Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How To Sell Your Stuff : Part Three ~ Yard Sales

 Yard sales and I have a love hate relationship. I love going to them. I hate having them. 
For me they seem of all the options I have written about the most time consuming.
While there will be lots of people who will tell you they do really well with a yard sale, 
I live in an area where the weather is perfect for yard sales 10 months out of the year 
(the other 2 it just too hot). And it is also at the moment a economical hard hitting area. 
So, those two things coupled together.....lots of sales & little money make 
yard sales here a chore. It has to be CHEAP to sell. 
This is why I typically will try other avenues first for my items that I think are 
worth a bit more. I hold my items that are lower priced for yard sales. 
When I have enough items, then and only then 
will I hold on. All that negativity aside, I make on average $300 for the weekend. 
Again, you will get better or worse results depending on your area. 
This is enough  $$$ for me to make it worth it to sit outside for 2 or 3 days. I have a sale 
about once every year or two at the most. Here lately, every 2 years. During that time
I use the first two methods I posted about here and here to cull the piles down. 
Later we will talk about those piles and how to get off the re-sell hamster wheel. 
But for now, here are my top tips! 

Top 10 Tips For Having a Successful Yard Sale 

1. Advertise.
I put up an ad on our very active Craigslist the Tuesday before we have the sale. 
Then again I will put up a fresh ad on the morning of the sale. Make sure you add 
any photos of big ticket item, or sought after items. 
Also give your address and a link to your address in Mapquest. 
This tip will draw customers more so as now they don't even have to look 
up how to get to your home, you have done all the work for them. 
On CL, make sure you denote some of the items you will have for sale so that when 
people do keyword searches, your ad comes up as well.
Make sure signs are up at obivous places if this is your method of advertising. 
I would go out a day or two before hand to post them up. We use our signs as a directional and get most of our traffic from CL. 

2. Open early and stay late.
My yard sales run from 8 am to 4 pm. But typically I am ready to go by 7:15 as 
I am not bothered by early birds. This just means I  have items someone 
wants and they want them bad enough to wait for me to open that garage door! 
I stay late because most yard sales in our area close up around 1 pm. 
I get a lot of last minute sales. And I am happy to have them. 
I cut deals because I want this stuff GONE.

Huge pet peeve as a yard sale shopper, is having to ask the price of items. 
Mark your items clearly and in a way that is easy to figure out. If your clothing is different prices, please do not put them on a table and hang a sign that says, 
"Children's clothes $1, Ladies clothes $3.." etc. Do yourself a favor, go your
favorite discount store and for $2 grab yourself some of these pre-printed price stickers. 
Stick them on the clothing. It takes just a few minutes. What I do is I stick the 
price on the tag inside the item and then have my oldest daughter come behind me 
and staple it to the tag. This ensures the price sticker stays in place. 
That also means someone other than me can take the money. There is no confusion. 

4. Display it.
Make sure your items are displayed in a way that customers can reach them 
without issue and they are displayed, not just thrown in a box. 
I try to group like items together, that way if someone is looking for stemware, 
all of my options are there for them to choose from. In yard sales customers like to
buy in volume as it always means discount, so feed that spirit of 'if 1 is good, 
then 12 is great' by keepingyour items together and in a way they can see all their options.

5. Price it sell. 
I have been to yard sales and seen throw pillows for $10. There is no doubt in my 
mind that lady was dragging those throw pillows back in with her at the end of the day. 
While sometimes it hurts if you have paid good money for an item to only sell it 
so cheap there is also pain in having to store items you don't use or want anymore either. 
Just like it makes no sense to buy an item you don't want or need just because it is cheap.
There is also no reason to hold on to an item you don't want or need just because you paid a lot of money for it. Try the first two methods of selling those items first. 
Then if all else fails decide if you can let it go or not. You ever price an item for a 
yard sale too high with the notion you will NOT sell it for any lower than that, 
chances are you won't sell it.
You have to be flexible. You have to keep in mind this is a yard sale, 
not Christie's Auction House. 
And you have to realize you probably already got your monies worth from 
the item, time to let it go. If it has memories attached & you are questioning selling it, 
then don't. Keep it or better yet give it to a family member who will also cherish 
the memory attach with it.

6. Give something away.
This little trick is a way to reduce clutter and attract customers. 
At the end of my drive, I sit out a cardboard box with odd and ends that are just not worth selling (think McDonald's toys, stocking stuffers, small trinkets) with the words 
"FREE, take one or some!" 
I find that if I fill this with kids item, parents are so appreciative. 
Children get something to occupy them while they shop and it didn't cost them anything. 
Before someone asks....YES, I have had grown adults pick up the whole box before
and walk away with it. To which I just put palm to forehead and try not to be too angry. 
I usually do not keep all of my free items in the box. I have my middle child in the lulls in crowds refill it with our stash we keep back. 

7. Be kind.
I have been to many sales where people who are selling are gruff and unkind.
This kind of behavior is off putting to say the least. My general rule of thumb is I try to
thank each person as they walk away whether they bought something or not. I will just
call out, "Thanks for stopping by, have a great day!" It keeps my spirit in check. 
And I AM very grateful they stopped by whether they bought or not.
I also try to greet everyone who comes up as well.
A smile & hello, a smile & a joke about the heat always works too around these parts. 
Smile smile smile smile.
It makes the customers feel comfortable, which means they shop longer and it keeps my spirit up as well. 

8. Have change.
This is a no brainer but you would be shocked at how many sales our family 
has gone to where the seller is not prepared. I typically will get almost $150 or 
more in change for a sale. Being that I shop sales more than I have them, 
I am well aware my ATM doesn't give me singles or quarters.
Don't think as a seller but as a buyer!

9. Have helpers.
If your selling large items, have some muscles around to help customers carry it out. 
It helps cinch the sale sometimes. Also my daughters will help people who have bought an armload out to their cars. Also, my hubby and I will both be money takers. 
It helps ease the wait and people appreciate that. 
Generally I have found that if you be helpful then you will have customers who stick around longer because of it.  Longer they stay, usually the more they buy!

10. Make deals.
My concept is this, the more you buy the cheaper it is! And customers love this.
I give discounts even when they don't ask. If their items came to $10.75 I will say, 
'How about $10 even?'
Customers feel your honesty and you save your quarters.

I know these tips might be pretty common but I have found these are just 
the ones that work for me. I hope this whole series has helped you with the items you 
are purging from your home. And I want to encourage you to stick around because I am doing another series that is relative to this one.I am starting a new series soon ...
'Purging : How to get your life back from your stuff!'

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How To Sell Your Stuff : Part Two ~ Craigslist

{ If you missed Part One of this series, you can check it out here!}

I use Craigslist a lot. To sell and to buy. We are lucky to live in an area with a rather
active Craigslist site. I know some of you have told me that yours is not very
helpful at all. However, even if you have a slow site I still believe you can sell your
items on there. It might take longer than someone in a larger city but with patience
and determination you can get it done.

I reserve Craigslist for thing I can't or won't sell on eBay. For instance, I just
sold our 7 foot tall and 10 feet long entertainment center on Craigslist. Right now,
I have some excess laundry baskets as well as various housewares listed. If an item
is too heavy to ship (i.e. furniture) then I always put it on Craigslist. Or if the item is
not worth the expense of eBay posting (i.e. some Walmart dishes), then I put it on there.
Those $5 sales DO add up. Here is how I make sure they do.

Top 10 Craigslist Selling Tips

1. The more you list, the more you sale.
When I list items, even furniture, I try to make multiple listings of various things.
I have always found when shopping Craigslist, just like yard sales, people are willing
to buy more if your willing to give a better deal. I make it easy for the buyer to see all my items
by making a special phrase in my listing that they can search.
Crockpot for sale $10
I have more items for sale, just search MichelesTreasures for all my listings.
The more you buy, the better the deal!

2. Be clear.
Make sure you describe the item as well as possible. Pictures do not
always do it justice. Also be clear the area you live in and how much you want
 for the item. Make sure you give the buyer a way to contact you as well.
I have seen many posts where someone does not check the email settings 
and fails to leave a way to get in touch with them.  

3. Never give out your personal information in the ad.

Always check the anonymize email address. And never include your address or phone number.
I know you see many people do this, but unless you want random people showing up at all
hours of the day then make sure to protect your information.

4. Research your price.
There are a lot of people who make a living off Craigslist that will disagree with my next
advice but I have found it to work and it also makes me feel like I have passed on a good deal.
Price your items just as you would if your having a yard sale.
Unless your item is a rare collectible (which I would then suggest it go on eBay) then
make sure your items are reflecting their used condition. Now, what you price your
yard sale items at and what I do may be two different things. Use your own logic there.
Remember, I am looking to move items out of my home. If I make some money along the way,
that is great. However, this by no means is advice how to  make a living off eBay or Craigslist.
Just a way of putting some change back in your pocket.

5. When to post.
I find that since postings are renewable (putting them back at the top of the list) every 3 days
then posting on Tuesday and VERY early Saturday morning is helpful. If you can only
post one day I would suggest Saturday morning. People are often checking out yard sale
postings and/or getting time to sit down after working all week. Your items will be fresh and
on the top of the pile for them to pick.

6. Decide where to meet.
If the item is transportable without much effort, then pick out a central meeting place
for you to meet your buyer. Most like that they don't have to figure out how to get to your
place and that you have safed them time & money. It also helps with what I said tip #3, in
that your address and home is kept safe.

7. Get ready to wait.
I have items take minutes to sale and a month to sale. It depends on the item and who
is looking at the sale ads at the time. Be prepared to wait it out. If your needing money quick, then
yard sale or 3 day auction on eBay may be a better alternative. Craigslist is unpredictable in the time frame of making a sale. You can have the best item, the best photos, the best price, the best description but if the people who want it don't log on to search for it, then it becomes a waiting game.

8. Learn the scams.
Cash only and in person. If you stick to that then you won't be suckered into these scams
going around. No bank transfers, no checks, no Paypal or even trades most of the time.
My hubby has done trades quite successfully on Craigslist. But he knew what the value of
the item was and was very knowledgable on the items. His advice, unless your a collector or
expert on the item, don't do a trade. The rest of these offers I listed up there are 200%
scams. If you keep the motto, cash and in person, you won't be fooled.

9. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Just like eBay, communication with your potential buyers is very important. Make sure you
can answer emails promptly. Otherwise you are going to miss sales. You have be prepared
to invest your time in this or things won't move.

10. Delete your ad.
Once you have sold your item, delete your ad. That way people know the item is sold.
And you don't have to field anymore emails!

Watch for Part Three coming soon....how to hold a successful yard sale! :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

How To Sell Your Stuff : Part One ~ eBay

In ahead of our move I have ramped up our purging efforts here lately.
We took one van full load to Goodwill last week. I did not count how much was in it because I know
it was well over 200 items. I also sit a pile of items to the curb, made a free post in 
Craigslist and watched it disappear in a matter of minutes. Still, there is more here. Sadly.
What I am faced with now is a collection of items I want to sell. 
So, I turn to my favorite places to sell these unwanted items that have lots of life left in them.
 eBay & Craigslist.
I find these to work better for me than yard sales. However, I do have those as well.
I typically have a selling filtered process that goes like this : post on eBay, then move unsold items
after 2 re-listings to Craigslist, then move unsold items from Craiglist to either sell or donate pile.
 Then once I have a good sale pile, I have a yard sale. Whatever is left over gets donated.
Because I am fairly successful in moving items, I am often ask for my best tips for eBay, Craigslist or Yard Sales. I am sharing them with you in a 3 part series. Today, we will start with eBay!
Top 10 eBay Tips
 1. Describe & show what you sell in detail. 
Over describe it. Make sure the buyer can
make an informed decision about this purchase. They will like your abundance of information. 
Pictures, pictures and more pictures. Make sure to denote the smallest of flaw. 
You want to cover yourself and inform your buyer. It may turn away a few buyers but
chances are this is the widget they were longing for, so the small scratch does not matter to them.

 2. Dump Reserve Pricing.
This is just a way to lure people in and it feels (as a buyer on eBay) deceptive. 
Just use the lowest price you will take for it as your starting off point. 
I tell people price it at the beginning at a price you won't cry for hours over if it sells.

3. Use BUY IT NOW.
Often as a buyer, I want something and do not want to wait. If I see an item that is priced 
what I wanted to pay to begin with, I am going to skip the bidding process and make it mine, now.

4. Do your research prior to pricing.
There is a saying I use so often which is, Something is only worth what someone will pay for it.
While a silver expert site may say your great grandmother's silverware is worth $1000, if you research
eBay and see it is selling consistently for $600, then price it accordingly to what is selling. 

5. Relist.
Things will not always sell the first go around. Be patient and relist. Take that time before
relisting to make any changes to your description. Also research one more time prices and make
any necessary changes there. eBay offer 50 free listings a month, so it cost you nothing if you stay under 
that number. Also, check your email as eBay will offer many days within that month of listing specials. 
Use them to your advantage if your unloading lots of item.

News flash, there is NO free shipping. Sellers who use this ploy have already factored in the 
shipping to their item. I find it does not attract more buyers than a low price and basic shipping. 
 I have Power Seller status and have never offered free shipping. Most if not all buyers 
know that the free shipping is being absorbed somewhere. This is a marketing ploy.
Your buyers are smart, treat them the way you want to be treated and you will get the sales you need.

Free boxes, fast shipping, discounts through Paypal, scheduled pick ups, supplies delivered to your
doorstep. How much more easier can it be?

8. Charge EXACT shipping.
If your going to need to buy packing supplies, please factor that in to your pricing before hand.
I like to glean free supplies from Craigslist or Freecycle and word of mouth. 
Packing peanuts and bubble wrap CAN be attained for free. If those means can not be used
in your area, go stores that would get in breakable items, ask for their packing material they are tossing. 
Most if not all will gladly give it away to you! 
Exact shipping builds trust in your buyers. Priority Flat Rate is a good way to get around weight issues 
and figuring out how much to ship. Just make sure you aren't charging $12 to ship a $5 item. Give the buyers options on ways to ship. If the item is lightweight and not fragile, I will also give a Parcel Post price.
Giving your buyer choices will ensure they will feel as if they are being catered to.

9. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Answer questions promptly. Let the buyer know when their item shipped ASAP.
Communication is a great key in encouraging buyers.

10. Make time.
eBay items need your time. You need to not post it and forget until 7 days later. You need to monitor
your auctions for questions, concerns and bidding. Nothing more frustrating then stating no sales overseas,
ignoring your auction for 7 days only to see the winning bidder is in Japan. Taking the time to pay attention to detail will save you time, show you where you can make changes (if necessary) and get the sales your after.

These are just a few of the things I employ when selling on eBay. If you have questions, please put them in
the comment section. I love helping others find more sustainable ways to move items out
of their life! Remember, re-selling is the ultimate in recycling!

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Friday, July 13, 2012

How is your week going?

This sums mine up.
I just put it out today.
Next to the doorbell.
Can't take no more.

Happy Friday the 13th y'all! ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Plant Based Plastic - Worst Idea Ever.


         For whatever reason, ever since I saw that many companies were now using this new compostable 
plant based plastic (PLA aka corn plastic)... it felt like 'green washing' to me. I had theories on why it wasn't ringing true with me. One being the assertion that it uses less oil that petroleum based plastic. I knew that to be untrue. In fact, I would argue it actually uses more oil than its counter part beccause it creates more consumption in areas of production.While corn based plastics contribute less greenhouse gases in the manufacturing process, I am not sure it really negates the pollution that is produced by growing, harvesting and transporting the tons of GMO corn that is needed to make it. I think when the end of the day comes, your about even in the amount of pollution as traditional plastic. However, it would be safe to say at this point, it uses the same if not more oil to produce it as regular plastic. The statement that these manufactures make about less pollution does not factor in is how much oil is used in the planting, growing and harvesting of the plant needed. Just in the manufacturing process. 

The second part I found to be sketchy is this...we are trusting BIG AG again to answer our concerns.
These are the mighty fine people who brought you genetically modiefied, industrial farming and CAFO's.
They are to be trusted? Not in the least bit.
They are trying to address consumer demands with something that is not necessarily what is best for the consumer. We ask for less plastic and less oil consumption. In turn they give us a product that can not be recycled, it can not be composted at home, only can be composted in a facility set up for such thing, it contaimnates recycling centers if you mindlessly throw it in with your recycling and is made from GMO corn. That is not progress. That is BIG AG trying to sell us on why they need to produce more GMO corn.  

 By the way, did you catch that?
PLA is made from GMO corn here in the US. The same thing we are demanding to come to an end.
Also it is produced by companies like Cargill (owner of NatureWorks, one of the largest PLA pushers).
Who is a corn giant that deals in fossil fuels. By fossil fuels I mean, oil. But the irony doesn't stop. Cargill owns many conflicting companies. One that touts the perfection of PLA as an environmental band-aid to reduce our dependency on the oil and at the same time owns companies that also tell us that oil is still the product of the future and that peak oil and our consumption are just fine. Which one is it?

Also, note that in order to COMPOST these items, it requires high heat. These are not recyclable. These do not naturally compost in the ground with other material. Home composting is not an option.
Recyclers are also finding since it melts at a lower heat than traditional PET plastic, it is causing a problem for their facilities. It can not be put in curb side recycling and it can't compost at home. Where does it end up at?
In the landfill. Which is what we wanted to avoid.

 What is the solution?
That depends on your school of thought. If you are of the thought that since we introduced plastic in the last 75 years that we now can not live without plastic then the solution is not simple. While some say all plastic can not be avoided I would agree to an extent. I think it would be safer to say, all plastic for the home can be avoided. In the very least, our consumption can be drastically cut by using better alternatives.
Glass is an alternative product that I can get behind. It is made from silca. Sand. We don't depend on sand to eat, to be massively produced, nor do we need it to be sprayed or fertizled or modified. 
Unlike its plastic competition it is an inert material that does not pose a danger to consumers.
It also is 100% recyclable with no life span. Meaning, it can be recycled a million times without
any loss to the product. Unlike plastic which can only be recycled a few times and
then ends up in a landfill despite our best efforts.

I am all for alternative means to an end. But I am also against green washing.
When Big Ag, who caters to Big Oil, produces the answer then why do we assume that they have our best interest?They don't. But what they are counting on is uninformed consumers. That has always been the way they have remained in control. They are counting on you to not do your research and
to accept every 'green' option at face value with no research to back it up.
Don't be uninformed. Do your research on green alternatives.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Just Could Not Do It

I tried.
I really did.
I tried to tell myself, it's organic!
I even had it in my cart for awhile.
But I looked at my children, looked at them and sadly said, put them back.
What was it?
Pints of Blueberries. 5 of them to be exact.
It isn't that I dislike bluenerries.
We love them and they are rare treat around here because organic blueberries tend to be costly.
These weren't though. Organic and only $2 a pint, that is cheap.
So cheap in fact that I put 5 plastic tubs of them in my carts.
Did you catch that part?
Five plastic tubs of them.
I think the real name for them is plastic clam shells.
I just kept looking at all that plastic.
Why why why am I at a earth friendly-green-organic store and seeing such wasteful packaging?
I looked in my cart again.
And then I saw this...
More plastic.
Lots of it.
Some of it we can not avoid or so I think at this point, I am sure I am wrong.
But I just could not justify these purchases when it so covered in single thing I am working feverishly to erradicate from my home. It felt wrong.
So, I put it back. ALL of it back.
Much to the man in the green apron confusion, who was working in the produce department .
Him : "Changed your mind?"
Me : "Yes. I can't buy it cause it is wrapped in so much plastic."
Him ( blinks hard) : "Not sure we have organic cauliflower that isn't wrapped."
Me : "That's okay. I can do without."
Him (blinks harder) : "..."
Nothing my friends, nothing.
I know this confused him. How do I know?
As I walked away and went about looking for non-plastic
encased produce he went over to the flower girl, in her nifty green apron,
with my organic cauliflower in his hand.
To which they had a 5 minute conversation about I am going to safely assume was
 my ridculous notion that produce shouldn't be drowning in plastic.
Afterall, how do we keep it fresh?!
I tell you how.
You buy in season and locally as much as possible.
Cauliflower is not remotely in season here.
But blueberries are.
We have a whole U-Pick of blueberries at our disposal.
Cauliflower is harder to wait for because I am not sure it is even grown here in Floirda.
However I am pretty certain if I wait until Fall & go to the Farmers Market I can find some without plastic and then ask where it is grown.
(Note: Florida has the opposite growing season. Our winter is your summer and our summer is your winter)
But until then, things continue to jump out of my cart because I can not unlearn this stuff.
I find myself really examining my items. Thinking about alternatives to what I assume is necessary.
I am finding that I can make a lot more things then I think I can.
I can do without things I thought was necessary.
In the process, I can do better things for someone who isn't me.
And that feels good.
That feels better than eating blueberries.