Decluttering via eBay & Freecycle

We took baby steps this week on the decluttering front. Goodwill is the default decluttering answer, but this week I feel like we were experimenting with other avenues. Just Monday, Josh sold a laptop DVD drive on eBay and I got rid of a baby gate* on Freecycle. There are pros and cons to each method, and each are suited to different stuff.

Josh has used eBay as the need has come up to get rid various things, or buy hard-to find things. We used Half.com to get rid of many of the textbooks we didn't want to keep after college
  • The obvious one: You get money out of the deal. People pay for shipping, and they pay for the item.

  • Your customer base is worldwide. Probability says that someone on the planet wants the thingamajig you're selling.

  • Security. eBay & PayPal figure out the details of transacting for you.

  • Seller's fees. eBay has to make money somehow.

  • Hassle. You have to (oftentimes) upload pictures, write up something that makes what you're selling desirable, figure out a fair price for the thingamajig, and wait till the auction's over or someone 'Buys it now'. THEN, depending on the size of the thing, you have to figure out how to package and mail it.

I had heard of this opportunity through a variety of ways, and decided to check it out. I joined a couple local groups and have been watching the postings for about a week. It looks like a good deal. I was surprised how active the groups were.
  • No hassle. You send an email to your local group with a simple statement of what you have to offer, and wait for a response. For an old wooden baby gate, it took just hours to get a couple responses in just the Carmel group. You choose the lucky winner, and tell them where to pick it up. They come and get it.

  • You feel good about it. One of the purposes of Freecycle is to keep useful stuff out of landfills. On top of that, I was glad the old baby gate to go to someone who needed it- a single mom with a 6-month-old.

  • Everything posted is (go figure) free. You're not going to make any money off the deal.

  • The groups are local, so, there may be no takers when the customer base is limited. As much as you like your baseball card collection, and you might be able to sell it on eBay, there's a chance no one in your neighborhood will care.

  • Security. Inviting strangers to your house for any reason implies risk. The site suggests, if you're worried about it, to leave the item on your front porch, or to meet the receiver in a public place during the day. (We weren't home when the lady was coming to pick it up, so we left it outside our apartment door, and it had disappeared when we got back.)

The happy medium of these two is craigslist, which I'm a big fan of. It's local & community-supported (like Freecycle) and you can sell stuff for money (like eBay). I check it all the time for local deals, though I haven't gone as far as to buy anything yet. There seems to be less hassle with craigslist than eBay- posting is free and there's no seller fees or shipping, though you do still have to figure out a price (or not, & post it for free), post a picture if you want, & write a description. It's also less structured than eBay, your audience is more limited, and you have the same security issues as Freecycle. Craigslist was particularly helpful while I was looking for a job in a new city (Denver). I got more responses from my resume posted on craigslist than anywhere else.

Have you guys tried any of these? What's been your experience? How do YOU declutter?

* Disclaimer: I mentioned a baby gate. This might confuse readers. We have no babies. None are planned in the near future. My parents were cleaning their house while packing to move and found this, probably as old as I am, and we tried to get rid of it among friends. When that failed, we Freecycled.


Matt said...

If maximizing profit is not a priority, you can also let other people sell your stuff on eBay for you (for a piece of the profits). Here's a place with a few Indiana outlets that I found by googling: http://www.theonlineoutpost.com/

This seems like a good option to get rid of stuff easily that you may not find a taker for in the local market.

Ashley said...

Thanks for these reviews! I have done a lot of ebaying in my time, and I think one of the biggest myths is that people will pay big bucks for your junk. I spent a summer a few years ago selling various odds and ends found in my parents garage (helping them "declutter"), and after all the fees, etc. I made $35. I was like, wow I spent all that time and I only got $35? I really like the ideas behind Freecycle! However, I see the concern for lettings strangers know where you live. For me, it's hard to get to my apartment because the complex is so confusing, so I wouldn't want to always have to give directions!! I wonder if I could leave things at the leasing office?

I'll have to look around and see what I can do to declutter. :-)

Joanna said...

The eBay Sell-it-for-you store is an interesting business model- You give your stuff to a guy so he can make a profit off of it. I always saw it as kinda shady, but perhaps that's just my perception. It does take the hassle out of the process, however, you're right. Perhaps you can tell from my review- I've never gotten into eBay at all. That's been Josh's field.

Ashley- you could have the person who wants the thing you're offering drop by your work to pick it up, or you could have them meet you at the entrance to your complex. The people on the lists I'm on (Carmel & Lebanon) all sound really friendly, like a community. I mean, they're doing this to help their community- keeping trash out of the landfills, not letting useful stuff go to waste, helping their neighbors save money. It might be worthwhile just to sign up for the list and watch what kind of stuff is offered/wanted locally, to see what it's all about. That's what I did.

Ashley said...

The eBay Sell-it-for-you store is an interesting business model- You give your stuff to a guy so he can make a profit off of it.
But isn't that exactly what thrift stores and consignment stores do? :-)

So I'm bummed... there aren't any Freecycle groups in my area... I guess I'll have to look at another part of Atlanta. :-p (I'm lazy and don't want to have to drive 30+ minutes.)

EDIT: Okay so WHY do I have to type in the stupid captcha thing like 3 times every time I try to comment??? *grumbles under breath*

Brett said...

I've actually had reasonably good luck with all three.

I've bought and sold things on eBay and made a decent amount...I was also impressed that people actually wanted to BUY some of the stuff I've posted. I've never had an issue with someone either not paying or not sending an item. Plus, I scored an autographed William Katt photo. I know this is about decluttering but I'm walkin' on air.

I've generally been happy with Freecycle. The only things I've picked up were moving boxes but we've onloaded things like wallpaper, a utility sink, a bench, and, yes, even a kitchen sink. And I did use the office as a meeting place rather than my home. I felt safer and the mid-day pickup was easier for everyone. My only negative experience was when someone didn't bother to show to pick up an item. That was frustrating and the thing quickly went to Goodwill. Otherwise, it does really feel good and the community is truly helpful and appreciative.

I don't have much experience with Craigslist. I did sell a car through it and I was happy with that transaction.


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