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Due to the economy and the state of everyone’s finances, we have been getting a lot more e-mails lately from people trying to sell us their possessions. In some cases it is a person who has one or two collectibles that they want to get rid of, in other cases we get someone who has a houseful of things that a relative left behind. In all cases, we try to give them advice about selling their merchandise. The most important questions for someone to answer are “what do I expect to get for it?” and “How fast do I want to sell?” These questions will guide most sellers in their decision because a lot of people have unreal expectations about what something, especially antiques and collectibles, might be worth. Here is what we tell people who contact us about selling their possessions:
To realize the most money and if you are not in a hurry to sell, there are a few options. One is to sell it yourself by either placing an ad in the newspaper, Craigslist or an online auction site. Remember that a local paper has a limited amount of circulation and readership and your item will not be viewed by as many people as you would have if you were selling it online. If you sell it online, you might try Craigslist as it enjoys many hits a day from around the world; giving your item an international presence. However, be careful with scam artists that live out in cyberspace trying to cheat you out of your money. Lastly, you can try using one of the many online auction sites. Online auction sites have the international presence that you will want for your item. If you choose this route, check the fees for selling prior to listing your item.
If you are not in too much of a hurry to sell and you don’t really care how much money you get for the item, then you can try to sell using a consignment shop or a local auction house. A consignment shop normally takes your merchandise and prices it according to what they think it is worth and will try to sell it at that price. Typically, a consignment shop will charge you between 30%-50% of the selling price and may add on other fees as well. Unless you place a reserve price on an item, a local auction house of course sells the item to the highest bidder. Then the auction house will take their fees, normally between 30%-50% from the proceeds of the sale. They too may have other additional fees. Always ask before you consign an item to a consignment shop or auction so that you know what fees to expect.
If you are in a real hurry to sell the item and you really don’t care how much money you get for it, you can sell it to a dealer. Keep in mind that a dealer typically buys his merchandise at 50% or less of what the item is worth; and rightly so, because the dealer is placing the item in their inventory and taking the risk of selling it or not selling it. In addition, the dealer will have to pay for overhead and other incidental expenses of selling. If you decide to sell to a dealer, take it to different dealers to find the best price. Taking it to a specialty dealer might also get you the best price, for example if your item is a Barbie doll, take it to a dealer that specializes in vintage toys. One thing that you will find with selling to a local dealer is that most are hardworking and honest and will go out of their way to help you out.