Let’s face it. The units you win at storage auctions are not going to resemble ancient tombs excavated by Dr. Jones, with rows and hallways riddled with ancient artifacts, piles of cast-off gold coins to stroll across while looking for the real treasure.
Depending on what you happen to discover in your legal lootings, you need to develop a consistent strategy in how you market most, if not all, of the things you find. Let’s look at a typical formula for unloading and reselling your sundry stuff quickly.
By breaking your newly won units into four categories: absolute junk, common bulk, saleable goodies, and rare finds, you will have already roughly prepared your future distribution strategy. Now, read on to find the most appropriate venues to market each of these categories. You will be guaranteeing yourself maximum profits, and just as importantly, keep your own garage from flooding over and going up for auction!
1) Rare Finds: Hold Onto, Appraise, and Sell to an Expert
Rare finds like an entire Sheraton Era furniture suite (or even just a single piece, like an armoire or a rocking chair), or maybe even a jewelry collection, need to be more thoroughly researched, analyzed, and distributed. After all, if it is part of an appreciating market (i.e. old baseball cards), such factors will certainly alter your decision to sell now, later, or just plan to keep.
A previous blog entitled “Get From Star-Struck to Gold Struck: Win the Private Battles”pointed you in the direction of a list of general guidance in your appraiser hunt. Click here and you will be taken to this list, a list you will you most certainly will need as you find and critique potential collectables appraisers in your area. Employing an appraiser will most likely only pertain to finding antiques of a mysterious nature. If it looks rare and old and that is all of the information you have, such would be a good case of seeking the help of appraiser.
Also, keep in mind that current market value is not always the same as the median value, the value an appraiser will provide you with. It may be less or more than the median value depending on the current demand. Once you have a piece of furniture, a rare stamp, a Civil War era butter dish appraised, it is important to sell it when the current market value is at its highest. Wait for an item of similar or the same caliber to be sold at a much higher price than usual. Know when to hold it and when to fold it.
2) Salable Goodies: Look to E-Bay
When you’ve scoured the unit and found something that is relatively new, small enough to ship and too new or common to be dished to an antique dealer or a collector (for example, an I-Pod with a speaker dock, or a “good condition” flute or alto saxophone), E-Bay is the way.
You don’t want to lose out on profits on items at a flea market that you can use EBay to get a fair market price on, and you will find plenty of them. Pawn shops and thrift stores will more often than not only offer you fifty percent of value in order to turn their own profit.
Compile these more elite class of finds, quickly register with EBay, and your on your way to at least covering your losses and staying out the danger zone with substantial profits. The auction prices listed on EBay for items will represent fair market value, so keep this in mind for your pricing if you intend to opt for a more immediate market. You could shave off what you would have paid to ship the item and sell it locally that price, for example.
3) Common Bulk: Garage Sale, Flea Markets, CraigsList
As a self employed distributor, you cannot let your perceived image of what a flea market is like get in your way, as it is going to be required. You are the vendor, so when you know you have salable items that the neighborhood or community are going to be interested in, prepare to make your booth or table well merchandised and eye catching. It can be much more fun than you think, especially when your good start flying off the table.
Books in great condition, clothing that is stylish and in good condition, smaller to midsize electronics, jewelry, baby stuff, and all home decor are all great examples of items that move well at sidewalk sales.
Prepare to brainstorm ways to make your table or tailgate sale as alluring as possible. For example, try not to puff up your inventory with junk that you know no one will buy. People like to buy things in bunches, so make sure customers have a variety of quality items to choose from in their follow up excitement.
Plus, rigging a sound system to play some music is never a bad idea in creating a fun atmosphere.
4) Absolute Junk: The Dump or Goodwill
The best venues for unloading things that you know at first glance are going to be unsellable are the dump and Goodwill. Paint cans, frayed wires, wholly clothes and rags, and rat-nibbled mattresses are among these things that are destined to be junked and never thought of again. Separate with great prejudice. If you know its worthless, waste no time in separating said items into the “to go” pile, and in this business, have a truck on standby at all times.
Units filled with other bulk items that you know will weigh you down if you choose to store them, but may be of use to somebody else (e.g. faded clothing and old harlequin romance novels) should be transported to Goodwill.
Warning! Be careful not to give things away that you know can fetch you a small profit at a sidewalk sale. DVD’s that work are a great example of this. They can sell anywhere from $1-$3, depending on the popularity of the title.
If you are a tax itemizer and plan to exceed the amount of your individual standard deduction (will most likely be several thousand dollars, even as a single person, so plan ahead), Goodwill donations can indirectly provide with a source of income during tax season by providing a tax break.
This charitable organization provides you with an inventoried receipt after your donation with a fair market value amount to put towards this deduction. Now that you have chosen to make storage unit auction hunting a second job, achieving a few thousand dollars of bulk unloading annually is a very feasible task indeed!
If you do not foresee itemizing being a doable task, try a few more markets listed ahead before using Goodwill or Salvation Army as a pit stop for seemingly doomed items.
So, save the whip, holster, and faded dungarees for your Costa Rica trip and start separating the contents of the metal cave with great prejudice. Take care to not collect yourself into a corner!