- Use Facebook Marketplace for selling common household items
- Consider Nextdoor and craigslist as backup
- keep eBay for hard-to-sell, unusual items, for a (painful) fee
Strictly speaking, selling your (used/old/no longer needed) goods isn’t a savings activity. Or is it? I have to admit that, as good as savings feels, it might be just a bit more satisfying unloading your crap for a surprising amount.
Selling stuff feels like finding pennies from heaven. And de-crapifying your life is reward in itself. Just as there’s always a better deal, there’s someone out there anxious to inherit your detritus. Count on it.
Some caveats, of course. This assumes you have stuff worth buying; small electronics and gadgets are always re-sellable. But don’t be shy; I’ve been gob-smacked to see what “worthless” junk will sell for. And in the case of in-person selling (more on that shortly), it helps to live in a reasonably affluent population center with willing buyers around.
eBay: the Granddaddy of them all
eBay was of course the first online “flea market,” and has a huge audience. The original approach of auction selling on eBay seem to be on the wane, as more “buy it now” fixed price selling takes over. That takes some of the excitement out of eBay, in my eyes, but I’ll trade excitement for cash any time.
The problem with eBay is fees, plain and simple. There are just too many, they’re too high, and they’re hard to estimate until the bills come in for your sales, usually weeks/months after the fact.
Now, I mainly use eBay to sell unusual, hard-to-find items that demand a big online audience to care – that is, things I’d never find buyers for in my local area. Common commoditized electronics – like mobile phones – aren’t as attractive because of fees. Though cheap to ship, eBay takes around 10% of your final price (note: *including* shipping) BEFORE you get nicked another chunk for paypal charges. eBay fees vary by category, so it pays to get to know their fee structure before you sell.
Craigslist: selling in the shadows
The risks and rewards of craigslist are well known.
Can’t beat the price ($0, except for job postings), but sensibly, sellers are reluctant to meet unknown buyers in dark alleys. But that’s on you! Craigslist is why Starbucks exists, for pete’s sake.
I’ve had good luck selling cheap household items on craigslist – furniture, lawn mowers, etc – but I get it if the whole idea creeps you out.
Facebook Marketplace: up and coming
Now we’re getting to the good stuff.
As a rule, I avoid Facebook like the plague, but the Facebook Marketplace is a new favorite.
I’m consistently stunned by how fast Facebook is at bringing local buyers out of the woodwork, and how much they pay. There’s some kind of unspoken code of full price payment on Facebook that I don’t – and really don’t care to – understand. All for the attractive price of nada. Other than your personal data and privacy, of course.
Naturally, you need a Facebook account to play here, and I fully understand the risk that entails, not to mention the general revulsion Facebook engenders, at least for me. As I said, Marketplace is literally the only function Facebook serves for me, and even that creates a bit of skin-crawling.
But money talks, baby.
Nextdoor: a “trusted” marketplace
Nextdoor is a brilliant concept: Facebook for your local area only, closed to outsiders. And of course, investors love it too, since it presents great monetization opportunities.
You need to be “admitted” to Nextdoor by your neighborhood “lead,” who in theory vets you for inclusion. It’s not as scary or involved as it sounds, so join if haven’t already. You’ll need it next time you’re looking for a plumber.
I’ll list my stuff on Nextdoor knowing that the odds of dangerous strangers showing up at my door (or Starbucks’) is reduced. Only people you live near and maybe even know (imagine that!) will see your listing; you get to choose who sees what. But the downside is obvious: less exposure means lower prices, generally.
I’ve rethought that aspect, though. It’s clear neighbors feel that buying on Nextdoor is more worthy of honoring sellers’ asking prices than on other anonymous platforms, since we have to get along afterward. A civil, orderly social network? The mind boggles.
So my routine is pretty simple:
- work up a Facebook Marketplace ad first;
- copy it to Nextdoor and maybe craigslist (depending on how willing I am to field weirdos) and
- consider – generally as a last resort – listing my item on eBay, especially in the case of niche or unusual items.
So. Look around the house. If the junk you find doesn’t spark joy, Facebook is waiting.
Other ideas, like Amazon or Letgo? Come at me in comments.