Out the door
Since last I covered the topic, we’ve offloaded a few extra items: a vacuum cleaner, leftover vinyl, a weed-whacker, a deep fat fryer, some decor and a pair of headphones I won at the ill-fated (in both senses) FinCon ’16.
And of course, we had already sold two water coolers, 6 water jugs, a gaming chair, the emotion-wrenching stroller, and a bike.
We’ve gotten over $200 so far, and there are still several items that should bring in at least another $50. Could be as high as $80 if I’m able to sell it all.
While the money is much appreciated — even frugally updated decor costs tend to add up — this endeavor has given me some interesting insights into the value of items.
What it’s “worth”
Seven years ago, searching for affordable decor for our new house, I found a funky Aztec/Mayan-looking wall hanging at an antiques mall. Despite the setting, the piece was priced at around $15 (might even have been $12) so I got it because it was pretty and unique.
Turns out, it was far more unique than I thought.
We moved some things around when we got new art, and I finally admitted that there just wasn’t a good spot for the wall hanging anymore. So I put it up on a few selling platforms for $10. I got six offers in as many hours.
One guy, upon learning there were four people ahead of him, offered me $30. I contacted the guy I’d already agreed to sell it to and explained the situation. Happily, he matched the price.
There was virtually no hesitation, which means both men probably would’ve gone higher — perhaps significantly higher.
But here’s the thing: It doesn’t really matter what it’s worth.
I mean… It does. Obviously. Except that, when selling, what really matters is what it’s worth to you, not what it’s worth to them.
If you’re relieved to get rid of something at $10, how much does it matter if you could’ve gotten $20? Especially if a higher price meant you had to keep the item longer, unsure whether you’d be able to sell it at all. Then how much does that $10 matter?
Maybe both buyers would’ve balked if I asked $40, or maybe they would have readily agreed to $50 or even $60. It’s tempting to dwell on that.
But what I remind myself is that I was prepared to take $7. So if it was worth $7 to me, I ought to be pretty happy with $30.
In the end I think I made the right choice. Given how quickly he ramped up the price, the second guy was probably a reseller. The buyer I went with turned out to be a collector. He told me it was going up on a wall as soon as he got home. That gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Worth less (though not worthless)
This sell-off has also shown me quickly things depreciate for the sellers themselves.
I put 10 frames up for sale. Two are larger — 16″ by 20″ and 11″ by 14″ — and the rest have openings a little under 4″ by 6″ with only two of those being, er, let’s call them shabby chic.
Even with the omnipresent coupons from Michaels, frames ain’t cheap. So when I initially put them up on Craigslist and Facebook, I wasn’t willing to go under $3 for most of the smaller ones.
But there wasn’t a hint of interest. On day three I lowered the price. Suddenly, the frames I absolutely wouldn’t consider selling for under $3 were worth $2. I even offered all of them for $15.
Why the change of heart? I’d already pictured them gone. In my mind’s eye, I’d already seen less clutter in the office, so now they felt cumbersome. Like a party guest who just won’t leave.
In fact, just the other day I almost dropped the price to $10, but decided to list them in separate lots on OfferUp and LetGo. I have some interest there that, if it works out, would net me $17 without even selling the largest frame.
So while this may all work out well, the fact is that the items lost incredible amounts of value for me as soon as I started considering them clutter instead of potential income.
Similarly, I had no qualms about listing our weed whacker for $5.
Sure, we could’ve eventually gotten more. But we only paid $30ish for it and, more importantly, for the last three years it (and its insanely long cord) has been in our face every time we walked into the garage.
We wanted it gone. Stat.
Similarly, our vacuum went for $15 without our batting an eye. It barely got used for the year or two we had it in the apartment, but it also sat in our garage for seven years since the move. Meanwhile, other vacuums — certainly used more but also far newer — were $20 to $30. So I was just happy to unload it quickly.
That’s not enough (anymore)
I finally listed my old dresser on Craiglist, OfferUp and LetGo.
While downright lovely from a distance, it’s got a few nicks in the paint and two-inch long, light scratch on one side. Oh, and as you can see it’s missing two pulls.
I couldn’t decide between $20 or $25, so I asked two gals (both relatively seasoned secondhand-marketplace shoppers) for their advice. They told me to put it up for $50 and see what happens.
I figured I’d give it a shot — furniture prices are ridiculous anyway — and I almost immediately got a message on OfferUp. For $30.
Let me remind you that this is $5 to $10 more than I was going to ask. But it suddenly felt too low. I countered with $40 and never heard back.
I decided almost immediately that $50 was indeed too much, but I figured I’d shoot for $40. If someone offered $30 that fast, surely someone else would go for $40.
But that yielded no responses.
Yesterday I realized I hadn’t listed it in the Facebook buy/sell groups, so I slapped it up there for $30. Yep, we’re back to $30 (begrudgingly) because, like the frames, the dresser’s presence now aggravates me.
Five people contacted me within two hours. Unfortunately, the first person didn’t work out. But that may have been a blessing in disguise because someone on OfferUp allegedly wants it for $40.
There’s no guarantee that the sale will go through. If it doesn’t, I guess I’ll go back to the remaining interested Facebook parties and hopefully, they’re still eager for it.
Even if one of them does snatch it up, part of me will still grumble about letting it go for “only” $30. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a good price; it’s $5 more than I initially wanted; and it’s certainly $30 more than we have right now.
And yet I’m afraid the value of the item is forever skewed in my brain.
Have you ever had an item’s value change drastically? Or just for weird reasons?