Money & Career

Show me the money

Trade in your oldies – but goodies – for the cash to buy what you really want

We’re beginning a month of mixed blessings – while spring collections are arriving, so too are post-holiday credit card bills. But before you mourn the loss of those Jimmy Choos, consider this: a little spring cleaning might be all it takes to raise the cash you need to splurge on something new. Here are a few tips on identifying and selling old items in your home for top dollars:

Your junk is another women’s Chanel
“What’s your closet really worth?” asks Stanley Kershman, Ottawa-based author of Put Your Debt on a Diet. “If you can sell three pairs of designer jeans at $200, that’s $600. Take a look at your closet – it may be worth a luxury vacation or a down payment on a vehicle.” To get started, Kershman suggests figuring out what you haven’t worn in the last two years. “If it’s been that long, you won’t wear it again,” he says.

Other good times to cull your clothing:

  1. After baby: Selling your better maternity and baby clothes to consignment shops can really add up. You may only get $4.50 for a pair of baby jeans, as is the case at Once Upon A Child, a second hand clothing store in Calgary. But if you have five pairs at $4.50 that’s $20, says Alison Adam, owner of the store. A recent drop off at the store earned one mom $560. (Note: Old toys can also fetch a good price. Debbie Ness, a South Surrey, B.C. mom made about $400 selling things like old Lego sets and snowboards online.)
  2. Post wedding: Wedding dresses are hot sellers on eBay right now, according to Beth Hanham, owner of Surrey, B.C.’s iSOLD It, a store that sells old items on eBay for a commission of around 30 per cent. “For wedding dresses, January is a very good time because a lot of engagements happen at Christmas,” she says. “People can expect to get about 25-30 per cent of what they paid for their dress.”
  3. Retirement: By all means hold onto a handful of your favourite office ensembles, but there’s no need for a closet full of silk suits upon retirement. Selling some of your finer work clothes to high-end consignment shops can make you thousands of dollars better spent on safari and cruise wear.

Send old furniture out with a bang
A great way to get some cash from retired household items is at an auction. “There is a market for everything,” says Vernon Bailey, an northern Ontario auctioneer who has sold everything from old tools, cattle and farm machinery to furniture, tea cups and telephones for the past 19 years. Auctions attract more sophisticated buyers than garage sales and you’re apt to get a better price when there’s someone representing you.
Darlene Melanson recently commissioned Bailey to auction off about 30 household items from the massive renovation and redecoration of her north-Toronto home. She’s hoping to get $700-800 dollars for her lot of pre-loved goods.

Resist the urge to carelessly purge
Downsizing often causes a storage space crunch. Resist the desire to chuck items you think are worthless as they could be highly valuable to someone else. This is especially true when helping parents sort through their things before a move. “Their junk may be your inheritance,” says Kershman. Things like old records, fine china and sewing machines can fetch tidy sums at auctions, estate sales or online.
Hanham has customers who come in every month with items to sell as they work their way through old storage bins. “They get monthly checks for $300-$500,” she says.
Lynne Drolet is in the process of selling about 25 small collectable figurines through iSOLD It. She recently moved to White Rock, B.C. from Alberta and didn’t have space for all of the figurines, each piece worth anywhere from $10 to $250. “Maybe I’ll put the money into an education fund for the children. Maybe I’ll take the kids on a holiday with it – whatever I do, it’s better than them sitting in the basement collecting dust,” she says.

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