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Tap Your Social Network To Buy/Sell Used Stuff

in Sell Your 'Stuff'

Alright, maybe don't sell everything!

Note:  Buying and selling used stuff is one area where my wife takes the most initiative in our household.  Because of this, I will be asking for her input at several points in the post.  Please be nice in the comments…  I don’t want to scare her away for good!

Lately, Courtney and I have been selling all of our possessions in preparation for our move to Australia in early June.  We’ve been actively selling off things for at least 6 months now.  However, as the deadline approaches, we seem to find more and more random crap that has to go.  Surprisingly, most of the things we own are still in pretty decent condition (we’ve only been married two years).

Without a doubt, our most valuable resource has been a little e-mail list called “Everybody for Sale.”

Sorry, you probably aren’t eligible to join.

“Everybody For Sale” is an optional e-mail list that every employee of our local school corporation can join.  My wife teaches at one of the ten schools in the corporation.  That’s ten schools full of teachers, aides, nurses, principals, administrative staff, and even PTO parents. It’s certainly not mandatory, but it might as well be.  Nearly every employee opts to be in the network.  Anyone can post items for sale that are displayed to other members of the list through e-mail.  In addition, people can create “searching for” posts, if they are actively looking for a specific item.

I don’t know how much you know about Midwestern school teachers (mostly women…  sorry, it’s true).  Take it from me that they love to buy random household crap.  This thing is like a mini-Ebay on steroids. I’m not joking when I say that we’ve put up a full list of random items from baby clothes to an Asian lamp, and they’ve sold within MINUTES of being listed.  Most with multiple e-mails offering to buy them at the listed price.

To provide yet another example, we recently had our microwave go out.  We were trying to decide what to do since we are moving in 7 weeks, but unfortunately living without a microwave is pretty hard for me.  I turned to Courtney and said, “I just wish we could find a cheap $20 microwave to get us by until we leave.” Within minutes she was on her e-mail account.  There were no microwaves listed, so she literally sent out the following message:

“Hi, we are looking to buy a microwave for $20.”

The next day after school, Courtney picked up our new microwave from another teacher who was ecstatic to get $20 for his old (but still working) microwave.  Want to know the funny part?  I’d be willing to bet it’ll sell for $30 on the same list in 7 weeks.  Is that morally wrong?  *Shrug*

Courtney’s Take:When I first signed up for Everyone For Sale, I initially caught myself scanning through every single email that entered my inbox.  I remember REALLY wanting to buy this new bed frame, headboard, and dresser.  Someone was getting divorced and didn’t know where else to go to sell their furniture.  Like Adam and I, there are a gazillion people out there that want to get rid of things, but don’t know how or where to begin.  Everyone For Sale was our solution.

In our Financial Peace University class, Dave Ramsey said that going to an auction or a secondhand store isn’t quite like buying from an individual.  Stores and auctions need to make a commission.  An individual is putting it out there to see if anyone else might find it remotely valuable.   I have two specific stories that prove this.  First, I tried to sell bundles of baby clothes to three different consignment stores around our area.  This not only took a lot of work, but I had hardly any bites.  Some of the items still had tags.  So I placed the items on Everyone For Sale.  Within minutes I’d sold the baby clothes for $40.  The funny thing is that I committed too quickly, because later  someone tried to outbid the winner by paying $50.  My second story is that I had a foot bath, and I joked that no one would want it.  I mean, it seems a little unsanitary to use someone else’s foot bath.  I put her up, and I sold my $35 foot bath for $20!  Someone out there DOES want your stuff!

Benefits of buying from people inside of your network

  • Friends, family, and co-workers will often discount the price if they are selling to someone they know.
  • Not paying for shipping.
  • Not waiting on shipping, a.k.a. picking it up yourself.
Courtney’s Take:

  • Buying local uses less resources overall.
  • People who work in the school corporation are trustworthy, aren’t they?

Benefits of selling to people inside of your network

  • Knowing someone will personally benefit from the item.
  • No Listings Fees.
  • Less micro-managing of auctions/listed items.
  • No shipping hassles.
Courtney’s Take:

  • Quick response- you’ll know by the end of the day if people are interested.
  • Users even list cars and houses- the market is very specific to the area

Things we still sell on Craigslist, E-bay, and Amazon

Even with this incredible resource at our fingertips we still occasionally use online sites, as well.

We use Craigslist for:

  • Specific, often times larger items, where we need a bigger market to find an appropriate buyer.  For example, certain types of furniture may not be in demand on the “Everybody for Sale” network.  Craigslist enables us to still sell these bigger items locally by tapping into a much larger audience.  Also, certain types of sporting and fitness equipment might be able to sell better.

We use Ebay for:

  • Collectibles or specific brand-name trinkets.  For example, I sold some of my older Magic: The Gathering cards on Ebay.  In addition, my grandmother passed away and left behind some baskets and beanie babies that also had a much more specific market on Ebay.

We use Amazon for:

  • Selling used books.  Well, at least the ones that sell used for over $5.00.  Anything under that isn’t worth the trouble once Amazon takes their commission.

It’s your turn!  Are there any other networks out there similar to “Everybody for sale?”  If not, have you ever considered starting one?  What type of items do you sell on Craigslist, Ebay,or Amazon?  Do you have any additional benefits to buying or selling used stuff to family, friends, and other members of your network?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle April 21, 2009 at 7:50 AM

You could also look into freecycle for anything you aren’t able to sell, I am pretty sure they will take almost anything on there.

Kyle’s last blog post..My First Experience Shopping at Aldi

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Sarah Mae April 21, 2009 at 8:06 AM

I’m trying to raise $250 in three weeks! I don’t have too much to sell and “networks” to work through. I’m going the ebay route I suppose. Any other suggestions on raising money fast?

Sarah Mae’s last blog post..How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex, Part 4 – Stepping Out In Faith (In This Day and Age, Eight May Not Be Too Young)

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Jacob Duchaine April 21, 2009 at 8:22 AM

I wouldn’t mind having a nice big e-mail list of people to sell to and buy from. That sounds like a good idea.

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kosmo @ The Casual Observer April 21, 2009 at 8:36 AM

I work for a very large Fortune 500 company. We have online classifieds. Literally hundreds of things for sale (or items wanted) each week. I have bought a vintage computer, books, and lots of other stuff. I have also sold a few things. Having thousands of potential local customers is always nice :)

kosmo @ The Casual Observer’s last blog post..A memory like no other

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Alan Schram April 21, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Because I am moving this upcoming weekend, I have also been trying to sell off some of my unneeded possessions. So far, posting things on facebook (link to craigslist ad) seems to have helped.

I also work for a large company that has online classifieds, so I might try that yet to unload some bigger ticket items.

Alan Schram’s last blog post..How to Repay Your Canadian Student Loan

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Kelly April 21, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Sarah Mae have you tried Craig’s List or a local parents group? Maybe even your church bulletin?

We have had success on Craig’s List with bigger items. Yard sales are great for doo-dads, household stuff, and clothes that were handed down to use. Occasionally I will sell toys that way as well.

For most baby/kid stuff I go to my local parenting group and post the items there. (Moms Club, La Leche League, MOPS, etc. are all examples of places you might go where people need used, quality kid/baby stuff.

I’m still trying to find a way to sell older electronics. Craig’s List doesn’t seem to do the trick, I may try Ebay instead.

Kelly’s last blog post..how to be financial partners

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Baker April 21, 2009 at 11:11 AM

@ Kyle – Yeah, we’ve looked into that and/or goodwill for some of our stuff we won’t be able to sell.

@ Sarah Mae – Selling quickly without having the e-mail list, I would suggest a garage sale. Talk to someone in the neighborhood who is already doing one and see if you can pitch some stuff in and give her a small percent. You could have money this Saturday!

@ Jacob – Have you considered starting one around a local group or hobby you have?

@ Kosmo – It’s good to hear that this isn’t the only awesome network out there!

@ Alan – Facebook is a good suggestion. We haven’t ever linked to anything on there, but it wouldn’t hurt.

@ Kelly – Another nice suggestion about local parenting groups that we haven’t used. Ebay might have a more specific market for older electronics, as long as the shipping doesn’t kill you!

Awesome suggestions and comments so far! Anyone have any more?

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MB April 21, 2009 at 1:30 PM

This is a brilliant idea. Do they use some sort of platform or is it just email based? This would be so successful in my neighborhood. We have several active listserves where neighbors communicate a variety of information/topics to one another and people often post there if they are wanting to buy/sell something, but this would be great since it’s ONLY for that. Love it.

Craigslist is pretty good, but you can get some really flaky people on there who never show up when they say they will, etc. It can get annoying when you are trying to sell something. No respect for your time since they don’t know you. I can bet this doesn’t happen when they think you might bad mouth them at the next PTO or neighborhood meeting. ;)

MB’s last blog post..Shopping Consignment Sales

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Trevor @ Financial Nut April 21, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Fantastic idea! I bet you guys don’t have a problem getting rid of anything! :)

Trevor @ Financial Nut’s last blog post..“The Skinny On: The Housing Crisis” By Jim Randel – A Book Review

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Baker April 21, 2009 at 7:20 PM

@ MB – I believe it’s all just e-mail based, although I’ve actually never been on it! You nailed the biggest problem with Craigslist right on the head. I’d much rather sell on there than buy.

@ Trevor – No, not really. :-)

I can’t believe no one mentioned the picture! Haha, maybe it’s just my kind of humor!

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Courtney Baker April 21, 2009 at 7:34 PM

No comment about the item in the forefront of that picture; however, I can’t believe that little table in the background is listed at $60.

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Monica April 29, 2009 at 6:04 AM

It’s really cool to do business with your wife. My hubby likes to go all the way by using social networking sites to sell of stuffs. I wissh you guys the very best.

Monica’s last blog post..Advantages and Disadvantages of an IVA

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Greg / Wise Bread May 21, 2009 at 3:15 AM

This email list was called “etc” at my old job. The for-sale emails were fondly known as “etcbay”.

Greg / Wise Bread’s last blog post..Survive The Bear Market: 10 Steps To Ride The Downturn

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sui December 18, 2009 at 2:14 AM

Wow, this sounds like a great idea. Especially as a money-conscious and frugal (and going to stay that way) student, I wish more people would be willing to buy used, especially since it not only saves resources but also money. It’s just a smarter way to go, in my opinion.
For instance, dorm bedsheets only fit dorm beds, and once I moved out I had no use for them anymore.
Facebook Marketplace isn’t as easy to do it on because not many people use it, at least in my experience. I think freecycling’s a good way to go, too. It’s just harder to sell individual pieces of (very cool/fashionable, too, if I do say so myself) clothing. Hrm, maybe a garage sale..

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