Did you ever want to just run away from everything and start over fresh? I think most people have dreamed of getting rid of everything they own and starting over in some exotic far away location. I have a friend who actually did this and has never looked back! She was always the wanderer anyway and had walked the Appalachian Trail and hitchhiked across Europe. But she always had storage units filled to the brim with her “stuff”. And that “stuff” seemed to be what brought her home each time. So, she decided to just “settle down”. She took her stuff out of storage and moved to New York City and got a great job as a researcher for the NYPD. She thought she was there forever. She loved her job, her apartment and her entire lifestyle. But one winter a few years later, she got stuck in her apartment. The blizzard came so fast and so frantically that my friend watched as the snow piled up higher than her door and she could not budge it open. When the storm subsided and a friend came to dig her out, she vowed “never again”. This time, her longing for travel and warm tropical breezes gave her a mission of major purpose. She would move to St. John Virgin Islands and become a social worker! And...she decided to make the change and the move in one week! Yes, everyone was shocked and worried, but my friend was resolute.
She began by making a list of everything she owned. Furniture, clothing, dishes, pots and pans, paintings, pillows and throws would all be sold. The items that she decided meant the most to her would be shipped to her mother for safe keeping and that could only be enough to fit in one box. Her parameters for this change were strong. She would only take one suitcase with her filled with essentials like a bathing suit, clean underwear and a toothbrush. She would buy brand new when she settled in her new home in the extraordinary St. John.
After making those decisions, she had to figure out how to get rid of everything else and fast.
She looked twice at her list of things to sell and divided them up into categories...furniture, housewares, clothing. Next, she did some research on what the value of these things were so she had a better understanding of what price to ask. Then, she took pictures of every single item both back and front. up and down. And finally, she listed everything on Craigslist.
The following is a list of what she organized in order to get rid of everything in exactly one week.
After selecting everything that was going to be sold and dividing it all into categories, my friend did a little research on each item. She checked to see if similar items were being sold on craigslist and what the general pricing was. If she couldn’t find her things on craigslist, she went to look on ebay and then on Facebook Marketplace. She looked until she had a market value for all of her items. She kept her prices close to average but a bit cheaper because she wanted to move things quickly. She was willing to lose a bit of money just so that she didn’t have to haul things away before she moved, especially things like furniture.
Next, she made sure that her pictures were very sharp and the colors were as close to real life as she could get. She took multiple pictures of each item so that there would be no question about what she was selling. She also took pictures of any flaws in her items. She wanted to be upfront with everything so that people understood what she was selling. Then she wrote descriptions for each item that she was listing. She used adjectives like “beautiful,” “chic” and “comfortable” in taglines to get people to click on the listing. Then, she had the description in the body of the listing very short and precise with measurements and sizes and age. She also included the pick up and timeframe instructions. After she wrote it all up, she posted. And she made sure that she was available to answer any questions that came in about her listings. She claims that her things sold quickly because the pictures were so good. Too many times on craigslist, people will post pictures where the items were hard to see, out of focus and way too dark.
In the beginning of each post she wrote that she was selling everything to live a dream and wouldn’t they help her along the way. She said it was a great conversation starter when people came to pick up the items they bought! She also recommended that if you’re not getting contacted within the first few hours, or certainly within the first day of posting, modify the price and post again the next day. And in reverse, she said she got such a heavy response on a couple of things that she raised the price on similar items and reposted at the next price the following day.
Because my friend was trying to sell everything within a week and get on with her dream, she said that the thing that made everything go smoothly is that she was always available. She didn’t have to go to work or other appointments, so she was at her apartment waiting when the buyer wanted to show up and pick up the items they had bought. She also spent all of her time on her laptop and phone so that any time an inquiry came in, she was right there to answer any questions. Most interested buyers using craigslist are interested right now, or maybe tomorrow. Being available to answer the emails and calls is important. She said that if you don’t respond right away, someone else with a similar item will. These same rules apply for being available for pick-up.
While selling things in New York City to complete strangers made me feel a bit uneasy for my friend, she assured me that she had a couple of her friends with her at all times and was never alone. There have been so many stories all over the country, big cities and small, that have circulated about selling on craigslist over the years, that it just comes with the territory that you have to make sure that you are safe and not vulnerable to predators who try to do harm. She told me that she posted no personal information other than the city in any of her ads. She used her cell phone and texting to communicate with inquiries and then when someone wanted to buy an item and pick it up, she met up with people in front of her building and not in the actual apartment so they couldn’t figure out which number apartment was hers. Often, people will meet to pick up items in very public places like grocery store parking lots and even at police stations. And, most important of all, she only sold and had pickups of items during the daylight hours. Night time is just too unsafe.
On the last day in the last hours, my friend still had a few things left that she didn’t want to keep. So, she and her friends hauled everything down the block to the thrift store. If there was more time, she had thought about taking them to a consignment shop. But, by now she was ready to board the plane and begin her life in St John VI!!
One thing I kept asking my friend as she sold all of her lifelong belongings, is if she felt sad or had misgivings about getting rid of it all. I thought it would make her feel sad because it would have made me sad. But...she said NOPE! As the money piled up and things got less and less in the apartment, she realized that everything could be replaced if she really really needed it and it would be brand new. The most wonderful part of getting rid of it all in one week is that at the end, she was on her way to an incredible new life in the tropical Caribbean!