Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

June 16, 2014

Rule the Classifieds - Sell Your Stuff Fast and For Top Dollar in the Classifieds

How to sell stuff FAST and for TOP DOLLAR in the classifieds

I grew up with a yard sale super-fan for a grandma so my youth was spent feverishly driving from yard sale to yard sale, every summer Saturday, and then twice a year we held a giant, family yard sale of our own (we still do!).  I've had a lot of success selling things at our yard sales, but I find that yard salers want everything for a quarter.

The online classifieds is where I have found people willing to pay a reasonable price for quality, second-hand wares, and in the last six years I've sold thousands and thousands of dollars worth of things through Kijiji (like Craigslist but for Canadians).  In this time, I've done a little experimenting to see what I can do to sell things faster and/or for more cash  (sometimes I have to choose). 

We sold a lot of things before we moved and I promised a post with my tips and tricks for selling stuff in the classifieds.  



HOW TO CREATE A GREAT CLASSIFIEDS AD:

Use the Title for Key Words and Buzzwords:

A specific title like "mid-century Danish teak side table, mint condition," or "brand new ice cream machine, in original box" can draw the eye of someone who isn't necessarily searching for what I'm selling, but it also catches the eye of someone searching for exactly what I'm selling.  Use key words and describe your item accurately and thoroughly. 

Clean the Stuff Before Taking Photos:

I'm so sick of people who try to sell dirt-filled planters and furniture that smells like a fart.  I wash and clean anything I'm selling - I vacuum upholstery, hand wash glassware, air out the un-washables, and just scrub, scrub, scrub.  It's nasty to skip this step, plus people won't pay as much if they're thinking about all the extra work they need to do.  They might also wonder what kind of flaw all that grime is hiding.  Clean items just look better in ads too.  Just wash the stuff, period.

I'll also add "smoke-free" home and, before Szuka, "pet-free" home because it matters to some people.  In this day of bed bugs, I'll even put "no bed bugs".


Include Tons of Nicely Styled Photos:

I hate when something I'm interested in on Kijiji is photographed in a disgusting or dirty space.  It makes me think it's been stored this way and I think: rats, mice, mouse poop, pass.  Even if something is being stored in the garage, I drag it inside, clean it up and take a nice, clear, brightly lit photo - usually styled a little to show off its use or beauty - but not too styled so that the thing I'm selling is disguised.  This is an easy step for me, because I often just snag blog photos:


Suggest Uses for the Item:

For the stool above, I said it was a great plant stand or artist's perch.  It's more than just a stool, so I gave people ideas and made them want what I have (it sold)!

Include Detail Shots:

When it comes to listing in the classifieds, I treat my ads like those for my Etsy shop and take numerous photos, highlighting important details and also flaws, so people know exactly what they are getting.  For example, I snapped a photo of all markings on my Danish teak, a detail of the Made in Canada label on my maple armoire, some close ups of the patina on the antique wash tub stand I sold.  Taking numerous photos also saves having to answer a million questions.  This isn't my ad, but they're doing it right:


The next one is an example of, in my opinion, a terrible ad.  At the very least, people need measurements to know if it will fit in their truck or through their front door.  The material, make, age, condition would also be good things to add.  But some folks skip a photo altogether (bad idea!) so at least they've got two pictures.



The next two ads are better, with info about condition, lots of photos, even measurements in the second ad:




Create a Bulleted List:

Despite my efforts, I don't think all Kijiji-ers read the whole ad, so I try not to ramble on too much and I avoid full sentences.  I include key information (measurements, condition, markings, etc) and use a bulleted list instead of paragraphs or even full sentences.  Not a lot of people in my city do this, but I think it helps make sure the pertinent info gets across.  For example:
  • Danish teak dining table with leaf
  • Measurements: 45" diameter, 60" diameter with leaf
  • Solid teak legs, teak veneer top
  • Made by Frem Rojle, original label attached
  • Excellent condition, minimal scratching on surface
Highlighting in yellow and using bold can also help make sure certain points get across.  Although they're a little too chatty, in my opinion, this ad has an effective bulleted list:


Include Links for Further Research:

For that rare person who likes to read an ad in its entirely and is searching for more info, I like to provide a link or two to more information.  Usually I link to a similar item selling on Amazon, Etsy or Ebay, or even a Wikipedia page.  Whatever helps a buyer know what a similar items sells for, why it's so awesome, and why my item is a bitchin' deal.

Explain Why You're Selling:

When I see a great deal online or thrifting, my first thought is: "why does someone want to get rid of this?"  Again, my thoughts turn to mouse poop.  Then I try to find out if it's flawed in any way.  So when I'm selling something, I make it clear why I'm selling it.  I add a quick note at the bottom of my ad - Reason for Sale: Moving (etc.).


HOW TO MAKE SALES:

Check the Want Ads:

Years ago, Hubby and I were trying to sell the stock wheels that came with our Nissan Versa, and we stumbled across a Want Ad for the exact same wheels we were selling.  We sold our wheels!  Why had this person not found our ad?  I have no idea (I'm betting on sheer laziness), but we learned to quickly check who wants what we're selling and it's been very profitable.

Be Available:

Don't post an ad before heading out of town for the weekend.  Be ready for impulse shoppers who may want that item right away - or not at all!  If you've left email as the way to contact you, have it forwarded to your phone so you don't miss a message and reply promptly. 




HOW TO PRICE THINGS:

Before I come up with a price, I quickly search Kijiji for similar items and then I'll look online at Amazon/Etsy/Ebay.  I make a mental note of prices of things I might be selling when I'm checking out local consignment stores or vintage shops so I have a good idea of a fair price for stuff.  Then, to make sure my item sells first, I undercut (at the very least, match) the popular pricing I see for a quick sale and no quibbling.  A fast sale has often been my priority, so I price to move but an item can still get top dollar if it's priced well, the ad is well crafted and the seller has patience.  If I have the time, I might price a smidge higher than what I want (maybe $440 if I want $400) and then I've got some bargaining room for someone to offer $380, I come back at $420, they counter $400 and I get my price (cha-ching), but when I was moving I wanted fast sales so if something was worth $350, I asked $300 to move it and move it quick.

My tactic changes, depending on what I want from a sale, but there is one constant: I always have an idea of my bargaining willingness before I meet a buyer so I'm not caught off guard.  And I always makes sure I can break bills so no one plays the, "well, I only have twenties so can you take $40 instead of $50"? game.  No way, fool, I can break that twenty right now.

One thing I've noticed is that $20 is a magic number.  I think that it's easy for many people to part with a single $20 bill.  There's a psychology to shopping and buying that stores employ, but I know next to nothing about this.  I do know that I can make a stack of cash selling lots of smaller items for a magic twenty.  If I price something for $25 or $35, I'm inevitably talked down to $20 or $30 so sometimes I might just start there to save time. 

I will sometimes add OBO (or best offer) to indicate I'm open to other prices when I really want to move something.  I'll also offer the option for a package deal if I'm selling various items.  But both of these tactics can cheapen an item (or make me seem desperate), so I'm careful about throwing around OBO. 

    TIPS TO BOOST SALES:
    • I list many or all of my items at one time, in the hopes of luring people for multiple sales (it works!).
    • I show buyers other items I have for sale when they pick up their treasure (it works!).
    • I list a few free items to land more views for the rest of my items (most people click on "check other ads" when they see something they like, and who doesn't like free stuff?). 
    • I provide multiple ways to reach me (I added our phone number recently because we were moving and changing numbers anyway, and I was surprised when the interest in my items doubled by folks who wanted to talk on the phone or by text, and not via email).
    • I properly categorize my items.
    • I've heard that having an account, with Kijiji anyway, ensures people see a complete list of what else you have for sale and it's organized more effectively.
    • I try to be patient because sometimes it can take weeks to find the right buyer.
    (then again, not everything has a buyer out there waiting):


    • I list everything I want to sell, even if I think it won't sell (our old Rogers Cable box sold for $100 when I didn't think we'd get a cent for it - you never know what people need or want). 
    • I sell small stuff too (someone might not drive all the way across town for Christmas ornaments, but they might add them to a purchase if they also want some furniture - it happened to me).
    • I hold a yard sale to coincide with the timing of my items to generate more interest and lure over people who want a casual glance (often they end up buying!).
    •  If I am holding a yard sale, I'll post bigger items and let people "preview" them by making an appointment for the Thursday or Friday before the sale - it fuels that competitive edge.
    • I don't use this, but you can link ads to Facebook to announce your items for sale to friends and followers.
    • For some ads, I've splurged and paid the extra fee to keep an add in the top (a great option for yard sales when you want to stand out).
    • For collectible/rare items, I will post in nearby cities and communities because some people might make the drive for that sought after item - but I'm upfront about where I'm located.
    • I follow the Kijiji restrictions, for the most part, to keep from having an ad flagged/removed.
    • If someone selling a similar item does not follow the rules, I flag their item to eliminate competition.
    • I sometimes add "ON HOLD" to the title and the offers come pouring in.  I think people like the idea of nabbing a good deal out from under someone's nose.  
    • If I'm desperate, or there is a lot of competition (treadmills are a problem), I re-post an item daily so it stays on the top of the pile. 
    • I strategically add my listings during busy hours, which I found were Friday night and Saturday morning in Ottawa, but Sunday afternoon in Thunder Bay.
    • I might list an add in two categories (vintage furniture goes in "furniture" and "collectibles"), but I re-write the ad so it's not immediately flagged as a duplicate (plus I use a different photo).  
    My tips aren't foolproof because the item, the market, the seller's goals (fast cash? top dollar? both?), the season, the lunar cycle...so many factors influence a successful sale.  But these are some tips that have work for me and I continue to see a lot of success selling things in the classifieds.

    This goes without saying, but be safe.  Meet folks in a public place to sell smaller goods.  For furniture or larger goods, try to move it all to the garage or by the front door so strangers aren't invited to wander around your house.  Have someone be home with you so you're not alone when folks come to view your items.  It's so sad to have to say this, but be wary of scams, thieves, and predators.  Try to chat a lot with the potential buyer, online or on the phone, to ascertain if they are serious about the purchase.  Don't take a cheque, and learn to spot counterfeit bills.  When Handy Hubby (then Buildy Boyfriend) sold his first car for cash, we brought along my Mom's good friend - who was employed as a bank teller - so she could quickly ensure the bills were all good.  We also brought along my Dad (for muscle, I guess?), which was a great idea because the buyer also brought along a gaggle of people and because we both had friends and family around for the transaction, everyone was comfy and the deal went smoothly.

    Are you an avid classifieds seller?  What are your tips for selling things quickly and getting top dollar?  Or, are you an avid buyer?  What piques your interest about an ad, what really aggravates you, and - most importantly - what makes you part with your cash?
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    13 comments

    1. This is a great post! I read every word and laughed out loud at the "No way, fool, I can break that twenty right now." I employ all of these tips when I sell stuff online. I'm a bigger fan of Craigslist, but I use both CL and Kijiji when posting items (and looking for items!). Most people don't have the patience for it, but I have furnished our home at a shockingly low cost using those sites!

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      1. I've wondered how popular CL is in other cities. Here, it's not at all popular (which is good and bad). I admire your tenacity listing both places. I can see how that would generate even more interest - I wonder how many people look at one and not the other? In Ottawa, there was also usedottawa.com and it was a great online classifieds as well.

        Happy to hear you read the whole post! It's one of my chattiest, so I won't be offended if people skim it but for anyone who has never sold anything this way, I wanted to share as many tips as I could.

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    2. Thanks for sharing! I have found that Craigslist culture in San Diego is pretty cutthroat! I listed a couch and had someone I knew was a vintage dealer offering to buy my coffee table instead! No way buddy, it's one of my prized pieces.
      Sharing with my MFS facebook followers!

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      1. I guess that vintage dealer thinks it doesn't hurt to ask. So snoopy, though!

        When I lived in Ottawa, there was there weird cutthroat underground moving box market in the classifieds. People were asking outrageous prices for used moving boxes and for a free bunch there would be a waiting list of 100 people. SO BIZARRE (luckily, I snagged some from a young guy whose boss had paid for the moving supplies and he had no clue about the goldmine he was sitting on, lol). A lot of weirdness happening in the classifieds!

        Thanks for sharing with your FB friends :)

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    3. This is a helpful post! I don't have much to sell right now, but will keep this in mind when I decide to upgrade my hand-me-down furniture.

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      1. I'm happy to hear this might be helpful. I think the best tip is to be patient and sell things enough in advance that you can wait for the right buyer. When I've been in a rush, I've had to sell things cheap to get them to move.

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    4. Love that you have Dans Le Lakehouse! I suppose now I am Dans le Townhouse since we've owned and lived in our townhouse a whole three days ;)

      Thanks for this post, and I do wish I had seen it two days ago, shame on me. We sold a few nice items from our old condo and I priced them arbitrarily. Sure enough, had soooo many offers and I do wish I had priced items a bit higher---we were simply in a hurry to clear the property. Now that I've become comfortable with Craigslist, I will take your helpful suggestions for future ads!

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      1. I NEEDED to change the blog name - it was so over due - plus the header consisted of townhouse pics. I had new readers tell me it was really confusing. I took two seconds and whipped up a new header and finally did social media tabs but I need a much better looking header at some point. It just feels good to make the transition.

        I'm happy my tips were helpful. I should have published this post ages ago so I feel so terrible! Sometimes it's good to just move something quickly. I sold the stools left at the lakehouse an hour before our yard sale started (early birds!) and regretted the low price all day. But then with a higher price, we might have hauled them home. Sometimes it's good just to move on.

        I'm excited for your first week in the townhouse!! There is so much fun in store for you :)

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    5. awe you changed the name to Dans Le Lakehouse!!!

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      1. I did! I wish I'd chosen a more versatile blog name in the beginning, lol. Now I need to work on a prettier header and a new blog design, but at least I'm inching toward it.

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      2. Love the blog title upgrade- it transitions well- townhouse to lakehouse- it wouldn't have rolled off the tongue so nicely if you moved into a bungalow or log cabin.
        Good tips- I have only had limited success selling on kijiji (although I don't use Craigslist at all). I employ many of the same tactics and always sell but I rarely get what I want for it. But location can have a lot to do with- we aren't very close to a good sized city so it does reduce the market.
        I do look on kijiji when I'm looking for something- my pet peeve is no photo or bad photos. Or when they don't rotate the photo before posting. I use my ipad it view add so if I were to rotate my screen too see it, then my iPad rotates the image- arrrgh!
        Love the tips- I will have to employ some of these next time.

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      3. Haha, yes, I can never move to a place that isn't a something-house. Dans le Lakehouse was meant to be. Although, I'll miss being Townhouse Tanya. Maybe I should change my name to Lisa??

        Oh my gosh, upside down photos are such a pet peeve - such laziness!!

        Yes, market does have a major impact on pricing. Now that I've moved back to a smaller city, I've had to lower my prices a bit when selling.

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    6. Holy cow girl, you're a selling QUEEN! I learned so much! We tend to have attachment issues with our stuff and there's too many 'frugal' people in our neck of the woods to sell things at times. But next time I'm up for selling things, I'll be sure to run through these again. Totally pinning for later!

      P.S. I wish we had an amazing site like Kijiji down here in the states. Although Craigslist is decent alternative.

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