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eBay or Garage Sale? Which to use? How to decide when selling your stuff.

When deciding whether to sell your stuff on eBay or at a garage sale, consider several factors:

1. Size and shipping costs

Mailing costs rise continuously, so factor that expense when deciding how to sell a large, unwieldy object. Your kids may no longer use that inflatable swimming pool, but few eBay purchasers are going to want to spend $10 on shipping costs for an item they can buy new for nearly that amount at the local discount store.

Small, valuable items, such as jewellery or music CDs, sell well on online auction sites, in large part because they ship so quickly and inexpensively.

Example: That old bowling ball could bring you a buck or two in a yard sale. You would waste your time, and listing fees, on eBay.

2. Condition

A pretty, but chipped, plate or worn jeans could garner 50 cents each on a table at your garage or yard sale, where shoppers are looking for super cheap deals.

Shoppers on eBay, who are more likely to pay for new or next-to-new items, are likely to pass by your listing of these items.

Example: Did you buy some snow pants at last spring’s Sale and find they don’t fit your youngster this winter? Place “NWT” (New with tags) in your eBay description and the buyers will notice.

3. Clothing—brands bring in the bucks


Expensive brand names may distinguish one dress from another at a garage sale, but not by much. Remember, most Saturday morning yard sale shoppers are looking for the cheapest deal. Gymboree, LL Bean, and Hanna Andersson clothing for kids can find buyers willing to pay more than garage sale prices when you place these items on eBay.

Example: Jeans from Kmart? $1 at a yard sale. Jeans from Ambercrombie and Fitch? Possibly a $10 deal on eBay.

4. Number of items, lots

Combine clothing in the same size and season and offer the whole lot as one auction on eBay. Auction “lots” of children’s clothing, in particular, tend to sell well on the site. The advice on condition and brand names still applies. Keep your kids’ seasonal castoffs until the next year, and a parent of a younger child might snap up your offer as an easy way to get a season’s worth of clothing inexpensively.

Example: Garage sale buyers will pick and choose individually priced clothing items. Offering your daughter’s hardly warning summer outfits from last season on eBay will find more buyers and a higher price.

5. Desirability and rarity

Rare and antique offerings are the bread-and-butter of eBay. You can reach more collectors online than you can ever hope to attract to your garage sale.

Example: That old 50s-era radio that never seems to fit anywhere in your house? At least one of the millions of buyers on eBay will want to pay handsomely for it.

6. Factor in eBay costs, mailing and packing time

Selling an item on eBay involves taking a photo (not a requirement, but a smart move on the seller’s part), describing the item, paying listing fees and shipping the item once it’s purchased. Ebay’s Insertion fees (from 20 cents to $4.80) and final value fees (5.25 per cent and higher) combined with fees from payment services like PayPal can decrease your auction earnings.

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