We’ve noticed that with the onset of the busy moving season comes an onslaught of blog posts and articles offering tips on Making Your Move Easier. And the vast majority of them urge you to Purge! – by having a yard sale or donating unwanted clothes to a worthy organization. A few might suggest using one website or another to attract more attention – and will then without another word on the subject move on to Inform the Post Office of Your New Address!
We like to be more thorough. And because we are fully engaged in the business of moving, we can be. And sometimes – like right now – some of us are knee-deep in the process of moving ourselves.
Emptying a 3-Bedroom House Without Starting a Fire
On all the moves I’ve been on in all the years I’ve been a mover I can count on one hand the number of times the customer didn’t comment on their disbelief at how much stuff they had. My reply was always a commiserative “yes, I know, it’s unbelievable.” Now I find myself on the miserating side and, after a month of packing and selling and donating and giving things away for free, I wonder why I don’t just pile it all up in the backyard, burn it and have a beer.
After a full month of purging and only three more weeks to go before I vacate this house I look around and feel that I haven’t accomplished a thing. There’s still stuff everywhere. It’s a miracle this house didn’t sink right into the ground while we were here. I have gotten rid of a bunch of stuff through various avenues, however. And my giddiness at my (admittedly modest) success compels me to lay out a few things I’ve found to work (or not).
Your mileage may vary, but perhaps the following will make the run-up to your own move a bit less taxing.
We’ve gone about this three ways. The first time, we decided at 10pm to have one the next day. So in the morning after wolfing down our frozen waffles we hauled a bunch of furniture and boxes of toys and clothes out into the yard. Surprisingly we made almost $40 – due in large part to the woman who was across the street all day remodeling the home she and her husband just bought. Aside from her and a friend we convinced to come take a look, though, the time and effort brought little.
Our street, mind you, is not a busy one. More traffic might bring more people and more sales. We advise, however, a little more planning.
We announced the next yard sale on craigslist, on the recommendation of the friend who came to the first one and, evidently, felt sorry for us. We also painted YARD SALE with an arrow and our address on large pieces of heavy paper and hung them on telephone poles along the surrounding busier streets. (TIP: a sign written with a Sharpie on regular letter-sized paper is barely visible let alone legible to someone driving by; go big on this or don’t go at all.)
We had a fair few people come by. Most of them slowed down to glance out their window at our yard full of stuff, then continued on down the street and around the corner and out of sight. Still, we made about $60 on the day – half from the woman still remodeling across the street and none from the few people who responded to our craigslist posting.
Our final yard sale strategy has involved leaving everything out there every day for a week on the off chance someone will drive by, see something they like and come knocking on our door offering us cash for whatever caught their eye. This has brought a windfall of dollar bills – from my four-year-old son’s perspective.
Verdict: People are picky about how they spend their singles; you’ll have to put out a vast selection of junk if you want to get rid of any of it.
“Sell your stuff online!”
We’ve tried a few things in this vein, with some decent success for the effort. Craigslist has not been good to us – for months I’ve been trying to sell, among other items, the two Lightning McQueen beds my sons have outgrown (one physically, one emotionally). I got a few inquiries over those months but no takers. I did sell a child seat once. But overall my luck has not been good.
Two weeks ago I got on eBay for the first time ever and listed one of those beds for $35. On the second try it sold for $41. Thank you and good riddance. If I had more free time I’d figure out the shipping on the other items I am putting up for auction; for now I’m staying local and offering free pick-up. Less work, but for a smaller market. I just don’t have the time to go crazy for a $15 Hot Wheels Big “O” Race Track with chargeable car.
What has worked well for us so far involves a Facebook page for a local ‘Moms On A Budget’ club. The competition is fierce; these women sell anything and everything and no sooner have you posted a picture of the desk you’d like to get rid of than three other posts appear, one for a lamp, one for a decorative mirror and six for a total of eleven pairs of “new” shoes, all at deep discount prices.
We created an album of the items we want to sell and keep adding new photos. This means all our stuff can be seen at one time AND each time we upload a new photo or someone comments on an item our album gets bumped to the top of the page, ahead of all the shoes. The drawback so far is having to constantly check for new messages by people interested in this, wanting measurements on that and asking if you will hold that other thing until they can come by after work/school/the country club – and then hoping they don’t flake, which so far has been much more an issue on craigslist.
Verdict: Online selling saves both time and your back compared to setting up a yard sale.
“Donate your unwanted clothing!”
We get these plastic bags in the mail all the time from various organizations asking us to leave our used and unwanted clothes and various other items out by the curb on a specified day for pick-up. These groups seem to be predominantly veteran-related – which sounds great I guess. Unfortunately none of them has offered to haul away the sofa and love seat I can’t seem to pawn off on anyone and I’d rather not have to bring it myself to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. But I would do this sooner than I would leave it for the garbage man. As a society we already produce way too much trash. And there is always someone out there who can use the things you can’t.
Verdict: Giving stuff to people who can use it is clearly more time-consuming but immeasurably more gratifying than giving it to people who will just bury it in the ground or dump it in the ocean.
Whichever route you decide to try, take my advice and get to purging early.
Seriously, no matter how many times you might hear it, you really have no idea how much stuff you have until you have to move it.
Any questions, please call me, 914-215-2025, Chris