yard sale, craigslist, ebay or donate?

Hey sweet friends! We’re back again!

After this yard sale post a few weeks ago, a few of you guys had some questions for me, and this email from Sarah P. kind of sums it up:

How on earth do you know when to have a yard sale? Or do you think you can sell it all on Craigslist? I think I want to have a yard sale, and I have a ton of stuff. But some of my stuff is a little nicer than your typical yard sale stuff. How do you know when to do what, where? I’m torn between so many options, and confused, if I’m really honest. It sounds simple, but I know how much work goes into such things. It is exhausting. Any advice?


First things first : I’m pretty sure someone could write an entire novel on this topic and never cover it all. So feel free to contribute below, oh-so-awesome yard sale-seasoned readers. I’m prefacing with that.

Secondly: We probably made our yard sale a little more complicated than it needed to be.

I wanted our stuff out. Period. But then somewhere along the way, I decided a portion of the proceeds really should go to a good cause… which kind of put the pressure on to make a little moolah. When I was sorting it all out, I thought… ‘wow this was kind of an investment. These are nice pieces.’ And if I’m really honest I thought, ‘Why am I getting rid of it this so cheaply?’ My slightly selfish side took over because it was hard to let go. And then we really only advertised on our blog, and I was all, ‘what if no one shows?’ and then I would check the weather and have a slight panic attack because this was a lot of work. It should have been simple. When it came down to it, sorting, pricing, cleaning, purging… it’s all a harsh reminder of impulse buys or bad choices and mindless consumption of the past. We’d already donated bags and bags and bags… and it made this a little painful, if I listened to my not-so-rational, slightly selfish side. An exercise in anti-materialism at it’s finest.

I had to remember my ultimate goal. To free our home. To free myself.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because it can be hard to do this, or else everyone would.

I think I heard once on Hoarders, or an Oprah special on Hoarders, that when it comes down to purging your home, and two people are debating over getting rid of something… the hoarder always wins.

That stuck with me. I realize I am not a hoarder, but a sentimental artist/designer/stylist/writer so that kind of puts me in a different, hard-to-combat, I-might-need-this-later-for-various-totally-rational-reasons-to-a-blogger-category. This can be a tricky balance. But I’ve learned in this process, that less is always better.

Here’s a fun little infographic when it comes to all things great purge, and deciding which route to take. A few little variables to remember. Was this necessary? Probably not. Did it make my post a bit more fun? Absolutely.

Basic RGB

So when it comes down to it, it depends on your ultimate goal. Is it to purge your home of all your things? Then I say have a yard sale. Do you have slightly nicer, larger things you can sell one by one? Craigslist. Clothing? Ebay. The rest? DONATE. Trust me guys… save yourselves the headache… just donate. I can’t tell you how many bags we’ve purged from our home… or how good it feels. Do it.

Basic RGB

Everyone is in a different situation when it comes to their home. Whether it’s money, purging, or more room for your Smurfs (circa 1980) plastic collection that’s really blocking your Wookie display so you need to purge some of your Wookies (because you’re partial to Smurfs) but you don’t want to compromise the price so you’re debating selling them for 25% off at the local flea market just to see what happens but aren’t really sure… it’s different for everyone.

Here’s a few things to remember when making that decision:

1. Remember your ultimate goal.

And beyond that? Pre-determine how you will weigh your success in the end. That may sound silly, but it helps to have something to remind yourself of when you’re in the middle of all that work, all those people, (in our case, all that rain) and all that stuff.

Sometimes, you have to cut your losses all in the name of a simpler lifestyle. Could we have gotten more money for that huge chair and matching ottoman we let go for 11 dollars that we originally paid hundreds for in our post-marital honeymoon stupor that just needed a pretty slipcover but we no longer had room for?  Yes. Was it as painful as a run on sentence? A little. Did I give away the remaining things in the end because I wanted them gone and knew they would go to homes that could use them? Yes. Was I glad that 1/3 of the money we earned went to a good cause to remind me why we were doing this? Absolutely.

That made it a success. Not the rolls of money… though we did make + raise some good moolah, it wasn’t my end goal. The vast openness that is my house after months of hard work- the things that are no longer weighing me down… the reality behind my cupboards that are beginning to reflect a true lifestyle change… a life of less, and being able to find something when I’m in a rush… are just a few benefits in the ultimate pay off.


2. Don’t think too highly of your junk.

Regardless of the route you choose. I think we’ve all seen it. The super overpriced, outdated, taste specific furniture someone purchased and now they regret, but to get rid of it they need to make a certain amount, so there it sits. {exceptions to the rule: handmade, collectables and antiques.}

If it’s priced too highly, it will not move. It’s a delicate balance… I know. See: my leather monsters also known as sofas. If you can afford to hold on to it and wait, then by all means, wait. It can be worth it. But don’t place it in a yard sale and hope for the best… there’s a venue for that. And even then… too high and it won’t move.

Which brings me to…

Basic RGB3. Don’t let guilt (or fear) rule your choices.

I have a very nice, yet not-my-style china cabinet that I’m still gearing up to part with, but can’t seem to let go because I refuse to let it go for less than fill-in-the-blank amount, and I felt super guilty for getting rid of it. And what if I decide later that I want it back? I’m afraid, and this is hard because we paid a lot for this piece.

This is stupid. Its good to let go.

Sometimes I catch myself second guessing my choices based on would-be, what-if regrets. There’s nothing more insane to base your decisions on. Don’t let guilt and fear rule your life. 


And finally, here’s a few of our fave tips for holding that yard sale :

Basic RGB

1. Our yard sale wasn’t ‘the norm’. In retrospect, per the oh-so-savvy Nester’s advice (see: slightly panicked convo when Jamin and I were deciding which route to take) I shouldn’t have called it a yard sale in the first place. Handmade + cool furniture + good cause = not your typical yard sale. Sure, we had a few yard sale finds, and things were still at great prices… but when it comes down to it, could we have sold it on Craigslist? Absolutely. Ebay? Yep. Some of it on Etsy. Nobodygottimeforthatanddon’twannapayshipping? Amen.

Call it an estate sale. Call it an awesome sale. Call it a you’re-gonna-regret-it-if-you-miss-it sale. If you want to make a little money, and have nicer things to sell than your typical missing leg side table from the seventies that uncle Bart sat on one Christmas and totally left cheek prints… don’t call it a yard sale. Lesson. Learned.

2. This one speaks for itself.

3. Consider going in with a friend you trust and will have fun with. Yes, it’s technically a yard sale, but can I recommend going in with someone who’s taste is nice like yours? And promises not to hang those ridiculously giant granny panties at the entrance? Though it might get ya more looksies…

4. The Square app. You’re welcome.

5. Need to turn someone’s proposal for a better deal, down? Throw something at cars for driving too fast? You have cupcakes. They say thanks for coming, have a nice day, thanks for standing in my embarrassing garage because I didn’t clean it out and wasn’t counting on rain, and nice to meet you.

You can even eat the leftovers afterwards as a consolation prize for selling that china cabinet you now feel guilty about. Kidding not kidding.

They make everything better. Don’t have a yard sale, without cupcakes.


Some other posts you might like in regards to the delicate balance of craigslist + flea markets:

• Musings of an impatient craigslist peruser 

• The Art of Thrifting. 

I hope this helps answer some of your questions, guys. There’s a lot of thoughts we have on this subject matter, and they’re by no means exclusive, or extensive. What are some of your takes? We would LOVE to hear your perspectives on holding a yard sale, or shopping at one. Or where to sell what and why… Advice. Spill it!

Have an inspired day, y’all!

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Responses to yard sale, craigslist, ebay or donate?

  1. Erin Billups says:

    Your chart made me laugh. I of course had to follow each little path and got to the “why are you reading this?” So funny. I’m starting to sell the “nice” dishes, silverware and glasses that I was told I had to register for almost 12 years ago that we have not used or I just really don’t love anymore. I’m starting on Craigslist and will do eBay if I don’t get any bites. I just want nice and simple white Ikea dishes. Why do I have to have two styles anyway? I wish I could go back and register with the knowledge I have now. That would be lots of fun. :)

  2. CLC says:

    Love the flowchart graphic. I have not had good experience selling clothes on Ebay, but maybe I should keep trying. I’ve sold a couple of PRICEY northface jackets on there and barely came out with a couple dollars. (But maybe there’s a overload of used Northface fleecies, who knows.) BTW this article was on NPR the other day and it really opened my eyes about what REALLY happens to donated clothes most of the time. Who knew!? –> http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/05/21/185596830/the-global-afterlife-of-your-donated-clothes

  3. Just what I needed! Thanks!

  4. This post was completely awesome. AWESOME!
    The end.

  5. Vanessa says:

    Love the pieces you had at your yard sale. It’s beautiful!


  6. Jen says:

    There’s also the option of consigning!! I’ve had great success consigning a number of items from my mom’s estate — which saves me the guilt of donating it, not to mention the emotional strain of bargaining with someone over my mom’s belongings at a garage sale. I drop it off at the consignment store and collect my check a month later!

  7. We live in a small town and have a local facebook yardsale group for our county. We have a second facebook group for surrounding counties. Each group has 5,500 -7,500 members. I can easily sell namebrand items – like pottery barn, etc. This week I made around $100 getting rid of junk (a stack of 20 teen books for $20, a lamp for $5, an office chair for $10) – just little bits of cash. What doesn’t sell, I then donate. I have used Ebay and Craigslist in the past, but it is much easier to run up to the local grocery store and meet someone – swap items for cash – and then it is over. No shipping. And I tend to trust local people when meeting blindly – as plenty of people see who responds to your facebook post, so even an ax-murder realizes others know you are meeting.

    Here is how it works. Someone establishes the group with guidelines (only five listings per day, nothing lewd or rude, etc.) Each member has to request to be approved to the group. Your ‘friends’ on facebook who are ALSO members of the yardsale group see all of your yardsale posts, while the rest of the members must look at the group feed or search through the group posts to shop. Your “friends” don’t see any of your posts or comments within the group unless they are also members. Everything from dogs to shutters to cars to jewelry can be listed at any given time. It works well!

    • Bri says:

      I am in a group for my county also! I keep track of what I make and have made over $1,000 in the past year. Using that money towards a vacation! :)

    • Jamie Brewer says:

      Trish, would you mind emailing me with more information (specifically all the rules of the group you are in)… I am VERY interested in starting this in my city!! This is such a great idea!

      southernmsgirl at gmail dot com


    • Julie Pohl says:

      trish I also would love to get the details of the local area FB site. It sounds great! thank you for posting! julie at juliepohl dot com thanks!

  8. Sharon P says:

    This is a great– I mean– GREAT article. Thanks for sharing. Also, the graphics are awesome.

  9. Kathryn says:

    Fantastic post! I am filing this one away but first sharing it with my readers this weekend. Thank you!

  10. Laura says:

    At this point in my life, I refuse to keep stuff around waiting until I have enough for a good yard sale. If I had room to do that, I would just keep the stuff! I take bags/boxes of stuff to our Battered Women’s Foundation. They open up the warehouse and let the women “shop” for what they need once a month. I feel like we are so blessed, so why should I try to make a bunch of money? The Lord will provide if I “need” another macramé owl wall hanging or whatever else I need!

  11. Cathy says:

    Wow! What a great post! It had everything I needed/wanted to know and then some. I’m having a bit of a hard time at this time in my life. Lost my Mom and sister 4-1/2 years ago so have all of their stuff; have some from my Aunt, as well. Plus, I’ve been on my own for 40 years so have accumulated mega “stuff”. Some days are easier then others. This post will help a great deal!
    Thank you so much for sharing,

  12. Love this post. I inherited a lot of stuff from family over the years. I held on to a lot of it for sentimental reasons. Luckily, I’ve been purging more and more of it. I used to try to sell lots of stuff but have learned, I don’t have the time. I now just donate it and feel FREE. Simple. Life. Love.