Other homes for your used stuff
After six months of cold weather and indoor hibernation, the weather is finally nice and warm again. Yes, spring is here.
Spring is a time for a new beginning and a fresh start, for renewal and growth. For a lot of people this means it's time to do spring cleaning.
Depending on the individual, spring cleaning could mean deep-cleaning the house inside and out, cleaning and reorganizing closets, basement and garage, putting away winter clothes and bringing out summer clothes, purging clothes or getting rid of other stuff no longer useful and wanted.
But what do you do with the unwanted or no longer needed items you want to get rid of?
Basically, you can sell, donate, give away or trash them if they are not in good condition.
There are different ways people can sell things and make some money off of the used items.
Some people sell stuff on eBay or Craigslist, through garage sales or via consignment stores.
EBay and Craigslist sound too high-tech and time-consuming for me. On the other hand, a garage sale is too low-tech and time consuming. They both feel overwhelming to me, so I have never tried either one of the methods.
This leaves the consignment store the only option for me to try if I want to squeeze a few bucks out of my unwanted items.
That's exactly what I did recently.
Since I had never sold anything to a consignment store and didn't really know how it works firsthand, I thought it could be a learning experience.
I gathered more than a dozen new or like-new items my kids and I have either outgrown or didn't want any more. I brought them to a local consignment store in a convenient location.
All the items were carefully inspected before they were accepted. One or two items were rejected because their condition didn't meet the high standard. A new account was opened in my name.
I left thinking I would either collect some money from the sale of my items or get the stuff back before the end of the contract.
Just before my contract ended, I went back to the store to get my money or stuff. To my disappointment, I hardly made any money. Only three new items were sold. What I got was a pity.
I am pretty sure I could make more money on them at a garage sale, since no one would take more than half of the profit from the sale.
What's more disappointing was I couldn't even get all my unsold items back. Some were donated/missing/lost, whatever the convenient term was used.
Then I was told that they would call me when they could find the items. But I never got any call.
I left the consignment store with a sour taste and bad feelings. I was not happy for doing something so unproductive and non-beneficial.
I wish I had given away those items to friends or donated them to a charity. I would have felt 100 percent better.
The little money I got was not worth of the time and effort in the first place, let alone the unpleasant experience.
For sure, I will not sell anything to any consignment stores again. But in the end, the experience did serve its purpose, as a learning experience. Now, donating and giving away sound more attractive to me.
There are many charitable organizations that are in need of donations. Some will come to your house to pick up donations. You will not only feel good by doing good, but you can also get a tax deduction if you itemize your tax return.
You're are allowed to deduct the fair-market value of items donated to qualified charitable organizations.
When giving away to friends, think who can use the items and who would also appreciate your giving. Kids' stuff is probably the most popular thing to give away.
You can also give away your stuff to strangers.
The Twin Cities Free Market (www.twincitiesfreemarket.org) is a great place to give away or get free stuff. Its purpose is to "save money, save the earth, make someone's day."
Another popular site in that category is the Freecycle Network (www.freecycle.org).
Without charge, you can also put a "Free items" ad in the Woodbury Bulletin's classified section.
Whatever you do with your unwanted stuff, do that in a way that will also make you feel good, not just to enrich your pocket. That's the lesson I have learned.
As for myself, I know what I will do in the future. But first, I have a lot of spring cleaning to do in my house.