This past year has been financially challenging on so many levels, and as a result, cashing in on clutter has become mainstream as it offers a potential extra revenue stream. Being mindful with how we manage our possessions, especially the stuff that we no longer need or want and now consider as clutter, is more important than ever. It can be a major undertaking, but one that can actually pay for itself. Keep in mind, however, that not everything will be sellable and we need to minimize how much goes into the trash. With our seven simple steps and some careful planning, you will be cashing in on clutter in no time!
Step 1 – Take Stock
Begin taking inventory by physically going around your home and writing down all the things that need to go. Sometimes it is easier to focus on one room (or closet) at a time. Do this process quickly otherwise you will start to overthink things and the process might stall. If you are not sure about something, come back to it later.
Step 2 – Categorize
Once you have created an inventory as what you consider as clutter, it is time to decide where it goes. On another sheet, write the following headings on the top of the page: Trash, Recycle, Give Away (to friends or family), Donate, Storage, and Sell. Referencing your previous list, start to place items in the appropriate columns. For all categories except the sell column, prepare to deal with those items first as they will be the easiest to sort through and distribute. This will make room and leave you with the energy to deal with the items you plan to sell.
For the items you wish to donate, make sure that they are clean and not in complete disrepair. The goal is to minimize waste as much as possible. Some thrift stores like Value Village will even offer financial incentives like discount coupons and other donations that could benefit local charities (depending on the item some charities may even offer a tax receipt).
Consider repairing or repurposing those things that may not seem reusable. For those that are beyond repair, check out Vancouver’s Zero Waste Wizard to find out how you can recycle them properly. You will be surprised at what can be recycled at no cost.
Arriving at this step in the process is a huge accomplishment, so take a moment and congratulate yourself on getting this far.
Step 3 – Price Accordingly
Once you are ready to let things go, your first task is to make sure that you choose the right avenue for selling your items and price accordingly. We often have a tendency to think our stuff is worth more than it is. Do your homework and get a sense of what things may be worth ahead of time.
Step 4 – Preparing to Sell
Look at all the items in the sell category. For each item:
Make sure you want to sell it.
Make sure it is sellable.
Make sure you have the time, resources, and energy to sell it.
Make any necessary changes to the list.
Step 5 – Choose the Right Place to Sell
Cashing in on clutter can be achieved in many different ways and requires some thought and careful planning. Do your homework ahead of time to see which method works best. Remember that COVID has affected some of these approaches, however, with time, things will open up and it’s smart to be prepared when they do.
There are many ways to sell online (e.g., Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, Poshmark, Depop, Abe Books, Used.ca, Varagesale, etc.). There are even websites that are neighbourhood specific (e.g., Nextdoor).
Organizing a garage sale can be time-consuming, but this is a great way to declutter all at once. Keep prices low and be willing to negotiate. TIP: Make it a group effort with friends or neighbours; this attracts more people and makes it fun! Good signage is key and make sure to post the sale in various places locally and online.
Flea Markets/Swap Meets
If you have a lot of stuff, but would prefer people not to come to your home, you can always purchase a table at a local community flea market or swap meet. The key here is to have attractive displays, know your prices, and be willing to negotiate. Check out SecondhandSavvy to see for a list of local markets and swap meets.
An often-underused resource, some auction houses will not only purchase estate items such as antiques and collectibles but everyday housewares as well. Make sure to find out ahead of time about the various fees and consignment processes. Some local auction houses to check out are Loves Auctions, Able Auctions, and Maynards.
You can consign just about anything — clothing, jewellery, sports gear, everyday housewares including furniture, kitchen items, books, small appliances, antiques, collectibles, and so much more. Each store has its own consignment process and fee structure (generally 50%) and will only keep items in stock for a few months at a time. Do your homework ahead of time and check out their websites or visit in person to see if they will consider selling your items. For clothing and accessories check out Turnabout, Dragon and Phoenix, Front & Company, High End Resale but there are many more. In terms of home consignment stores, check out Secondhand Savvy for a detailed list and you can find sports equipment at places like Sports Junkies, Cheapskates, or North Shore Sports Swap.
For antiques and collectibles, research which antique store might be a good fit. Some stores will buy outright whereas others will consign your items. Most store owners will give you an honest assessment of what your items might be worth but you could seek out an antique appraiser (e.g., Antique Appraisals or Gale Pirie) if you wanted to be sure. Some local antique stores include Baker’s Dozen Antiques, Jones General Store, and Attic Treasures.
There are also special groups of people who buy and sell items without having a storefront. Referred to as dealers, they often sell items through flea markets, swap meets, antique shows, and online. They usually collect very specific types of items and are also quite knowledgeable and will pay a fair price. TIP: The best way to find them is through word of mouth and by going to various events and shows and talking to them in person. You can also visit local antique malls like Village Antiques Mall as many dealers will sell there as well.
These stores will usually buy items outright. This includes books, records/CDs, instruments, electronics, computers, furniture, housewares, sports equipment, and more. For books, you can check out MacLeod’s Books, Pulpfiction Books, Carson Books & Records, Kestrel Books, Village Books and Coffee House, and Companion Books. Neptoon Records is great for Records and CDs.
These stores purchase vintage/retro clothing, jewellery, accessories, and housewares. Although some may sell a few items on consignment, generally they purchase items outright. Some local stores include Bohemia Gallery, Community Thrift and Vintage, F as in Frank, and Woo Vintage.
Step 6 – Get Help
Still feeling overwhelmed? Might be time to revisit the list or consider hiring a professional organizer to help tackle the process.
Step 7 – Cash In
With a plan in hand, begin making all the calls and start cashing in on your clutter!