080 found this helpful

I too sale on E-bay. I love it! I sale a lot of vintage things I pick up at yard sales and thrift stores. Just sold a vintage toaster for $80.00 that I bought for $6.00. Go on E-bay and look up the things you have to sale. It will give you an idea as to price and category. I also use pay-pal for payments, it is safer than checks and money orders, and any fees are nominal. I too get boxes from the post office and pick up my door. I like E- bay better than yard sales because I can do it any time.
Another suggestion is to check on line with your local TV and news papers many offer free classifieds, we have a local one that I post larger items on. I also use Yahoo groups: freecycle ( give stuff away) and yard sale.

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June 30, 20080 found this helpful

I personally like craigslist. It's very easy to post, you can add photos, and meet the seller/buyer at a public place to do the "exchange". On the garage sale, I had one last year. We needed a permit for it. My friends and I combined our treasures, did some advertising, and got ready to sell, sell, sell. We didn't do very well... We had some items with tags still on for $35, i.e., and people wanted to pay $1 for them! Also had the "early bird" character who tried to help us set up, let her little daughter loose to distract us, and also claimed she had paid for an item when she hadn't...Luckily, no one "fell" in my property and sued. I will never do it again. Too much trouble! I've used eBay as well, but to purchase items that were harder to find.

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October 13, 20080 found this helpful

This is a complicated one. Both are really good. I won't say what I am buying on Ebay, but I have sold a few itmes for 7x what I paid. If you have media items you can list them at Amazon for free, you do pay hefty fees when the item sells though. But, if you want to rid yourself of books and movies those items will hopefully eventually sell. I am going to go to the flea market with everything I wish to sell later this month and see how that goes. I figure most the vendors there are making money or they wouldn't keep coming back. I haven't seen anyone selling hot food, so if I make enough money I might invest on having a hot dog stand there as well. I would have a captive audience of sorts selling food to the flea market vendors. I guess this is a question of when is Ebay better than a garage sale and vice versa rather than which is better.

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