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:
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.
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
- 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?