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SALT LAKE CITY — Having trouble building that thousand-dollar emergency fund? Cleaning out the clutter in your house, garage or even a self-storage unit can yield some amazing finds that you can convert into cash.
“Especially, if you got a bunch of stuff from grandma, or a bunch of stuff from your uncle or aunt — something they gave you,” said Dee Jackman, owner of Jitterbug Antiques. “Everything is basically worth something nowadays. It doesn’t matter what it is.”
And here’s the trick: figuring out what people are willing to pay.
Jackman, a longtime antiques dealer, recommends using eBay as a starting point. You can base the going price for your item by searching for items similar to yours. But, instead of using the asking price of current listings, use the actual sold price of closed auctions. An easy way to find those is to click the “Advanced Search” option next to the search bar, and click the “Sold Listings” filter under the “Search Including” option.
Jackman says the sold prices will give you a much more accurate read on the going rate because asking prices tend to be unrealistic.
“I call it delusions of grandeur,” Jackman said of overpriced items. “And, everybody does it. I’ve even done it — got ahold of something and the first thing I see are dollar signs because I think, ‘Boy, this is worth a lot of money!’ But, it does not turn out that way.”
If you have something you believe that could be a valuable, several websites can offer expert valuations. Appraisers and collectible experts on sites like What’s It Worth, Value My Stuff and Worth Point can estimate values based on photos. There are fees, usually starting around $10 to $30.
Another pricing option involves a trip to the library.
“There’s tons of books on antiques,” explained Jackman. “And, anything you want — marbles, radios, cameras, toys, furniture — you name it, there are books on it. And, in those books, they’ll have values of what they are, (and) what they’re worth.”
Many antique stores also do valuations. But, get more than one opinion before agreeing to a sale.
Another option is to take the item to a certified appraiser that can provide thorough research and documentation attesting to the item’s value. Typically, their services start around $150 to $200 an hour.
As far as the actual sale goes, you have several options.
Yard sales allow you to get rid of your stuff quickly. Bargain hunters tend to expect low prices, however, and you should be prepared to haggle.
A consignment market will allow you to sell your item in their shop (or online market) where the public can see it up close. Generally, they will only consign items they believe will sell quickly so it takes much of the guesswork out of selling items. In fact, they will do most of the legwork for you. Shop owners will want a cut — so they can stay in business — that can run as high as 50 percent of the final selling price.
Everything is basically worth something nowadays. It doesn’t matter what it is.
–Dee Jackman, Jitterbug Antiques
Selling online lets thousands of people see your items — many more people than can go to your yard sale or visit a consignment store. This can be very time-consuming — creating descriptions, taking and uploading photos, shipping stuff off or having to meetup with buyers in person.
The best place to sell an item might hinge on just what that item is.
In general, clothing tends to be a little more difficult to attract buyers. Experts say consumers in the second-hand market tend to look for higher-end clothing and accessories that are in close-to-new condition. There are several clothing-oriented consignment stores in the Salt Lake valley including Kid to Kid and Pib’s Exchange. Uptown Cheapskate will pay up front for clothing. Some of your online options include ThredUp, Poshmark and Swap.com.
Jackman said the market for toys come and goes in waves.
“Six years ago, robot toys were hot. No matter what I got, I’d sell it. I couldn’t keep it in,” said Jackman. “But, then finally, the price gets so high that people just will not pay it anymore and then it just crashes.”
If you have a lot of toys, the yard sale may be your best bet. But it’s possible you get more for an individual toy by turning to eBay, Facebook Marketplace or KSL Classifieds. Swap.com, again, is also an option. The site will make offers on toys, books and clothes. If you pass, it will ship your stuff back to you.
Gazelle, Swappa and Decluttr are all well-known websites that will make offers to buy electronics such as phones, tablets, computers and wearable tech.