Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Deaccessioning: 4 ways to get rid of your stuff



When a museum decides to remove a piece of art from their collection, it's called "deaccessioning". It's really just a fancy word for getting rid of stuff. But it makes me happy to think of refining my collection rather than just making things go away.

Regardless what you call it, you have a bunch of options.


1. Have a yard sale

If you have a lot of household items to dispose of, holding a garage sale or yard sale can be a good option. You get to move a lot of things quickly without the hassle of trying to package up and ship stuff. The downside is that garage sale shoppers are looking for a stellar bargain so if you are looking to get more than a couple dollars for something, you might not sell very much.


2. Sell stuff on eBay, Etsy or Craigslist

For those more valuable items, selling online can work well. However, keep in mind that there will be some set-up involved. Selling on Craigslist is quite simple, but most people are going to be looking for larger things like furniture and electronics. Valuable pieces can sell on Craigslist, but here too, many shoppers are looking for bargain prices.

For smaller items, eBay and Etsy let you broaden your audience. To sell vintage on Etsy, you will need to set up a store and a shop account at the very least. You can also take Paypal payments. This is definitely more time-intensive, but if you plan on continuing to bring new things in as you send old things out, it might be worth it to have such a thing set up. Keep in mind that anything sold on Etsy needs to be either handmade or made before 1994.

eBay is another good option for selling vintage wares. That said, the marketplace is much more crowded now than it was a few years ago and even the least internet-savvy of buyers now have discovered the ability to buy on eBay. This is why eBay is no longer my first choice. After being repeatedly hassled to reduce shipping prices, lie on customs forms and break up item sets, I only sell on eBay as a last resort. However, if you have just a few items to sell and you're not planning on making a habit of it, eBay can be a good option.

With both Etsy and eBay, be very careful in your packaging so pieces do not break in shipment and keep in mind that if you weigh your items incorrectly, you can be out quite a lot of money in shipping costs, particularly when selling to international buyers. Be very mindful when you post those weights and shipping costs and keep track of what you spend on shipping!


3. Consignment

For large furniture or big ticket items, consignment can sometimes be better than trying to sell things yourself on eBay or Craigslist. You don't have to deal with shipping and buyers can inspect your items in person. However, retail space does not come cheaply. Most consignment stores will take as their fee 50% of the value of the sale.

I recently took some items in for consignment so I could report back on the process. First, I had to make an appointment by calling the same day I intended to come in. It actually took me three tries as the first two days I called, the appointment slots were already filled five minutes after the store opened. Second, there was an up-front annual fee to consign of $20. This was even before anyone had looked at the items I brought with me. Third, consignment stores are very serious about condition. Items in poor condition with chips, cracks or stains will be refused. Finally, once your items sell, you will need to know the policy for getting your money. This store sends a check at the end of the month if you provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope. If not, you need to pick up your check at the store.


5. Donation

Donation isn't necessarily the last resort, though it may seem like it's costing you money. First of all, you're usually helping out a worthy charity when you donate, though be cautious of the for-profit thrift stores that are popping up. Make sure you know who your donation is supporting. Second, don't forget to get a receipt. Feel free to make detailed notes of what you gave right on your receipt, save it for tax time and don't forget to follow IRS regulations. Finally, some thrift stores will give you a coupon for a future purchase if you make a donation. Usually it's something like $5 off a $25 purchase. It never hurts to ask if your favorite store has this policy.


How do you dispose of things you no longer love? Have you ever tried any of the above options?

Linking up to: New Nostalgia Anti-Procrastination Tuesday
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