Like many parents, Darin Buckland was keen to rid himself of some of the kid “stuff” he and his wife had accumulated when their two daughters, now teenagers, had needed when they were babies and toddlers. Not only did he want to clean out his garage, he assumed there was probably some money to be made at the same time.

While the neighbourhood he lives in has an annual, well attended, garage sale, which they often participate in, having everything ready to sell on one exact date isn’t always the ideal solution. So he looked for online alternatives to add to the mix, and found success with both auction and e-classified services.

If you’re facing a full garage or basement, and you’ve never done this before, where should you start?

  1. Decide what to purge, and how to purge. Things that hold on to their value (they might be unused, or an expensive item in great condition) are perfect for selling online, if they can be shipped easily. “We sold lots of kid stuff, strollers, cribs, toys etc. on eBay” Buckland says, and adds “I think there are a lot more “local” eyes on Kijiji and typically don’t need to ship a sale (which is a consideration for larger items)”. You may also want to donate an item or give it to a family member or friend if it doesn’t fit this criteria.
  2. While spring is a time when many decide to do a clean-out, make sure that you are timing your sale well with the seasons. Timing can be key with changing weather (warming up? Get that patio furniture online.). Remember that the busiest online buying time is Sunday evening, so make sure to have your listings up on the weekend.
  3. The photograph of the item is key, as this is a visual shopping experience. Take the time to get the right lighting, and keep your backdrops clean and simple. Don’t be afraid to use multiple photos, from different angles. Buckland agrees. “Well-lit photos and detailed descriptions show you take the time and care about your items.”

Pricing is key, and Buckland has a strategy that has worked well for him when putting items up for auction. “I prefer to list items with a reserve, or minimum price, especially for high value items so you can limit any low-ball bids with the upside of a potential bidding war. Also, you can see if bidders have a good history with payment and feedback from other sales.”

Once you’ve perfected the selling of little kid items, you might find you’re in the market for some big kid or adult things you want to buy online. If you’re new, Buckland advises starting out slowly to make sure you know what you’re doing. “Start with low value items sold locally until you get the hang of it.”

Follow these additional tips to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

  1. Set a budget and stick to it. Don’t get caught up in ‘auction fever’ and think about redefining your definition of “new” in terms of value. How important is it for you to have the latest model or is function more important than fashion to you?
  2. Pay attention to the details. Before you push the purchase button, make sure you need this item, at this time. Where is it being shipped from and how much is that adding to the cost? Is the item likely to get damaged in transit? Is it worth the trouble? If you’re buying larger items, pay attention to the exact sizing of the item to make sure it will fit in your home.
  3. Do your research. Find out what similar items cost new, or used. Buckland says eBay works that way both ways for both buyers and sellers. “It’s easy to review similar items to get an idea of their value and what people are willing to pay.” The market will control itself.

Buying and selling items online can be easy and lucrative. Explaining to the kids why you’re boxing up their favourite wagon might just be the hardest part.

This post is proudly sponsored by eBay.

For more of Kathy’s tips and features, listen to Kathy talk travel on What She Said Radio, Saturday nights on Jewel FM; and watch Kathy talk travel on CHCH Morning Live, with her Get Set, Go! travel segment, last Thursday of every month.

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