You: Have an attic, basement or storage room full of stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day for as far back as you can remember.
Me: I sell things for you on eBay, Amazon or other sites and write you a check for your sold items. I, and many others, are trader’s assistants*. We look at your things and can tell you if it has a value to others (they will pay for it) or if it should be given away or trashed.
Ways to find a trader’s assistant in your city include:
1. Consignment Pal, a website where you’ll find contact information for those who sell your items. is easy to use and can be searched by city or state.
2. Ask your friends and family. It’s possible they know someone who does this sort of work.
3. Call the managers at local flea markets, antique malls, auction houses, or resale shops. They can often refer you to those willing to sell your items.
4. Log onto eBay and use the advance search tool to see who is selling items that are similar to those you want to sell locally. Review their accounts. If they’ve received lots (thousands) of positive comments contact them through eBay messaging to see if they sell for others or know someone who does
5. Search for locally written blogs that feature stories highlighting the writer’s adventures while searching for treasures at thrift shops, auctions, estate sales, and garage sales. Many of these writers also sell for others or know people who do.
6. Post a message on a grocery store or other business’s help board saying that you are looking for assistance. Chances are excellent someone will contact you.
Once you’ve contacted or have been contacted by someone ask them for their eBay ID and take a look to see how many successful transactions they’ve had. More is better. You’re looking for the person who has thousands of successful transactions. They know what they’re doing; they’ve solved the inevitable snafu, and most likely will take the best care of you and your items.
When making the initial contacts don’t say: “I have a basement full of stuff I want to sell. When can you come and pick it up?” First, do you want a complete strange coming to your home? You don’t know who these people are and they don’t know you. It is very unlikely they would agree to this.
Create a list of the items you want to sell with as many specifics (brands, size, signatures on items etc..) as you can. Lead your contact with a statement such as: “I have a basement full of items I’d like to sell, including a group of 12 cookie jars, three say McCoy and one was in my great grandma’s home.” You’ve given the trader a place to start helping you. They can easily find out whether McCoy is selling well. If you present them with an item they can successfully sell they are more likely to help you do research on other items in your possession.
It is best to give a trader just a few items when you first start to work together. Meet for the exchange at a mutually acceptable location for the drop off. This way you can assess how they perform. Did they list your items in the agreed upon time? Did they deliver your payment for the sold items in a timely manner? Once the relationship starts to gel they may come to your home and pull the items with the most promise for profit.
Don’t be married to the idea of only using eBay. I recently sold a set of golf clubs using Craigslist.org. Shipping golf clubs is expensive, so selling to a local buyer made more sense.
The percentage of fees deducted from the sale price of items varies from assistant to assistant and even item to item with the same assistant. Assistants take into account the fees charged by the venue and the time, final value and expertise required. Ask what the costs will be and don’t be afraid to ask for the information in writing. Just because you’re paying a smaller percentage of the final sale price to one assistant over another does not mean you’re getting a bargain. It’s worth paying a bit more to the assistant who has the reputation and expertise to command a higher selling price.
Once you’ve made the decision to sell your things don’t feel you have to have everything out of that basement or have that collection out of your house in ten days! It didn’t get there in 10 days. If you take your time and do your research you can get the most money for your things with the least amount of hassle to yourself.
*eBay had a resource board listing members who would sell for others. The program was discontinued during 2013.