They say that the path to healing begins by admitting you have a problem. I’m Richard, and I have a sickness. Nope, it’s—how should I put this—an unredeemed strength. That’s it: I’m not a hoarder; I’m an archeologist’s best friend.
Whew, glad I got that sorted. Now my wife is sure to let me keep our broken treadmill, extra bikes and decades-old dishes stored away in the garage. She’ll be so relieved to know that her SUV is out in the heat and cold, not because I have a problem letting go, but because I’m trying to make it easier on 31st century explorers who want to know about the domestic life of Austin area suburbanites in the early 21st century.
I’m sure many of you can commiserate. You’ve got houses and garages full of unclaimed treasures, as in “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Is Craigslist your only option? Nope.
Randi Zuckerberg (yes, Facebook Mark’s sister) has created Dotcomplicated to help people navigate the wild west of wired lives. Ashmi Pathela has an informative little post on the Dotcomplicated website: 10 Great Places To Sell Your Stuff Online.
There’s a wide range of options, and it depends on your context. Of course, there’s Craigslist for large items like furniture, lawn equipment and my beloved treadmill, but there’s also Etsy for those who have handmade products to sell.
There’s Quirky for products that so far exist only in your mind. There’s Car Daddy for offloading the Buick. There’s Exchange My Phone for repurposing your electronics graveyard. And the list goes on.
What should you know before you dive in to buying and selling online?
First, there’s the wise quip: caveat emptor. Buyer beware. Unfortunately, there are folks who care more about making a buck than providing an honest experience. Whatever the context, try to learn as much about the product as possible. Take an experienced friend with you. Don’t get caught in the moment, feeling pressure to buy something only to realize later that it was broken, flimsy or fake. The converse is true if you’re selling. Be honest. Give buyers a fair price and a quality experience.
Take care of logistics before you list your goodies and gadgets online. Establish a PayPal account, allowing you to navigate the online marketplace with safety and efficiency. Take pictures. Get that desk out of the garage, remove the rubble and take clear, crisp pics from different angles. And then post it…not before. Be accurate in your descriptions and reasonable in your prices.
Know before you go. Before you pin 101 different Etsy dining tables on Pinterest, have a precise idea what you’re shopping for and try to force yourself to stay in that framework. There are times to browse and chase rabbit holes, but when you need to stay focused, do.
There are so many cool things to buy online—and there’s a lot of junk, too. Buy what you need when you need it. Wait longer for wants.
And for those of us trying to sell things: Be good to people. Sell what’s good; trash what’s not. Selling things is a great way to make money, clear away things you don’t need, part with things that aren’t useful and meet some interesting people.
So, there you go. You can buy and sell online with character and confidence. It takes some prep, but it’s a cool way to make some extra money, reduce storage cost, free up the garage for your cars and, yes, avoid becoming a 31st century laughing stock.
Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the executive director at STARRY in Round Rock.