Monday, August 9, 2010

Selling on Craigslist, part Deux

I sold over $1000 of merchandise over the weekend on Craigslist. Correct pricing and a clear listing help.

Since we have decided to move to Georgia full-time, it is time to sell off things up North. And we have a barn full, let me tell you. Do we really need four Kayaks and six bicycles? A rototiller? It all has to go.

Funny thing, too, is that it all sold within two days. Mostly schoolteachers buying it, too - the only people with money in Central New York (forget about all those horror stories you've heard about "underpaid school teachers" - many make $100,000 or more, with seniority, particularly in places like New York State! This, plus full benefits!).

As in any transaction, you can sell things if they are priced correctly. For many small items, under $20, listing on Craigslist is simply not worthwhile. You are better off selling such items at garage sales, where someone might buy on impulse. No one is going to get in their car and drive miles and miles to buy a used coffee maker.

But items $100 and up, particularly if they are bargain priced, will sell. I see things listed all the time on Craigslist or the Pennysaver, that are clearly overpriced. The seller has some broken piece of shit he wants to get rid of, and offers it for sale for $5 less than retail, and wonders why it doesn't sell. "I want to get MY price" they say - and they always say it. See my posting about "constipated commerce".

We sold two Kayaks for $250 and $275. Cheap? Well, we paid $200 apiece for them 10 years back. And that was after selling a Canoe we bought for $200 for $400. So if you think about it, they cost $100 each. And they are 10 years old. A bargain for the buyer, and we had several callers lined up to buy them.

Could we have gotten another $50 for them? Perhaps. But then they would have languished for days, weeks, even months, unsold. When the point is to sell, you have to sell.

Similarly, we sold a roto-tiller for $350. New, it cost us maybe $500 and that was five years ago. Today, they sell for $700. A bargain for the buyer, to be sure. But expecting to get what you paid for it is not realistic.

A utility trailer went away for $350 as well. New, this cost $500, five years ago. Today, they sell for $600 or more (Hmmm.... is inflation around the corner?). So it was a bargain for the buyer, but really not much depreciation for us.

Craigslist is free, and they allow you to upload up to four photos for free. Use that feature. People are less likely to respond to an ad where there are no pictures, particularly if they have to drive any distance.

Also, if your weekly travels take you around town, offer to deliver items. People don't want to drive 20 miles out of their way to buy something, and if you are heading their way, why not drop something by?

Finally, put your phone number in the listing. You'll get more of an instant response this way. Many people are worried that putting your phone number in the listing will result in junk phone calls. But listing your phone number is NOT a waiver of your rights under the "do not call" act. So when that guy from Vegas calls offering to sell your car for you, tell him to piss off.

One problem with Craigslist, as I have noted in the past, is that some folks will call and ask you to "hold" an item for you. My policy is simple. If they are en route to see me, I will hold it until they get here and then allow them to make a decision. However, I will not "hold" items for days, weeks, or whatever, as such people generally are big talkers and never follow through with the purchase.

I explained this carefully to every caller (or e-mailer) and they all were good with it. A promise to buy "next Tuesday" doesn't cut it when I have three callers wanting the item TODAY.

We are starting the long, arduous process of selling things on Craigslist and eBay. It is time consuming, but it is a necessary task.

But with each item sold, I feel a little more liberated and less stressed. Possessions end up owning you, instead of you owning them. They require care, maintenance, and upkeep, not to mention keeping track of them. Things left to sit rot and decay. And when you find that you are not using a "precious possession", you tend to feel a little guilty for having spent all that money and never used it.

The Kayaks are a case in point. We are so busy these days with other projects (boating, cars, pottery, travel, gardening, etc.) that our oft-discussed plans to go Kayaking in Central New York never come to fruition. Owing too many things can often mean you have no time to do any of the things you want to do - as your attention is divided among so many different projects.

So, as much as I hated to see them go, they have not been used in over a year. And besides, we have two more in Georgia. And there are places which rent Kayaks, too, if we decide to go here.

Owning less, doing more. It is a better idea, I think.

We have more to get rid