Want a side hustle to finance holiday buying? Consider selling stuff that you already own. Selling your lightly used possessions frees up space in your house and it generates cash, so you’re less likely to go into debt.
At a time when the worldwide pandemic has left more than six in 10 consumers struggling, nearly half of Americans intend to participate in some sort of side hustle to finance holiday spending, according to a recent survey. Fortunately for the time-constrained, you don’t need to take a second job or accept extra work hours to make money.
Selling things you already own has become a relative snap thanks to dozens of websites that cater to niche buyers and sellers. And while all-purpose sales sites like CraigsList and eBay can be helpful too, many niche sites sell things faster and with less hassle.
Most selling is done online. All you have to do is list what you have for sale and pop the item in the mail.
Side hustle to finance holiday buying
Marykay Carota, for instance, thinks that Poshmark is the perfect place to sell used clothing. Carota started selling clothing six years ago. That’s when she dropped 10 sizes — to an 8 from an 18 — after a gastric bypass surgery. Her closet was full of nice things that she could no longer wear and she wanted to make room for her new wardrobe.
She initially tried selling through eBay. But eBay allows buyers a full month to return goods. Several buyers clearly used Carota’s clothing before returning it, she says. So she turned to Poshmark.
Poshmark gives buyers just 72-hours to return items that they believe have been misrepresented. Otherwise, sales are final. Better yet, Carota says the site hooks into your social media accounts, which helped her plus-sized clothing “fly out the door.”
She’s since built a Poshmark closet –@Mkaay– where she sells her own used clothing as well as items that she picks up in thrift stores. In a typical month, she earns between $900 and $2,000, she says.
Another plus: Poshmark provides the postage.
Two other sites — Mercari and TheRealReal also market themselves as clothing marketplaces. However, SideHusl does not recommend them.
Mercari generates a multitude of complaints about scammy buyers and a system that does little to discourage them. TheRealReal charges exorbitant commissions and strong-arms sellers into reducing their prices to accommodate bargain hunters. TheRealReal also gives itself authority to discount your goods, without your permission, by up to 20%.
Selling furniture with Facebook Marketplace
When it comes to selling furniture, Sally Clary prefers Facebook Marketplace. The allure of Facebook Marketplace is simple — buyers are local and mainly either your friends or friends of your friends, she says. With big items like furniture, the final sale is usually done in person. Being part of the same friend group as the buyer makes the sale feel less risky, she says.
“I’ve tried selling on Offerup and Letgo,” Clary says. “But I didn’t get a lot of traction and I felt less safe. On Facebook, because you are tied to your profile, the person knows who you are. There seems to be a lot more courtesy.”
Clary recently sold all of the furniture she had in her Santa Monica apartment to facilitate a move to Austin, Texas. The whole process took a week, she says. And, she didn’t need to discount items steeply to sell fast.
Like CraigsList, Facebook Marketplace is free to list. The site only charges you if you want the site to “boost” a listing to increase the number of people viewing it. Boosts cost as little as $1 and had a big impact, Clary says. When she decided to sell her bike on her last day in Los Angeles, she spent $1 to “boost” the listing. The bike sold within hours.
Matching items to sites
However, the best site to sell your stuff is going to depend on what you have to sell. While some sites can be used for almost anything, costly items ranging from college text books to wedding dresses are better sold though niche sites.
Here’s our best advice based on what you want to sell:
The best way to sell art will depend on the type of art it is. If you are selling inexpensive art that you had on your walls, a local site like CraigsList or Facebook Marketplace, is likely to be your best bet. On the other hand, when you’re selling expensive art, you’d be wise to sell through an art dealer or a reputable auction house, such as Sotheby’s.
What if you aren’t sure whether it’s good art or bad? Spend the time and effort to get the piece appraised. After all, you don’t want to be the dope that sold a $9 million Jackson Pollock painting for $5.
What if you want to sell art that you created? Take a two-pronged approach. If you’re a professional artist, you should first build your own website to market your originals. But also sign up with print-on-demand sites, such as Society 6 and Redbubble, which will put your art on coffee cups, iPhone cases, t-shirts and hoodies, paying you a royalty on each sale for providing the design.
If you have text books, the best site to sell them is likely to be BookScouter, a marketplace that allows you to find a competitive price by plugging in the book’s ISBN number. If you have rare books, AbeBooks makes a market in rare and out-of-print texts.
What about widely published paperbacks and hard-backed books? If you have access to a local used book seller — or a garage sale — these are your best bets. Barring that, you can donate them to your local library and take a tax deduction for the garage-sale value.
Why not sell to a site like Decluttr? Decluttr promises to buy a wide array of items, including books and videos, but has a bad reputation for losing shipments and paying less than was promised.
China and crystal
A company called Replacements purportedly helps you sell classic china and crystal. However, SideHusl also does not recommend this site. Too many consumers complain that the site reneges on purchase offers once the goods are sent in, dramatically reducing the amount the purchase price. And shipping things that are breakable is tough to do inexpensively.
Both sites charge sales commissions and fees. You are also responsible for shipping the item safely. However, if you have name-brand glassware, these sites are likely to bring in top dollar.
If you are selling a smart phone, electronic device or game, Swappa can connect you with other consumers wanting to buy your device. The consumer-to-consumer model is likely to net sellers the best price. However, a number of resellers may also be interested in buying. For a full explanation for how to sell used electronics, check out our recent blog post “Best sites to sell a cell phone.”
When Tammy, a New York recruiter, ended her 10-year marriage, she lamented about whether to keep her diamond engagement ring. Eventually, she decided that the $17,000 ring was too valuable to sit in a drawer.
She signed up with Worthy and immediately got assigned a personal representative, who explained the sales process.
“Rachel was genuinely empathetic,” Tammy says. “Even though this is just a ring, there’s a psychological connection that was hard to let go of.”
Notably, Worthy was formed specifically to handle the resale of wedding and engagement rings following divorce. While its rare to get full appraised value for any used jewelry, the site is one of two that SideHusl recommends for both providing fair prices and reasonable terms. The other, Circa Jewels, also has a handful of brick-and-mortar offices where you can bring fine jewelry in for an appraisal.
Jewelry can also be sold in person at many local jewelry retailers. However, it’s wise to get several bids when you’re selling an expensive item. Jewelry typically sells for between 40% and 60% of its appraised value, depending on the stone, setting and buyer. Local jewelers often sell to high-end clients. If they happen to have a client with your taste in gems, this can be the ideal option. If not, the online sales sites throw a wider net.
Among the many mini-tragedies of the pandemic are the myriad of cancelled wedding celebrations around the globe. A financial services firm called Loanry estimates that one in ten couples who planned 2020 nuptials are still repaying the cost of weddings that they had to cancel.
Wedding dresses are among the major wedding expenses that are rarely returnable or refundable. However, brides can resell their wedding attire through a handful of sites, such as PreOwned Wedding Dresses, StillWhite and OnceWed. All three sites charge relatively modest fees — $20 to $30 — for advertising your dress on their sites. And your listing remains active for at least a year. That’s important because wedding dresses don’t sell overnight.