Inspired by a recent experience of having no internet for THREE weeks (due to moving the house), and an internet business to run (right…) I had to look at other ways to sell my stock during that time. As the Monty Python boys say: ‘Adapt, Adopt and Improve’. Although I love selling online, it is possible to sell in this mighty off-line world too… Below I have included the 6 smart ways to sell your stuff (without the need to actually own a store):
1. AUCTION HOUSES:
First of all, auction house, it can be a great place to sell quality wooden furniture and mixed lots. Also, pottery and ceramics often do well at the auctions.
- Find your local auction house
- Call in with your item for a valuation
- Set the reserve price, if required, so your item won’t sell if it is less than this amount – be wise with this, as sometimes you have to pay the entry fee to sell your item. Don’t price your item too high, but aim for the top end of the estimate given to you by the auctioneer
- If you have some very unusual item (like WWI memorabilia), it’s better to go to specialist auction
- Also remember that you’ll need to pay 10% – 15% of the price after the sale (the percentage can vary from one auction house to another)
- When selling furniture, the auctioneer can ask for the items to have the fire resistance certificate – it is usually the label you could find on the piece. According to the law, the auction house can refuse to accept the furniture which is not fire resistant.
Ben says: “When we disposed of my late mother’s estate we found one auction house nearby that would take almost anything and turn it into cash. I was amazed at what we got rid of for seemingly good money. There was stuff that I was prepared to throw out but thought I would pass by them first. They disposed of anything from boxes of kitchen utensils to cheap paperbacks. We realised we were onto a good thing and cleared out some of our own tat through this guy, as we had to make room for some of the nice pieces coming our way from my mother’s house.”
2. LOCAL PAPER:
Most local papers offer the classified ads section, get one of the papers and see how to submit your ad, how much will it cost (some could be free), and for how long it will run (appear in the paper). I would pick a weekly paper instead of just a daily paper, as it’s got a longer life and people will have more time to look through it.
- Check how other people advertise their stuff, and how they price it.
- Keep the ad text to absolute minimum, include dimensions of the item you sell, condition, if you deliver or not, and also your contact details.
- Remember, one photo can speak a 1000 words, and it will stand out, so consider submitting a photo (usually a paid extra).
From my personal experience though, I did not have much luck with the local paper ads, so I wouldn’t rely on this as a selling platform.
3. LOCAL SHOP’S NOTICE BOARD
You know, when you’re in your local supermarket or a post office, you pass these boards, where you see ads with unwanted stuff for sale, rooms to rent, services etc. It is worth considering to place your own, if you do have some bigger items for sale (like a bed, car, wardrobe etc.)
- Enquire in the shop, how to place your ad, have they got special stationery to write the info on, or can you submit your own card
- Ask how much is it to advertise, and how long will the ad stay for.
- If you can submit the photo, it’s even better.
Worth considering, yet not the main money earner!
4. SECOND HAND FURNITURE SHOPS
That’s a good option to try, as many local furniture stores are happy to stock unique items and keep bringing new stock frequently. It’s better to target the second hand furniture stores than the ones selling brand new stuff, as the latter might be less likely to buy used furniture.
- Phone the shop first and arrange the time when it would be most convenient for you to come over to speak with the owner / manager.
- You can also email them the sample photos of your products and they could choose the ones they’re interested in. That way it saves you dragging all your current stock with you – just take the things they want to buy!
- When negotiating the sale, accentuate the fact how much their shop will profit from new unusual items, fresh stock etc.
- Also remember that the shop owner could haggle on the price, so start by quoting the price a bit higher than what you would like to get, which will give you some wriggle room, and it will leave the shop owner happy that he got the great deal!
5. CAR BOOT SALES:
Now these can be fun, if you do have plenty of little items you can flog for pennies – in my experience I didn’t have any luck selling bigger items, like furniture on car boot sales, people don’t take large amounts of money to car boots generally – they’re not prepared for large purchases.
- To make the trip worthwhile, stock up your car so your stall will look packed, attractive and you’ll have buyers queuing!
- Research in local paper on what days are the car boot sales held and what time do they start.
- Star Tip: as a seller you’ll need to be good 2h beforehand to get the decent spot!
- Expect loads of price haggling, take a water or a flask with a hot drink, something to read and some snacks – it will be a long day!
- Also take extra sheets of plastic for wet ground or covering books/clothes when the odd un-forecast rain shower goes over. Make sure you have a float of change – especially for those first purchases (always a £20 note for £1 item!).
- Remember about sun tan lotion and shades – it’s easy to get burned these few hours in the sun! Get everything ready the night before, check the weather forecast and pack the car.
- Pack the car strategically. Don’t put your table or layout sheet at the bottom of the boot. You’ll need it first
6. VINTAGE FAIRS:
Fairs are organised trade events, where many sellers set up their stalls and fill with vintage or antique items. This is the place where you can sell more unusual items, and for a higher price. The buyers who visit stalls are often collectors, looking for something specific. You can find about upcoming trade fairs in your area in local newspaper or buying vintage magazine. You would need to book your stall in advance, so contact the organisers, who will also give you some idea what kind of stock would sell best.
Once you are booked in the prospect of joining busy fair can be quite daunting. Please don’t worry, there’s lots of help once you arrive. But good preparation is key.
- Prepare swing tags with price clearly displayed and your stall / shop name on it.
- Price your stock carefully, the fairs are aimed at the affordable market and you don’t want to over price your stall. If it’s your first fair you could price accordingly but bring some sale cards or rail tags along, if certain items are sticking you can then quickly reduce rails or add offers to entice customers.
- You want to start with a smaller stall at your first fair. You can always bring extra stock with you and un-pack it as the fair goes on. Some stall holders bring extra sacks of stock and store it under their tables to re-stock quickly.
- Dressing your stall can make all the difference, bring with you anything you think may stand out from the crowd. Bring fabric to cover your table, signs to let people know your price points, flyers to promote your brand and if you do have any small items then a bargain bin is always welcome especially from the fashion students.
This is all based on experience of mine and other people, but it all depends on the items you do have for sale – the ads in the paper didn’t work for me, but I know some people who sell very well that way. Also I didn’t have a great profit from the auction, but others love it, and sell only this way! So it’s always good to try different ways of selling and pick the one that works for you!
by Cherrie Hub