The Dying Art of the Garage Sale.

It occurred to me this past weekend, as I sifted through the disaster zone that is my closet, that garage sales are rapidly becoming not only inefficient but inconvenient. In an age of Amazon, eBay, and craigslist, I would never consider holding a garage sale. There is a place on the internet for the sale of nearly everything. Not only can things be listed from the comfort of your own home, but often you simply mail out the sale item. The ease of this process is undeniable, and for some people it has made the hassle of organizing a garage sale a waste of time.

Another factor working against the garage sale is the potential value of the items. In my experience, things at garage sales sell for seriously marked down prices (a matter of cents for books, perhaps dollars for larger items). For example, a book that might sell for 25 or 50 cents at a garage sale can be sold for $2, $5, or more. That’s quite an increase in profit! There are exceptions of course (many ‘Used’ books go for just 1 cent on Amazon), but a used book in perfect condition (I tend to take very good care of my books) can be sold as ‘New.’ Textbooks, in my experience, have also sold for at the very least 200% the buy-back price of school and local bookstores. Larger items (like the $70  hockey skates I just bought for $20) can be sold on your local craigslist for higher prices than would be purchased at a garage sale. They can also be sold on eBay, which has even greater potential for a higher sale price (but often includes a shipping cost).

I’ve made several hundred dollars using online sites to sell personal items and books. It has been an additional source of revenue for me over the years, and while it doesn’t inflate my bank account much, any extra money helps! I also recently read this post by Amanda over at Grad Meets World about adding additional streams of revenue to your income. In the same  day I came across this post at Lifehacker. Check it out and maybe you’ll get rich just a little bit quicker!

No longer is the garage sale a necessary way to sell things for profit. You heard it here first, I am officially abandoning it for the online marketplace! You are dead to me, garage sale.

Anyone else sell things online? What do you like/dislike about garage sales?


10 responses to “The Dying Art of the Garage Sale.

  • Daniella Bondar

    I have not been to a garage sale in so long, I don’t think I miss it, usually they are a little awkward. I don’t like people watching me evaluate their junk. But I do love flee markets, those are a lot of fun.

  • Teacher Girl

    Ooh, I need to check out those other posts! I don’t sell much online now, but I sold almost all my college textbooks online after each semester and I would get back like double or more what the bookstore offered at buyback. I have also sold barely worn shoes on e-bay for more than I paid for them in store. Same thing with purses and camera equipment.

    I think the problem is that with garage sales, people look only for the dirt cheap deals. You can’t sell anything for what you would get for it online.

    Love this post =)

    • Eric

      Exactly: people go to garage sales because they want something for practically pennies and nickels.

      Once I finish up with grad interviews and start working full-time, I’m going to seriously consider opening up another stream of revenue (after all, it’s on my list of resolutions). Whenever that occurs, it’s sure to become a post! Please let me know if you find any success with it yourself! =P I know you’ve said you’re in uncertain financial times, hopefully you can find a way to ease the burden a bit!

  • Deidre

    I’ve never sold anything online and that’s partly because I just don’t really buy things on line. I mean used things, of course I buy just things on line. So it never occurs to me to sell them on line.

    • Eric

      Well it’s always worth looking up a book or another item on amazon to see what you might be able to get for it online. After some simple math, you can determine if it’s worth it or not.

  • Sarah

    Love selling stuff online: textbooks, concert tickets, old outdoor gear, bigger stuff like that. I am kind of tempted to host a garage sale at some point when I just have too much junk that really can’t be sold online. If I’m thinking about just throwing it out or donating it to Goodwill anyway, why not have a garage sale first to see if I can at least make a little money off it before giving it the final heave?

  • Robin

    I would never hold a garage sale of my own because that seems like 1000x too much work but I like to stop by them sometimes in the summer if I’ve got cash in my pocket!

  • Robin

    Also I love selling things online – and of course buying things online but often if I have something that’s old and I don’t care to post it online, take photos, determine the price, logistice pick up etc. I’ll just drop it off at goodwill. the cleaning process is freeing.

  • Nicole Fleming

    Buying stuff online compared to a garage selling is a rip off! I made a thousand dollars this month going to garage sales and buying furniture and selling it on craigslist. I will buy a 15 dollar sofa and turn around and sell it for 270 bucks on craigslist. Garage sells are significantly lower price than flea markets, ebay or craigslist. I have even started a clothing resale business finding clothes at garage sales. What i do is go to craigslist and screen for furniture or designer clothing that is going to be at a garage sale. I might go to 3 garage sales i mapped out and come back with the motherload. I made a 1200 dollars this month just selling furniture. As for selling at garage sales, don’t expect much, sell stuff if you desperately need a quick buck and it’s junk.

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