Garage Sale This Weekend + Pricing Your Secondhand Items

So, assuming the weather holds up (there's a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms here in Fresh Meadows), we're having a yard sale at my place this Sunday (the 29th). You can email me at if you want to attend. While I was sorting through my monumental amounts of crap looking for stuff to sell, I started thinking about our tips and tricks for pricing goods in the secondhand market.

There are basically three categories of things. There are things that go for a standard rate at every rummage sale in a given locale. There are "collectible" things that are available on the internet at auction sites. And there are things you need to do your research on, or have a reasonable sense of the value of, in order to price them.

Standard rate stuff is your media (VHS, DVDs, books, records, CDs), games, crafts, regular clothes, kitchen crap. If you price this stuff too high, no one will look at it. If you price it too low, you won't get good money out of it. The exception here is if you have 2500 CDs (or whatever) you want to unload. Then, you want to price things to encourage bulk purchasing.

At our sale, we're unloading our entire VHS collection (which is probably in the neighborhood of 200). This is just enough that we should price them to move. Standard VHS pricing is two for $1 at tag sales in the area and 25-cents each at garage sales in the area. So we should price them at 25-cents each, get the fifth free, make offers on the whole collection, yadda yadda.

Standards DVD prices in the area are $2 to $4 each. Books: 25-cents each to two for $1. Records: flat $1 per record, cheaper but variable for 45s. CDs: $1 to $2 each. Games: $1 to $2 each. Video games: $2 to $4 each for recent platforms and sell them at Game Stop for brand new platforms. T-shirts: $1 or less, no matter what brand they are. Designer stuff has a little more wiggle room, but not on t-shirts. Suits: $20 or less, including obscure designers. More is okay for designers people actually know and care about in the area. If no one knows who Alexander McQueen is where you live, sell it on eBay.

No one is really going to care if you think your record is collectible. They're a dollar at sales, so you should try to sell them to a record store if they're truly valuable. They'll have a way of getting damaged outside, anyway. Price your items at market price for your area or people are going to get pissed and leave. If you don't care if they leave because you think your stuff is too valuable, you should not have a sale. Get real before you get on board. Visit other sales and stop regarding your stuff as somehow more special than everyone else's stuff. It isn't.

Collectible things. Silver, gold, crystal, collectible toys, name brand electronics, stuff like that. Use eBay as your litmus test. Ronnie cannot stress this to homeowners enough. Dealers and collectors know the price of EVERYTHING on eBay and you should, too, before you try to sell it. Here's how you figure out what you can price it: Do a search on the exact same item on eBay. In the completed listings (you can select this option in the left-side search bar), find the highest prices people actually PURCHASED the item for (this will be listed in green, not red). Now, you can reasonably sell this item for LESS than that. If you found your exact Waterford glass in the exact same condition on there for $40, you can reasonably mark it $35 and take offers over $25.

We aren't selling any mint condition items with big names at our sale. We are, however, selling some silver without big names. People will buy this for its sterling weight and its ornateness. Price this kind of thing by finding a similarly-sized and worked piece on eBay and marking it somewhere (at least 10 percent) lower.

Now, researchable stuff. This is stuff like art and gallery pieces. Ronnie's contacts and sources on these things are specific, varied and personal. If you can't contact the gallery that sold it to you about how to sell it, you need to go to an auction house. Don't try to sell it yourself unless there might be demand for it and you're willing to sell it distinctly (at least 40%) below market value just to get rid of it.

We don't have anything like that. We're still struggling college kids, people.

My final opinion: unless you are incredibly savvy about, and immersed in, the secondhand market, consider getting help from a local company. We know ALL of the people that come to these things and we know how to deal with them. Most of us offer our services at any step along the way, from set-up to pricing to actually conducting the sale, so you can still have help if you feel like you need to be more hands-on.

A quick picture or two of the chaos that ensued here as I sorted through my crap for our sale:


  1. The sad part is that doesn't include any of what's in my closets or on my rack. The sadder part is that I really only weeded out about five percent of it.

    I think I'm going to have to introduce a rule where I get rid of one thing every time I want a new thing. Maybe even two things.

    I can't help it, though. I love clothes and I hate doing my laundry on a regular basis.

  2. You're a pro. BTW, I love this blog.

    I had to instate a one-in-one-out policy because OMG stuff! I think having three floors excited me a leeeetle too much. The fact that I was filling up the place with new stuff quicker than I unpacked my old stuff, I realized I had a problem. Hee.

  3. Aw, thanks.

    Yeah, that's exactly the place I'm in. Doesn't it feel SO GREAT getting rid of things when you have too many? I'm loving it.

  4. Totally. My home feels so much better when there is a place for everything. More importantly, when there is ROOM for everything. It's liberating.

    PS -- I miss you.

  5. woah, this blog is great. I love garage sale philosophy.

  6. @ Miche: I miss you, too. Like, seriously. HwJ is so far from here!

    @ JO: Thanks. This blog thinks you're great, too.

    Seriously people, go read because it's brilliant.


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