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Yard sale or online auction: The best way to get cash for clutter

An eBay bag. Do you sell items -- or buy -- on eBay?

Image of The Unofficial Guide to Making Money on eBay
Author: Lynn Dralle
Publisher: Wiley (2006)
Binding: Paperback, 370 pages

It's summer: time for Shakespeare in the Park, walking barefoot on the beach, and taking a whole week to clean out your garage and closets to hold a yard sale. But in this day and age of eBay and Craigslist is the yard sale really worth it? Lynn Dralle has no doubt about where she stands on this issue. She's known as "The Queen of Auctions," which is also the name of her blog.

Dralle makes a lot of money as an online seller, so she may be a bit biased about whether it's better to sell items in a garage sale versus online. But she recognizes the upside to garage sales.

"The pros of a garage sale or a yard sale are when you have to do it quickly and you don't have time to post pictures on Craigslist; you don't want to deal with shipping; you've got to get in, you've got to get out," says Dralle.

But Dralle says she avoids having yard sales when there is no time constraint because you can probably get better prices for selling your unwanted items online.

"When you have a garage sale, you're pricing at about 10 cents on the dollar because people come to a garage sale and they're like, 'I'm not paying $10 for that, I'll give you a buck,'" says Dralle.

Dralle's rule of thumb when she sells her items online is that she needs to make 10 times whatever she first paid. But auction sites like eBay can be a lot of hard work for sellers. You have to take photos, pack everything, ship it off, etc.

"It's very labor intensive and it's really a full-time job to make a full-time living on eBay. I'm on my computer 24/7," says Dralle.

But there are ways to be efficient when you participate in auction sites. For instance, you can plan your auctions all in one week and ship everything off at one time.

"Even though it is time intensive and there's all this extra leg work, I would much rather sell coffee mugs for $900 than give $5 for them," says Dralle. "It's a thrill. It's gambling and you never lose."

Dralle says she sells about 112,000 items a year on eBay and an average month brings in about $10,000 for her.

About the author

In more than 20 years in public radio, Barbara Bogaev has served as the longtime guest host of NPR’s flagship program Fresh Air with Terry Gross, as well as host of APM’s news and culture magazine, Weekend America and the weekly national documentary series, Soundprint.
Image of The Unofficial Guide to Making Money on eBay
Author: Lynn Dralle
Publisher: Wiley (2006)
Binding: Paperback, 370 pages

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