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Downsizing Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

Since writing about the Garage Sale Gestapo several months ago, the county changed the code somewhat. I don’t have a copy of the previous version, but I promise you there was language in it that prohibited even indoor sales without a permit, and that said a code enforcement officer could enter the premises to verify whether or not you were selling your items inside.

The current code still prohibits yard/tag/carport/garage sales without a permit, and limits all sales to not more than two per year. But it seems they’ve backed off the insistence that they can control what goes on inside my house. Under the language in the previous code they might have cited me for each of the several times I’ve had a Craigslist buyer over.

Conventional downsizing methods are soul-sucking, time-stealing beasts

I’ve learned the following about the liquidation plans I mentioned in that previous garage sale post:

  • Yard sales would suck even without someone to tell me I couldn’t have one without permission. I was reminded of this when I joined my daughter at her properly-permitted sale. The best thing about it was spending the whole weekend captive in her front yard, because we had lots of time to chat (something we’re both bad at making time for). If you have high-dollar items, this is not your crowd. And overall, unless you’ve got an incredibly high-traffic location, you’ll make so little that it may not be worth the time and effort to haul everything out.
  • Craigslist sucks the least in the time/value realization, but like any other method of selling your stuff you’ve got to deal with tire-kickers and people who don’t follow up.
  • The eBay listing process makes me a crazy woman. So crazy I stopped doing it. Huge time suck because I’m a type A who simply must research the value of every.damn.trinket I list. And I still failed to sell at a decent price, when things sold at all.
  • Decluttr and every other social selling app I tried – success depends a lot on the area you live in. Pretty sure I have completely the wrong stuff to sell to most anyone in this county. I like vintage. I don’t do TV or video games. I don’t have little kids. And I’m not selling the latest unlocked iPhone or an XBox or any other mainstream electronic thing.
  • The consignment store was the easiest and most profitable of everything I tried to this point, but they took half of what I made and gave away some high-value items without my permission. Well, the giving away part was in the fine print on the contract, so I suppose I had given permission.
  • Books – forget about it unless you plan to make it a career. I sold a lot with the Amazon Seller app, and it was pretty easy. For many books it was worth it, but for most books you’re better off carting them to Goodwill. Pennies. Seriously.
  • The gun-related stuff has gone well for Brian. No surprise there. I’m grateful and not envious (pretty much) of his ability to sell a screw – because it’s a gun screw – for $40. It all goes to the move fund, right. Between my low-dollar vintage and his knack for turning old gun thingamajobbers into moolah, it averages out.
  • I donated all of my nicer office/corporate clothes to a local battered woman’s shelter. It was something of an ordeal and it didn’t feel like they appreciated it as much as they’d have appreciated cash…which I might have had had I not pushed myself to unload my wardrobe :-/

The lesson I had to learn the hard way

Estate sales are NOT just for dead rich people. My friend James threw out an open invitation for all his Facebook friends to comment about their businesses. One friend mentioned that she handled estate sales, prompting me to (meekly) inquire about what one needed to make an estate sale worth doing. That led to a nice phone chat and agreeing to let her come out and take a look.

Because we’d already gotten rid of so much, and we really don’t have expensive antiques or high-end anything, we were kind of on the border of worthwhile and not. But she agreed to help us.

Thank heavens.

I wish I had saved myself the stress and effort of my previous mostly-failed attempts to sell my stuff, and kept it all for our upcoming estate sale. If it all goes as planned we’ll have an empty house to clean and paint, and the money to cover someone else doing it. That, my friend, is absolutely worth the 30% charge. Pretty sure my only regret is going to be that I didn’t think this was an option until after wasting time and money doing other crap.

I’m just one of those people who often has to learn the hard way.

I’ll post again about the sale and let you all know how it goes. Since it’ll be a clean sweep immediately before moving out, we’ll need to hit a few more milestones before we can kiss the house goodbye.

4 thoughts on “Downsizing Just Got a Whole Lot Easier”

  1. We did some garage sales, craigslist, donations, and trash. 🙂 We pretty much did it all in a few weeks. It was crazy. We didn’t have much time to really find the best way to do all this. The opportunity came up to ditch traditional life and travel, so we jumped on it. This is really great information for anyone considering selling their things and hitting the road.

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    1. That is awesome to pare down your stuff so drastically and so quickly. I’m sure I’d be more motivated with a hard deadline staring me in the face. Either that or in tears, if it was before we met Kelly the estate sale lady.

      Working to be debt-free at the same time we’re looking to make a big move makes the whole thing gain epic proportion – in my mind anyway. Hubby’s great – just plugging along, being his awesome self 😛

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  2. Now that we’ve completed the great purge and are living life on the road, I hope to never again be in a position to get rid of a boatload of “stuff.” As you said, it’s excruciating in the time commitment and mental & physical energy required. Ugh.

    I originally wanted to do an estate sale but my husband and a friend (who volunteered to help me set up the house and run a garage sale) didn’t want to forsake the 50% commission charged in the Detroit area. So — after using Craigslist, Facebook, other various other tools to get rid of most of the furniture and big-ticket stuff — we held the weekend-long garage sale, followed a month later by the weekend-long “man sale” for tools and such. It’s the 3rd or 4th time in my life I’ve held one. Never again.

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    1. I’d be on the fence at 50%, but it’s an awful lot of work. Excruciating is an apt descriptor. Thank God we found Kelly the estate sale lady and her very reasonable 30% fee.

      We planned on buying a smaller house when we moved, so this just takes the minimalism to a new level. Of, like, actual minimalism. Unless you’re comparing it to tent camping, but let’s not go there!

      How long have you been on the road?

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