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Getting the Best Profit for Your Items

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

If you've ever devoted an entire Saturday to a yard sale, but only earned a few dollars, you've probably questioned your selling technique. Yet, for every yard sale failure there's a person who sits in front of a computer screen wondering why she can't earn a profit selling her items online. Which is the better choice, yard sale or online auction? A mix of the two is your best bet.

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Finding the Right Buyer

A good sale is made only if the perfect buyer finds your product. Could that happen at a yard sale? It certainly could, but it often doesn't.

An example would be a brand name youth leather baseball glove that remained at the end of my spring yard sale. I was asking a meager $3 for the lightly used glove. Reluctant to toss it in the donation bin afterwards, I posted it on eBay with a starting bid of $0.99. It caught the attention of more than a few viewers, and in the end sold for $13. What's the lesson learned? Somewhere a parent was looking for a glove for his son, and the new gloves were beyond his price limit. His browser found my auction, and everyone was happy in the end.

Online sales allow you to reach more viewers, creating the opportunity to find the best buyers. Evaluate your items and ask if there's a wide audience for your sale or if it is more limited to buyers. The same father could have come to my yard sale, but he didn't.

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What Won't Sell on Your Yard

Unless you're very lucky, there are some items that will never earn you a profit at a yard sale. At yard sales, people demand that items work. Malfunctioning electronics are better aimed at online sales, and yes, you can sell broken electronics and earn some cash towards the replacement. People scroll through auction listings looking for parts or looking for cheap electronics that can be fixed and resold. When selling electronics, eBay even has a condition category called "parts not working."

When our Xbox flashed a red circle and refused to turn on, we replaced it. Yet, someone out there knew what to do with the malfunctioning system, and the broken machine sold online for $16. Would it have earned that amount at a yard sale? I'd bet the new system that it wouldn't have sold.

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Other great products that you can list online are extra cables and adapters that are floating around your house. If you no longer have a need for certain audio cables and video adapters, list them online. These cables are pricey new, and people appreciate the discount earned by purchasing them used. However, this is a very select audience, so online auctions allow your item to find the person looking for it.

Keep It Hands On and Off Line

Just like the products that sell online for more than they're worth in your yard, certain products don't do well online. They get lost in the myriad of listings. Keep craft items and knickknacks for yard sales. The beauty of the yard sale is that people see the item; they touch it and fall in love with it. Online auctions don't offer this type of sale.

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Did you ever buy a sweater because you couldn't get over how soft it was? There's little sensory impulse purchasing online. People look for particular items or categories. At a yard sale they're surprised; the fun of yard sale shopping is not knowing what you might find. Those are the things to keep in mind when you set up your yard sale.

The Best of Both Sales

Use this split sales option to your advantage. Start off by separating your items carefully, and list some online at a fair price. If the items don't sell, move them into your yard sale pile and reduce the price. This should allow you to put forth your best effort in finding the perfect buyer to create the perfect sale. After all, shouldn't you both be happy?

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October 1, 20140 found this helpful

This is a good article. However, you don't seem to take the price of shipping an item into account. I have been trying to sell an old set of dishes that are in perfect condition. I'm advertising them locally (Craig's List) because I could never ship them. There are too many pieces and the chance of breakage is large. They are way too expensive to put in a garage sale. So, what do you suggest?

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October 1, 20140 found this helpful

Maybe a consignment shop would be your best bet.

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December 7, 20140 found this helpful

Just be patient. Everything sells!

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March 6, 20150 found this helpful

Kathy, You said that you were trying to sell a set of dishes. For items like that you can list them on ebay and choose 'local pick-up'. This way you will reach more people and still not have to ship it.

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Yard Sale
Selling at Yard Sales vs Online Auctions
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