You won't end up with a fat wad of cash, but if you'd like to get rid of used clothes, books, sports equipment or jewelry without the hassle of a yard sale or eBay, resale shops are a good option. • For a yard sale you have to sacrifice a Saturday and face creepy bargain hunters who show up before daylight trolling for old watches or gold fillings. To sell on Craigslist and eBay, you may have to set up an account, shoot and upload photos, field questions from prospective buyers and ship the stuff. And you only ship if you're lucky enough to sell it. • Plan your execution well, and the resale shop route is easier. If you load your car and stop in to sell your items whenever you're in the area of the used bookstore or consignment shop, it's relatively painless. If you head out to sell it all off in one day, you will spend more time than you would on a yard sale and blow your cash on gas. • The sale price per item you get from resale shops competes with what the Saturday morning shoppers or eBay customers pay. But resale shops are selective so you'll probably end up selling less stuff. After hitting six resale shops, I ended up with a whopping $63. At least I cleared out some closets and drawers. • Here's a look at how I fared with a backseat full of stuff.
A lot of resale shops sell on consignment only, meaning you get paid after your items sell. Some pay cash and some offer store credit, so always call ahead to confirm if and when they are buying for cash.
At Wilson's Book World (wilsonsbookworld.com) in St. Petersburg I sold eight books, including a couple of hardback children's classics and paperback biographies for $4. The going rate at yard sales is $1 for hardbacks and 50 cents for paperbacks. It's not worth selling books on eBay unless you sell them by lots.
Book Swap (bookswapfl.com) stores in Carrollwood and New Tampa offer store credit only. But they do trade for audiobooks, which many bookstores do not. Haslam's Book Store (haslams.com) in St. Petersburg wasn't buying the week I called.
"The popular books they print in the hundreds of thousands, we're very selective with those," said owner and book buyer Ray Hinst Jr. "If you've got relatively unique things, then we can look at that by appointment. A first edition of Huckleberry Finn, there are a few places you should take it before getting rid of it at a garage sale." (Someone recently brought in such a volume, the holy grail in used books, to Haslam's. Hinst marveled at it but didn't offer the tens of thousands it's worth.)
I only know of three clothing consignment shops that give you cash on the spot. Once Upon A Child (onceuponachild.com) has several locations in Tampa Bay, as does Plato's Closet (platoscloset.com). Revolve Clothing Exchange (revolvewear.com) has stores in St. Petersburg and Ybor City.
Someone at the Revolve in St. Petersburg sorted through a shopping bag full of clothes for teens and adults and ended up paying $10 for a Lilly Pulitzer skirt, American Eagle jeans, an oversized pink purse and a sleeveless dress.
At Once Upon a Child in Tampa, only three items were bought. I received $6 for a boy's button-down shirt from Target, a Lilly Pulitzer shirt and Abercrombie jeans. So I averaged $2 an item. I usually price clothes at yard sales at $1 each. If I sold the Lilly shirt on eBay it might fetch $10.
Stores buy based on their demand. If the items they reject are in good shape, try them at another location of the same chain and you might sell them.
Play it Again Sports (playitagainsports.com) buys anything from hand weights to treadmills. Again, each store buys according to its needs, but you can almost always count on selling weights for 10 cents a pound. I got $3 for some hand weights last week. This year I sold them a treadmill for $60.
I doubt anyone has any gold or silver left since dealers have been buying it up for several years now. I took some mismatched sterling earrings and a tangled necklace to Old Northeast Jewelers (oldnortheastjewelers.com) in St. Petersburg and they fetched $40.
I have discovered reputable, permanent jewelry stores pay more than the businesses that are set up just to buy gold or silver. The offers made for a silver spoon, for example, ranged from $15 to $60.
For a link to a story the St. Petersburg Times ran on selling gold and silver, go to links.tampabay.com.
I found it's not worth trying to sell to salvage stores. I lugged a pantry door and a Hunter ceiling fan to two salvage yards that weren't the slightest bit interested. After spending more than an hour of time and gasoline, my husband chided that I should change the title of this story from "Here's the Deal" to "Here's the Fiasco." Fortunately the Habitat for Humanity Home Store (habitat.org/restores) was near the second salvage place, so I dropped the door and fan there and got a tax writeoff.
Don't even bother telling your husband where you're going or what you're doing.
Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at (727) 893-8785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.